Craig Fulton - Portadown Special Meetings, Ireland - 2011

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Know ye not that your body.... for ye are bought with a price are God's."  I have been thinking of the price that has been paid our Salvation.  I have enjoyed reading again of the price that Jesus paid, especially on the day He died on the Cross and died in agony that we could be saved.

I remember years ago, a Worker speaking about this and he gave an illustration which really affected my heart and helped me see the price that was paid.  He told us of two soldiers who enlisted in the second World War.  They came from two very different backgrounds.  One had a very wealthy family and the other was poor.  In the trenches, they became very friendly and the rich one asked the poor one that if he were killed in action and the other survived, to contact his family if he were ever in need.  He gave his friend the address of his home folk.  The rich one was killed and the other survived and went back to civilian life.  After some time, when he was really in need, he decided to contact the family on the address, when he went he found a vast mansion and was brought in to meet the owner. He told the owner about his son's request and he said, "He was my only son and now that he is gone then all my riches are yours."  He inherited everything although he had no right to it.  But because the son had died, he could come to the father and he had the right to everything.  We are bought at a very great price.  None of us has any right to be here today.  Jesus died and shed His blood, He gave all He could give, so that we can have everything today but we are not our own, we are God's.

We must remember these two things.  We are bought with a great price and we are not our own.  Graham has shared with us the same thoughts from Daniel as were on my mind.  Daniel and his three friends were captured in Babylon and they knew they were not their own.  They knew there was a God in Heaven and they couldn't do just as they wanted.  They knew they must do things God's Way not their own way.  They purposed in their heart not to defile themselves.  We have only the right to do things God's Way.  To those four it must have seemed impossible and to human reasoning it possibly was impossible.  They were determined to do things in God's Way and then God helped them.  When Daniel spoke to the one in charge of them he said that he feared the king.  Daniel possibly feared the king too, but he had a greater fear of God.  The world is just the same as it always was and we can't just glide along and fit with it.  That is not the teaching of Christ.

2 Corinthians 6:17:  "Come ye out from among them and be ye separate.... Be not conformed to this world."  I have met some who strike off all that is written in the Old Testament.  I love to read about Daniel and how he was living the Truth that Jesus taught and Paul preached.  It takes determination not to be conformed to the things of this world and there is a beauty in it.  They may be small things but in them we can see the greatness and power of God.  When the image was set up and the order given to worship it, Daniel's three friends remembered that they were not their own.  They could have thought that no one could see them but they were not going to let God down.  They said they would not bow down to the image even if God did not deliver them.  They were thrown into the furnace and the Son of Man was with them.  It cost them something.  They had to take steps in faith.  They didn't compromise with man’s ideas and they proved the power of God and that is our privilege today.

Someone said recently, "There's nothing like that today.  There are no furnaces." If we are doing what is right and not pleasing ourselves, there are furnaces.  If we sidestep what is right, we will never get to know about this furnace.  Today this furnace is the furnace of persecution.  We can live a life of compromise and never know of persecution.  We can live an upright life in a dark, evil, corrupt world and we will sooner or later have this fiery furnace, but we will also know of the freedom that comes from walking in the fiery furnace with Jesus.  It is important not to avoid occasions that God may bring our way to stand for Truth.  It is often little things but if we are just in those we will be faithful big things.  Parents may try to avoid those situations when bringing up their families.  If we allow our children to face a little persecution in school, it is a great preparation for the Work of God later.  I am glad for what my Mum and Dad stood for.  We understood the persecution but we also understood the peace that came.  Those that stand for right will never lose.  I have seen it.

Some years ago, a man in Romania began serving God with all his heart.  When Communism fell and private enterprise got going, he became very involved and prospered.  But his soul wasn't prospering.  It was agony to be in a meeting with him.  Sometime later he came to us and told us that, in the business, he was in he had to be crooked to exist.  He said, "I have decided to turn my back on the life that I have been living."  That was at a great material loss.  He didn't sell off what he had.  He walked away and left it.  He began to drive a lorry and that man got peace.  When he spoke in a meeting he had something to say.  That was the fiery furnace but Jesus went through it with him.  No one would know to look at that man what he had been through.  There is no smoke from the fiery furnace but he has peace.

A young couple in Romania started up a small business and employed two people.  They went to a tax office to get the right procedures sorted out.  They had forms to fill in about what they paid the employees.  The clerk told her she should just put down the minimum wage and not declare what she was actually paying because everyone else did that.  Because our friend insisted on putting down the right amount, the clerk laughed at her.  Our friend went away happy.

A few years ago, I stayed with a young family in another country.  They were from two different countries and were working apart when they decided to marry. Then the young man got work in the same land as the young woman and she rented an apartment.  Her colleagues in work said, "You will now be living together.”  When she made it clear that that wouldn't happen, they just laughed at her.  But that young couple are happy.  They did it God's Way.  We are not our own to do things the way the world does them or how our own human nature would want it.  We are not our own but when we do things in God's Way, we have peace.