“Welcome to the Jungle: Do the Right Thing” with Ricky Echeona

At. Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series through Welcome to the Jungle.

Bad authorities may ask you to do things you know you cannot do.

We continue our series through the book of Daniel as we learn to navigate remaining faithful even in the midst of challenging circumstances.

Digging Deeper:

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning. 

Digging Deeper

Message Video:

Message Audio:

Message Notes:

Bad authorities may ask you to do things you know you cannot do.

“How Do I Struggle With This?”

Any of you grew up with parents that it was hard to go shopping with because
they would vocally complain about the price of things? How many of you are like that
today? It’s me. Like inflation hit and I walk through HEB and go, “$6 for strawberries?!
Yall must be out your mind. The devil is alive and well in the produce aisle”
I grew up with a mom who always looked for deals, not maniacal like intense
coupons, but was always on go-mode. Her favorite 4-letter word was S-A-L-E. And if
there wasn’t a sale she’d make one. My mom would see a DirecTV commercial and it
would have incentives for new customer. She would pickup the phone call DirecTV and
grill this poor customer service rep and go “I see you all are having deals for new
customers, I’ve been with yall for 6 years 7months and 3 days, what kind of deals do
you have for us loyal customers who are willing to switch their loyalty?” By the end of it
we had like 50 more channels for free for 3 years. I tell people that woman relies on 2
things, the Holy Spirit and sheer harassment, I mean resilience.
And honestly growing up like that has made me a serial negotiator. I do not like
paying full price for much of anything.

“How do we all struggle with this?”

But don’t judge me, A LOT of you are the exact same way. Come on be real.
When’s the last time you bought something you really loved and didn’t try and justify the
price? You get a brand new car and someone asks you about it, what’s the first thing
you start talking about… “Yea i got this sweet deal. My buddy’s uncle’s step daughter’s
boyfriend is neighbors with the owner and we got it at an amazing price.” Nobody ever
goes “yea they raked me over the coals with this deal. I’m surprised I didn’t mortgage
the house!”
Nobody likes paying the full price when cheaper is still on the table. But we don’t
just do this with purchases, we do it with goals too. So many people have started or
restarted fitness journeys and eating plans and 4 weeks into january we’re like, “This
aint working I’m going back to Taco Bell.” Forgetting that it’s a grind and a journey and
the payoffi isn’t immediate. It will cost you something- time, energy, mental discipline.
But we often don’t want to pay the full price.

● We want good mental health but don’t want to spend money on the copay to see
a therapist
● We want good grades but not put the effort into studying
● We want to be good parents but not spend intentional time with our kids
The truth is often in life we are constantly negotiating the price. And we ask, what’s it
going to cost? And friends it’s often the case in our journey of faith. We want all the
benefits and none of the sacrifice. We speak a lot here about all the things that following
Jesus will ADD to your life, but often neglect this fact- and if you hear nothing else today
hear this, write it down, tweet it whatever- Following Jesus will cost you something, but
it will always be worth it.
 fact, when Jesus forecasted his death to the disciples, he
said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their
cross daily and follow me.” It costs something.
We want the peaks, those seasons where we feel God close and we are in
harmony with Him and others. But the truth is the mountaintop moments are forged in
the valleys of life. It costs you something.
Today we’re going to look at Shadrach, Meshak, and Abednego who’s devotion
to the Hebrew God cost them everything. Daniel isn’t mentioned in this story likely
because he’s out of town or away on duty, great day to be on PTO. But it’s a story as a
kid who grew up in church and we would color the scenes in christian coloring books my
sense was always, “Oh you become a Christian and God saves you from all the bad
things.” And we know that isn’t true but sometimes the maturity of our faith says that.
But what we’ll learn today is that truly following Jesus will cost you something.
So would you turn to Daniel chapter 3 with me…

“What does God say about this issue?”

Following Jesus will cost you your dreams.
We learned last week that Daniel and his 3 friends tell Nebuchadnezzar this
power-hungry ragey king, his dream and even interpret it. They’re given some of the
highest positions in the kingdom. The dream that Nebby has is of this giant statue, head
of gold, chest + arms of silver, belly + thighs were bronze, legs were iron, and its feet a
combination of iron and clay. Many theologians are in agreement this follows the same
prophetic sequence of Daniel 7, speaking of the kingdoms to come Babylonians (head),
Medo-Persians (torso), Greeks (waste and thighs), and Romans (legs).
In Daniel 2 (NLT) Daniel says this to Nebuchadnezzar, 36 “That was the dream.
Now we will tell the king what it means. 37 Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings.
The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. 38 He has
made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and
birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

He goes on to tell Nebby your kingdom will fall and so will all the others. But
another kingdom is coming. And that’s an everlasting one, this prophetic declaration of
the kingdom of Heaven coming to Earth through Jesus. Daniel 2:44 says this, 44 “During
the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be
destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will
stand forever. 45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by
human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold.
The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true,
and its meaning is certain.”

You would think that old Nebby here would hear this last piece and go, “Ahh so
this dream is bigger than ME.” But instead it’s like he hears “Statue; Head of gold… huh?
Why not the whole thing gold?” And in Daniel 3, where we will spend our time this
morning, we find King Nebuchadnezzar has built such a statue. The narcissism has
blinded him to God’s sovereignty. It’s all about him now. (sarcastically said) It’s about
Nebuchadnezzar now, King of Babylon. King of the Jungle!
Daniel chapter 3 reads, King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall
and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then
he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges,
magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he
had set up. 3 So all these officials came and stood before the statue King
Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

4 Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to
the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp,
pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King
Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be
thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7 So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or
nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King
Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Wait what happened? The chapter before Daniel is telling Nebuchadnezzar “Heyy
this dream means it’s not about you in the long run. It’s bigger than you. In fact the
statue really means God’s in control of it all.” and it’s going in one ear and out the other
and Nebuchadnezzar is sketching in his journal going “So how tall do you think we can
make this thing.” Really?! It’s like he’s totally missed the point.
But he does what WE often do. God gives us a picture of what He’s calling us to,
God gives us a vision for our lives, a passion for the future, not so that we get the glory
but so THAT He can. And we go, “Yes God I receive it, praise YOUR NAME!…Now how do I monetize it? How do I maximize my brand, whoops I mean your brand God? Like Nebuchadnezzar we say, How do I make a name for myself?” And we make it about ME.

But friends as we said from the top, truly following Jesus will cost you
something. Many times it will start with your dreams. Following Jesus will cost you your
dreams. And I know when I say that some of us get uncomfortable like God wants to
snatch your dreams, desires, and passions out of your hands. But when I say following
Jesus will cost you your dreams, what I’m saying is that it’s not the dream that dies it’s
our interpretation. It means that when God has birthed in you a purpose a vision for the
future, it’s not about you, it’s not about me. It’s so much bigger than that, it’s about HIM
and what He wants to do with us and through us and beyond us. It’s HIS kingdom, not
It means that our 5 year, 10 year, 25 year plans bow at the feet of Jesus, not the
other way around. If we are honest with ourselves oh how often we’re just like
Nebuchadnezzar and we may not say it out loud but our motives and actions say “Bow
down to idol of my opinions and expectations. Bow down to my portfolio and resume.
Bow down to this curated page of pictures driven by my comparison and insecurity.
Bow down to the statue of ME.”
Story of a sacrifice in career or dream that you’ve made to follow Jesus:
Before I decided to follow Jesus and his plan for my life I was attending the
University of Maryland, roll Terps, studying government and politics hopes of going to
law school after. But through a series of events I couldn’t make up if i tried God arrested
my heart and I made decision to follow him and everything changed. I knew he was
asking me to leave my school, leave my plans, and jump into school for ministry. When i
tell you it was the hardest thing I ever did up to that point. I left friends, opportunities,
the future I envisioned. And I was so lonely. But Jesus met me in that place and he was
faithful. I would’ve never imagined the adventure he would take me on by just saying “yes”.

See to truly follow Jesus it means dying to our self-centered dreams and living to
God-sized ones. It means we live for the approval of ONE not the applause of the many.
Following Jesus will always cost you something, but it will always be worth it.

Following Jesus will cost you your allegiance
So Nebuchadnezzar issues this decree- Bow down or burn. And then the
snitches and haters come out the woodworks, “Hey King Nebuchadnezzar, love that
name by the way, I’m sure your mom loved you. We don’t wanna say any names or
anything but some of the people you put in charge aren’t doing the whole bowing down
thing. But I’m sure it’s nothing maybe Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t get
your SLACK message. Whoops that slipped out!” (You laugh but that’s some of yall at

So Nebby is heated! He calls in Rack, Shack, and Benny and here’s what
happens. 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately
into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”

At some point your faith WILL be tested. Will you worship the idols of culture,
politics, wealth, sex, self, career, OR is your allegiance to God alone? At some point you
have to stand up and say “what we are doing in this business is unethical I don’t care if
it’s the status quo and lining our pockets.” Following Jesus will cost you your
allegiance. The day will come when the addiction you’ve used to cope with life
becomes a lead vest that is sinking you and you have to take it off. If your allegiance is
solely in a political party my friend your emotional stability will yo-yo every news cycle
and you will be robbed of peace and hope that transcends all understanding and all
ballot boxes. Nothing else and no one else is deserving of our worship.
See God HAS to test that which we claim to believe. And the tests are almost
always the fires of life. Can I submit to you this: you only know it’s real if it’s been tested.

● Going to an expensive jeweler and you see the shiniest gold earrings and you ask
oh how many Karats is this, and they respond “To be honest, I don’t know if it’s real”… we know the
only way to test gold is in the fire
● Imagine being in situation that needed a S.W.A.T team and your rescuers go “to
be honest I’ve really only done this in Call of Duty, but don’t worry it’s like the real
thing.”….NO! You want someone battle tested

In the same way our faith is forged in the trials of life. Following Jesus will cost you your
allegiance. It says will I put myself in myself and the systems of this world OR will we
hold onto Jesus, who Hebrews tells us is the author and finisher of our faith?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are now faced with certain death if they do
not make their beliefs about God bow before their current circumstances. It’s a reality
that in the western world where we have been cushioned by centuries and a culture of
Christendom and “political christianity” we can’t fully grasp. We can’t fathom a world of
physical persecution because of our faith. But it’s a reality Christians around the world
face every single day. That is faith that is battle tested. While we wonder what our
coworkers may think or fear being cancelled, believers in places like Iran, Somalia,
China, North Korea face literal life and death consequences for following Jesus.

Faith requires testing. When you encounter a follower of Jesus who has not truly
suffered don’t call them fortunate, call them unprepared. Navy Seals say this, “You don’t
rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”
So Nebuchadnezzar flies into a rage, says next time I play this song yall better dance.
And check out what they say… 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O
Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown
into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us
from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to
you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you
have set up.”

Following Jesus will cost you your comfort
Now the heat is on. Their words have written a check that no amount of SPF can
cash. These weren’t any random individuals. These were men in the upperworkings of
the kingdom. Status. Wealth. Everything to lose. And without skipping a beat they go,
“Do what you gotta do.”
19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that
his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven
times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So
they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans,
robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a
hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
We’ve said following Jesus will cost you your dreams, your allegiance, and it will
cost you your comfort. Following Jesus will cost you your comfort. I love their
response before they’re thrown into the fire btw. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing
furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power,
Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty,
that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Circle,
highlight, underline that, “But even if He doesn’t…” Friends that is genuine faith. I believe
in order to not just survive a trial but allow the fires of life to tranform us more into the
image of Jesus. We need a “But even if He doesn’t kind of faith.”

● Father I’m doing everything right but the bills are piling up and the jobs
arent calling me back, I believe you will open the doors in this timeline, but

even if you don’t I’ll thank you for everything I have and trust you as
● God I believe you can heal this terminal illness but even if you don’t every
fiber in my body will still worship you as king

There was NO question in the minds of the four Hebrew teenagers that the God who divided the red
sea and performed other miracles in delivering Israel from Egypt could do the same for them—if it
was within his will.
They… believed that their God could, but not necessarily that he would spare their lives.
Here’s the message for us today… The fact that God doesn’t deliver us from every suffering moment
we experience does not mean that God doesn’t have the power to do so…It could be that God may
allow you to struggle with that career transition or that relationship in conflict to build and strengthen
your character, and as we said last week…that’s going to take “godly courage”…We may not always
understand why God asks us to trust Him—even when it is not easy
See their response stops the story from devolving into a false promise that God
will save every faithful person from suffering and death. That wouldn’t do justice to all
the heroes of Scripture and history that stood boldly in the face of persecution and were
martyred. Following Jesus will cost you your comfort. At some point the rubber of
your faith will meet the road of suffering and you will be uncomfortable. I submit this to
you, if in your journey of following Jesus, your worldview, lifestyle, your politics, or your
choices have never been made uncomfortable by the teachings of Scripture- then
maybe the question is not that you’re following Jesus, maybe you’ve really just
invited him to follow you.
These men in the face of losing it all, even their very lives say, “Take it.
Because He’s worth it.” 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement
and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the
“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the
fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace
and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come
out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers,
officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not
touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not
scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! Come on somebody! They didn’t even smell
like smoke. Scent of Heaven maybe?

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the
king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except
their own God.
See God did not save them from the fire, He saved them in the fire. I promise,
with all the courage, fortitude, and faith- they were not the same people when they
came out of the fire, as when they went in. See we learn the depths of who God is in the
trying times. But it costs you something. We celebrate God on the mountain tops, but
intimacy with God, deep trust and connection, almost always happens in the valleys of
life. Where are you being “refined” right now? Maybe tested beyond what you can bear..? What
fire are you in the middle of, or coming out of? Can I remind you that the same God is
Following Jesus will cost you something, but it will always be worth it.

“What should you do about this?”

Following Jesus will always be worth it
You might be wondering “ok Ricky but I’m not facing death, fiery furnaces that’s not my
reality.” Let me quickly take you to one of the teachings of Jesus on the cost. 25 A large
crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my
disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and
children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. And I bet
you as soon as Jesus said Cross everybody was like, “Lol, what?!” 2000 years later the
Cross is in a weird way cool. Because we live on this side of the miracle of the
resurrection. We have chains, earrings, etc. even if you’re not a Christ follower because
it looks dope. I promise you this, NO ONE under ancient roman rule was walking around
with an iced out Cross.
It was a torture tool!! It’s how Rome humiliated it’s enemies, carried out capital
punishment, and arbitrarily snuffed out rebellions. It was a warning sign, “This is what
happens if you mess with Rome.” And Jesus says pick up YOUR Cross and follow me.
I would’ve got kicked out of the Bible. If I woulda heard that, I would’ve been like,
“Jesus you trippin, stop playing lol. Oh…wait… you’re not laughing? Ok Ima go ahead
and head out like the spongebob meme. I appreciate the bread and fish or whatever but
idk what you on with all this CROSS talk.”
But Jesus knew EXACTLY what He was saying and doing then, and those words are still true
today. Following Jesus is a call to die to ourselves.
esus goes on and says now that I have your attention, I want you to make sure what
you’re saying yes to. I want you to count the cost of following me.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building
without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you

might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would
laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t
afford to finish it!’
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his
counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching
against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the
enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you
These words uttered to a crowd 2000 years ago still echo to the masses today.
People then and people now ask, “What’s it going to cost me?” And Jesus without
batting an eye says, “Everything”. See, following Jesus is free, there are no initiation
fees, monthly subscriptions, or cancellation fees. But make no mistake- it will cost
you something.

I don’t know about you but I hate sales pitches that are going to waste my time. Like the people in the mall kiosks or friends in new businesses trying to get me to buy their product. And it’s long and drawn
out, and it’s like “well if you stopped buying your daily starbucks you could afford this
product thats gonna do X Y and Z” and there comes a point that I’m just like ok shoot me
straight what does it cost?

I love that Jesus cuts straight to the point when he’s surrounded by the crowd.
He says, “Here’s the reality. Following me means death to the old you. But some of you
love yourself and love this world so much that I want to save you the disappointment-
you have to give all of it up.” And why did Jesus say that, why does He still say that?
Because. Jesus is looking for followers, not just fans. And that might seem harsh but He
knows and sees what we don’t, and that is that if you stay a fan for too long you’ll leave
when things don’t go YOUR WAY. But followers stick through thick and thin. And
listen, Jesus didn’t rebuke the fans, everyone was welcome into the crowd. And here at
Gateway everyone is welcome, fan, follower, even foes. But there is an inexpressible
joy and adventure that awaits the follower. It’s not easy but it’s worth it. He is worth it.
So throughout this message we’ve said this, Following Jesus will cost you
something, but it will always be worth it. I want to correct that just a bit. Following Jesus
will cost you something, and that something is everything. Following Jesus will cost you
something everything, but it will always be worth it.


● Because He’s the one that sticks closer than a brother. You don’t have to walk
through the fire alone
● He wants to rightsize your allegiance and say “I’m the only one you can worship
that will truly fill you”
● Love that is infinite and fills a God sized hole in your soul.

● Peace that surpasses understanding.
● Joy beyond circumstances
● A God who cares so deeply He never leave you and walk with you through the fire.
● We get to be in relationship with a God knows us completely, understands us, believes in us
and who want to be fully known by us.
● When we die to our old lives, we are raised to new everlasting life with God.
● Because the prize isn’t to be safe. The endgame of Christianity is not fire
insurance. The reward is KNOWING Him. The one who loves you, made you,
and is with you
When we decide to follow Him, like REALLY follow him. We give up what we want
now, for what we want most.
Following Jesus will cost your dreams, allegiance, and comfort. Where have you
been putting your plans and your career, your major, above His ways? I promise you
when you submit your dreams to his hands he will do things with your life you never
thought imaginable. When you decide you won’t bow to the pressures of culture, your
family, or your brokenness, there’s a supernatural strength that rises up in you and
around you. When you say Jesus no matter the cost, no matter the comfort- you get the
gift of His presence that begins to transform you from the inside out. And you are
never the same.

“How can we all live this out together?” 

Knowing that changes everything. Victor Frankl, a survivor of German death
camps in the Holocaust, quoted Nietzsche’s aphorism when he said, “He who has a
why to live for, can bear with almost any how.” Friends we have a why and His name is
Jesus. Because in Christ suffering and death is not the end. Friends if you still have
breath in your lungs He’s not done with you. And when the day comes when we run out,
He still won’t be done!
So the question for us today is, Have you counted the cost? Are you ready to
surrender your life to Christ in order to truly live? Are you tired of doing things your way.
There’s an invitation to a beautiful death. Here’s what’s dope, Jesus never calls us to a
place he hasn’t already gone. In the next chapter he gives the parable of the lost sheep
and says I’m the God that leaves the 99 and goes after the 1. See Jesus looked at you
and COUNTED THE COST, and he said, “He’s worth it. She’s worth it.” He lived a
sinless life and his mission was DEATH on a Cross. But it did not end there, he was
resurrected 3 days later. See the call to die, is an invitation to the resurrection he wants
to do in your life. Death to the old me, so the NEW me can LIVE.

We are celebrating baptisms today, if you prayed that prayer with us or you’ve
given your life to Christ and never publicly marked that with baptism, you can do that

What are you believing God for? What are you asking HIm for that
seems impossible? What trial or fire are you needing to just realize that He’s with you?
He doesn’t say “Ok, see you on the other side,” He says “Don’t be afraid. I love you. I’m
here. I’m close.”

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