Monday, March 15, 2010
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV). There’s just something about the New Creature in Christ who knows what it means to trust in the Lord. He’s not perturbed by the physical evidence or facts. He knows how it would turn out – good! Romans 8:28 says “And we are conscious that all things are working together for good to those who have love for God, and have been marked out by his purpose.” (BBE). The difference between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is ‘T’ signifying time. There is the ‘there’ of your life. The difference between now and then is process. We must go through processes in life which are the seasons of our making.
At the end of the day, the summary of a life that clings to the Lord relentlessly would be like this: “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” (Joshua 21:43-45, NKJV). The pains would be swallowed up by the pleasure of fulfilled promises!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered, "Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 GNB).
The story of the three Hebrew children in Babylon would continue to be famous because of the spiritual strength and virtue displayed by three Hebrew young men who chose to stand out and firm for what they believe and represent. The fame of the story is not rooted in how popular the story has become over the years but in the fact that these real men chose to absolutely trust and identify with a real God who they have never seen with their optical eyes even in the face of physical and tough conditions. It is so amazing when you look at this age only to see men living without values and firm desires for what they truly claim to be their convictions. We are easily tossed to and fro by the tides of this age like Ephesians 4:14 puts it. We act like the reed instead of the rocks that we claim to be. We bow at every challenge, back out at every fight, become indecisive at the cross roads and stumble at every seeming obstacle just like a driver who enters every pot hole on the road. What is happening to us? I share this piece with a burden for change in my heart. I ask, can we have a repeat of the event documented in Daniel chapter 3 again or something higher in this time when everyone runs away from making a commitment – everyone says ‘why me?’
The opening text is the response of the three Hebrew men to a royal declaration from a then-world-power king. His declaration was voiced by a herald: “You will hear the sound of the trumpets, followed by the playing of oboes, lyres, zithers, and harps; and then all the other instruments will join in. As soon as the music starts, you are to bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not bow down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Daniel 3:5,6 GNB). These guys had guts. They were at the cross roads. They must make a decision and it must be now with no time to think or consider an alternative. They knew their lives were at stake, but they would rather die than to bow. They would rather burn than to bow. They would rather descend into the fiery furnace than to dance to the kings music! It is rightly said that those who don’t mind dying never die. They strongly resisted the pressure of fear! Amidst other virtues which these three Hebrew men possessed, I have highlighted only four. They are:
5. The Knowledge of God: Daniel 11:32 says “And such as violate the covenant he shall pervert and seduce with flatteries, but the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God].” (AMP). They knew their God and were sure their God knew them even in a foreign and evil land. They didn’t become conformed to the tide in Babylon. They didn’t have an ‘exchange of gods’ kind of life like others did.
6. Identity – They identified themselves as men of The Covenant. Identity is everything. If you don’t know who you are, men would tell you who they think you are and paint a false picture about you until you become nothing more than a people pleaser and a slave of men. When we begin to understand who we are in Christ and the Kingdom from which we have come in reality, it would change everything about us. 1Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. [Exod. 19:5, 6.]” (AMP). It all starts with identifying who you are. Who are you?
7. Courage – They had guts. Courage is not always the absence of fear. Courage means making a firm decision to ignore your fears in order to do what you have to do. Like Joyce Meyer would say “do it afraid”. Many people you think are courageous would tell you how they handle their fears. The 3 Hebrew men had the courage to be different and to make a difference. Imagine the fact that they were not the only Hebrews in Babylon. There were thousands of them who were equally taken captive. But only three stood out. How about the remaining covenant men? – They bowed unfortunately! It takes courage to be different and to stand out of the crowd for good in a world full of perversion and wickedness where large majority support godlessness.
8. Unconditional Faith (Strong Conviction): The role of faith in an incident like this cannot be down-played upon. Hebrews 11:6 tells us “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You can perceive the voice of faith from them when they said: "Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 GNB). A careful look at these three verses, you would see their faith in God, His ability and His supreme will even if He willed for them to burn!
Today we might not all face a physical Nebuchadnezzar, but there are situations and circumstances which set themselves to challenge or threaten our faith and claims in the Lord. We must not give in or give up but stand tall in Christ. Refuse to cower, refuse to bow because God’s on your side! Avoid dual confessions – maintain your confession of faith in God’s Word alone (Heb. 4:14). Never give voice to doubts and fears in your mind. Talk victory all the way! Shout The Word out loud because the shouting side is the winning side. REFUSE TO BOW!