It’s So Simple

The book of Daniel is another incredible display of God’s power and the courage of some of his people. The portion of the story that hit me today is contained in chapter three.

In this section, King Nebuchadnezzar had a 90 foot statue built and then organized an elaborate celebration, including music to inaugurate the worship of this new god created by him.

Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are brought before the king because they did not bow and worship as commanded. As a result, they were bound and thrown into the furnace after the heat was raised to seven times its normal temperature.  Miraculously, they were kept from any harm and the king was overwhelmed with the greatness of their God!

One of the aspects of this story that is so impressive is the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded to the king’s command. Notice what it says in 3:16-18,

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

With their very lives in the balance, they responded without wavering. As I read this almost 3,000 years later, of course I know they should not sin by worshipping another god, but in the moment, what pressure they must have felt to compromise! And yet, they simply said, “no.” Whether they lived or died really was not important to them. Obedience to God was what mattered. Everything paled in comparison to their allegiance to God. So for them, it was so simple.  There was no real decision here.  It was black and white.  They must obey God and not let the potential consequences of their obedience confuse the decision.

I also think that it may have taken months for this image to be built. It is not too hard to imagine that they knew the intended purpose of that idol. As it was built over some months, they probably wrestled with what they would do if they were required to worship that image. When the day came, they were ready.

Should it not be as simple for us today? I find myself entertaining debates with myself about obedience at times. It really is so simple. I must have my allegiance to God above anything else. When I do, what seems like a hard decision, or tempting, will easily fall into its proper place. I simply say “no,” just like they did.

Father, thank you for this amazing display of courage in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When life becomes complicated, may I remember that simple obedience is what you expect from me. I need to trust you with the results of my obedience just like Daniel’s friends. May fear of the consequences not cloud my choice to obey.

Following Jesus with you,

The One And Only God

We live in a time and culture where there is great confusion related to truth, appropriate conduct, and spirituality. The Bible is now considered a threat by many and Christians are cast in a light where we are the problem in our nation.

In the spiritual chaos of our time, it seems a lot like what it must have been like during the time of the Judges. The summary of that time was “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6). Everyone lived by what they felt was best for them instead of by the absolute truth of God’s Word and under his leadership.

A verse that impressed me today because of these observations is Jer. 10:10a which says,

“But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King…”

At the time of Jeremiah’s writing, there were many “gods.” The problem is that they were all created by man! Jeremiah is reminding his readers that In contrast to those created idols, we serve THE TRUE God, THE LIVING God and THE EVERLASTING God. Our God is THE one and only God.

Father, it is a comforting reminder to call to mind who you are! You are the true God because you are the truth! You are the living God and all life comes from you. You are the eternal God who always has been and always will be. Thank you for your greatness and for your desire to have a relationship with me!

Following Jesus with you,

Perfect Peace

In our crazy and complex world it is hard to find peace. Often our minds and hearts are racing trying to keep up with all of the demands and desires of our lives. Yet, God makes an incredible promise in Is. 23:6 which says,

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

A few observations about this passage that hit me:

1) God is the one who gives us this peace. It is not something we manufacture. He is the source. Peace comes from him.

2) The kind of peace he offers is “perfect peace.” This is describing complete peace. Peace the way it was meant to be. “Peace (Hb. shalom) had a much richer connotation than the English word does since it conveyed not merely the absence of conflict and turmoil but also the notion of positive blessing, especially in terms of a right relationship with God. (ESV Study Bible)

Wow! The peace God wants me to have is so much more than the lack of turbulence in my life. He wants me to experience the blessing of having a right relationship with him!

3) My responsibility in this process is to use my mind correctly. In our passage, the word “mind” carries the connotation that we “have a ‘frame of mind, perspective, constitution’ … that is ‘steadfast’… which implies an undeviating commitment to a purpose, conviction, or person” (New American Commentary)

4) This frame of mind that I need to have is described as “trust.” The word for “trust” here “is the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can rely on someone or something else” (Complete Word Study Dictionary). I need to go through my day always relying on God. I need to leave my life in his hands.  When I have tried to take back the control of my life in the past, it has always made me worried rather than peaceful.

So how can all this all be summarized? God will keep in complete peace, the person who continually has the frame of mind where he chooses to trust in, depend on and rest in God.

When my mind starts to doubt, or I try to take control of a situation that only God can handle, I need to refocus and lean on him. The fruit of my unwavering trust in him means, I will experience his peace. This peace comes from letting go and trusting in him.  Relying on God to fulfill his promises does not mean I should not do my best, but that I should yield my life and heart to him and trust him to care for me the way he knows is best.

Father, thank you for this amazing verse. Thanks for thinking about me in such a way that you know I need peace. This peace comes from a right relationship with you where I trust you completely and continually. Help be to keep my mind focused on you and your trustworthiness so that I can experience your peace in spite of my circumstances.

Following Jesus with you,