Looking for the right reward

Daniel 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

One of the amazing things about the Bible is that there is more there than is at first visible. This is one of the reasons we can read the Bible so many times and find something new each time. One of my favorite quotes about this comes from Augustine who said, “The Bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.” What that means is there are layers of depth in the Word of God. It has surface meanings and deeper meanings. It has what was said to the original audience and then it has things that can be applied to our situation today. It stands the test of time and breaths live into every new generation.

I was rereading the verses above recently and it struck me that there is a larger principle at work. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego they made a choice to follow God regardless of the consequences. They said no matter what the cost we will not bow down and serve false gods. But the larger principle is that when you are doing what you know is right and what God would have you do there are obstacles. This is partly because life just has obstacles.

Life is just hard sometimes. Sometimes life is hard because we are dumb and make dumb choices. We sin, we make mistakes, we get it wrong. Sometimes life is hard because we make it hard. Other times life is hard because we live in a broken and fallen world. As Christians, we believe that the kingdom of God has come but we live in this tension of the now and not yet reality of the kingdom. We live in a tension of belonging to the kingdom of God and being Christ’s ambassadors but being here on earth. That is hard and causes tension.

This is also partly because sometimes doing God’s will is hard. Doing God’s will is hard sometimes because we might not like it. We find that Paul’s words ring true when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” So sometimes the difficulty comes in obeying despite ourselves. We like to blame the devil but sometimes we are own worst enemy. However, there is a real enemy and he has many servants. So sometimes life is hard because there is opposition to serving God. Whether it be people or spiritual forces there are things that come against us. We must understand this, and we must acknowledge that this a reality.

In the end, we have options in the face of that adversity. We can shrink back and surrender, or we can stand and say, “my God will rescue me, but even if He doesn’t, I will still serve Him.” Our faith must be strong enough to say I will serve God and He will rescue me. I trust completely God in this situation to come to my aide and deliver me. We must look past the circumstance and the situation and move forward in faith when we know we are obeying God’s will. We also have to be willing to admit that we are not God and if He does not come in the way we want, we have to be secure enough in Him to still serve. Service to God cannot be about the reward or the deliverance. Yes, He is a God who rewards and delivers but God told Abraham that He (God) was Abrahams great and mighty reward. God, Himself is the ultimate reward and goal. In the end, this means our service and faith must be grounded in God Himself and not our desires or wants.

Just a thought,

Mike

Advertisements

What a compliment

I was thinking about Daniel chapter 6 the other day and it stuck out to me that the plot against Daniel is a compliment. Theses other guys were out to get him because he was doing well. Some people just can’t stand when you do well. The better you are doing and the less attention you pay to them the more they hate you and I would say these guys hated Daniel because they ended up trying to get him fed to the lions. But that is not the compliment I want to talk about. No I want to be just a bit more specific. I would rather just point out verse 5 in that chapter because more than anything this is what I would want people to say of me.

     Then these men said “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”   Daniel 6:5 NKJV

To break this down a little it means this; if we are going to find fault with Daniel it is going to have to be that following his God is against the rules. Basically they needed to outlaw something that he does in service to his God so there will be fault against him. They needed to change the rules so there would be blame. Daniel was so devoted to God so blessed by him that in order for something to be wrong it had to be said that bad was good and good was bad. That is a messed up system.

Now I could go a few different ways with this, but I am not (at least for now) I just want to say that their hatred for Daniel is a compliment and more so their proclamation that he is loyal to his God is a big compliment one I would say I want made against me. I know I have faults and failures but if there was one I could choose it would be that I am a light shining so brightly the love, grace, mercy, and compassion of Christ that the world is mad at me for turning on the lights.

Just a thought,

Mike