Originally published Friday, 22 December 2017.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego show us this lesson because they were willing to worship God even if He did not deliver in the physical. They tell the king they do not need to defend themselves because God is their defender, they tell him that they are not concerned about the ability of their God, He is fully able to deliver and now they let him know in verse 18:
But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. – Daniel 3:18 NIV
But even if He does not deliver, they say, if God does not defend us here in the physical, if he does not protect us from the flames, we will still honor Him.
That’s a big pill to swallow for most of us. Because a lot of the prayers we want God to answer are good and noble and right. We want healing, and increase and favor and prosperity. And we know if God answers our prayers as we want we will gladly be willing to praise and worship and testify. Am I right? But for now, let’s cover all our bases. What if God’s answer to our prayer is not what we wanted? What if the answer is no when we hoped for a yes? See we don’t like to talk about this because we live in this name it and claim it society. We like to think if we desire something hard enough God will come though. That if we pray hard enough and shot loud enough and believe strong enough we can get God to give us what we want. But God does not work like that. God is not a genie that if we do certain things we can manipulate him into doing as we please. His sovereignty and power and ability are not based on doing as we please. He is God alone. Now king Nebuchadnezzar does not believe that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego will be able to save them from his hands, but as they previously showed us, oh no your majesty our God is able. But even if He does not use His ability let it be known that our God is still worthy.
How they say such a bold statement? I’ll tell you how. Their faith was not conditional. They did not believe in the rescue, they believed in the Rescuer. They did not believe in the miracle they believed in the Miracle Worker. They did not believe in the deliverance they believed in the One that delivers. They were not looking more for the blessing than the One whom all blessing come. Psalm 119:1-2 tells us:
“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—” – Psalm 119:1-2 NIV
Who is blessed in this scripture? Those who keep God’s Word and seek Him with all their heart. Notice they are not seeking the blessing. The blessing is a byproduct of them seeking God simply for who He is. Maybe the blessing does not look as expected but they know if it’s from God it’s good.
Many times we place these specifics on God. I’m blessed if I have a kid by 30, I’m blessed is I make 6 figures by 35, I’m blessed if I’m married by 25. No, you can have all those things and still not be blessed if all you are doing is seeking what you want and not God. And then we get caught in this performance trap doing all these good things for God for the wrong reasons. The house, the car, the kids, the spouse, the money, the American Dream is not your greatest blessing. God is.
We are not obedient to get blessed. We are simply blessed to live an obedient life. It is a blessing to serve the Lord. It is our honor to walk in the purpose His has called us to because He is the Lord not the other way around.
In the book of Esther chapter 4 Queen Esther faced her entire race of people being annihilated if she did not take a risk and face her husband, the king of Persia, an action that could cost her very life. And at the thought that things might not go her way she says, if I parish, I parish (Esther 4:16). She then leads three days of prayer and fasting. Notice, she does not seek an optimal outcome for herself, she seeks God.
In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul talks about a struggle he is facing so great he does not even what to name it. He simply calls it a thorn in his side. Three times he asks God to remove it to which God says “my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) That pretty much means no, I’m not going to remove the thorn. But then Paul says this:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
If you are facing an unanswered prayer, if you are navigating a season in life that you never would have imagined in a million years, if life’s uncertainties and failed dreams have shaken you, be still. You are not alone.
“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”” – Matthew 26:38-39 NIV
Can you imagine the stress levels of Jesus? He knows He’s about to die, He knows the totally gruesome way He will die and He knows He does not deserve any of this. And He asks the father please if there is another way please don’t make me go out like this. Yet He says, not as I will but as You will.
Do we have a my will attitude or a God’s will attitude? Because when the storms of life come and we find ourselves only living for our will and wants we will be utterly shaken. Esther, Paul and Jesus faced the if things don’t go my way parts of life, but you know what they do, they serve God anyways. And whatever it is that has you shaken today. Whatever is not going as planned and has you frustrated and even scared if we’re honest, you are faced with an important question. Are you still going to serve God? Because how you answer this question will let you know where your faith truly lies. Do you serve God really or do you serve what He can do for you? Are you seeking God with your whole heart or a half-hearted devotion to see what you can get out of the relationship?
It’s ok to pray and ask God for what we desire. We should be doing this, but we must remember, God does not want us to place our faith in the outcome. He wants us to place our faith in Him.
Now, I hope you are encouraged Beloved so let’s not stop here. Comment and let me know, despite the struggle you may be facing today, what is one thing you are grateful to God about?
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