Saturday, March 8, 2014

Have This Attitude...

Nebuchadnezzar's Ultimatum:
"If you do not worship [the image], you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" (Dan. 3:15)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's Response:
Notice the lack of panic in the response of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter." (Dan. 3:16)

Notice how their response was courteous, yet unanswerable:
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king." (Dan. 3:17)

Notice how they were content with whatever the result should be:
"But even if [no deliverance should come] we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods." (Dan. 3:18)

As Oswald Chambers said, they "smilingly washed their hands of the consequences." They had the same attitude as that of the apostles, who said, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). They were on the same wave length as Paul, who said, "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy" (Acts 20:24). They did not care if none of God's other children stood with them or if any of them saw things differently. Whether they were the only ones to refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image or not, they did not care.

The attitude and response of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should be the attitude and response of every Christian with regard to every situation and circumstance they find themselves in. The Christian should be able to say to God, "Whether you do or do not, I am and will be content and shall offer my praise to You because You are worthy of it." The Christian needs to remember his/her place and that he/she is mere dust and clay.

Allow me to offer some examples:
In 2004, I found myself jobless. Despite my efforts, I could not obtain work where I was living at the time, and my Employment Insurance had just run out. I did not know what I should do or where I should go, but I could no longer remain in my apartment. So, with only two weeks before classes should start, I applied to a Bible Institute and for government assistance in re-training. This was a long shot, as my adviser informed me that to hear back from the government on this issue would take at least 8 weeks. I did not have 8 weeks to wait, but I also had no other options. So onward I pressed.

One week before classes should start, the young adults from my church were going up north for a weekend retreat. At first, I was not going to go with them because I was worried and fearful pertaining my plight. However, the morning of their departure I determined to give my plight over to God because there was not a thing I could do about it one way or the other. I would go to this retreat, have a good time fellowshiping and worshiping God, and leave everything in God's hands. I had a response back from the government within 5 days. I was on my way to the Bible Institute.

One of the deacons from my church asked me to stop by his place on my way out of town, and so I did. To my blessing, he and his wife gave me a few hundred dollars, which just happened to be precisely the amount needed for gas on the way to my destination. Praise be to God with the miracles He pulled for this to happen.

Currently, I find myself in a similar situation. My fiancée and I have been together for over 8 years. She lives in another country. I proposed to her 3 years ago, and have been down to see her and her family twice. Our hopes and dreams were to finally be married this coming April, but now we are not sure if it will happen. I had the money required for our tickets, but then a debt that I thought had been dealt with came back to bite me. It just so happened that I had precisely the amount saved that would pay this debt off once and for all. So I paid it faithfully.

Around the same time, my fiancée's family ran into financial difficulties and so she loaned them the part of the money for our wedding that she had saved. Currently, we are waiting for a response back from my government with regard to her Visitor's Visa, and we have no money to see our desires and plans through. Fear, doubt and worry plague us. We know that God can move mountains, but our flesh has trouble believing it in circumstances such as these. We are tired of waiting and just want to get married so that we can finally share our lives with each other for the glory of God. UPDATE: My fiancée received her Visitor's Visa stamp on her passport. Praise be to God!!! The thing we were most concerned about has been granted. Now we continue praying for the $6000 we need to get married soon.

This morning, I asked God to strengthen my faith and help my unbelief. Though it is hard, I asked Him to help me give this situation over to Him because not an ounce of worry from me can change it. I asked Him, that whether it should happen in this time as we have hoped or not, that He would help me to worship Him regardless. Ours is a beautiful story because neither of us wanted what we now have, and neither of us will give up what we now have for anything else. Looking back, we can see how God brought us together and how He has been working in our relationship this entire time. We have known for quite some time that marriage was the final result. We are just not sure when that will be.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego trusted God to take care of their plight, but were also content enough that if He decided not to, that was alright. They knew their God and their God knew them. Their attitude and response is the same attitude and response that my fiancée and I are trying to have before God. Despite how difficult it can be at times, we are trying to give our situation over to God and trust Him for the results. We know that He can move mountains, if He chooses. Every Christian should have the same attitude and response about them. Sure, you will struggle with it for a time, but there ought to come a point where you surrender it and give its care unto the Lord, no matter what the outcome should turn out to be. If the response should be contrary to your desires, you should be able to praise God still.

We have no problems praising God when everything goes our way and we are enjoying life to its fullest, but what about when life throws us curve balls and lemons? What about when life drops dung pile after dung pile upon us? The Bible says that "in every thing" we are to "give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:18). Do you give thanks during the rough times of your life? You ought to!

We often have a "Whoa is me" attitude when things do not go our way. I do not pretend to have arrived at perfection, because I have not, and I do not expect to this side of heaven. But I do know what my Bible says, and I believe it. I know my God, and I pray that He knows me. The trouble is putting what we know into action the way we are called to and supposed to. Sometimes we do not even want to, even when God's Spirit is convicting us of our wrongful attitudes and responses. But every one of us knows better. "To him who knows the good he ought to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).