October 26, 2015

I don’t need pride — I need God

Daniel 2:17–3:30, 1 Thessalonians 3:6–4:12, Job 40:13–24

Pride essentially refuses to believe that I need God. But when challenges overwhelm my own abilities, I sing a different tune. Today, I’m reading about needs. We humans usually try to meet them with our own resources, and when all else fails, we cry out to God. A big life-lesson is learning that no matter the need, all have the same solution. Today’s readings list a few of those needs and give that one solution.

Job was suffering and wanted relief, but he also wanted to know the reason God was allowing his predicament. God’s answer was verbal. He reminded Job of His power, showing him that He is worthy of total trust.

In the middle of chapter 40, God refers to a large animal (could be a hippo or even a dinosaur): “Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.”  After describing the power of this beast, God asks Job, “Can one take him by his eyes, or pierce his nose with a snare?” (Job 40:15, 24) God’s question cuts into human pride by saying that no matter what I think I can do without God, I cannot do what God can do.

Daniel had a different challenge. King Nebuchadnezzar, who held him captive, had a dream and sought an interpretation. He would not tell his ‘wise men’ the dream, and unless they could figure out what it was and what it meant, all of them would die. Daniel and his three friends prayed and God revealed the dream and its interpretation, thus saving their lives.

After that, the king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” (Daniel 2:47)

Even though Nebuchadnezzar understood that much, he still didn’t think he needed God. Instead he created a large statue and commanded his people to worship it every time they heard music. God’s young men refused, and Daniel’s three friends were reported to the king. He ordered his men to toss them into a furnace with this challenge: “Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

They replied, “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.” (Daniel 3:15–18)

The fire was hot enough to burn those who did the tossing, but when the three fell bound into the burning furnace, the king was astonished and said, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:23–25)

The three were not overpowered by the fire. “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.”

At this, the king said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:27–29)

This king was humbled enough to begin thinking that everyone else needed God. He ordered others to fear Him, but at this time in his life, he still didn’t need God. His pride would be dealt with later.

The NT reading is a very positive letter to a new church. They were doing well but Paul wanted to urge them to continue and encouraged them to live holy and pure lives.

He said, “Finally . . . we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more . . . . For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1–8)

Anyone who walks with God knows the challenges of living a pure and holy life. We need to know how to control our passions, but more than that, we must admit our inability to do this — or anything else in our own power. We need God.

Realizing that need might come from seeing God’s power, or experiencing His gracious help, or finding out that He can deliver us from seemingly impossible dangers. No matter how He shows us our need, we also must learn the response of Daniel’s three friends: that whether God meets my need or not, I will still continue to trust and worship Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

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