"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

8/21/08

But Even If He Does Not...

During my devotional time, I am working through reading the Bible in a year. This is actually something I have done almost every year since I got saved, and I often use a specific reading schedule (Usually from RBC’s Our Daily Bread). This year, however, I am not. I started at the beginning on January 1, and have read every day since, however much I felt led to read – starting with Genesis and working my way through.

I just finished the book of Daniel today, and once again came across one of the most incredible statements of faith in God in the Bible—in my opinion, anyway.

Let me set the scene. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He has recently built a 50-foot statue, and demanded that every one of his subject bow down and worship it. These three men of God, high up in Nebuchadnezzar’s organization, refuse to worship anyone but their Lord.

The king approaches the three men and gives them one more chance to obey: "If you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Daniel 3:15 NIV

Now, if I had been one of those men, I'm fairly certain my panic alarm would have gone off at maximum volume. Doubts, anxiety, and fear would have dominated my thoughts. I might have even bowed (with my body) just to save my life (admit it--you might have considered it too!).

But not these guys.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18 NIV
Now that, my friends, is faith. These men knew He could save them, but were willing to pay the ultimate price even if He chose not to do what they wanted. That is faith no matter the circumstances--faith despite circumstances.

There are many around the world who are faced with the same dilemma as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: men and women who risk their lives, families, finances, possessions and everything else every day just to share the Gospel, or to live it out. The persecuted church is huge, yet it is the fastest growing part of the body of Christ. These people are willing to look their oppressors in the face and say "but even if He does not." And in some cases, He does not. But they still say it.

That is the kind of faith I want.

Heavenly Father, I pray for all those who are suffering for their faith, for those who risk death daily because of their love for You. Give them the strength to say, and life "but even if He does not" each day. Strengthen them, and hold them close to You.

And Lord, I pray that you would give me that kind of faith. Help me to trust You enough to live for You no matter what the consequences. Make me an "but even if He does not" Christian.
In Jesus' name. Amen.

7 comments:

  1. Amen! How often do we remember to pray for the persecuted church? Paul said, "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them." (Heb. 13:3)

    How often would we pray for the prisoners if we were one of them? How often would we want others to remember to pray for us?

    Betsy Markman
    justanotherclaypot.blogspot.com

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  2. A huge resounding "AMEN," Jo. What a powerful post filled with the wonder-working power of God. He can make us strong enough to stand if we believe in Him.

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  3. How different would my day look if I harbored that kind of faith?! I want it too, friend. In many ways, I think that your journey mirrors a similar faith. You've walked in some fiery furnances by anyone's standards, and you live to testify to the grace of God that has carried you through.

    Thanks for your heart and for sticking to Jesus like glue. Enjoy your Bible read, and be sure to keep us posted on your progress. I'm reading through it also. A chapter from the OT and one from the NT.

    How I love God's Word.

    peace~elaine

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  4. Jo, this was our lesson last night in with the kids. They've just gone back to school and the teacher used this lesson to encourage the kids to stand strong and do the right things even when 'everyone else' wasn't.

    Such a great recap for me!
    Huggles!

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  5. Jo, thank you so much for sharing this. And I love hearing about your commitment to read the Bible in a year.

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  6. Hi Joanne, I found your blog through a link from faithwriters. Thank you for posting this devotional. It's not easy to stand in the face of opposition, but it's wonderful to know that even if God doesn't answer in the way we think He should, He is still God. I believe Heaven stands at attention when such faith is displayed. I too want to have a faith in God that doesn't waver even if He says no. Thank you again. Vickie

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  7. I too pray that the Lord would make me an "even if He does not.." Christian. Most times I think that I am, and then their are days that I am weak. But in those times, He reminds me that His strength is made perfect, in my weakness.

    Be blessed

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