Monday, August 20, 2012

Working with God

I have often wondered why God works with certain people.  What makes him able to do so?  Or what makes them the type of person God likes to work with?  In what ways might people need to be different than everybody else?

(Quick sidenote:  I don't like the expression "use" in Christianity - "God used him" or "please use me, God" - it's not there, biblically.  God works together with us "to will and to do of his good pleasure," he doesn't control us and make us do things the way I "use" a fork, if you see where I'm coming from).

And, I don't really know the answer to this!  I don't know that any of us can fully understand why certain people were chosen, or ended up doing "big things" for God.  Often, these people are of no account to the rest of the world.  For example, Esther was just a Jewish child who, through God's provision, became Queen and changed the fate of her people.  But on the other hand, people in high up positions also become great in God's economy.  King David would be one such person.

I've been looking at possible reasons Daniel was such a great man, and why God was able to work with him.    More specifically, I've been considering what set Daniel apart for God's work.

Here are some things I discovered:

One of the first things said about Daniel (1:8), is that he RESOLVED that he would not defile himself with the King's food, which he was commanded to eat.  He took a big risk and asked the person in charge of him to let him eat something else.  Vegetables!  Who would choose to eat vegetables over the same food the King was eating?  (Which happened to be meat and wine, by the way).  Well, it was more important to Daniel to honor God than to enjoy tasty food that would defile him (I haven't researched, but my guess is that the meat was offered to idols).

Read the book of Daniel and you will see that over and over Daniel (and his awesome friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) chooses to honor God despite any personal harm or discomfort he may suffer from such a choice.  To me, that seems like a quality that would allow God to work with a person.  How could God do mighty things through us if we shy away from something that needs to be done if it is threatening?  Daniel and his friends would not have been able to make the statements they were trying to make if they had not stood firm in the face of death.

For example, Daniel, in chapter 6, continued to pray to God three times daily despite a grave decree from the King he served that anyone who petitioned any man or god beside the King would be thrown into the lion's den.  If he hadn't, it would have sent the message that the King is more important than Daniel's God, that Daniel is afraid of the King, that he doesn't think that God could save him from any peril, and that Daniel doesn't really take his relationship with God seriously.  But since he DID stand firm, it not only sent a strong message of complete trust and dependence on God, but it also gave God the chance to show the entire kingdom how awesome He really is, and that he can save anyone who relies completely on Him.

It seems like our culture is all about compromise and pleasing ourselves, and so it is no wonder that in America we don't see amazing things from the hand of God.  I think that it would do us well to get back to a place of true dependence on God, and to making the right decisions to show the world that we honor God above anyone and anything else.  I'm working on it, and I'm thankful for the examples in the Bible of people who did just that.

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