In Daniel chapter 3, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego were called to appear before King Nebuchadnezzar. They were charged with not worshiping the gods of Babylon nor bowing down the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar himself. He is willing to give them another chance, and if they will bow down then all will be well. But instead:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “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 3:16-18 Continue reading →
My mother uses her cell phone for one thing, and that is to make and receive calls. She has no camera, internet or mp3 player. But let’s be honest, that isn’t how most of us do it. Most of us are downloading music, texting, instant messaging, uploading pics, and some of us still talk once in a while. We do business on the way to work. We listen to audio books while on the treadmill. Nobody does one thing at a time anymore.
Moses sees the burning bush in Exodus 3, and in verse 3 he says “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” Moses was doing his job as a shepherd when the sight of the burning bush got his attention. He then turned aside; he put what he was doing on hold in order to pay attention to this curious sight. He discovers God in the bush, and for the rest of chapter 3 and 4 does nothing but talk and listen to God. Continue reading →
Elijah is one of the better known prophets of the Old Testament. Just after defeating the prophets of Baal, however, Elijah does something very strange considering his victory. He hides out in a cave and simply asks God to kill him. 1 Kings chapter 19 is the very well known passage where there is a wind, but God was not in the wind; there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Finally he hears the voice of God in a small still voice. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this story. But twice in this passage Elijah expresses his concern that he is the only true believer left in the world. God basically tells him to get over his pity party, and informs him that there are 7,000 still in Israel that never bowed the knee to Baal. The lesson for us is that we are often not as alone as we think.
In Genesis chapter 14, Abram is the only man of faith we know about. After the flood, the population of the world grew, and very quickly forgot about God. As far as we know, Abram is the only person God is talking to period. Then he meets Melchizadek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High (El Elyon in Hebrew). Melchizadek blesses Abram, and Abram gives the priest a tenth of all he has. What’s weird about all this is the tribe of Levi, from which the Levitical priests are anointed, will not exist for hundreds of years yet. Levi was Abraham’s great-grandson, but not yet, not in Genesis 14. The New Testament book of Hebrews makes a big deal of this, and has a lot to say about the relationship between Abraham the patriarch and this priest not of the Levite order. Simply put, Abram was not alone in his belief of the True and the Living God.
At times, we are placed in tough places to grow. Remember the sunflower story? It can be discouraging, but recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” Just before that he said all authority was given to him in heaven and on earth. Not only are we not alone, who better could we ask be with us?
Pray without ceasing means that we are continually in a spirit of communion with our Heavenly Father. It means to pray frequently, about everything, until it becomes our nature to be in prayer, not something we have to be reminded of.
Jesus not only taught his disciples to pray, but we see in the gospels how important pray was in Jesus’ own life. On one occasion, we read that Jesus gets up early in the morning, while it is still night, and goes off by himself to pray. Another time, we find that Jesus has stayed up the entire night in prayer. Even Jesus, who was God incarnate, spent time alone with God in prayer. There is no way we can be so close to God that prayer isn’t necessary. The night before his arrest, Jesus prayed in agony until his sweat became as great drops of blood. Jesus was passionate about a lot of things, but he never did anything else until it nearly killed him the way he spent this evening in prayer. Continue reading →