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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Habit of Obedience

Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Daniel 3: 4-6 NIV 1984)
No one really knows the origin of the expression " to face the music," but I find this biblical scene to be the most evocative of the meaning of the phrase.  Every governmental official--except for three--bowed down to the idol when the music started.  There were three men who chose to face the music, rather than bowing their heads to what it stood for.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's decision began years before, when they were violently taken from their homeland and chose to remain followers of God.  For those of us who might dream (maybe just a secret wish) that we could have a similar chance to heroically stand up for God, we have to realize that the strength to stand in this kind of extreme circumstance comes from years of trials and tests which had prepared these men for this moment.  It didn't start when the band started playing.

The Bible only hints at these tests, but we read that these men were children of nobility, and likely orphaned by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1: 1-6).  If that trial wasn't enough, they next risked death to defy the king and refuse his food, which may have been sacrificed to idols (Daniel Chapter 1).  They also had probably been challenged to abandon integrity many times in their positions of leadership in the government (Daniel 2: 48-49; 6: 3-5).  They could have given themselves excuses to disobey God because of their circumstances, but they had decided not to. So how did they find the resolve to refuse to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's giant idol?  They simply continued in the pattern they had established for themselves.  Resisting sin had become a habit!  They faithfully believed God would supply the rest of the miracle (Isaiah 43: 2).

 If you want this kind of opportunity to stand up for God and really show the world who He is in your life, it starts with daily, smaller decisions to obey, whether or not anyone is looking.  Create in your life the habit of obedience, and God will supply the strength necessary to overcome the challenge you are facing.  Obedience is difficult, but habit makes it easier.  God supplies the rest of the miracle.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. (Philippians 1: 27-28 NIV 2012).


Kamal Singarapu said...

Thank you for the post.

Shannon said...

Amen! Similarly, little decisions to bend or break the rules can lead to big mistakes that ruin lives. The inner war with the sinful nature isn't finished off in one showy, Hollywood-style battle, but in many smaller skirmishes where the faithfulness of the King's soldier is tested. Let's make it a daily goal to serve Him honorably!