Smoke Free Integrity ~ Devotional
Smoke Free Integrity
There are a two study groups of gals and myself who are currently going through the book of Daniel, and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised, amazed even. I have read and skimmed over this book maybe a couple of times, but with the content of the last few chapters being of prophecy and eschatology (end times) to be honest I really didn’t have much of a desire to camp out in the book of Daniel.
Ah, but now, it is different…. what I am learning has caused me to sit and think, ponder and ‘squirm’ a bit. Don’t get me wrong, there are ‘good’ times to squirm. Holy Spirit moments when He puts His finger on an area, draws our attention (we finally get it) to where we need to surrender and change.
At the direction of bible teacher Beth Moore (via DVD and workbook) we are going through verse by verse, painstakingly uncovering the call, the NEED for a life of integrity. What it is to have our character in alignment with Jesus! We are now in chapter 3, intensely looking at an event that has the potential of impacting us in a way that can transform our perspective of … hard times. This is the story of the strong stand three young men took, Hananiah, Misheal, and Azariah. Many of us are familiar with their new Babylonian names ~ Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s 3 buddies, who too were taken from their home land, and brought to the great region of Babylon.
Babylon has a mentality of self absorption, the unwritten motto of ‘ I am and there is none besides me’ (Isaiah 47:10) Sound and feel familiar? It too is all over our magazines stands, woven within the 60 second television commercials, it is on the faces of many high top executives as they do and take what ever it means to accomplish that title, salary, and position. Babylon…just about anything a person could want or even dream of, was found within her influence. (side note: did you know the name comes from Babel – Tower of Babel hm… think on that)
The King, Nebuchadnezzar of this fortress of wealth has issued a decree, that at the sound of instruments such as the horn, flute, and harp, everyone was to stop and bow at the 90 foot golden image he had erected. And if not, punishment by fire. All did, except… the 3 Hebrew youths.
Of course this caught great attention, can you imagine, everyone face down, while you just went along on your merry way. They were brought to the king, and he again gave them the opportunity to bow ( the enemy does that doesn’t he.. gives us ample opportunities to remove our focus off the Lord and place it either on ourselves, things or others).
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been bound, and thrown in the fire, their parting words to the mean king… ‘Neb sir – do what you must, but we will not bow to you or any other gods, even if you throw us in the fire, we serve the God able to rescue us, and if He chooses not to, we still will not serve other gods…’ (my paraphrase). Their response was different from those around them… theirs was respect, bending to authority, expressing humility yet holding on to their convictions ~ while others, bowed in worship … giving in, and giving up.
This is the part that has challenged me in my own ‘fiery trial’, verse 25 says, ‘look, I see four men walking around in the fire unbound, unharmed, the fourth looks like the son of the gods’ – this was said by the unbelieving King Nebuchadnezzar. It goes on to say that as the 3 guys come out, nothing was touched by the fire, their hair, their clothes… the only thing was the ropes!!! That which bound them!
To quote a dear pastor friend of mine, ‘this is good stuff’. What did I learn from these 3 guys?
They were willing to say no, trust their God, walk in and through a circumstance even when things heated up quite a bit. Ah … tried by fire… walk out unharmed, the only thing destroyed –> the thing that had us all tied up! AND… if that is not enough… it says that they didn’t even ‘smell like smoke’. I want to walk out of a heated situation, a time of testing… unharmed, those things that bind me all up, now burnt away, and I don’t even smell like I was in the heat of things! Now that IS God rescuing me! Note also, that Jesus is the 4th man… He goes to the extreme, where we too may be called to make strong statements about ourselves and our God, He is there! The king was impacted by all this… may my decision to stand strong in adversity, impact others. May they see Jesus right long beside me!
Situations come and go, many are hard at times, Jesus, said He would ‘never leave us or forsake us’, that means even in the ‘hot moments’ of life. We all tend to ‘go through’ things now and then, I was reminded this week by a born-again Hebrew Rabbi that Jesus is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’, the word ‘way’ in the Hebrew is ‘derekh’, meaning ‘the way, the road, the path, the journey’. Jesus is the path we are on, our journey.
1 Chro. 29:17 David says this at the end of his life….’I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity…’ wow, the Lord is pleased with the result of testing, (literally meaning –‘seeing what we are made of’ ) integrity… choosing to be, do and stand regardless…
Father, cause our hearts to not bow to the philosophy of this world, to seek only what is good for us, but to love others and do what we can to see the best come to pass for them. May we keep our focus where it should be… on YOU, and You alone. We invite You Holy Spirit to keep us in check, that our integrity and character is in alignment with Your word and Spirit. Burn away anything that does not bring You honor and glory. In the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen!
Have a God-loving, smoke free full of integrity week.
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me, LORD!)