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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No compromise album cover
Different and Alone!
(Photo by Megan and used with permission)

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"Defying Caesar's Decrees"

"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God'" (Daniel 3:28). "But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: 'These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus'" (Acts 17:6,7).

No compromise album cover

The photo above is from one of our all-time favorite album covers; Keith Green's "No Compromise." Set in an Old Testament period the people are required to bow before the passing king. But one brave soul, true to his convictions, remains standing in obedient defiance. A soldier on a horse is pointing him out. We are left wondering what consequence he faced for doing the right thing in the eyes of the One True King (Exodus 20:3-6).

Fiery furnaceToday let's consider Bible characters who went against the crowd such as the three Hebrews in our first selection who said to King Nebuchadnezzar, when given the choice between bowing down to the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up or be thrown in a fiery furnace, "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 3:18).

Following their miraculous deliverance from the fiery funace Nebuchadnezzar gave them one of the highest commendations imaginable: "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."

There is an ancient and ongoing contest between two opposing worldviews; one that is raging to this day and will do so until the return of the Lord. In fact I expect it will get far more intense as God judges the compromising church.

The second daily Scripture portion is a more obscure passage set in Paul's second missionary journey.  Paul's ministry in Thessalonica was received by some but opposed by most. One receptive Thessalonian named Jason had welcomed Paul and Silas into his home. He now paid a big price for that hospitality. He, along with some other brothers, was dragged before the city officials.

The charge they faced is so interesting. "These men (Paul and Silas) who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here." From the perspective of this angry, unreceptive mob Paul and Silas and their followers were troublemakers. What a rebel rousing reputation they had, causing trouble all over the world!

Their accusers sum up the essence of the dangerous message they're spouting to others in one phrase, "They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus'".

"Defying Caesar's decrees (whenever they oppose God's decrees), and saying that there is another king, one called Jesus" remains the message of the true church, a message the world hates to hear and a message we must steadfastly proclaim.

That seems to be the pattern regarding receptivity to God's truth throughout the centuries.  It certainly was true of Jesus' ministry when He walked among a fallen people. And it is true today in so many places where God's truth is being proclaimed. And it's becoming more and more true right here in America where we have been accustomed to religious freedom.

Here in America there is such an increase in opposition to those who boldly proclaim Jesus and the teachings of the Scripture. In doing so the decrees of "Caesar" may very well be defied. For in many ways taking a stand for Christ defies the decrees of the modern Caesar.  This is especially true concerning a number of "hot button" issues such as our origins, sexuality and abortion.

We've often heard the phrase, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." The main thing is a consistent demonstration by word and deed, both individually and corporately, of the reality of another king, one called Jesus and another kingdom not of this world, God's Kingdom.

Today let us who love the Lord faithfully proclaim this timeless message.  If we are viewed as troublemakers and dangerous so be it!  It does not diminish the truth of what we share; that we serve a risen King whose kingdom is not of this world. We live, not just for a lifetime on earth, but for all eternity in heaven.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, we proclaim You to be the King of Kings and Lord of lords.  Help us to boldly declare this glorious message, not only in a setting where we find receptive listeners, but also to a hostile world that is building its perishable kingdom here on earth. May we be full of conviction and infused with Your power as we courageously tell others "There is another King, one called Jesus."  You've called us to be light in a world full of darkness. You've also enjoined us to be peacemakers. Sometimes when we take a stand for righteousness it does not bring peaceful resolution, but instead further conflict arises. Then we go through a surge of emotions and doubts begin to arise regarding our stand.  Would You help us to be diligent in our study, prayerful about our stand, and immersed in Your Holy Word.  May we not stand in our own strength or be led by aimless ambition. Lord, as we take a position against the evil tide of our land help us to be unapologetic in our stand, consistent in our Christian walk, and loving in our approach. May we, by example and word, say to the fallen world that we serve not the god of this age, but we serve a King who is ageless and eternal. In Your strength alone we stand. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Am Persuaded"  Video  
Central Church of God Choir - Charlotte, NC. This is an outstanding song based on Scripture.

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"No Compromise"  Video  Keith Green  

"To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice"  Video  Keith Green

Today's photo of tulips was taken by a Megan, a reader who shares her photos here. I believe she is responding to a request last week welcoming submitted photos that we may be able to use on the site. This particular photo was taken at a tulip festival with no photo editing.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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