Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, May 23, 2016

God is Sovereign

Recently, I posted about faith, [Pray in Faith January 20, 2016; Faith is Action February 2, 2016], it seems that some people have come to the conclusion that, “If I have faith then God will, without fail do whatever I ask.” I want you to know, ttough, that it isn’t always like that. God is God – He’s sovereign.  God may not always respond to what we ask in the way that we want.  Today, I want to post on God’s sovereignty:

Daniel 3:15-18 (NKJV)
3:15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

The Faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

This is a pretty familiar portion of scripture, but let me fill in what’s happening here.  This takes place after Israel has fallen to Babylon.  The best of the young people have been taken there to serve King Nebuchadnezzar and to work in his government.  Among those taken were Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Nebuchadnezzar gets the idea that he’s a god, so he builds a huge golden statue of himself, and he commands that when the music is played that everyone will bow down and worship his statue.  So, the music is played and everyone bows down.  As you look over the people everyone is bowing; everyone...but these three men.

They are brought before the king and he gives them a second chance.  “I’m going to play the music again, and this time you better bow down.”  The music plays again and everyone except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow again.

The king confronts them:  “Let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the golden image you have set up.”
They’re standing firm in their faith in God.  They’ve been taken to Babylon – But they haven’t lost faith in God.  This isn’t the first time they’ve defied the king. 

When they first arrived in Babylon they were separated apart from others and given delicacies from the king’s table to eat, but Daniel and the three didn’t want to violate God’s commands, regarding food and what could not be eaten.  They stood firm and refused the delicacies.

So, they were faithful men.  In times of trouble they would pray to God and remained in God’s will rather than adjusting to Babylon’s culture, and because of their faith, God helped them and blessed them.  He helped them to stay within His food requirements.  

Another time He gave Daniel the answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  He answered their prayers in that matter; saving their lives.  They have been faithful, prayed in faith, and God has given them the answer to their prayers.  All of that goes with what I said in those other posts.  I preached that if we had faith God would move on our behalf, and we can see from His response to these men that that’s true.  God will respond to our faith.  Our faith is a catalyst to God’s response:

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV)
21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

If you have faith and do not doubt… whatever you ask in prayer, believing you will receive.  This is a promise…BUT, dies that mean that God will give us anything we ask?  There’s a clue to the answer of that question in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response to the king.  Look at this in our text:

Daniel 3:17-18 (NKJV)
3:17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

They said, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, but if not… But if not?  What happened to that promise?  If you pray without doubting you will receive.  This says that God may or may not grant your petition:  It’s up to God.  God is the one who decides whether or not He’ll bless.

God Will Bless Whom He Will Bless

This is because God is a sovereign God.  That word sovereign means one who holds supreme power.   So, God has the power to make a decision about your prayer.  We’ve seen that Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego had faith.  Their prayers were prayed in faith, but they left open the possibility that God may not deliver them.

Exodus 33:19 (NKJV)
33:19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

This is God’s statement on His sovereignty.  I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.  God’s saying, "I’m going to do what I’m going to do."  It’s totally up to God – God gets to decide.

When we come to God, we bring our needs and our wants, but we should never lose sight of which one of us is God.  We can complain, “I went to God in faith.” – “I showed God my need.” – God should have given me what I wanted!” – Except God is God not you.  You’re not God.  This may come as a shock to some, but it’s JESUS Christ not Santa Christ.

So why wouldn’t God give you what you’re asking?  There’s a number of reasons why God would withhold your desire.  The first is That what you’re asking isn’t God’s will.

Job 23:13-14 (AMP)
23:13 But He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him? And what He wants to do, that He does. 14 For He performs [that which He has] planned for me, and of many such matters He is mindful.

God has a plan for your life.  There is a specific plan.  God has a method and a destiny for your life.  We can ask God for something and not get it because it goes against God’s plan for your life.

I’ve known people who have asked God for a husband or a wife and still remain unmarried.  Sometimes, they’re asking for a specific person, that may not be the person that God has in mind, for what He has planned for THEM, so it goes against God’s will for their lives.  We don’t always know what God is trying to do.

The second reason is that what you’re asking may destroy your destiny.  That thing you’ve asked for may be the thing that pulls you out of God’s will.  I’ve known people that have gone out and taken jobs that took them away from church and right our of God’s will.  The problem is that not everything we think we want is the best thing for us.

God knows His plan for you.  God also knows what’s best for you and for seeing His plan through.  We don’t always even know what God is trying to do in us.  God may be trying to work something out of us, cause us to see something differently, or to behave in a different way, and what you’re praying for may derail that.  God doesn’t think like us.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

We’re limited by our senses.  We don’t know what’s in the future.  We don’t understand how things are interconnected.  We don’t always see the cause and effect of what we’re asking.  But God does; He does know all of these answers and God wants only good things for us.  God isn’t going to give us something that’s going to damage us.  It all comes down to trusting God.

Can you Trust God to Know What's Best?

Can you trust God to know what’s best for you?  Do you believe that God is always a good God?  I’ve heard people say, “I’m losing faith in God because He’s not giving me what I’m praying for.”  Prayer isn’t a way of getting what we want, but the way to become what God wants us to be.

Do you really want the best that God has for you?  I sometimes think we say that we want all that God has for us, but then we short-circuit God’s plans for us, by demanding that God give us what we want.

We have to be able to trust that God really has our best interest at heart; that He has plans for us and that those plans are the best thing for us.

One thing that I see happening is that people are getting angry at God when they don’t get what they want, but God isn’t a genie in a bottle that’s bound to give us our wishes.  God gives according to HIS wishes.  It’s a misconception to think that God exists to serve us.  God created us to worship Him.  We exist to serve God.  God is gracious.  God is loving.  God gives us the things that are best for us.  We don’t always know what’s best for us, but God does, because God CAN see the future.  He does know how things interconnect.  He can see cause and effect.

So, let’s go back to our text for another moment.  Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego tell Nebuchadnezzar something that’s a really important lesson for us in verse 18 of our text:

Daniel 3:18 (AMP)
3:18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up!

Basically, what they’re saying is, “We believe that God will give us what we ask, but if He doesn’t we’re going to serve God anyway.”  Even if God chooses not to deliver them they’re going to serve God anyway.

It’s so discouraging to see people fall out of the will of God and out of the blessing of serving God, because God was doing something different than they wanted God to do.  I’ve seen it happen so often recently.  People are allowing Satan to lie to them, and He’s ripping them off.  The devil’s a liar.

So, we pray in faith believing that we’ll receive.  We pray with the expectation that God will move.  We take the action of our faith, to see it happen, but when it doesn’t, does it mean that God doesn’t care?  It may mean that God cares enough not to give you everything you ask.  I don’t give my kids everything they ask for because I know that some of those things aren’t good for them.  God is the same way, so another part of faith is having the faith to trust that God is doing what’s best for you in His answer to your prayer.

When we’re praying it’s best to remember which one of us is God.

Believe it or not – You are NOT God.

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