For quite some time now, I have been attending a Bible study on Friday mornings at our church, New Hope. While some Bible studies are focused on coffee and chatting, these studies are TOUGH; but in a good way. They teach the Truth. I have often left on Friday mornings emotionally drained from learning about God's love, God's grace, and God's sovereignty.
The Bible studies that New Hope's women use are called Precept Upon Precept because they are structured with the understanding that scripture does not contradict scripture, and that in order to understand God's Word, we need to study the Word in depth; from the root. This can be a tedious process, and it does not go unnoticed by Satan-he loves to try to derail me when I'm in the midst of these studies. While I will miss Fridays, Sundays and every day in between at New Hope when we move out West; right now I'm still focused on what I learn there. Our current study of the book of Daniel has shown me clearly how I am to deal with our struggles as a more mature Christian.
Let me set the stage for you: Daniel, a youth still at the beginning of the book, is being groomed for a position in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. The king, with a pagan belief, hates Christianity so much that he has even been changing the names of people from Christian names to those related to a pagan belief. Daniel and his four closest friends were raised Christian and held fast to that belief.
But what has impressed me the most, and led me to some soul-searching is not just the fact that they hold to their faith in the midst of oppression under a pagan king; it's more the fact that, even in times of extreme pressure, Daniel shows his faithfulness to God in how he reacts to certain situations.Chapter 2 of Daniel is a great example of this, and could not have come at a better time for me.
King Nebuchadnezzar has dream and calls together all the sorcerers and magicians in the land to ask them to tell him what his dream was and explain his dream to him. When they refuse to tell him his dream, claiming that he has asked something that no human could ever do, he becomes enraged.
This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. Daniel 2: 12-13So, literally, their are people hunting down Daniel and his friends with the intent to kill them. Here is how Daniel reacts to this circumstance.
Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2: 17-18Now, while my first reaction to my day yesterday (learning the heat in my car was broken, knowing that Jeff needs to get his car fixed, knowing that we will be paying for our health insurance in full this month since it's through COBRA, and trying to fill out loan paperwork through the bank so we can buy a house out West)...my FIRST reaction was to think, "put a shout out as a prayer request so people will pray." However, the motive behind that reaction was NOT to get prayer on our behalf, it was, I think, to notify people of everything I had going on and POSSIBLY to gain sympathy. (Sad, but I have to be honest about my heart's condition).
My SECOND reaction was to post a status update to Facebook saying something like, "Satan really is trying to derail me" or "I really hate it when one thing after another happens and each one has $$$$ attached to it." But then I realized, "Tammie, this is NOT a big deal. God will provide, and you whining on Facebook will do nothing to help the situations."
Thankfully, I refrained from these first reactions, because I would have felt really sheepish once I dove even deeper into Daniel 2. You see, Daniel's prayer is answered and God reveals the meaning of the king's dream to Daniel! Yay, God!!!So, if your life were in danger; IMMEDIATE danger, with your potential executioners just waiting for the time to come to kill you, and YOU were given the answer to the question that the king is so desperately seeking which will SAVE YOUR LIFE...what would you do?
I would run from my home and directly to the king's court so I could say, "Wait! Stop the slaughter! I have the answer! I have the answer!!!!"But instead, Daniel takes the time to offer up to God a heart-felt prayer of thanks:
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:Wow...our dinner prayer is often much shorter than that prayer. I would be so pre-occupied with saving myself that I would never think about saying a prayer of thanksgiving BEFORE going to king and telling him the meaning of his dream. I would go straight to the king's court and remember (maybe) to say a prayer of thanks to God later than night as I was falling asleep.
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Daniel 2: 19-23
Can you see why I'll miss these Bible studies? I hope to continue to order the materials and share my thoughts with my fellow Bible study attendees from across the miles, and I hope to stay true to that plan; but we never know what we will find when we get to our new home. Perhaps there will be a Precept Upon Precept Bible Study in the area; perhaps not. But I know that God is faithful; he'll be faithful to me just as he was to Daniel. I just need to learn not to be such a reactor; so guided by my emotions that I forget who is ultimately in control and who has authored my days.
New Hope; NOT just the title of Epsiode IV of Star Wars, but also a church based in the Word of God; founded on the Truth. Just another of my favorite things.