One of my favorite stories is in Daniel 3…you know…Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get thrown in the furnace for not bowing down to King Nebuchadnezzar. I loved that story particularly in college where I felt like I needed to avoid bowing down to the idols of sex and alcohol. I didn’t want to “stand out” and look “un-cool.” But I wanted to obey God. So, I did. Did I fit in the crowd? No. Did I want to? Yes. But in the furnace when I felt like I had no friends, other people appeared in the furnace with me. It turns out they refused to bow, too. That’s when I became friends with other Christians who lived out their faith even more than I did. And because of them I’m in the ministry today. I’ve lost touch with most of them now. But thanks to their obedience (and the Holy Spirit’s help in my own obedience) I feel like I’m one of the most blessed people in the world. I could care less if I’m “cool” now because I’ve got a wife and 3 kids who think I am.
What have you learned from obedience?
The seven closing words of James 4:2 (“you have not because you ask not”) contain the secret of the powerlessness of the average Christian, of the average minister, and of the average church. We ask, “Why is it that I make such poor progress in my Christian life? Why do I influence others for Christ so weakly?” God answers in the words of the text: “Neglect of prayer. You have not because you ask not.”
Many ministries ask, “Why is it that I see so little fruit from my ministry? Why are there so few conversions?” And again God replies, “You have not because you ask not.”
Guess what I’m asking for this morning?