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Serving God Without Fear

(Daniel 6:10-23)

Lesson 8 -- second quarter 2008
April 20, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Is praying to God that important?

If the purpose of prayer is to communicate and have fellowship with God....

If the purpose of prayer is to praise and worship God....

If the purpose of prayer is to derive strength and courage and wisdom from God....

If the purpose of prayer is to intercede with God for others....

If the purpose of prayer is to tell God our needs....

If God Himself is that important....

Then, yes, praying to God is that important!

"The . . . prayer of the upright is his delight" (Proverbs 15:8).

Will I be faithful at the time of testing?

"Dad, seems to me I'm getting up in years enough to sit behind the wheel instead of behind the driver...."

"Well, you are getting up there, alright. But have you been watching me? I want you to know the right way by close observation first. It can be no other way."

[impatient sigh + time = another chat]

"Dad, I've been watching and waiting. I'm ready to add experience to study and observation."

"Yes, I've noticed how you watch me, ask questions and study your manual. I'm certain you can pass the test for your permit."

[nervous sigh + time = another chat]

"Dad, permits are fine, permits are great, but...."

"You're right. I know you can handle the license testing."

[fidgeting + time = another chat]

"Dad, may I please borrow the car for...?"

[keys jangle as they go from father to child]

Now just suppose. That the father hadn't helped prepare the prospective driver. That the father hadn't known the efforts and achievements of the student. That the father hadn't insisted on testing. That the would-be driver had pouted, "Ha. One test just leads to another.... Forget it!" There wouldn't have been that jangling of keys declaring success and trust.

Which brings us to some profound lessons about life.

God prepares His people. I do not believe that God would have countenanced for one bit the testing of Daniel...had He not first prepared him. In your own life, help the preparation process by watching the Father and studying the Manual. It can be no other way!

God knows His people. God knew Daniel...and knew he was ready...even for the unexpected and unexplainable. And He confidently and unashamedly stood by Daniel before the accuser...and "staked" His own integrity on His man. In your own life, never forget God knows you better than you know yourself--and trust Him.

God tests His people. God knew what the outcome would be. But the devil needed to know. And so did Daniel. Daniel needed to see the strength and depth of his own integrity under fire. He needed to be vindicated in the face of the doubter. Daniel didn't pick this test. Daniel couldn't have decided to skip this test, short of deciding to skip out on God.

God tests His people. Huh? Yes! Tests passed lead to more tests. That's the route to maturity and assurance. You can't refuse tests and still expect to reach the next phase. Just ask Daniel. Just ask licensed drivers. Despite this fact, I still meet people who would rather not take Test #1 since they see Test #2 on the horizon.

God rewards His people. Always. Without exception. Unfailingly. Predictably. One big hurdle we face here is our own willingness to trust God in this in the face of the apparent exception. Can I trust Him...though He slay me? Can I see even in death the righteous reward of a loving Father?

By the way, did it occur to you that through all this was the protecting oversight of the father (and the Father)? That's another life lesson you can develop here: God protects His people.

Anticipating (and preparing for) tests

When I went in for my drivers' permit test, I didn't just pop into the Division of Motor Vehicles on a sudden whim. Oh no! I set the date I would take the test, then I kept that important date in mind. I did not want it to catch me by surprise in a state of unpreparedness. I studied that manual, believe me.

"Well," you might say, "that obviously works for written tests like that. I don't know of anybody that has access to the devil's temptation schedule for them."

True enough. So let me illustrate this again, this time with some students I had as a teacher. I had a reputation as a lover of pop quizzes. My reputation and their experiences taught some of my students the wisdom of preparing for the unknown. They would take five or ten minutes right before class time to bone up on the subject. They weren't about to be caught unprepared if they could help it. Could they predict a pop quiz ahead of time? Of course not. But certain signs tipped off the observant and the wary.

"Yeah, sure. But the devil isn't that predictable. Is he?" I don't know. Even so, I believe certain signs should trigger our Temptation Early Warning Systems.

Weariness. Would you rather play checkers with a tired player or an alert one? Would you rather play volleyball against a tuckered-out team or against a fresh and vigorous one? The answer may depend on your level of sportsmanship, right? Well, I don't think the devil strives for good sportsmanship. So do you feel fatigued or sick, beware! Please note weariness isn't limited to the physical realm. If you are "down" spiritually or emotionally, you better watch out!

Success. I like the challenge of a strong opponent, especially one who has won a few games in a row. And if he's cocky or has become careless because his success, all the more interesting for me. Sometimes it seems the devil operates that way as well. Furthermore, if my opponent's success has been at my expense.... Sometimes it also seems the devil responds that way as well. Have you been winning spiritually? Praise the Lord! And watch out! (By the way, have you ever noticed that success often produce weariness?)

Criticism. A critical spirit invites testing, and often experiences defeat. Numerous times I have observed a person judge another harshly in some area only to be later tested and defeated in the same area. Have you harbored a critical attitude? Then take heed to yourself; your own test in that area may surge from around the next bush.

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