Wow, the time has flown since my last post 1 month ago today. My fam and I are doing well in Phnom Penh. My sister-in law, Mili, is pregnant with a second girl, my brother, Colin, is likely to be admitted into the best MBA program on the planet (Stanford), my in-laws arrive next Tuesday for a 3-week visit, after which Colin arrives with his partner, Cleo, for a 4-night visit, my son, Joshua, gets funnier and cuter as he ages, and my wife, Jen, gets more beautiful as she ages. Oh, and it was my birthday yesterday. 29 years old. Almost 30. Wow again.
Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Jesus is saying that if we love Him, then our love for Him will cause in us a desire to obey Him. Love causes obedience. We cannot expect to successfully obey Jesus if we don't treasure Him. One application is this: if I am struggling to obey Jesus, perhaps the problem is that I am not cherishing Him.
The context is the King has given Daniel's 3 godly friends the following ultimatum: bow down and worship a false god, or be thrown alive into an extremely hot furnace of blazing fire. The 3 friends' first response is definitely impressive as an example of following God in the face of such terrible persecution: "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king." (Daniel 3:17) But I submit that their next response is a clearer and more mature example of what it means to know and follow God: "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:18)
Why is their second response a clearer/maturer expression of following God? I think it's because the second response shows that the three friends truly understand the nature of God. God is sovereign, and it is sometimes His will not to remove his children from suffering, even the kind of unimaginable suffering those three faced. After all, some saints have been "sawn in two." (Hebrews 11:37) God may have other purposes in mind. Our job as Christians is to follow the example of these three saints: God, I know you're powerful enough to deliver me from this suffering, but I also know that you may want to use my suffering to glorify your name in other ways. Lord, whatever happens, I trust you, and I will not compromise my faith in you. May your perfect will be done, and may you get all the glory.
Ezekiel 36:27 (NASB): "'I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.'" All the major translations read essentially the same. This verse sounds like God's will is supreme over human will. If God wills us to obey, then we will obey. Contrary to what some may think, such behavior of God is the best example of love: causing someone to do good (i.e., to act in his/her best interests) when s/he would otherwise fail if left to his/her own devices.