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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Daniel 3:16, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said unto the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter."

This morning, our world continues to wax worse and worse, and it would be easy to fall victim and prey to discouragement and fear (mortal dread).  Yet, discourag
ement and fear are two of Satan's biggest (and most successful) devices in his daily warfare on the people of God.  We should look at the world honestly and say that things are getting worse, but that honest evaluation of things should never stand in the focus of an equally honest admission that God is still in control, on His throne, and just as full of power and might as He has ever been.  His promises are just as sure as they have ever been.  His faithfulness is just as great, and His mercies just as sure.  These concepts are those types of thoughts so embedded in our minds that they are "most familiar" to us.  This type of familiarity can be thought of as "rote memory."  In learning and study, rote memory is the type of memorization that requires less thought due to the familiarity with the subject matter.  In mathematics, rote memorization is used for multiplication and addition tables, so that one does not have to think of the answer to 2+2 or 2x2.  The answer of 4 in both cases is immediately recalled without analyzing or contemplation.

Just as equally great in our minds should be certain courses for our lives, that they can be recalled by rote memory.  Certain life decisions take analyzing and prayerful consideration, but there are things we face in life that should not require diligent evaluation.  The reason that diligent evaluation is not necessary is because we are so familiar with the right course of action that we readily recall to mind (rote memory) what our proper course should be.  It is this area of thought that we desire to examine based on the three Hebrew children's response to a wicked, earthly king.  By understanding their course, we can more readily arm ourselves to act similarly if faced with a like situation.

When Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are brought before Nebuchadnezzar, they were already guilty of not performing the king's commandment.  He had commanded all of his subjects to bow down to the image he made when they heard all forms of music being sounded.  Since these three righteous men did not do so, they were arraigned before the king for their civil disobedience.  In our lives, we may, now or in the future, be arraigned for not being obedient to civil magistrates.  Now, it should be our just course and lawful duty to obey them that have the rule over us (Hebrews 13:17), but that lawful obligation extends only to the point of our just course and lawful duty to our Heavenly Father and His precepts.  For example, if an unjust king exacts hard burdens and labours upon us, we need to be found in obedience to the decree so long as it does not cause us to go contrary to God's laws.  Later in this same book, we find that Daniel was disobedient to the decree to refrain from prayer as that infringed on his obedience to his God.  However, in other daily courses, Daniel was found in strict obedience to civil decrees so that none could find lawful accusation against him. (Daniel 6:4)

We may grumble about paying taxes we think unjust, but if those taxes are not forcing us to act contrary to God's commands, we should willingly pay them and lead a quiet and peaceable life among men as much as possible. (I Timothy 2:2) What Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were faced with was a very different proposition.  The king's command was blatant idolatry, and their civil obedience would have led to spiritual disobedience.  Therefore, they were found being disobedient to the king to be obedient to the King!  But what of their answer?  What were they posed with?  These three were given a "second chance" to be obedient to the decree.  One thing about life and its associated "power circles" is that some have extra advantages whether merited or not.  These three men were known throughout the land (as was Daniel) to be more wise and apt to their duties in the king's court.  A quick perusal of Daniel 1 shows that the king sought these individuals as his "best of the best" in the kingdom among his counsellours.  Therefore, they were granted an extra opportunity to obey, whereas they probably would not have should they have been just a commoner to the king.

However, these three disappoint their king's expectations by not submitting themselves to his decree.  From their answer and firm conviction, a dozen opportunities to obey from the king would have yielded the same result.  They were so convinced of their decision that they did not have to think about it.  They said, "We are not careful..."  What they are essentially saying is that we are not worried about the rightness of their answer.  Not to say that they were handling their decision loosely, but rather, they were so convicted and convinced of their proper course that they did not need extra time to think about it, search it out, or consider it.  Idolatry is wrong.  Period.  They knew it, and they acted accordingly.  Similarly, when we are posed with idolatry, we should immediately know it is wrong and act accordingly.  Period.

If we are confronted with the temptations of fornication, adultery, drunkenness, or any other of the great host of moral inequities, we should not have to "prayerfully consider" whether to engage or not.  Rather, we should be ready to answer (as these did), that we are not careful to answer this matter for we know unequivocally that it is wrong.  What if our magistrates decree that we cannot assemble anymore to worship God?  Should we consider what our course should be?  Heavens no, but rather, we should immediately seek our next best opportunity to worship God as we have sought to do so before.  Given enough time to think about things, we have the dreadful capacity to justify anything in our own minds.  We could think up any number of a pocket full of excuses not to pray, assemble, read our Bibles, etc if decreed otherwise by our rulers.  However, our minds should have these things so embedded and implanted that they are set in our minds and hearts to not sin against our Lord above. (Psalm 119:11)

Decisions in life such as which job to take, where to live, for preachers which vineyard to labour in, for churches which labourer to call into that vineyard, etc. require much prayerful consideration and diligent meditation.  But decisions about moral uprightness should be readily utilized and acted upon so that we do not consider for an hour, minute, or moment how to respond. (Galatians 2:5) So, how does rote memory come into such a fashion?  How does one get a concept to the point of immediate recollection?  In the case of addition or multiplication tables, repetition after repetition with practice is needed to get the mind to that point.  In the case of spiritual fidelity, there are some equally repetitive factors.  However, in the spiritual realm, there is a prerequisite.  Something must happen first that initially teaches us of these things.  That first teaching comes from the implanting of a righteous spirit in the new birth. (Titus 2:11-12)

Once that implanting is made, we know right from wrong inwardly, and it is our duty to become acquainted with the full extent of these things by diligent reading, meditation, and listening to the heralding of the glorious gospel message of Jesus Christ.  The first teaching must come from God, but the repetition must come from earnest searching of God's word to see the full extent of these things.  Then we understand how easily we can become victim to adultery (looking with lust), murder (hating without a cause), idolatry (covetousness), etc.  After this repetition, we then know these things without careful consideration.  Combining this moral justness with rote recollection of God's infinite love, mercy, power, and grace, we can assuredly look at the Nebuchadnezzars of this world and claim that deliverance is near.  Whether in life or in death, our deliverance is near, and we are ready and willing to stand as we should in earnest contention for the faith once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3)

In Hope,

Bro Philip