Tag: Faith

Gift of Competence—Unbounded for Human Effort with Faith of God

Daniel invoked competence of God, verified to the satisfaction of king Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted his dream, and won the king’s acknowledgement of the power of God. The interactions confirm our understanding that competence is a gift from God, includes capability of verification to win human confidence, and is unbounded as God extends it as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Gift of Competence - Daniel Interprets Dream
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We discuss interactions between Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar, regarding Daniel’s first dream interpretation for the king, to extend our understanding that competence is a gift from God. His gift of competence includes the capability of verification to satisfy human standards and win others’ confidence in one’s ability to apply the competence to their benefit. Human demand for verification of competence is well illustrated by King Nebuchadnezzar demanding the dream interpreter first tell him his dream so he can rely on the interpretation.

Also, we learn through the interactions that God’s gift of competence is unbounded. He extends competence as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Cut out but not by human hands
Cut out but not by human hands
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The example from Daniel illustrates that God extends human competence to accomplish an objective consistent with his purpose. Daniel’s recognition that he could rely on the unbounded competence of God defined a clear contrast between him and the Babylonian diviners. The diviners declared the king’s demand impossible to satisfy because they relied solely on human competence [Daniel 2: 11]: “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” In contrast, Daniel recognized that human competence derives from the unbounded competence of God and urged his friends “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 2:18].

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Conflict Resolution Example from Daniel

During his early years of captivity in Babylon, Daniel and three compatriots faced an internal conflict with fulfilling their commitment to worship and serve God while being obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had allotted them a daily ration of food and wine from his supply as part of their preparation to enter his elite service. However, Daniel believed the royal diet would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed obedience to the king and his officials. We study Daniel’s interactions with the king’s staff to understand his approach to negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

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We begin a bible study series based on the experience of Daniel and three compatriots, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego), during their captivity in Babylon. This first session in the series focuses on understanding Daniel’s approach to peaceful resolution of a conflict triggered by the king’s diet requirement for Daniel and his friends.

Royal diet offer
Royal diet offer
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The king had placed them on a diet based on daily allotment from his own supply of food and wine to support a healthy and robust appearance as part of their training for the king’s service. However, Daniel believed consumption of such food or drink would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed a duty of obedience to the king and his officials. He negotiated a peaceful resolution based on substituting a diet of vegetables and water for the king’s delicacies. Thus, he and his friends remained obedient to the king without engaging in any practice that could compromise their commitment to worship God.

The study provides opportunity to discuss some guiding principles of Christian mediation. As we discuss in a previous study under Christian Basis for Mediation: Part 2 of 2, Christian mediation requires a commitment to peaceful resolution motivated by God’s promise of blessing for peacemakers [Matthew 5:9]. Also, successful mediation often will include seeking knowledge and understanding of the facts and a resolution based on respect for the facts. Daniel’s approach to resolving the conflict appears based on similar principles and consists of the following.

  1. He was motivated to resolve the matter peacefully.
  2. He showed knowledge of the chain of command and recognized who had authority for each decision needed to resolve the conflict.
  3. He had faith of God providing a resolution but recognized the need to apply his human knowledge and capabilities while seeking God’s resolution.
  4. He identified the stakeholders and determined their expectations and how the expectations could be satisfied simultaneously.

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David Called to Mission—Messaging Child through Parent

David’s father sent him on an errand to check on his senior brothers at the battlefield and report their conditions back to him. While on the errand, David encountered the challenge of Goliath and transitioned into a mission to kill Goliath, lead Israel to victory over Philistines, and establish himself as future leader of Israel. God called David to the mission by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Through the mission, David teaches all people: if you pledge to worship and serve God and live according to the pledge, then God will be your God and will lead you to victory over every enemy or weapon set against you.

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Shepherd boy called to mission
Shepherd boy called to mission
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We examine the events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath and draw an example to illustrate that God may send messages to a child through normal parent-child interactions. The study continues our series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We have identified three categories of such messaging based on previous sessions. In the first category, typified by the Call of Samuel, the message is clear to the parent and consists of information that the child should implement himself/herself with parental guidance. For example, Eli understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. The second category consists of a clear instruction to a parent to implement for his/her child. For example, in Instruction to Parent for Child, we discuss God’s revelation to Rebekah regarding relationships between Jacob and Esau. The third category consists of messages delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child recognizing at the time that the information is a message from God. For example, in Joseph Called to Mission, we discuss Jacob sending his son on what he believed was an ordinary errand that we now understand as God calling Joseph to a special mission to Egypt.

David the slinger
David the slinger
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The current study discusses another example in the third messaging category. The example is based on events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath. We discuss an understanding that the events illustrate God prompting a parent to pass information to a child that becomes a pivotal input to the child’s development. David’s father, Jesse, sent him on an errand to check on his brothers in the battlefield and bring back information about their condition. The errand took David to his encounter with and triumph over Goliath, leading Israel to victory when they feared defeat, and establishing himself as a future leader of Israel.

We see remarkable similarities between the call of Joseph to the Egypt mission (Joseph Called to Mission) and the call of David to battle Goliath. In each case, a father sends a child on an errand to check on senior brothers and report back to the father, the child runs into an obstacle on the way but presses on toward completing the errand, and the child confronts a situation that transforms the errand into a long-term mission of much greater significance. The events appear designed to provide opportunities for us to learn about clarity of parental communication and the importance of a child listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

Also, based on David’s encounter with Goliath, we learn about applying human effort with faith of God intervening in his own way and time through what we do at the human level. David triumphed over Goliath using weapon that would have been inadequate by any human standard. We examine his actions to identify what he did that could have contributed to his effectiveness against a formidable enemy.

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Ruth Joins Naomi—Faith Human Effort and Compassion



FAITH HUMAN EFFORT AND COMPASSION The account of Ruth joining Naomi in Moab and following her to Bethlehem illustrates interactions among faith, human effort, and compassion. Naomi’s family relocated to Moab to seek better life but experienced changes that brought bitterness and challenged her faith. However, the sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining the family. Ruth’s compassion for Naomi brought her to Bethlehem where she faced uncertain but ultimately prosperous future.

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Ruth Joins Naomi
Faith Human Effort and Compassion

We begin a study series on Ruth, in which we examine her ancestry, entry into Naomi’s family in Moab, and subsequent relocation to Bethlehem; where she met and married Boaz, became the great grandmother of David and, therefore, a key link in the lineage of the Messiah. The series begins with Ruth joining Naomi’s family in Moab and returning to Bethlehem with Naomi. The family had relocated to Moab in search of better life but instead experienced calamity as Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Subsequently, her search for better life took her back to Bethlehem accompanied by her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth.

Fateful departure. Family of Elimelech
Fateful Departure. Family of Elimelech
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FAITH AND HUMAN EFFORT We note that her sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem were driven by human effort: seeking to lift her family to more favorable life while in total submission to God. Because of her faith, she accepted the calamity that befell her family as an act of God and showed she relied entirely on God to help her through the crisis [Ruth 1:21]: “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” She considered herself “empty” because she did not know that her daughter-in-law Ruth that joined her family in Moab would go on to become a great grandmother in the lineage of the Messiah.

Her sojourn in Moab placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining her family. Her subsequent return to Bethlehem provided opportunity for Ruth to launch into a life that ultimately brought her into the role that God created for her. Naomi’s experience, therefore, provides an example of human effort and faith placing a person in position to receive God’s intervention.

COMPASSION Ruth, on her part, followed Naomi back to Bethlehem because of compassion. Naomi offered to release her from being a widow, thus providing her an opportunity to go home and seek new life. However, Ruth had compassion on Naomi and decided to remain loyal and committed to Naomi’s family. Therefore, she followed Naomi back to Bethlehem, choosing an uncertain life as widow. Later, she met Boaz in Bethlehem, married him, and together they gave birth to Obed, grandfather of David.

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Intercession Based on Compassion



Effective Intercession: Compassion Motivated – Faith Delivered

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The Lord's Prayer. freebibleimages.org
The Lord’s Prayer. freebibleimages.org

In this bible study, we examine examples of successful intercession to understand their common characteristics. We relate the characteristics to the principles of living in the image of God and, thus, reach an understanding of the kinds of intercession that have been effective. Several of the examples are drawn from events that occurred during Christ’s ministry. In such cases, intercession consisted of people going to Jesus directly on behalf of other people. Other examples occurred before Christ or after he had left human form. In such cases, intercession consisted of going to God in prayer on behalf of another.

In all cases, we find that successful intercessions were motivated by compassion and were persistent (ceaseless), selfless, and delivered by faith. Motivation by compassion is important for an intercession because such intercession is consistent with God’s purpose of creating every person to be a channel for his compassion. Christ describes this purpose through the 4th Beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled;” and the 5th, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” [Matthew 5:6–7].

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Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison

Prepared to Accept a Lift from God

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God provides input to solving our various problems but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Furthermore, the human effort could be closely tied with and necessary to accepting and utilizing God’s input. Because the strategy and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions at the human level in order to place ourselves in position to receive his intervention. That is, we work diligently because we have faith that he will intervene and we want to be ready to accept and utilize his intervention.

 Peter’s Experience

Peter’s miraculous escape from Herod’s prison [Acts 12] helps illustrate this aspect of our relationship with God. King Herod started a new wave of persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. After he killed James, John’s brother, and noticed Jews appeared pleased with the killing, he arrested Peter, intending to kill him also. To avoid having to kill someone during the Feast of Unleavened bread, he held Peter in prison under maximum security, intending to try him publicly and kill him after the festival. Members of the church prayed ceaselessly for Peter. They gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, and prayed earnestly day and night for Peter. An angel appeared to Peter in prison on the night before his scheduled public trial. The angel freed him, guided him to about one street length out from the prison, and left him. Peter first visited with the church family at Mary’s house where they were praying for him. He told them how God brought him out of the prison. Then he left and went away so Herod and his men could not find him when they looked for him in the morning. We learn several lessons based on Peter’s experience.

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Absalom Rises Against His Father David

Dealing with Adversity: Example from David

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King David was faced with adversity in the form of a rebellion against him led by his son Absalom. David’s third son Absalom cultivated reputation among Israeli men as a future king to replace his father. He was successful and support for him grew rapidly. To take advantage, he declared himself king and, because of the strength of his support, David and his people ran from Jerusalem in fear of him and his supporters.

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