But There Is A God

From Linda Lindsey

The astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” Daniel 2:10-11

Daniel’s reply to Nebuchadnezzar: No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. Daniel 2:27-28(a)

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” Daniel 2:46-47

King Nebuchadnezzar, after suffering a disturbing and frightening dream, summoned his wise men for an explanation, but his peculiar request confused and disheartened his staff. The king wanted the magicians, enchanters and astrologers to both tell the dream and it’s meaning. The wise men remonstrate. It’s too difficult; no it’s impossible. No one, except the gods, could possibly accomplish such a thing, and they don’t live among men. Nebuchadnezzar, not a man to thwart, angrily demanded the execution of all the wise men, which included Daniel and his friends. Daniel, seeking an explanation for the king’s harsh decree, spoke with his customary wisdom and tact to the king’s executioner. Seemingly unperturbed, Daniel asked the king for extra time.Daniel and his friends immediately began an urgent prayer vigil; during the night God revealed the mystery to Daniel. Humbled that God would choose to reveal His deep insights to them, they didn’t immediately rush into the king’s presence. Instead Daniel and his friends stopped to praise and thank God, gratefully giving Him glory and honor.  Daniel’s answer to the king’s query must have given Nebuchadnezzar pause; when the king asked if Daniel could tell and interpret his dream, Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about.” Nebuchadnezzar’s blood pressure must have soared! Daniel, however, went on to say, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.” 

Daniel knew what the pagan religionists couldn’t know: there is a God who lives among men and He delights in revealing His mysteries to those who love and obey Him. God promised to live with us, walk among us, and be our God, thereby making us God’s very own people. Unfathomable? Indeed, yet true. Nothing is too difficult for our God. Our response? Love Him wholeheartedly. Trust Him unreservedly. Pray to Him unceasingly. Thank Him continuously. Give Him all glory, honor and praise, now, and throughout eternity!  

Entering the King’s Service

From Lynda Lindsey  

At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.

Daniel 1:18-19

The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Daniel 1:5

In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel 1:20

Daniel and his friends, taken into Babylonian captivity after Jerusalem’s fall, were among the best and brightest. Physically strong, handsome, well informed, and quick to understand, they were well qualified to serve their new sovereign. After a three year period of indoctrination and education into the Babylonian culture, a time calculated to wipe out their loyalties to Israel, they would be inducted into King Nebuchadnezzar’s service. Their given names, reflecting attributes of the one true God, were changed to reflect characteristics of the pagan gods worshiped by their captors. Everything from a new diet, to education, language, politics, culture, and religion was calculated to annihilate the past from their memory and make them grateful for new opportunities.

The Babylonian king, however, did not take into account one fact. Daniel and his friends had previously entered into kingdom service. Nothing could shake their loyalty to their Sovereign. Nothing. No amount of power, prestige, indoctrination or intimidation could undermine their allegiance. No threat of death, no fear of what man could do to them, no accusations leveled at them could make them compromise their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were already servants of the Most High God and servants they would remain. Outward changes that didn’t compromise their obedience to God might be effected, but inwardly, at the core, they belonged to God and to God alone. They had unshakable trust in God; God chose to honor their conviction.

In matters not essential to their faith Daniel and his friends sought the good of the Babylonians. They brought God’s wisdom and knowledge to their work; excellency defined their efforts. They garnered the respect of many as they lived solely for God in a wicked, God-hostile land. When possible Daniel respectfully implemented workable solutions that didn’t dishonor God. When those options weren’t possible, Daniel and his friends courageously trusted God to see them through. We too are in the King’s service in a land that’s becoming more and more God-hostile. May our faith be just as steadfast.

​In the Darkest Depths

From Lynda Lindsey 

I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Psalm 88:4-6

You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:18

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:2-5

Pits, deep holes dug in the ground, were used to trap wild animals, collect rain water, and served as graves and burial places. To fall into a deep pit, barring an unforeseen rescue, spelled certain death as one languished in darkness, hunger and thirst. The author of Psalm 88 is in such deep misery, it is as if he has fallen into a pit. He withholds none of his anguish, pouring out his sorrowful lament to God. Feeling confined by grievous circumstances, strength ebbing away, overtaken by waves of grief, he despairs even of life. We’ve all been there. Or we will be there. Dark days. Darker nights. Trapped. Forsaken. Abandoned. Forgotten. Troubled. No escape. Darkness and gloom are our newest, best friends.

Like the Psalmist, we cry out to God day and night, begging for God’s intervention, yet we still feel the sting of rebuff and rejection. Sometimes we are entrapped in the dark depths; sometimes it just feels like it. Sometimes we are forsaken. Abandoned. Sometimes our life is on the line. Sometimes we will be asked to forfeit our life in this world. Injustice and evil do, for a season, prevail. But injustice and evil, no matter how horrifying, do not have the last word. God has the final say. God encourages us to pour out our feelings to Him; He is not surprised at the intensity nor at the depths of our revelation. Jesus’ heartfelt plea echo’s the Psalmist’s unspoken cry, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Our earthly desire on this side of the great divide? That God will release us from the dark pit, restore all good things to us, and renew our strength like an eagle dipping and swooping through the skies. Sometimes, however, God teaches us to endure trials and develop trust in Him by allowing us to stay in the pit. Sometimes God releases us from the pit by delivering us to our true home. We leave darkness behind and emerge into God’s glorious light and Presence wearing a victor’s crown. Jesus, Redeemer and Friend, is the One who satisfies all our desires with good things—-either on earth or in heaven. Endure to the end. Emerge from the darkness into His glorious light. To live is Christ. To die is gain. Live for Him.

River of Life

from Lynda Lindsey 

The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple... The water was coming down from under the south side... the water was flowing from the south side. Ezekiel 47:1-2

...led me through water that was ankle-deep... through water that was knee- deep... water that was up to the waist. ...now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—-a river that no one could cross. Ezekiel 47:3-5

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh.” Ezekiel 47:8

When God’s Shekinah glory returns to the temple, a river of life-giving water flows from His throne. Flowing water, not stagnant. Fresh. Potable. Picture it! Water deeper and deeper, higher and higher. Ankle deep, knee deep, waist high, deep enough to swim in, too vast to cross! Rivers of life flowing from the throne of God; blessings of life flowing from the great I AM! Deep, fresh, abundant, an ever widening stream of flowing water. Powerful, life sustaining. And all this takes place in Jerusalem, a city which has no natural river flowing through it! Rejoice, for this picture shows us that our God has no limits. Pure water, mingling with the Dead Sea’s salty water, would render the fresh water useless, but again, God has no limits.

To the fisherman’s great delight, God transforms the briny water into useable, life sustaining water teeming with great varieties and swarms of fish. Trees along both sides of the river will be ever fruitful. God left some of the swamps and marshes salty, ensuring a supply of both water and salt. Water and salt. Both necessary. Both useful. Water, necessary for life and refreshment, satisfies our thirst; yet we drink only to thirst again. Salt, used to season and preserve food, helps maintain human and animal health. Farmers, to provide livestock an adequately supply, even put out salt blocks. Salt enhances taste and makes us thirst again. And so the cycle goes. The day is coming, but is not yet, when God, King over all the world, will once again dwell among us and continuously pour out His blessings in an overflowing river of life.

Jesus, the source of all living water, bids us to come, drink, slake our thirst, and out of the overflow of the Spirit’s goodness be salt and light in a thirsty and dark world. We never thirst again when we drink from Jesus’ fountain, for He is like a spring bubbling up from within, gushing forth eternal fountains of life! As an old Christian folk song says, “There’s a river of life, flowing out through me, makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see, opens prison’s doors, sets the captives free...there’s a river of life flowing out through me!” Deeper and deeper, higher and higher, let it flow!

Shalom

from Lynda Lindsey

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. John 14:20-21

Sin separates and divides, disrupting and disturbing both our relationship with God and our inner well-being. Our sin nature, inherited when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, alienates us from God. Yet God graciously provided a way to bind together that which has been separated and divided, restoring peace and harmony. Jesus, God’s provision for life, is the way, not merely a way, to a life of peace with God. Jesus emphatically stated no one comes to the Father except through the Son. Through Jesus’ death we are reconciled to God, resulting in inner rest and peace, both now and in eternity. For the lost ones? Jesus is the way. For the confused, conflicted, doubting ones? Believe Jesus; He is the truth. For the wounded, dying, at-the-end-of-the-line ones? Embrace Jesus; He is the life, the source of all life, and all we need for life. 

In the loss of our cell phone or daily planner, we often lament, “I’ve lost my brain!”  Indeed, that’s how it feels when our calendar disappears. We are deprived of necessary information, from grocery lists, times and dates for doctor’s appointments, and addresses, phone numbers, and email contact information. How will we remember to do what’s important? In a similar fashion the Holy Spirit is our Rememberer. Jesus, not wanting to leave us as orphans and knowing His death was imminent, promised another Helper to be with us and in us. The Holy Spirit helps, comforts, teaches, and reminds us of truth. What sweet assurance! Our Rememberer brings to our minds spiritual truths; He teaches, reminds, and empowers us to live God honoring lives. The Spirit’s presence of peace with us and in us makes us whole and complete in Christ. 

Simple, yet complicated. Easy, yet difficult. Straightforward, yet enigmatic. Jesus is in God and God is in Jesus. We are in Jesus, thus we too are in God. Because Jesus lives, we live. The very Spirit of God is both in us and with us in the world, guiding, helping, reminding, teaching, prompting our repentance when we sin, and giving us true Shalom, true peace. Our bodies, temples of God’s Holy Spirit, are not our own. They belong to Him who bought us with the price of His shed blood. Jesus promises to show Himself to those who love, obey, and trust Him. Look for evidence of Him…He’s everywhere!   

Joy Bringer

from Lynda Lindsey

Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. Psalm 86:4-6

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me… 

Psalm 86:15-16-(a)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

David, shepherd, giant slayer, warrior king. Poet, musician, loyal friend. God worshiper. A man after God’s own heart. Yet, David, an extrovert long before the term was made popular, had another side. Sinner. Adulterer. Murderer. A lax disciplinarian.  We all have that other side, the one we are thankful God has chosen to bury in the depths of the sea, the one we are grateful God has put as far away as the east is from the west. Even as David, led by his impulsive and spontaneous actions got into deep troubling sin, a great advantage was his lavish and heartfelt repentance, along with his ability to walk in the joy of His Lord. 

Psalm 86 expresses David’s confident plea that God will hear and come to David’s rescue. David knew God and understood the veracity of the Word even before it was written: David approached God’s throne of grace confidently knowing mercy and grace for the needy always abound. David catalogues God’s unique characteristics: God hears, listens, and answers prayers. God guards the lives of His followers. God is great, merciful, forgiving and good, abounding in love and faithfulness to all who call on Him. There is no other god like Creator God; He alone is worthy of glory, honor and praise. God, compassionate and gracious, is slow to anger. God’s Holy Spirit breathes life into us, granting us help and comfort. Most amazing of all, God is a joy bringer! 

God first brings life to us, then God fills our life with joy. Joy, unlike happiness, is not dependent on circumstances. Happiness is fleeting; joy in the Lord is eternal. Jesus saved us from an eternal existence locked away from God’s Presence…is that alone not reason to rejoice? His joy is our strength; celebrate Him with shouts of joy! Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, rejoice! Are you, like David, facing dire circumstances?  Life challenges? Under attack? Lift up your soul to God, rehearse His bounteous life-giving characteristics, and ask Him to be your joy bringer. It’s a worthy challenge; see what the Lord will do!