Category Archives: Truths for Life

Truths about God’s character as revealed in the Bible and how these truths can strengthen our faith and help us through life.

Risk:Living by Faith-2

In the previous “blog study” we looked at David as an example of a person who had faith in God and lived out that faith in his everyday life. At times David took great risks of faith with God. The key is “with God” and from his “relationship” with God.
Keys that characterize David’s faith:

  • David knew God through the scriptures. David discerned God’s character and heart for men as he read the word of God. David believed what he read about God and took that into his heart and mind. David spoke these truths to himself and integrated these truths into his life. It is knowing and believing truths about God that made David able to take risks of faith.
  • David valued and esteemed God. David was in absolute awe of God. David’s heart was set to honor God. Read Psalms 63:1-3 and 27:4 to get a glimpse of David’s genuine heart for God.
  • David had an acute awareness of God’s presence in his life. David was able to discern God helping him, supporting him, training him and protecting him in various situations in his life. David took these things to heart, remembered them and connected them to his present circumstances. These experiences fueled David’s faith.
    An example of this is in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David tells Saul that God helped him to kill a lion and a bear when they went after the sheep. He connects that experience with facing Goliath and believes God will do the same with Goliath.

Risks – Living Faith
David had a deep relationship with God. He valued God. He esteemed God. He feared God and was devoted to “do life with God.” Because of the strength of David’s heart for God, he lived out of his faith in God and took risks that honored God and helped others.

A Personal Reflection: I have to stop here and think about my life and my relationship with God. Is my relationship with God really a “relationship?” Or am I going through a series of “spiritual activities” that give me a false sense of a relationship with God?  Do I know truths about God’s character? Do I believe those truths and bring them into my daily consciousness and use those truths to uphold me in difficult situations?

Risking Life – Come from Personal Connection
In 1 Samuel 17, we read of the encounter between David and Philistine giant, Goliath.

1 Samuel 17: 10, Goliath brazenly, with no fear, states that he “defies” the armies of Israel. It seems he postured and railed thus for 40 days (v.16).  David’s heart picked up on the fact that this man was railing against God, as well as His people. David personally felt the insult and disrespect of Goliath for God and God’s people.

  • A Personal Reflection: I have to ask myself: Do I personally connect with God, am I insulted on behalf of God by the “railing” of the world against God and truth? Or is my faith more just in my head, but not my heart?

Goliath defied God and Israel. In this context the word “defy” means: to hold in contempt, to scorn, to belittle, to denigrate, to shame and to blaspheme.

David was insulted on behalf of God. He took a stand and asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway that he should be allowed to defy the armies of the living God,” 1 Sam. 17:26

To David, Goliath was not a giant, but a man without faith or fear of God. David steps forward in faith, without armor or supporting troops. Looking at David in that moment, he is mismatched, vulnerable, outnumbered, alone, and exposed.

Fighting Words – Faith Words
David knows God. He has truths embedded in his heart that he learned from the scriptures and from his experience with God. David spoke these truths about God to himself, to all the people watching from a distance, and to Goliath as he stepped forward to encounter him.

“…I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

David was not alone, God was with him. David’s armor and shield was God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see so many references in David’s psalms to God as his Shield, his Champion, his Rock, his Strong Tower, and so on.

A Relatable Faith
I read this account of the faith of David and I am in awe. I am enamored and star struck by David’s faith.

Then I think: I can’t relate to this. David is a super spiritual hero in the scriptures. I cannot have this faith. I have struggles and serious flaws in my character. I have made many mistakes in my life.

As I read further in the life of David, I see he was not a perfect man. He did not do everything right. God described him as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), yet David was flawed; he sinned. One might say that David made a royal mess of things. He lusted. He committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). He arranged for the death of a man who was loyal to him, and then tried to cover up both the adultery and the murder (2 Sam. 11:6-17).

David’s track record with parenting his children was not the best. His son Amnon forced himself on his sister (2 Sam. 13:1-15).  His other son Absalom killed Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:20-32).  Absalom then rose up in insurrection against King David his father and attempted to take the throne. (2 Sam. 15:1-14).

God Sees Something I Don’t
Even many years after the truth of David’s life is known, God continued to describe David in the scriptures as a “man after God’s heart,” Acts 13:22.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

While I am impressed with the stand David took for God with Goliath, I am honestly more drawn to the type of intimate relationship that David had with God. This relationship was born of God’s love for David as well as David’s love for God. It is a mutual relationship.

As I read further in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms, I see that I can have a relationship with God like David had. It is a matter of the heart, not of perfect performance. I don’t have to be perfect, just faithful.

I can, like David, make my heart’s home in God and let my life flow from that. The Message version states this in an impressive way.

  • “God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him,  so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet,    breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God  —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:5-8

Jesus – Makes It Reality
Jesus, the ultimate hero in the story of God has made it possible for me and you to have a deep personal relationship with God. In fact, such an intimate relationship has always been God’s heart and will for us and Him.

“In Christ, he chose us before the world was made. In his love he chose us to be his holy people—people without blame before him.  And before the world was made, God decided to make us his own children (relationship) through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NCV)

Risk – Another Word for Faith

Within the spiritual community that I am a part of we have been talking about God’s dream that is that everyone would have a deep personal relationship with God. That this is God’s desire; it is his will, his design.

  • “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Eph. 1:4-5 NLT
  • “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3

Partners in God’s Dream
We have been reflecting on how God has invited us into being a part of his dream and working with him to complete this. The term “risk” came up, as in thinking about what risks can we take in order to be fellow workers with God to advance his dream by sharing God’s invitation to a relationship with him through Jesus.

Risk can be an intimidating term to some people, because in some way it means that we are doing something that has an element of stretching our limits. Risk involves going above what we normally would do, and it has the potential to result in a negative consequence of some type.

Risk involves vulnerability and possible exposure, or a pushing beyond our comfort zone. It involves a certain factor of the unknown. There is not a specific guaranteed structure or outcome. Sounds like faith to me.  

Risk – Another Word for Faith
As I pondered the term risk I thought, God has been talking about risks since day 1 of creation. When we assert faith, we do not physically see the outcome or sometimes even the process. The scriptures in Hebrews 11: 1 say that; “Faith if the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.”  Therefore, faith involves risk.

Faith and Risk are inherent in many scriptures, such as: Romans 8:28 and Psalms 46:1-3.

  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We may not see “the good” at the time, but we trust – we take the risk to believe that God is moving and working on our behalf.

Psalm 46:1-3 implies a risk to trust God in the midst of trouble, doubt, and when it seems our world is coming apart. These verses are a poetic and symbolic rendering of God’s unchanging heart and faithful character.

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Ps. 46:1-3

Risk Takers- Faith Walkers
If you are still unconvinced that you can become a risk taker read Hebrews 11 and become inspired by ordinary men and women who took risks of faith and deepened their knowledge and experience with God.

  • “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead…” Heb. 11:32-35

Relationship – Heart- Risk
Faith and risks flow from a deep relationship with God that is characterized by:

  • knowing and believing truths about God,
  • valuing God, and
  • cultivating a heart that cannot live without God.

King David, a risk taker, was described by the Spirit of God in the scriptures as being just such a man. The Spirit says David was a man after the heart of God. We read this characterization in Acts 13:22  

  • “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” Acts 13: 22

David was known to have a relationship with God even before he became famous for his mighty deed of slaying the giant.

  • “One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

I have to stop here and reflect: What am I known for: my education; my titles; my appearance; my various skills and talents or even for my vices? Or, am I known for loving God and my fellow man; for walking humbly with God and man?  What are you known for?

Develop a Heart for God
Having a heart for God involves: seeking to know God personally; trusting in God and developing righteous character as you do what pleases God.

The words of David in the Psalms he wrote, reveal his heart for God.

David valued God and actively sought after knowing God and relating to God.

  • One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple…My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 27 4, 8

David sought to know and to do God’s will:

  • Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
  • “Show me your ways, Lord,teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

It is through developing this knowledge of God and heart for Him that David could take risks for God.

It is the same for us. We can only live out our relationship with God, rise to challenges and difficulties, and do His will, if we are seeking daily to know Him and to do His will.

More to Come
This study has caused me to think more deeply about cultivating my heart for God and relationship with God. My faith is only as strong as the truths I know about God and choose to believe.  

In the next blog we will look closer at the various risks that David took to do great things that honored God, helped other people and caused David to grow in faith and love for God.

A New Look at an Old Truth for a New Year- 2

“I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or  riches or fame, and I choose it above all things on Earth or in Heaven.” A. W. Tozer

When talking about the will of God we generally don’t hear such a forthright proclamation of love for the will of God. When we think of the will of God, we may think of the commands of God and begin to feel all those “I am not enough,” and “I can’t do that,” or “It’s too hard” kinds of feelings and thoughts.  

As I begin this new year, I am hoping that my study of God’s will and gaining greater understanding of how it fits into my relationship with God will help me to “love” and “treasure” the will of God much like Tozer or the psalmist who said:  

“ I delight to do your will, O God, your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

God’s Will = Intimacy with God
When I read passages about God’s will, I see how intertwined His will is in a relationship with us. Jesus addressed this.

In Matthew 7:21-25 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.

In that little word “knew” we see a world of relationship, a deep knowing, trusting, believing, interacting with and doing what pleases our Lord. In this kind of relationship with God, doing His will is embedded in that love. I believe that is why in Psalm 40:8, the psalmist can say, “Your law is in my heart.”

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He strongly reminds them, and us, that it is more than trying to live up to a standard in isolation from relationship with God and others.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” Luke 11:42

What is missing in what these men were doing? Justice, which I believe, is associated with doing right in relationship to their fellow man, and love for God. 

That is what happens when I think the “will of God is equivalent solely to keeping the law of God.” It then becomes a focus on performance and self. That is when I get scattered, running about, doing this and that resulting in my feeling “not enough,” “not making the grade,” “judged,” and eventually a dissatisfied feeling leading to trying to prove myself to prove myself to God and others.  Ever been there?

The Bottom Line
In the previous blog study, we saw that the will of God is his desire, intent, and design to draw us into a relationship with Him, through that relationship He gives us the ability to be with Him, to stand in His presence, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Clearly and undeniably encapsulated in Ephesians 1:4-5.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined (pre-planned) us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One …” Eph. 1:4-5 (BSB)

The bottom line of God’s will is His love and desire to draw us close to Him. Everything about His will is directed towards that end. Within that interactive relationship God’s will encompasses Him delighting in and actively loving us, and us responding by pleasing Him.

Relationship Words
If we look closely in the scriptures at various words that are associated with the will of God. In these words we see God’s good intent and His love for us.

Desire:
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hos, 6:6 (ESV)

God’s will is founded in the word “desire,” not “demand.” What is it that He desires? Love and knowing God.

Esteem:
Isaiah 66:6 uses a different word to show that those who live in a close loving relationship with God are “esteemed” by God.

“Has not My hand made all these things? And so they came into being,” declares the LORD. “This is the one I will esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at My word.” Is. 66:2 (BSB)

The word esteem indicates God’s will is meshed with His valuing us. He is pleased with and highly values a person who is humble/contrite in his/her relationship with God and one who respects God’s word.

Desirable:
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more desirable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Prov. 21:2-3 (BSB)

The emphasis is on what God desires is about heart and relationship, not necessarily performance. Righteousness involves our thoughts and actions in relationship to God, but also to others. Again, the will of God is relational, involving both God and man..

Delights –Pleasure – Pleased – Devoted:
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legpower of the man. The LORD is pleased with those who fear Him, who hope in His loving devotion.” Psalm 147:10-11 (BSB)

These words are associated with the will of God in relationship with us. The “will of God” expresses God’s devotion to us. What an awesome truth- the almighty, sovereign and loving God is devoted to you and me. That gives me a clear perspective on the will of God in my life and moves me to respond with devotion to God and to delight to do His will.

Reflections on the Will of God
Throughout this study of the will of God, I am asking myself some questions. I will share them with you and perhaps they will help you in your walk with God.

  • Do I know what the will of God is? Have I taken time to know him so that I know what pleases Him?
  • Am I doing many good things because they are what everyone else is doing, and or because they seem to be expected of me? Or, am I doing these things as an intentional loving response to God in my relationship with Him?
  • Do I esteem, treasure, delight in God in response to how He esteems, treasures and delights in me?

When I feel stressed by performance, or other’s opinions, judgments and expectations, I meditate on Ephesians 1:4-5 and remember God’s will is to draw me close to Him and that He is transforming me into His image.

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The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him.
Psalm 25:14

A New Look at an Old Truth in a New Year

Do you ever wonder if you are attuned to God and His will; if you really understand what God’s will is, and if you are following it?  I do, even though I have been a disciple of Jesus for many years and have read the Bible through several times.  I feel led to seriously re-consider, study anew the idea of “God’s will” and “doing God’s will,” if doing is even the accurate expression.  

The concept of the “will of God” is often used in a generic way, in that all good activities are lumped together and referred to as doing the “will of God.” Most people would think that my choice of knowing and doing the will of God is a rather basic focus. After all, a friend of mine said, “You have been a disciple of Jesus for many years; surely you know and are doing the will of God.”

As believers in God, we tend to automatically assume we are doing the will of God. We attend and participate in church services; we do good works; we live a relatively “clean” life style, so we think we are doing the will of God, but are we? Or, are we doing someone’s idea of “God’s will,” or our own version of “God’s will.” So at the start of this New Year I want to take a new look at God’s will and my connection to His will.

What is the “will” of God?
Simply put someone might say, “That’s easy the will of God are the commands of God; and almost immediately another pipes up and says, ”Uh, oh, be careful you don’t get legalistic.” Putting my fears of legalism aside I want to look at this idea of doing the will of God as embodied within my relationship with God, not the keeping of a code or fulfilling certain expectations so that I feel good about myself, or sense of spiritual security, which may be false.
What does it mean to live out the will of God in my life?

The word for “will” in the Greek New Testament is thelema, or a form thereof, and refers to: will, desire, intention, design, or plan.

We see this word spoken by Jesus in the prayer he taught his disciples: “Your (God’s) kingdom come, Your will (thelema) be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

Again, Jesus refers to “doing the will of God” as recorded in Mt. 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will (thelema) of my Father who is in heaven.”

The Will of God and Relationship
I am thinking the “will” of God has more to do with His intention, His desire, His design, or His plan to draw us close into a relationship with Him and to transform us more and more into His image. Clearly this has been God’s plan for me all along. Let’s take a close look at Ephesians 1:3-6 while defining and emphasizing some words.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will (thelematos). to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One..” (BSB)

 Here are the things that stand out in this passage about the will of God:

  • “chose” – God made a deliberate “willful choice” to draw us into a relationship with Him through Jesus
  • “in His presence” – The expression in His presence signifies a close personal relationship. God’s intention, his will/his design was to bring us into an intimate relationship with him
  • “predestined” – This meaning of this word is more closely associated with the understanding of “pre-planning.”  God planned in advance to send His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins (our self-willed-ness) so that we could be personally connected to Him.
  • “the good pleasure of His will” – God’s will, His intention, His design, His plan to initiate this and bring this about through Jesus was His pleasure. Pleasure has several meanings among those meanings is delight, good favor, beneficence towards man. God’s will to draw us close to Him was not done with a heavy heart or out of some kind of divine obligation. It was God’s pleasure to design, to plan in advance for us to be in an intimate relationship with Him.

When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they were revealing this truth about God’s good will, His good plan for us. The NKJV translates “God’s pleasure” as “His good will or good intent” to man.
          “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

There are many passages of scripture from Genesis to Revelations that reveal this same aspect of God’s will, His good intention, His design to gather us into Him.

Facets of the Divine Will
The will of God is like a large sparkling diamond. It has many facets. Like a diamond, each facet shines in a different way as you hold it up to the light. Once we see the whole of the diamond, we can then begin to examine the facets and get a better understanding of its beauty and value.

So it is with the will of God. The more I understand about the facets of the divine will, the more I can appreciate the will of God and the more likely I am to be in sync with God’s will.

Some words that need to be considered as facets of the will of God include:  surrender, submission, Lordship, exchanging yokes, denying self; abiding in God; refuging in God; knowing the eternal God and rejoicing in His presence. I am sure after a little thought you will see more facets to the will of God.

Some of the facets mentioned above may bring back a tinge of fear or maybe even a sense of burden or insecurity, but when I consider the will of God as His choosing to design a plan for me to come into a forever friendship with Him  through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, I can give up all fear and lean into Him.

Reflection for a New Year
I would ask you to reread Ephesians 1:3-6 and re-consider your ideas about the will of God in your life.

Do you know what the will of God is? How does doing the will of God fit in with having a personal relationship with God? How can you grow in sync with God’s will? What will that look like in your life?

I intend to continue my quest for comprehending and taking in the will of God in my life this year. I invite you to join me.

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“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

God in the Coffee Shop

We sat in the coffee shop talking about the disappointing turn her life had taken. She thought she had what she wanted in life but within the time it took to make one decision everything was turned upside down.

It had been six months since he left and her feelings are tangled in a ball of confusion. She is trying to cobble together a life by herself. We talked about her connection to God and where she is with Him now.

Thoughts of failure and unworthiness were swirling in her head. She wondered where God is; did He too walk away from her? Can God and His people be trusted? There must be something really bad about me that this happened?

Listen for Truth
In times of difficulty and pain, many fears and insecurities vie for center stage in our mind. When we are attacked by swarming life draining thoughts the best place to go is to the source of truth, the Word of God. If you are not strong enough to go there by yourself, call a friend and seek these truths together.

Knowing truths about God that we can sink our faith into is like firmly embedded pegs in a slick rock wall that you can grasp onto to keep your balance and use to pull yourself up as you move forward.

So God’s peace entered the coffee shop as we read some truths about Him.

God Cares
One of the stand out truths we needed that morning was to know that God cares about us and He is with us in our hurts.  God is very personal.  He does not disappear when we are going through difficulties. Here are a few verses that reveal the truth of God’s heart for us.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

This truth of God’s care and concern for us stands out within a passage from the letter of Peter to the disciples scattered abroad due to persecutions. The disciples had to move away to escape the threats to their life, their faith, their families, their livelihood, etc. They probably left behind much and were in emotional distress, and physical need. It is possible that they did not feel the care of God. Yet, in the midst of their troubles, Peter tells them this truth – “… God cares for you.”

The word translated “cares for you” is defined as: to pay special attention to; to take an interest in.

The truth about God always stands in direct opposition to the circumstances we are in.
Our circumstances seem to shout out: “God does not care.”

These disciples to whom Peter wrote had to make a choice to believe that God cares.
This truth is the same today, and we receive the benefits of this truth the same way they did. In the midst of the pain and chaos of our lives, we choose to believe that God cares. This truth is found over and over again in God’s Word. Truth leads us out of hopelessness and fear.

God Knows the Details
The scripture 1 Peter 1:5:7 literally means God cares about every little detail of your life. “Surely not,” you say. But yes that is the truth; a description of this very truth is in Psalm 56:8:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV)

Some translations say “wanderings” instead of tossings, which makes sense in light of all Israel’s wanderings and missteps. But the truth about God is He knows our wanderings, our tossings. He records our tossings of confusion, distress, despair, hurt, fear, betrayal, etc., in His book.

It’s like God keeps a journal of our difficult and painful times much like a parent might journal the growth of their child. God tenderly stores our tears in a bottle, as a parent might keep their child’s first tooth to come out, or store away a lock of baby hair.

A loving parent is attuned to all good growth as well as difficulties in their child’s life. In fact many parents can sense even a nuance of difficulty in their child’s life.  God is the perfect parent, the ultimate shepherd; and He sees, He knows, He records our laments, and He responds.

I Don’t Know
Well, you say, “If God cares so much and He knows so much why doesn’t He change my situation, in fact, why did He allow this to happen in the first place?

I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. I have thought that if God really cared, He would magically pluck me up out of the difficulty.

It has been my experience that in general, God does not do this. But true to His faithfulness and love, God walks with us in all these things. We see Him with us through our faith.

For example, consider the account in the book of Daniel in which Daniel is falsely accused, of sedition against the king by jealous men. God does not rush in and punish these men; He does not send an angel to tell the king to overturn the ruling; and He doesn’t mysteriously remove Daniel from the situation.

Daniel still has to walk into the den where there are lions, hungry ones. Imagine that!

Daniel does not have an insider tip that God will shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel moves forward perhaps with some fear, and is willing to be attacked by hungry lions for honoring God. Yet God was there and shut the mouths of the lions. (Read Daniel 6) Think about what it might have been like for Daniel in that den that night. Could it be similar to you in your troubles?

God Is in It
A similar account is in Daniel 3 regarding an account of three young men who refuse to dishonor God by engaging in an act of worship that would betray their loyalty to God. These men knew the punishment for this crime against the king – death in a fiery furnace.

I hate fire and would do almost anything to avoid being burned by fire, let alone death by fire.

These three men professed their faith in God and their knowledge of His faithful care and powerful ability to save them, but also they were aware that God might not save them from this fiery death.

Again, we do not see God swooping to the rescue like a modern super hero; righting every wrong; huffing out the fire; rebuking the king; exposing the accusers or picking up the three men and flying away with them. No! The three young men stand firm in trusting and honoring God and walk into the fire.

Do you think they did not have any fear of the flames? Any second thoughts? Any tossings in their minds?

Where was God?In the flames with them!
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”  He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25

As a result of their faith in God; in your face loyalty to God and God’s presence with them, these three young men came out of the fire unsinged.

“ … So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Dan. 3:26b-27

The Result of Trusting God
What was the result of the fiery trial of these three young men? They saw the glory of God. The king and all his people believed and praised God. (See Daniel 3:28-28)

Choose Truth
In the midst of our troubles; our anxieties; our tossings; our pain we need to ignore the lying voices about God, and deliberately hang onto truths we know about Him. The truth is God cares about us and our lives, and God is with us in the big and small troubles.

So what will you and I choose to believe about God when we are in the fire? Will we trust that He cares, that He is there walking with us? Will we choose truth and see His glory?

As you reflect on these questions, consider this truth about God.

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him freely give us all things?!”  Romans 8:32

No Parking!

Park your mind in a better place!  Don’t keep backing your thoughts into the negative spaces.

My thoughts can undo me, seriously. If my husband is late returning from an appointment I already have created a scenario of him bleeding in a wreck by the side of the road. If my friend rushes by me without stopping to acknowledge me, or if she says something offensive, I have created all manner of accusations in my mind. The problem deepens when I choose to park there. I am more likely to somehow end up thinking bad things about God or myself, or both.

It is true there are difficulties in my life, people say and do things that hurt me. There are character weaknesses and other challenges that seem insurmountable to me. Not to mention past hurts and difficulties that replay in my head and lead me to park overtime in the negative space.

I have found that if I keep thinking I cannot overcome my weaknesses; or, that I am not good enough/smart enough/ strong enough; or why don’t they acknowledge my worth, then I am trapped in the dark spaces. The longer I park there the more difficult it becomes to heal and move out.

Park in the Light
Changing the way I think about myself, others, and life is called repentance. I need to repent of dark, hopeless regurgitation of thoughts that usually are not true and instead fill my mind with truths about God, His love and His power.

Such As . . .
When I question God’s goodness, the truth is God has good intentions towards me.

  • Psalm 86:5 – For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call on you.
  • James 1:17- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

When I feel that God does not care, the truth is He is deeply aware of my hurts.

  • Psalm 56:8 – You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
  • Matthew 11:28-29 -Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When I think my situation or someone else’s is impossible, I read the truth about God’s love and power.

  • Matthew 19:25- 26 – When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.”

When I think I am not important and don’t matter, the truth is God values me so much that He let Jesus die for me.

  • Romans 5:6-8 – Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.

Bank Truth
I do not advocate being a “Polly Anna,” who thinks everything is “ok,” or the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand, who ignores everything. At times, there may be wrongs we need to set right. But for the most part, I think God wants us to focus on the light because he is in the light. His truth is light. So I need to refuse to park my thoughts in the dark with falsehoods and half-truths.

Search the scriptures and find truths that will help you park your mind in the light. Bank these truths, keep them handy. Use them to lead you out of dark spaces.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Invisible

A little boy walked to the side of the playground, shoulders slumped and face cast down; feeling unwanted, disregarded, and invisible. You see the kids from his class had just picked teams for a game, and again, he was not chosen.

Feeling invisible or unchosen is not restricted to children’s play yards. A friend of mine, a very intelligent woman with a high ranking position, told me how she at times feels invisible, at work, sometimes at home and even at times in her church community.

She relayed a humorous analogy from her work place.  In a rest room there are three sinks with automated sensors, so as one puts their hands near the sensor the water turns on. One of the sensors is temperamental, sometimes it works and sometimes not. You put your hands there for water; you wait and get nothing. You feel invisible, not even weighty enough to trigger a sensor.

Maybe you feel invisible. You may be within a group, yet are overlooked, not regarded and “unchosen.”

Relocate Your Value Source
When I am feeling overlooked, disregarded and not chosen I withdraw. I respond this way to protect myself, however my response does not help me. The truth is I need to relocate the source of value.  I am looking in the wrong place for my identity, value and approval.

We are social beings, created for relationship and community. That is true, and we do indeed build into one another. However, I am learning that my basic value and identity is not determined by other people’s response to me or approval of me, but rather I need to go to my Creator for value and purpose.

There are truths in God’s word that can lift up our countenance and help us live loved and with a sense of true value. God knows us, sees us and has chosen us.

God Sees
God is the God who sees. Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, calls God by the name EL Roi which means “the God who sees,” Genesis 16:13.

Hagar has been cast out into the desert with her young son. Alone! Surely she is feeling despair and fear, maybe even invisible. But she was not invisible to God. He was aware of her situation; he saw her and delivered her, so as a result she calls him, El Roi, the God who sees.

God’s character is that he is ever alert to us. We are ever the center of his vision and awareness.

In fact God has intimate knowledge of us. God knows the very number of hairs on my head, Luke 12:7.  God knows every tear you have cried: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Ps. 56:8

God knows when I sit and when I stand. He discerns my thoughts before I think them. He knows a word that is on my tongue before I even speak it.

  • “You know when I sit and when I rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you. Lord, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4-5

While I do not understand God having such knowledge of me, I feel secure in it.

Visible and Chosen
God sees us and deliberately chooses to draw us near to him.

At times in my life I have felt “unchosen,” and I have been “unchosen.” The most confusing thing is when you are not chosen by those from whom it is natural to expect being chosen.

There are many ways we expect to be chosen or included but are not. There is no need to list them here, I am sure you have experienced a few of these stinging disappointments in your life. The truth is – you are chosen by God.

Being chosen by God is not a consolation prize. It is a truth that grounds us and directs our life. It is from his choosing us that we begin to know our true value.

The word chosen in the scriptures, both Old and New Testament references means: to be selected; to be loved; to be valued; to be delighted in; to be preferred or wanted.

Read some of these passages and let the truth speak to you about how deeply and intentionally God values us. God is telling us we matter to him. He welcomes and desires us. He wants to include us in his presence.

  • For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Ephesians 1:4-5 (TLB)
  • But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thess. 2:13
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (We are God’s beloved and are treasured by God.)
  • Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 312
  • Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35,37-39 (NLT)

Believe It
We could fill pages and pages with truths from God’s Word that describe God’s love and valuing of us. However, these truths about God have little power to change our thoughts, feelings and understandings about ourselves if we do not believe them.

I encourage you to read these passages again and insert your name in them, turn the third person pronouns into first person ones. Make these verses personal to you and God, because that is how he intends them.

Let these truths change your thinking about who you are, and your value. The next time you feel invisible – think about these truths.

 *************************************************
“And so we know and rely (depend) on the love God has for us. God is love…”
1 John 4:16a Live in His love!

About Giants, God and You – Part 2

In Part 1 of “Giants, God and You,” we reflected on two ways God prepares us to meet giants in our life.

We reflected on how being a true worshiper of God prepares us to face giants, and how dependence on God trains our faith to stand before giants in our life.

Prepared by Worship
What or who we worship reveals what is at the center of our life. Everything in our life flows out from that center. If we truly worship God alone then when the giants come we automatically turn to God, rather than relying on our own strength.

  • David was a true “worshiper” of God. He ascribed great value to God. David’s heart continually longed for God. His heart was focused on being close to God. This prepared his soul to trust God when trouble came.

Prepared by Dependence on God
When we believe that God is near and that he answers when we call on Him, we will be prepared to meet the giants in our lives. Every time we depend on God our faith grows stronger and we are more prepared to trust God when the giants show up.

Preparing to meet a giant is not an event of the moment, but it is a process that occurs overtime in our walk with God.

In Part 2, we will look at how God prepares us by:
   – observing the character of God in nature around us;
   – learning truths about God from His Word and
   – learning about God through our experience with Him.

Prepared by Nature
The creation around us reveals truths about the beauty, complexity, consistency, power and faithfulness of God.

The Word of God reveals truths to us about God’s character and intent towards man. The scriptures detail how God interacts with man. We can use these truths to encourage our faith and to guide us through life.

David, as a shepherd, spent much time out among God’s creation. In the Psalms, David talks about what nature taught him about God. He sees that God is sovereign and the Creator and Sustainer of life and order. He sees God’s value for and love for man in that God has given man a special place of value and honor. 

  • The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done.
    Ps. 19:1 (CEV)
  • Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with Your majesty. Psalm 8:1 (HSB)
  • When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place— what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

In nature, David sees God’s power and sovereign control over all. He then puts his trust in God’s power.

  • The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap; He puts the depths into storehouses. Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 
  • For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence. Psalm 33:6-9 (HCSB)

By observing nature around him, David sees that God has tender compassion and care for all He has created. Therefore David can put his trust in God and know that God will take care of him.

  • The LORD is good to all; His compassion rests on all He has made. Psalm 145:9

Prepared by the Word of God
David had a great love and respect for the Word of God. He allowed the scriptures to cement truths about God into his mind and heart so that in the day of trouble David drew upon these truths to give him courage and inner strength.

David found restoration and life in the Word of God. He found joy and wisdom for life in the Word of God. He gained a sense of security from the God he read about in the scriptures.  Psalm 19: 7-10, reveals how David viewed that Word of God and how he valued it.

  • “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. 
  • The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.
  • The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
    and altogether righteous. 
  • They are more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb.”  Psalm 19:7-10

David learned truths about God through observing nature around him and through reading the word of God. Knowing these truths prepared David to stand firm in faith when trouble came into his life.

Prepared by Experience
David experienced God’s help in his life during certain situations, and he experienced God’s answers to prayer. This experience prepared David to meet the giant.

David uses some of these experiences of God’s help and deliverance in his life as David explains to Saul how the Philistine giant will be defeated. David remembers how God helped him deliver the sheep from the bear and the lion, and so he trusts that God will deliver him and all of Israel from the giant and the Philistines.

  • But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 1 Samuel 17:34-36

In addition to actually rescuing sheep from the very jaws of the lion, David had some skills with a sling. It is very probable that David’s experience as a shepherd trained him in using a sling skillfully.

(Side note:Slingers” were an important part of Israel’s army. They could sling a rock at an enemy from 100 yards away at a speed of up to and surpassing 100 miles per hour. They were like crack snipers in the army.  Judges 20:16 reports: “Among all these soldiers there were 700 select left-handers, each of whom could sling a stone at a (single) hair without missing.”)

David knew about these “slingers” in Saul’s army, 1 Chronicles 12:7. He may have even dreamed about becoming one of them.  He had many opportunities to practice “slinging” as he shepherded the sheep. How many times did he use his sling to kill a wolf, a bear, a lion, or other predator?

David attributes his skill to battle the giant to God’s training of his hands and his heart.

  • Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
  • He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. Psalm 144:1

God Prepares You
God does not leave us alone to face difficulties of life, but in truth He is preparing us all along the way. After reading through Part 2 of this blog, reflect of the ways God has and is preparing you to handle the giants in your life. 

Writing this blog has caused me to ask myself some heart questions. I post them here for your reflection also.

  • What truths from the Word of God encourage my faith in God?
  • What truths have helped me to overcome a giant in my life?
  • Do I have a collection of truths about God from the scriptures that I can go to in time of need?
  • What experiences have I had with God that build into my trust in Him and make me able to engage a giant in my life?
  • What skills has God trained into me that help me stand before giants?
  • What are some of the most outstanding prayers that God has answered in my life that strengthen me and cause you to step toward the line of battle to fight the giant instead of running away?

Help build into someone else’s faith by sharing one of these things with them.

About Giants, God and You – Part 1

When I was a child I never read or heard the Biblical account of David and Goliath. I began reading the Bible in my early 20’s and was in wonder at this story. I was intrigued at the absolute loyalty that a young man, perhaps still in the teens, had towards God. The words that David spoke to the giant, Goliath inspired me.

David stands up for the honor of God. He shows little to no fear only true loyalty to God:

  • David asked the men … “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” . . .  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:26 and 45

God Prepared David
As I read the account of David’s life (1 Samuel 16 to 1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 2-29), and see his heart for God revealed in the Psalms, I have come to realize that God prepared David to meet and overcome the giant, Goliath.

David is known by the people as a man “who the Lord is with.” He is characterized as someone who walks with God. I don’t know how people in those days knew of the faith of a shepherd out in the countryside, but they did! David’s faith impressed and influenced people. People knew of his faith, even before he took a public stand to battle Goliath.

  • “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man, and the Lord is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

The Preparation Process
God prepared David to meet the giant Goliath, and that may have been just one step in preparing David to meet the “giant” of the jealousy of King Saul.

God will prepare us in similar ways to face the giants in our life. Giants in our life may take the form of: difficult relationships; financial struggles; physical and mental health issues; various addictions (power, pride, reputation, anxieties, alcohol, or drugs); marital issues; parenting difficulties; character weaknesses, or any seemingly insurmountable problem that harasses us or overwhelms us. Such are the giants in our life.

Preparing to meet a giant is not an event of the moment, but it is a process that occurs overtime in our walk with God. Let’s look at some of the ways God prepared David to meet Goliath.

Worshiping God prepares us to meet our giants. Worship implies priority and value. What or who we worship becomes the center of our life – taking first place whether we realize it or not.

David was a true “worshiper” of God. He ascribed great value to God. David’s heart continually longed for God. His heart was focused on being close to God. David loved God with his whole heart. He freely praised God and expressed his longing to be with God.

Reverence, adoration, esteem, devotion, absolute passion, praise, and treasure, are words that characterize David’s relationship with God. What words describe your relationship with God?

David longed to be in association with God, in God’s presence. He yearned after God, even after his sin, David sought to renew his closeness with God, Psalm 51.

The passages below exemplify David as a faithful worshiper of God.

  • You are my God. Earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You. My body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.  Psalm 63:1 BSB
  • One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4
  • I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You, as in a parched land. Psalm 143:6
  • Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Psalm 103:1
  • I will fervently thank the Lord with my mouth; I will praise Him in the presence of many. Psalm 109:30
  • Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11

Dependence on God prepares us to meet our giants. When we believe that God is near and that He answers when we call on Him, we will be prepared to meet the giants in our lives.

David’s prayer life reveals his continual dependence on God. He cries out to God concerning his relationships and all of the circumstances that distress him. He hides in God and uses his faith in God as a shield. He is not too proud to cry out to God.  We see him regularly praying to God and calling out to God in all circumstances.

  • But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain. Psalm 3:3-4
  • This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6
  • Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:1-2
  • Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught. Psalm 55:1-2
  • I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. Psalm 142:1-3a

As you read verses in the various Psalms of David, you get a sense of authentic passionate expressions of dependence on God.

David was close to God, believed God was with him, and depended on God. So, when the time came David could stand boldly before the giant.

A Pause to Reflect
Worshiping God and depending on God are two of the avenues through which God prepares us to face the giants in our life. This process that prepares us to face giants is born of a living relationship with God, and has a cyclical effect.

The more we worship and reverence God, the more we experience His power and loving care in our life which leads us to increased trust and dependence on God which leads us to a deeper intention to honor God. These interactions with God form the foundation of being able to face the giants in our life. Part 2 of this article will explore truth and experience as part of the preparation process.

Here are some final questions to help you to reflect on your status as a worshiper of God and one who depends on God:

  • Am I a true worshiper of God, or a “good” church member?
  • What would my daily life look like if I truly worshiped God?
  • Would my friends characterize my relationship with God by the words “yearning and longing for” or “hungering” for God and His righteousness?
  • How do I use my “relationship” with God, or my “practice of religion” to honor myself?
  • How has my worship of God increased my faith?
  • Do I depend on God at all times or only when I am in a situation that I cannot handle?
  • What is a time that I depended on God in prayer and the result lead me to worship God?

Faithful

Just when things seemed to be turning around in her life, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was aggressive! The outlook was bleak. I had an underlying fear that she would be despaired and or blame God. We talked about the difficulty of trusting God when it seemed like life was composed of a series of harder and harder trials.

We asked ourselves, “What does faithfulness look like and sound like, especially in times of significant difficulty? What are some examples in the scriptures?” We came up with numerous examples, but were significantly impressed by one in the book of Daniel.

Jaw-dropping Faithfulness
Three young Hebrew men demonstrate “jaw-dropping faithfulness” in the book of Daniel in chapter 3. These Hebrew men who worshiped God were commanded to bow down to an idol representing the king and his power.

Such bowing proclaimed that they honored this image, the sovereignty of this king, above all. It proclaimed that they gave him ultimate value in their life and pledged their allegiance and obedience to him above all others. The king boldly challenged the God of these men when he said, “what god can deliver you from my hand, Dan. 3:15.” The consequence for refusing to bow was to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

When confronted by the king their response was a declaration of their faithfulness, their loyalty and their value of the living God. They said:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Daniel 3:16-18

Such a response is amazing! They had no foreknowledge that God would actually save them from being burned alive! These men believed in the power of God to miraculously save them, but more importantly, they knew the wonder and of the living God through their covenant relationship with Him.  As a result, honoring their God was of greater value than any suffering or even loss of life. That is faithfulness to God.

Faithfulness Is
Faithfulness is loving God with your whole heart, soul, mind and body even when God does not make everything “better” in your life. In the account in Daniel 3, faithfulness sounded like proclaiming that the God who created the heavens and earth is the only God, and it looked like stepping forward into the fire with a heart filled with faith in God.

Faithfulness is steadfast faith in the power of God to do anything; to change a situation, a heart, a mind or an outcome; to heal; to mend; to restore/to resurrect a life, a spirit or a heart. Faith is belief in the supreme power of God and the absolute love of God.

Faithfulness Comes From…
Faithfulness is trust and loyalty that comes from knowing the truth about God’s character, and from having experienced the presence of His character, love and power in your life.

Such faith enables one to see beyond the current situation and its consequences, and trust God in them, as these three young men did. They had no definitive guarantee that they would be delivered from being burned alive, yet they knew God deeply enough to take a stand and be faithfully devoted to Him.

After the fact, we know God delivered them, but also that He walked in the fire with them. The king was amazed!
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God,” (or a son of the gods) Dan. 3:25.

It is an important fact that before their deliverance was a reality, these three young men choose to be faithful to God. They made a faith filled declaration about the character and nature of their God and acted on it.

What Does Your Faith Say About God?
After reflecting on this account of faithfulness in Daniel with my friend, I needed to ask myself some questions. Perhaps you will find these questions helpful to you, also.

  • What does my faith say about my relationship with God?
  • Do my words and actions proclaim that I personally know God’s character?
  • Do I believe God will help me, that He will deliver me, that He will change my circumstances, or that He will “presto chango” change my character?
  • What do I proclaim about God when He does not answer me the way I think He should? Do I fault Him? Do I no longer trust in His goodness and His righteous character? Do I accuse Him of a lack of love?
  • Do I stomp my foot and say “No” and miss seeing Him in the fire with me?
  • Am I genuinely faithful, or do I merely “wear my faith on the surface”?

These three young men showed me and my friend how do go deeper with God. Sometimes it takes the fire to help me see God.

Dear Reader,
I encourage you to pause and reflect on the depth and veracity of your faith in God in times when things are “going your way,” and in times when your character, your pride, your security, your well- being are challenged.