Saturday, August 20, 2016

Views of the Peak

Photo by Kar Gupta 2014

May you enjoy this repost from the archives!

Through His Word, God shows us His general plan for our lives, which includes abundant life here and now, and eternity with Him in Heaven if we have a personal relationship with His Son. Nothing the world has to offer can compare with that, and if we place our faith in anything else, it will lead to our destruction (John 10:10).

I had a beautiful dream of walking at sunset, as though God were leading me along a quiet path, winding up through a mountain pass, where He could show me a glimpse of what He intended for me. A refreshing, gentle wind brushed against my skin, and in the distance I could see a single, majestic, snow-capped mountain, dusky blue, but lit from behind by the rosy light of the setting sun.

I was truly content and filled with a sense of wonder at God’s love. But then I felt Him directing my gaze downward, to the side of the road, which surprised me as I was so drawn to the view of the peak above. Thankfully, I listened, as almost hidden in the lush, green vines carpeting the path were two miniature orchids, delicately floating in the breeze like dancers swaying in embroidered ball gowns of lavender and white. What an exquisite reminder that He attends to every detail in our lives!

I awoke feeling overwhelmed by His love, and realizing that we are blessed not only by our ultimate destiny in heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-7), but by so many expressions of love He places along our daily journey to bring us joy in Him as He rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17). If we race ahead with no thought to our surroundings, we may miss His subtle whispers of love that encourage and uplift us.

It would be a blessing if all my dreams were peaceful epiphanies like these, but there are lessons to be learned even from the more mundane and frantic dreams. The next night I again dreamed I saw a mountain peak, but the setting was very different. This time I was riding in a small car on the track of an amusement park ride, and the mountain peak was a poor representation of God’s natural creation. It was the focal point of the ride and the color scheme was similar, but it was a cheap imitation in plaster of Paris with flaking paint. At the base of the peak was a dark vortex of churning water that the car was meant to pass through to descend to the next part of the ride, ominous and foreboding as the final destination was hidden.

I felt so cheated as I looked up at the fake mountain, refusing to believe it was not what I had experienced before. Surely if I could look at it longer, it would somehow transform into the heavenly creation representing the glorious city on the hill (Psalm 48:1; Ezekiel 40:2; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 2:1-3). So I took matters into my own hands, grabbing the sides of the car and derailing it just before it was swept into the vortex. I struggled to push it back, away from the force of the whirlpool, only to find myself confronting oncoming traffic from the cars that were still on their preset course, and headed for a multi-car collision.

What a relief to awaken, and to realize that nothing the world has to offer can compare with God’s gifts of love and peace that satisfy us completely (Ephesians 3:14-17). Cheap imitations leave us hungry, frustrated, and unfulfilled, and spending more time with them only aggravates the emptiness rather than relieving it, because they keep us from spending time with Him (Matthew 6:19-24).

Why would we want to waste our time with man-made distractions when He speaks to us daily through His Word (Jeremiah 15:16; Luke 8:15; Colossians 3:16), His creation (Psalm 19:1), the counsel of brothers and sisters in Christ (Proverbs 27:9,17), and in so many other ways? It is far easier to keep ourselves out of worldly places where we should not go than to escape once we are there, as the momentum of others caught up in the same fate will pull us down, resulting in disaster (Proverbs 7:4-27; Exodus 23:33).

May we keep our eyes on the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), our feet in high places (2 Samuel 22:34; Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 3:19), and our life in Him (Acts 17:28) as He leads us safely on our journey, lavishing His love and joy on us along the path and preparing an amazing destiny for us in Heaven (1 Corinthians 2:9). He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

© 2012 Laurie Collett

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Triplets of Christ-Mind: Be Faithful Even in Danger, for God Is Faithful

As we have seen in previous posts, fulfillment in our Christian walk requires knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Knowledge refers to having learned God’s Word, or at least having an intellectual appreciation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 1:1,14,18) Who came to earth in human form to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice to reconcile sinful man to Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:18). He rose again from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) to give all who trust in Him everlasting life (John 3:16).

Wisdom moves us from head knowledge to heart knowledge, as we realize His awesome power, justice and holiness and fear the Lord (Proverbs 9:10), knowing that we are sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell (Romans 6:23). But then, as we are born again (John 3:3-8), we experience relief that He paid the debt we could not (Philippians 4:7), and joy in our salvation (Psalm 35:9).

Too many Christians stop there, and do not gain understanding by applying God’s Word to their lives. But for those who show understanding by keeping His commandments (John 14:15), telling others about Him, and serving Him (Matthew 28:19-20), what happens when it becomes inconvenient, unpopular, or even dangerous to do so?

For a Godly answer to this question, we need look no further than Daniel, who, as we have seen before, exemplifies the triplets of Christ-mind. King Darius, who had taken the Chaldean kingdom from Belshazzar as Daniel had prophesied (Daniel 5:30-31), set up a brain trust led by Daniel as the chief of three presidents commanding 120 princes (Daniel 6:1-3).

The number 120 is interesting as it is 3 (God’s perfect number representing the Trinity) times 40, which generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or waiting on the Lord. For example, Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days in the desert (Luke 4:2); Moses lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert (Exodus 24:18, 34:1-28) before God led him to set His people free; and Elijah traveled for 40 days to Mount Horeb to hear God’s plan for his future (1 Kings 19:8-19).

Given the nature of human politics, it is not surprising that the other presidents and 120 princes resented Daniel’s power over them, despite his excellent spirit, and that they plotted against him. They looked hard for “occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; because “he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him (Daniel 6:3-4).

They realized that the only way they could prove him disloyal to the kingdom was to make Daniel choose between his loyalty to the king and his obedience to God (Daniel 6:5). Extending their scheme to involve the king, presidents, governors, and the princes, counselors and captains, they convinced the king to issue a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man other than the king for 30 days would be thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:6-7).

Upon hearing the decree, did Daniel cave to political pressure, tremble in fear for his life, or defiantly rebel against the king? No, he just continued worshipping God as he had always done. He awaited confirmation that the decree was signed; he returned home; and he opened his windows toward Jerusalem. As was his habit three times a day, he kneeled, prayed, and gave thanks to God (Daniel 6:10).

Daniel’s enemies found him doing this, appeared before the king, and confronted him with how Daniel had broken the law by worshipping God three times a day. The king regretted his decision, desperately wanted to save Daniel, and worked all day trying to find an escape clause, but his officials would not hear of it (Daniel 6:11-15).

To avoid losing face, King Darius commanded them to capture Daniel, and he had him thrown into the lions’ den, but he spoke these words to him: Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. Amazing that a pagan king could utter such words of faith, hope, and encouragement! To make Daniel’s situation even more difficult, they found a large rock, set it across the den’s opening, and sealed the den shut (Daniel 6:16-17). This is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ rising from the dead after three days in the sealed tomb.

All night, as the king wondered about Daniel’s fate, he fasted, refrained from listening to music, and stayed awake. Early in the morning he arose, hurried to the lions’ den, and cried out to Daniel. He called him servant of the living God, proclaimed that Daniel served God continuously, and asked if God was able to deliver Daniel from the lions (Daniel 6:18-20).

Daniel greeted the king reverently, and answered that God had sent his angel, who shut the lions’ mouths, and that they did not harm him. He explained that he was innocent before God and before the king, for he had done him no wrong. The king rejoiced for Daniel’s safety, commanded that he be released, and found him unharmed, “because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:21-23).

Once again Scripture shows us salvation through faith, by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-10), with the proof of faith (in man’s eyes, for God knows our hearts regardless of our works) being obedience (James 2:14-26). Daniel was innocent not because he had never sinned (Romans 3:23), but because he trusted God, was faithful to obey Him no matter what consequences he might face, and was therefore righteous before God (Romans 4:6-22).

Those who had accused Daniel did not fare well, for the king commanded the capture and casting into the lions’ den of these men, their children and their wives. Just in case any scoffers might be wondering if these were emasculated lions who lacked the strength to attack Daniel, Scripture tells us that the lions broke all the bones of Daniel’s enemies before they even reached the bottom of the den! (Daniel 6:24).

God rewarded Daniel for His faithfulness by sparing His life, allowing him to prosper under the reign of King Darius, and even ensuring his long-term position under the next king, Cyrus the Persian. Even more amazing, God worked through this trial (Romans 8:28) in Daniel’s life to show His mighty power to King Darius, who in turn proclaimed it worldwide! To all people, nations, and languages throughout the earth, the king wrote, offered them peace, and issued a decree about the God of Daniel, the living God, Who is forever faithful (Daniel 6:25-26;28).

The king’s decree was for men throughout the kingdom to fear, respect, and recognize God for His indestructible kingdom, His eternal reign, and His mercy. The God Who delivered Daniel is a God Who delivers and rescues those who trust Him, as He performs miracles in heaven, in earth, and toward His people (Daniel 6:26-27).

May we have the understanding, faithfulness, and courage to follow Daniel’s example by trusting God’s Word and obeying Him, even when it is unpopular, politically incorrect, or life-threatening to do so. God will reward us richly by giving us abundant life, using us for His glory, and rewarding us in our eternal life with Him!

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop