Open Door Policy

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8 NLT

This section in Matthew is about prayer. It’s worth a quick read:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:7‭-‬11 NLT

Now, admittedly when asking for things, sometimes we might be asking for stones (heavy burdens) or snakes (things dangerous to us) and not even realize that what we “WANT” is not what is actually “BEST” for us. There are times when the “good gift” is to NOT give my daughter what she thinks that she wants. This is usually when she has locked her eyes onto something and has blinders on about anything else.

When the “desires of the eyes”, “desires of the flesh”, or the “pride of life” have taken over our focus so strongly that we are asking for bad gifts — we must realize those aren’t good gifts from the Father.

1 John touches on this:

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 John 2:16 NLT

So I might ask myself:

Am I craving and asking for this because I think that it will bring me physical pleasure?

Am I craving and asking for this because I see it and want it (like bait in a trap)?

Am I craving and asking for this because it will make me proud to have it and show off to others that I have it?

Asking for these things is not asking for something from the Almighty, Good, Good Father but is loving this world and the things it offers us at a painful cost and price.

So we might do well to understand that asking, seeking, and knocking for such things might be the same as the prodigal demanding that the door be open for him to leave with his inheritance — rather than us asking to “come in” to what is truly a gift and blessing.

What are we discontent about today? What are we not at peace about in our lives?

Have we asked God about it?

Have we sought to have wisdom revealed to us about the situation?

Have we been persistent — persistent, not just demanding (like a Karen who didn’t get their way)?

Lord, you know what we truly need before we even ask. Thank you for being a faithful and good Father who always gives good gifts. Help us to see farther than our eyes, our hands and our mouths — to recognize the many blessings and the true treasures that aren’t of this world. Thank you. Amen.

Job’s “One Great Story”

I listened to a wonderful podcast called Earbender by my friend Alexi Muzik yesterday where Rozette, a successful Pop Vocal Coach on Tiktok and InstaGram, described at the end of the interview her “one great story”. It was such an inspiring story full of doors flinging open unexpectedly and other people playing a crucial part in her growth and development as an artist. I commented that “I love when doors open for sweet people by the generosity of others around them — not only by their own talent. It helps build a humility that is so necessary in order to even begin trying to handle true success or fame.”

Success, fame and honor has another side to it that can be just as devastating to a life as loss. Just look at the number of lives destroyed by “easy come easy go” riches, success and fame. Look at the number of sports stars who can thrive on the field of competition, but whose personal lives are destroyed by what grows out of their success. Look at the number of celebrities who find themselves even more lonely, trapped, isolated and depressed even while their fame has them “on to of the world”.

But imagine the crash, to fall from the top of a building versus from the top of a few steps!

The contrast in the chapters of Job 27 and Job 28 should be humbling to any of us who have experienced success, favor, honor or fame in our lives. Chapter 27 talks about how it feels to live a life kissed by the favor of the Lord. While chapter 28 talks about a life darkened by strife, grief and depression.

Those who think that being religious and doing religious things guarantees them only success, honor and fame in this life are utter fools. And many only see religious traditions, theology and dogma as a way of improving their own standing — a narcissistic means of self worship (with God as a supporting cast in their own hero story). This is not worship or faith, but is hypocrisy, self righteousness, sin.

Even those who have truly humbled themselves before God, who know Him and walk with Him, and who are anointed by the Holy Spirit of the Living God are not immune to suffering, grief, loss, oppression, and trials in this life. In fact, Jesus tells the believer to redirect these things.

This verse in chapter 28 sticks out for me:

I live in terror now. My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud.
Job 30:15 NLT

This verse isn’t a statement from before Job ever walked in the favor of God. It isn’t like all was bad before Job made a decision for God and then all was wonderful afterwards — just like God wasn’t only angry and vengeful before the cross and isn’t only peace love and happiness after the cross — and just like our lives aren’t going to be all health, wealth and prosperity once we start “giving money to the preacher man”.

No doubt, there is so much that is gained in a life lived drawing close to the Lord. And the favor and blessing of the Lord is very real. But there is also a cost, and that cost is wonderful. Because that cost refutes the enemies claims that we love God only because He is good to us.

God is indeed very good to us. But only loving or hating Him for whether He is good or bad to us is very shallow, and isn’t about Him but is about us. Going through a season where we are hurting and God doesn’t “fix it” to what we want just because we pray over and over for it in various ways as we try to make sense of things like sickness, suffering, injustice, etc. — it stretches our faith to break through the ground and display the sapling to the world around us of a very real and peculiar faith. And it happens again when a new layer of bark is added. And again when a new branch springs forth. And again when bloom and fruit come forth.

We don’t have to pretend that everything is good if it isn’t. We don’t have to stick it up and take it until we make it. We don’t have to be in the height of our one greatest story to be content and at peace. We don’t even have to be strong.

Wherever we are today, I hope that humility will accompany us through the mountaintops and that peace will accompany us through the valley. And that even in our darkest and weakest hour, we might speak our piece, cry out to God, and then be quiet — for the glory of God. Amen.

Check out Ear Bender on Amazon Music.
https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e75409be-87d9-45e1-9206-9b6b3fa877be/ear-bender?ref=dm_sh_o2Qic3UuUfK2BbrX5h6Pp5LLI

The Thief on the Cross

People like the thief on the cross (who did NOTHING BUT BELIEVE but was promised paradise), and Samson (who COMMITTED SUICIDE yet is listed in the Hebrews Hall of Faith) blast holes in many folks’ theology and religious dogma. Or at least all of the “imperfect people” in scripture makes them have to dance hilariously to try and make it fit into the rulebooks they have chosen as idols (in trade for their laying down the grace of God and trampling upon the precious Blood of the Lamb).

So it seems important that we understand and avoid those same mistakes ourselves!

I saw the following “copy pasta” on social media this morning (anonymous social media postings are ALWAYS SUSPECT but many times are worthy of contemplation):

“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he said he was. No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No Shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words. No haze machine, donuts, or coffee in the entrance. Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.”
For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
I read this today and was reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel.
Copied from a Friend.

It reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with my aunt about Jesus, about salvation, about judgement, and about faith. No matter how I tried to introduce her to the concept of grace, she refused to accept it and would ask another, “Well if I do _____ is that going to be good enough to get into heaven?”

Ephesians chapter 2 is a great scripture for tearing down people’s religious theology that has God constantly “changing the rules” on what they “must do to prove themselves a Christian”. I suggest you correct anyone who places the requirements for your salvation on anything more than God’s grace to draw you and give you the gift of faith.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God;
Ephesians 2:8 AMP

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10 NLT

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
Ephesians 2:7‭-‬13 MSG

The account of the thief is here in the book of Luke:

Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:32‭-‬43 NLT

If your theology rests upon the precious Blood of the Lamb, upon Christ alone as the justification — and the gift of grace through faith as the salvation — you have nothing but a response of gratitude to lead you along this narrow path holding His hand as He leads you. This is the gospel.

If your theology REQUIRES OF YOU (checking off a list of requirements/rules) — instead of TESTIFIES OF GOD’S GRACE — it probably has left the narrow path. Let what He has done be what PRODUCES INSIDE YOU the good work. That isn’t the same as doing good works trying to prove or earn something.

God bless!

Faith Goes Deeper

Faith goes far beyond a ritual we practice daily for self enlightenment and the gaining of wisdom so that our lives might go better. Otherwise, religion would be worth no more than a course on finance, math, science, history, etc.

Theology might be the study of our attempts to understand and align our own thoughts and ways with the ways of God. But faith goes beyond that — to trusting Him when his ways go far beyond what our limited reasoning and perspective can process and comprehend.

When we read and consider Job, we inevitably encounter Job 13:15a. Which seems to me a beautiful parallel sentiment to Matthew 26:39.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
Job 13:15a ESV

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39 ESV

And we encounter Job that seems a sentimental pair to Matthew 27:46.

Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?
Job 13:24 ESV

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46 ESV

Faith isn’t learned or revealed on the mountaintops or in prosperity, but it is on display in the valley, in the fire, on the cross, in the darkness. This truth of how God is glorified through our weakness and His strength and by our failures and His victory is a mystery that the mind of a proud and successful man cannot probe. Only a humble and contrite man can approach and unlock this scroll, and set to flight the freeing wings of faith, and deliver a peace that passes understanding.

When dealing with real pain, suffering, loss, and hurt — we see through these examples that we can come to God with our questions and even our complaints and our requests. But faith will allow us to seek His face not just solely with our pleas for His hand to move to free us from it — but with our surrender to accept and trust that He is still working for our good even when we can’t see it in that moment.

A favorite song on this topic: https://youtu.be/qyUPz6_TciY

Remembering Accurately

Associated reading:

  • Genesis 8 & 9
  • Psalm 8 & 9
  • Joshua 8 & 9
  • “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling

As I read the chapters yesterday and today, they helped remind me of the the importance of remembering accurately. It also helps that I’m listening to another book on the subject of accuracy vs misconception on Audible (“Factfulness” by Hans Rosling), that was given high praise on LinkedIn by a co-worker.

When we are given instructions on how to do something — as Noah was with his instructions concerning the Ark, as Joshua was with his instructions concerning the town of Ai, and as the Israelites were in receiving their instructions for life through Moses — it is important that we remember accurately those instructions, so that we can follow them accurately. And this is critically important in the short term. Like daily manna, if we rise from our slumber and go out into God’s Word each day to gather our daily bread, and if we meet with Him in the garden for intimate time alone with Him, and on the seashore for time of restoration, and even at the cross for reflection and repentance — we will remember Him more accurately through our day’s plans, tasks, circumstances and surprises.

We also do not want to forget what He has done for us in the past or remember wrongly the history of our lives, of our family’s history, and the history of the world. Relying upon our own memory alone can be tricky — as we have a tendency to forget, to embellish, or to be selective in our long term memories of things. We are not perfect in our memories like God, even though God has favored us so undeservedly as David describes, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them… You made them only a little lower than the heavenly beings”. Humankind not only has our individual memories, but we have our spoken and written and recorded history as well. We have all that we speak amongst our families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers during our waking lives. And we have all that might be read, listened to, or watched that we have done that might even exceed that short span of our breath- filled lungs.

Since God is of utmost importance in the story of the life of one who “walks in The Way”, shouldn’t He be the ever present salt that flavors our shared remembrance, and the testimony of our trials be the pepper and herbs, and our profession of Christ risen from the dead be our life giving drink? Just as Joshua sat the people down to hear the whole of God’s commands then, shouldn’t we gather together to read and hear the whole of His Word amongst ourselves?

As I am going through this “Old Testament” reading plan ( http://bible.com/r/H ), I don’t look at this example and pat myself on the back for making it 9 days in faithfully — because I remember accurately how many times I have started and never finished such an undertaking. And I’m not ashamed or in despair either about it. Nor am I flippant about my wanting to make it through to the end consistently this time. It reminds me accurately that but for the grace of God, I would be those people drowned outside the Ark, I would be those enemies appointed for judgement, I would be like Achan who stole from the Lord and deserved to be set up as an example of “what not to do”.

But for the grace of God, what would be remembered accurately about our lives?

What history would be left in the wake of our selfish, prideful, foolish, wicked, sinful lives if a better way (even the best and only way) hasn’t been revealed to us?

As I sat down for lunch with a leader yesterday, we talked about how our “default setting” is not that best way and that we both rely on God’s grace and power daily to strengthen us and carry us through. That too often, we make the same foolish mistakes as all the other characters in the Bible, save the one perfect Lamb of God who “got it right”. It is so refreshing and encouraging to sit with friends over a meal and just experience friendship and fellowship together!

As for me and my house, I want us to remember accurately all that the Lord has done for us. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like or how we live it out consistently, day by day — for our own benefit, for the world to see, but most importantly for the glory of God — but I’m eager to see what the Lord has in store, and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. Amen.

A Tested, Tried, and Proven Firm Foundation

I love science, physics, math and logic — because they are based on physical evidence and verifiable truths that can be proven time and time again. There is “substance” that they are based on.

And I understand how things “unseen” or that “can’t be directly verified by our senses” can very be a challenge to comprehend, much less believe.

But the extremely cool thing about what faith has done for me over time (not like a genius granting wishes immediately), is that by establishing this connection via “faith”, I have seen the physical evidence — in my life experiences, in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, and in my circumstances — prove time and time again the verifiable truth that my God is good and that my faith has a substantial and positive impact.

Hebrews 11:1
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Love this quote:

“It is easy to mock or dismiss faith, but that’s only for those who have never truly experienced it.  For those who have experienced it, it transcends any earthly experience and makes us so certain of the Lord’s abiding presence, that we could almost reach out and lay our head on His bosom.”

A Tried Stone

https://atriedstone.wordpress.com/2021/07/16/hebrews-111-faith-is-the-subtance/comment-page-1/#comment-4667

Destroying Obstacles

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT

I remind myself that it doesn’t say “We proudly destroy every obstacle” and it doesn’t say “We destroy every proud person” but it says “We destroy every proud obstacle”.

And just like “fighting fire with fire” without any plan or understanding just creates a great bigger, raging fire — it should be clear that to destroy any “proud obstacles” that our own pride can’t be the weapon or tool used. It must be us humbling ourselves.

It should not be us trying to manipulate a way to humble “them”. It must be us submitting ourselves and humbling “ourselves”.

We must take our eyes off the person, see the actual obstacle between us, and overcome spiritual obstacles with spiritual warfare. Don’t fuel the “proud obstacle with” more of our own pride, but humble ourselves and see mountains laid low and stones rolled away.

We see our example of this in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lord, let our faith please you, and let us receive your Holy Spirit to teach and guide and lead us in The Way, as you have promised when we believe, confess, and repent. In Your Name, Amen.

That “But Even if He Doesn’t” Kind of Trust

I’m looking at a “peculiar” type of trust today from the books of Daniel and Habakkuk. Imagine a trust that produced a “follow at all costs mentality” in people regardless of whether they got their own way or not.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
18 BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18

I used the word “trust” because it doesn’t have the same religious connotations and undertones as the word “faith” — but in the context of this discussion,  we can use them both interchangeably.

I’m talking about a trust that is not about bartering and trading with some “magical genie in the sky” to do your bidding — but is about seeking to do His bidding “at all costs”.

That seems to be a radically peculiar type of trust from what life teaches us about trust when dealing with other people. To trust a normal man of flesh and blood with your absolute dedication, regardless of how he treated you in return would be both absurd and harmful — because of the abuse that usually occurs when mere men are corrupted by the lure of absolute control/power. So we can understand that absolute, unwavering trust of fallible men is “no bueno”, not good.

But when we are dealing with a holy God (who is not like men,  and who can be trusted fully) — instead of use the simple and common word “trust”, most religious folks interject the word “faith” when dealing with God because it implies a holy type of complete trust where the one being trusted is worthy of that trust. Whether or not the person has enough evidence yet to prove that God is trustworthy or not — He is trustworthy. That is who He is.

Habakkuk shares this same perspective that we can be joyful in the Lord, praise Him and trust Him regardless of our circumstances:

Though the fig tree does not blossom And there is no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fails And the fields produce no food, Though the flock is cut off from the fold And there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord ; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬18 AMP

For someone who doesn’t believe in God, everything they know about “trust” is based on what life has taught them about people — evidence/proof. So they say to themselves, “If I can’t trust people that I can see and try to hold accountable, why in the world would I trust in something that I can’t even see or confirm?” They look for evidence and proof first, before they are willing to believe ands have faith. It is a valid, practical logical question for a man of flesh and blood — but that approach works hard against the spirit man. And that is what confounds so many.

Lord, give us spiritual eyes to see and comprehend and discern spiritual things. Help us to have an eternity mindset that is firmly founded upon your worthiness and your unfailing faithfulness. These things are true. Please help us to accept that no single moment’s snapshot of circumstance shown to us by the accuser has to allow confusion or doubt to win. It is easy for us to think of the enemy as accusing us before you each day — but most of the accusations he brings against us are true. But when the accuser brings accusations against you, Lord, when He tries to steal you from us by way of doubt, confusion, and lies — help us to know and stand firm in our faith. You are worthy. Amen.

Father, Reveal…

Father,

Reveal who you are. 

You are setting the world right. 

Keep us alive with sustaining meals for both body and spirit. 

Keep us forgiven in you and forgiving others freely. 

Keep us safe from ourselves and from the enemy.

Amen.

Philippians 2:13 “God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him, and the power to do what pleases Him.”


Romans 8:1 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”


“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” – John 3:16‭-‬21 MSG


But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord , have spoken! – Jeremiah 9:24 NLT

Daniel Prayed

Christian, remember today that Daniel didn’t go grumbling into the lion’s den about how unfair it was that he was being punished for breaking the law by praying. But that he trusted in the Lord through whatever trial he must go, so that the Lord would be glorified. The same was true with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16‭-‬18 NLT


In other words, if we are going to stand bold for God, we must be ready to see it through to the end, without grumblings or doubt, without expecting there should be no trials or troubles – but instead, rejoicing that we might suffer with Christ in this world, just as we are heirs with Christ in eternity.

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” So King Darius signed the law. But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help. So they went straight to the king and reminded him about his law. “Did you not sign a law that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions?” “Yes,” the king replied, “that decision stands; it is an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.” Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.” So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den. Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel 6:3‭-‬28 NLT

You see, God ordained and set in place these trials with a plan and a purpose. To make a clear distinction between those who trust Him and know Him and believe Him, versus those who are not and are grumblers who do not believe that He is sovereign and in control and has a purpose in all things. To shine a light brightly in rose who are His that points them right back to Him and His glory. 

So trust Him, fully trust Him in this very hour, call upon His name, the only name by which salvation has come to the world, the name of Jesus Christ. And when you profess with your mouth and confess with your heart that He is Lord — not some particular words, not some particular religious ceremony, those are just meant to be an outward witness to what has happened inwardly, so don’t trust in those things as the source of your salvation! No, trust in God who came in the flesh to die for your sins as the ONLY worthy sacrifice, and as the ONLY Savior powerful enough to overcome death and the grave to rise, just as we will rise, to life – not just rise one day to heaven,  but rise and awaken to new life TODAY, walking in a new way, powered by the very spirit of God that comes to live in His people as He pours out His spirit onHis people, as He lives with us, in us, and through us, so that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven, so that His Kingdom,  a spiritual Kingdom not built by the works of men, but by His grace and mercy in those who will believe and live. Amen.