God’s Faithfulness


Daniel 1-6 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: “He is the living God and He will endure forever, He rescues and saves his people.”

I developed a Chicken Salad recipe several years ago that has become somewhat infamous in my little world.  It has very simple ingredients and is easy to make, but there are some necessary steps involved that give it the taste that everyone seems to enjoy.  I’ve given the recipe out to dozens of women and men alike and even posted it on my website.  Occasionally, someone will say they made the chicken salad, but it just didn’t taste the same as what I had made.  My response is always the same, “Did you follow all the steps and not compromise?”  Well, they just thought it would be easier to skip toasting the pecans or decided not to chop those golden raisins.  They ended up with a chicken salad that wasn’t the real deal.  Compromise will do that to you…fortunately, this is just chicken salad.

The book of Daniel gives the stories of men who would not compromise their faith in God.  Life would have been a great deal easier for them if they had just been willing to politely eat the food put before them, skip the prayer time or bow to the statue for just a split second.  But no, they decided to follow the recipe step by step, and when it was all said and done, they were the real deal.

When facing the fiery furnace because of their refusal to bow to the golden statue, the captive Hebrew young men responded, “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.” (3:16-18)  No compromise!  At the risk of death!  Likewise, to the edict that prayers could be offered only to King Darius, Daniel responded by opening his windows and praying to the true and living God.  No compromise!  God’s response to these faithful children living as captives in a foreign land was to give them great favor and promotion.

We practice compromise almost every day when we negotiate a deal, agree on who is taking the kids to school and even when driving through traffic – after all, yielding our right of way is easier than having an accident.  But when it comes to our faith and the standards by which we live, there’s no room for compromise if we want to be the real deal for Him. When we live without compromise we may face some ridicule, we may lose some friends or we may even lose the job promotion.  After all, Daniel did spend some time in the lion’s den, but fortunately, he didn’t stay for lunch!

Shocked and thrilled by the outcome for Daniel, heathen King Darius’ life was touched by God’s faithfulness to Daniel, and we read in 6:25-27, “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.’”  And the best news today is – God hasn’t changed! 

Moving Forward: “I have decided to live like a believer, turn my back on the deceiver, I’m gonna live what I believe…” (M.Card)  No compromise! 

Tomorrow @ John 3-4

Psalms 93-95 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He welcomes our worship as He watches over His flock

@ Psalm 95
“Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come to him with thanksgiving.  Let us sing psalms of praise to him.  For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” (1-3)  When we think about God’s greatness, there’s so much praise to give Him that sometimes we just have to get rowdy with it, joyfully shouting to Him because of our salvation, because He alone changed everything for us.  When we really consider this fact, it’s hard to contain or hold our joy, so why do we so often do just that – contain our joy?  Maybe we’re just not taking the time to consider His greatness.

Just the other day I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and apparently I looked liked it.  A friend of mine looked at me and said something to the effect, “Phyllis, you’ve got to get your praise on.”  While the challenges I was facing that day were nothing to bring on a shout, I turned my focus from those challenges to the faithfulness of the Lord, and everything changed.

I started to thank Him for my salvation and His goodness to me.  I sang praises to Him for who He was, “a great God, a great King above all gods” with the resources of the universe at His disposal.  After all, “He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it.  His hands formed the dry land, too.” (4-5)  My challenges had not yet changed, but the burden of them lifted, and I felt 50 pounds lighter, something, of course, I always like to feel.

Later that day, I knelt to thank Him for my friend and for the joy that came out of the gloom.  My heart became quiet.  I found no words to say and could only pause in His Holy presence as a peace and a rest flooded my being that nothing else, no substitute, could ever bring.  “Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God.  We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.” (6-7)  Tucked there under the folds of my Shepherd’s garment, I was humbled by the knowledge that He was taking care of all my needs, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..” (Psalm 23:1)

Whether in rowdy praise or in humble adoration, Psalm 95 calls us to worship, “Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully…Come, let us worship and bow down.”  Something to consider today. 

Moving Forward: Gettin’ my praise on today, moving forward with a song in my heart and a praise on my lips, remembering “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 16

Psalms 87-89 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is righteousness, justice, unfailing love and truth.  He is entirely faithful 

@ Psalm 89
“For who in all of heaven can compare with the Lord?  What mightiest angel is anything like the Lord?…O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies!  Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord? You are entirely faithful.” (6,8)   When I read these words of praise to the Lord, I can’t help but join with the writer in worship to God, “You are entirely faithful!

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.  Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.” (14) No other ruler, king or president, including God’s favored David, has ever ruled or will ever rule with complete purity and fairness, demonstrated through eternal love and honesty.  In His dealing with us, it would be good to remember that these are not attributes that come and go at a whim.  No, God IS righteousness, justice, eternal love and truth.  He can only be entirely faithful, so why do we sometimes question His actions or fear His deeds?

Perhaps we waiver when we read something like verses 3-4, “The Lord said, ‘I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant.  I have sworn this oath to him: I will establish your descendants as kings forever; they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’” Yet, we know that the rule of David’s descendants did come to an end and Israel was swallowed up by Babylon.

Just like most of God’s promises, this one includes the if clause, “But if his descendants forsake my instructions and fail to obey my regulations… then I will punish their sin with the rod…But I will never stop loving him nor fail to keep my promise to him. I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie: His dynasty will go on forever.” (30-36)  David’s descendants strayed from the example set by their forefather, committing despicable sins against God. Because He is Justice, He punished them, but He did not break His covenant with David.

Enter the eternal King, the everlasting ruler, Jesus Christ.  “The Good News is about His Son. In His earthly life He was born into King David’s family line, and He was shown to be the Son of God when He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:3-4)  God cannot lie.  He is entirely faithful.

We may find ourselves living short of what we feel He has promised in His Word.  Whether this is the result of sin for which we have repented, the deeds of another or reasons we don’t understand, God wants us to understand that He will never stop loving us or fail to keep His promise to us.

I have a friend who has suffered endless illnesses over several years and the family has been without employment for quite some time due to no fault of their own.  Most would think life looked pretty bleak for her, but nothing could be further from the truth. Believing this moment is but a blip on the screen of eternity, she knows God loves her and He is faithful to His promise of abundant life (John 10:10) because of her amazing relationship with Him.  He is her Savior, and she knows that He will be faithful to His promise of eternal life (John 3:16).   She gets it!  God cannot lie.  He is entirely faithful! 

Moving Forward: I will not be swayed by the temporary challenges of life that may come.  I am convinced that He loves me, He cannot lie and He is entirely faithful.

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 13

Ezekiel 31-36(NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is the Shepherd who never fails us, never leaves us

@ Ezekiel 34
Shepherds and sheep – right up my alley!  While writing the devotional book, Intimate Moments with the Shepherd, I had the joy of visiting sheep farms where I met dozens of shepherds and hundreds of sheep.  I’m sure the shepherds enjoyed watching this city girl navigate the pastures and sheepfolds while learning about the nature of sheep.  My advice for anyone pursuing an adventure like this is to wear sturdy boots, enough said.

“What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?…You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal.” (1-5)  Ezekiel revealed this prophecy to the kings, prophets and priests of Israel, the shepherds of Israel, who with their selfish cruel behavior had neglected and abandoned the children of Israel.

We’ve followed the sinful acts of Israel’s leadership over the past several weeks recorded in Ezekiel, Leviticus and 1 and 2 Kings.  The common thread throughout the accounts of each evil leader was disobedience to God while following their own selfish desires to be powerful, prosperous and popular.  Whether in the church world or the secular world today, pursuit of these same three selfish desires will cause a leader to neglect and abandon those being led.  The sheep become weak, lost and scattered, no longer the strong flock they once were and because of this, sorrow awaited the shepherds.

Thankfully, the shepherds I met on my journeys were not at all like those described in Chapter 34.  Their eyes sparkled as they talked about their pride and joy and shared the heritage of each sheep, their parents, siblings and offspring.  The shepherds knew them so well that many of the sheep were named according to their personalities.  They knew what grasses and grains each sheep enjoyed the most and recalled the injuries and diseases certain sheep had experienced.  They would never call their sheep dumb but agreed that they certainly were willful at times…hmmm.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock… I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again… I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak… And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David [Jesus]. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them.” (11-16,23)   And He did just that!  He sent His Son, Jesus, the Shepherd of Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd of John 10, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” (14-15)  He is the selfless Shepherd who sacrificed His life, the faithful Shepherd who will never leave us or forsake us, and He is the intimate Shepherd who knows us by name. 

Moving Forward: Standing firm today on the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd.  I know Him and He knows me! 

Tomorrow @ Luke 21-22

Leviticus 13-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: God provides all that is needed to keep His people alive and well on their journey

“If a man loses his hair and his head becomes bald, he is still ceremonially clean.  And if he loses hair on his forehead, he simply has a bald forehead; he is still clean. However…” (13:40-41)  For those who are hair challenged, I would imagine reading Leviticus 13 brings great relief, although I’m still somewhat concerned about men with hairy foreheads.  Whether clean or not, I’m not sure hair growing on the forehead is a good thing.  But even more disconcerting is that little word however.

God gave Moses specific instructions regarding the healthcare of the wilderness Israelites.  Hospitals, Emergency Rooms and 24-Hour Urgent Care Clinics did not exist on the backside of the desert where this nomadic community of 2 to 3 million people traveled for 40 years.  The priests were the healthcare providers who administered the diagnosis and treatment needed to preserve God’s chosen people.  It’s not farfetched to imagine an insidious epidemic totally erasing this isolated people group from history, but God would not have that!

God provided all that was needed to keep His people alive and well on their journey as long as they paid close attention to those howevers.  Skin lumps, bumps, sores and discolorations on His people were all diagnosed by the priests to prevent the spread of leprosy, the killer of the day, as well as other diseases.  Even clothing and household goods were evaluated for disease-producing mildew and mold.  Individuals deemed unclean were isolated and goods were either purified or burned.

God was concerned about preventive healthcare because it was obviously much less debilitating and more cost effective than aftercare.  His laws in Chapter 15 regarding bodily discharges, gross indeed, were all about preserving and protecting those He loved.  God really wasn’t surprised when our medical researchers over the past century discovered conclusive proof that diseases, ranging from colds to AIDS, could be transmitted through bodily discharges.  I would think all of heaven offered one big DUH at that conclusion.

If we think the laws and instructions of Leviticus are irrelevant to us today, we should think again.  Yes, the blood of Jesus protects us, but so does His wisdom. There’s a reason that may go all the way back to Leviticus that I carry disinfectants and hand sanitizers when I travel; and after rereading Chapter 15, I’ll be thinking twice about trying on clothes in mall dressing rooms.  I’m just saying…

All God’s instructions regarding healthcare were important to protect His people and get them to the Promised Land.  For us today, equally important is what leprosy and the like represent to us.  Sin is much more menacing than any physical disease could ever be.  It may start small, like the white patch or bump with leprosy, seemingly insignificant; however, if left unchecked, it will bring eternal death to us.  Daily examination before our High Priest for His diagnosis is the best preventive healthcare for the soul that I know.  As far as treatment, His blood has it all covered!

Moving Forward: His wisdom protects my life today and guides my steps, and His blood treats whatever ails my soul. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Kings 6-10

Lamentations (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  “Great is His faithfulness”

“I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken.”(2:11) Jeremiah cried in anguish over the ruins of Jerusalem in Lamentations, appropriately named.  A lamentation is a song or poem expressing grief or sorrow, and the book of Lamentations is just that, a funeral dirge for the loss of lives, the devastation of war and God’s rejection of Israel because of their rebellion.  God  removed His hand of protection from Israel, and the enemy came to destroy it.  Jeremiah was at a funeral, but before we put on our black garb and pass the tissues, we need to continue reading.

After experiencing the devastation of September 11, we have an idea of Jeremiah’s pain and emotions as he looked over the smoldering city.  One of his greatest sorrows was remembering what was – the beautiful palaces and city gates, the children laughing and playing.  And he remembered the temple, the place of holy festivals and Sabbath days, His altar and sanctuary (2:6).

With the many, many churches in each of our cities today, we may not understand the importance and focal point of the Temple in early cultures. Traveling through Europe today and viewing the landscape of old cities, I have noticed that the dominant structure in each one is the church in the heart of the city.  Jeremiah grieved over his broken temple, the focal point of his city, his life.

I understand this heartache when I think of my nation that is broken in so many ways, remembering what was – a nation founded on Biblical principles where God’s blessing and hand of protection were valued and sought after.  Sadly, we have taken God’s role in our nation’s beginning out of our textbooks, our schools and our hearts.  And with Jeremiah, I shout, “Cry aloud before the Lord…let your tears flow like a river day and night.  Give yourselves no rest…rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to Him in prayer, pleading for your children.”(2:18-19)  This can be our only response, turning our hearts back to our God in prayer, not only for us, but for our children as well.

The hope of Jeremiah’s Lamentations and of ours is this, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning..For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever…because of the greatness of His unfailing love.” (3:21-23,31-32)  The restoration of Israel has been slow, but Jeremiah’s tears and prayers have reached down through the centuries, along with the prayers of countless others, and Israel is once again a strong nation.  No one can deny that His hand of protection has been on Israel. Great is His faithfulness.

I am challenged today to pray harder than ever before for the restoration of my nation with the understanding that we do not have centuries for it to happen.  If we pray, if we repent, He will respond to our prayers because of His unfailing love – He just can’t help Himself. 

Moving Forward: I am encouraged today by God’s unfailing love and His new mercies for me and for my nation.  With hope I believe and sing, “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God, my Father.  There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not. As thou hast been, thou forever will be.” 

Tomorrow @ Luke 9-10

Psalms 60-62 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He hears our silent confidence as we wait for His help

There are several ways to say something without speaking.  A picture is worth a thousand words. A smile speaks volume.  Body language says it all.  The silent treatment can be deafening.  I knew a little girl who, in response to her mother’s look of disapproval, would cry, “You’re yelling at me,” yet not a word had been spoken.  And yes, as the old saying goes, silence can also be golden. 

@ Psalm 62
“Truly my soul silently waits for God…” (1,NKJV)  God hears our silent confidence with a volume that reverberates throughout heaven.  It says, “My hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.” (5-7)  He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (8) because it shows Him that we consider Him our refuge, our salvation, but even louder than our supplication, is our silent confidence that He is our hope.  It says the trial is over before there is evidence of it.  It says the victory is at hand regardless of the circumstance.

If a child still cries when in a parent’s arms, it’s saying its needs have not been met.  If I’m resting in the arms of the Lord, but I still make much noise, I’m saying my needs have not been met and perhaps I lack the confidence that they will be met. Yes, we are to “come boldly before the throne of God and make our petitions known,” and ask until we receive.  Absolutely!  However, there is a point in our asking, when the resolve comes to our souls, and we wait in confidence regarding our need.

The silent trust deep within our hearts becomes even louder than our words and says, “I will not be shaken.”  We should not fear that in our silence our needs will be forgotten.  He is the One holding us – how could He forget?  And He faithfully places our needs on the hearts and minds of others when they pray.

David’s psalms touch our hearts because they are expressions straight from his heart.  We see him as very human, walking through the struggles we face.  The giants we slay may not be tangible giants like Goliath, but they are giants nonetheless.  We have known betrayal from those we have trusted, and we understand struggles with temptation.

David set a pattern for us in most of his psalms:  He states the obvious – the problem or the enemy he is facing – but then he turns his attention to the One he knows will help him. David came through unbelievable trials in his life by his hope and confident trust in God.  “Let all that I am wait quietly before God…” (5). All, not just the part that God sees, not just what others see and not just in the mind, but also with our mouths.  Sometimes we just need to let our silence do the talking. Shh.. 

Moving Forward:  I will definitely turn up the volume today on my silence.  May my silent confidence be deafening throughout heaven to where the angels must cover their ears.

Tomorrow @ Job 41-42 (The Finale!)

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