The Best Solution

“May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” -Daniel 6:16

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full count, score is tied, and of course, it’s for the league championship. The anxiety in the small stadium of our hometown builds as the high school pitcher, adjusts his cap, glances over his shoulder to first base, winds to throw…

Life is like that. Sometimes we are faced with difficult odds. I’ve been that pitcher and so have you. The solution could go either way – we can win or we can lose. One throw. One chance.

Daniel’s life was at stake because he chose to worship God and not the king. Even though he knew by worshipping God he would be thrown into the lion’s den, he openly stood in his window, in full view of everyone, and praised his God. His sentence by the king, as he well knew, was the lion’s den.

When I struggle with faith, I often imagine Daniel walking to the pit, knowing the lions had not been fed for several days. Was he afraid or was he assured? I can imagine he remembered the times in his life God had shown up before. He knew the power of God’s miracles; and yet, his life was not without trials and struggles.

Daniel had been taken captive from his home as a young man and made into a eunoch by the Babylonians. His entire life had been twisted and uprooted, separated from his family and culture, and forced into slavery. I’m sure as he journeyed to Babylon, he diligently prayed for God to save him; to free him from bondage; to prevent bodily harm to him; but God didn’t – not in the way Daniel probably wished.

As he walked to the lion’s den, what was on his mind?

Sometimes in life we know the situation could go either way. Mistakenly, we use faith as a wish. Like a child, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight! “Faith is not about having life work out the way we want; faith is about believing God’s way is the best way and trusting in Him for the best solution.

May your God rescue you… Every step Daniel took toward that lion’s den, God was with him. Every time he lifted his foot, God placed it on the ground. As he fell freely into the den of lions, God surrounded him lovingly, assuring Daniel of His presence for Daniel was His son. As he faced the lions, God shut their mouths and Daniel was not harmed.

Faith is knowing no matter the outcome, God will always rescue you. It might not be in the manner you believed. Daniel probably hoped God wouldn’t allow the soldiers to drop him into the pit. Talk about the bottom of the ninth! But God did show up and He did rescue Daniel and He will rescue you, too.

Faith is really about the courage to step. It is about lifting your foot not knowing the direction of placement or where exactly you will be landing. Faith is about trusting in God that whatever happens, it will be for His purpose and your good.

A Clean Slate

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

One of the toughest concepts to accept is the reality of the forgiveness of God. There was a time in my life when I wondered if God could forgive me. I spent a great time feeling sorry for myself and my stupidity. But, even when we have made a serious mistake; even when we have hurt someone; even when we have lied; even when we have betrayed; we have a new beginning – a “do over.” in Christ.

When the kids were little and would act up, Connie gave them a chance to “do over” what they messed up. Sometimes I wish I could hit the rewind button and rephrase my words or redirect my actions. With Christ, we get a fresh start, a clean slate. He keeps no record of wrong. When we come before Him, asking for forgiveness, no matter how bad we messed up, Christ redeems us. He wipes the slate clean.

Some of you may have sin in your life that you have not confessed to God.  Maybe you think it is too awful; maybe you are too ashamed to admit it; maybe you don’t want to face God. Today, go to Him in prayer so that you can begin fresh and new today. Ask Him to cleanse you of your sin. Thank Him that you can be forgiven. Then, with your fresh start, leave the sin behind you and move forward a new and better person.


Take your doubt and…

There are two scriptures I want to focus on today and they are very close to one another in scriptures. The reading comes from Matthew 3:17. Jesus has gone to John the Baptist and has asked him to baptize Him in the River Jordan. As soon as Jesus is baptized, the skies open up and the Spirit of God descends from heaven “like a dove” and lights on Jesus. Verse 17 says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.'”

In the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. It doesn’t say, “He went into the desert to fast and pray and potentially be tempted; possibly be visited by the devil; or to be on the look-out for Satan; no, the Spirit, which just landed upon Him from Heaven and declared, “This is my SON…,” led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Verse 3, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Don’t you want to just stop right there and say, “What an idiot!” The Heaven’s just opened up and the Word of God declared, “This is my Son!” And the very first words of Satan to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” Talk about overlooking the obvious!

And yet, Satan uses the same lines day after day with you and me. How many of you are buying what he is saying?

Has God really given you power over me? Did God really say you would be healed? Does He really have your best interest in mind here? Are His plans really to prosper you? Will He really turn this situation for good? Do you really think He is in control of your life?

Blah, lah, lah, lah, lah…and yet we continue to fall for it.

It’s time for some of us to tell Satan to take a hike. Matthew 4:4 gives Jesus’ answer to Satan’s idiotic question, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

I want to take my fist and shake it in the air and declare, “Satan, if God says it, I believe it. Take your doubt, your temptation, your chaos, and …”

The reality is, if Satan can use such on Jesus, how much more is he going to use on us. God sent Jesus there for a reason, to allow us to see how utterly ridiculous Satan’s arguments can be. God had just opened up the skies and announced, “Jesus is my Son! I love Him!” Can you get any clearer than that; and yet, Satan has the audacity to still question it? It’s pretty obvious in this example; but, know it is pretty obvious in your case and my case too. God’s Word is alive and well and true. If He says it, don’t let anything tell you differently.

The next time you hear that whisper in your mind, “Did God really say He’d take care of you? Are you really His child?” Answer with a resounding “Yes!” and go about doing the business God has for you.

I pray for clarity and wisdom for you today as you deal with others and with yourself. Know God has all the answers for you, He just needs you to ask Him.

God protects His children

I have always enjoyed nature, particularly when I can incorporate sports with it. Hiking appeals greatly to me. Here in the Northeast Georgia mountains, where I am privileged to call “home,” the Appalachian Trail begins. About a 2000+mile trek from Georgia to Maine, enthusiasts have picked particular pieces along the way to have the bragging rights of hiking the AT (at least a portion of it). I am one such enthusiast. To hike the entire trip would take someone at least 5 months to a year and cash resources. It is a dream of mine but one I do not see fulfilling. It is just fun to imagine.

There is a particular stretch of trail that I like. It starts at Three Forks Stream Valley and ends at Springer Mountain. Approximately 8.6 miles, the variety of terrain and the beauty of the streams is indescribable.

Years ago, I found myself hiking alone to clear my head and pray. I hadn’t been on this particular trail before. I wasn’t certain what was ahead of me or for that matter behind me. The sounds of the rushing creeks were almost deafening as the trail changed from sure-footed to rocky paths. The scent of Mountain Laurel and the thickness of the rhododendron caused me to stop momentarily and take it all in…and I thought of David.

In Psalm 18, David is writing because God has delivered him from his enemies, particularly Saul.

As I stood in the midst of all the beauty, I started to quote the words I’d read so many times, “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook;  they trembled because he was angry.”

God was angry because someone was messing with His son. Let me tell you, that same God who adored David, adores you. Don’t mess with His people. He will come down like a hurricane. When we call on Him, He will come down and rescue us. And not to stand around a campfire and be friends again kind of revenge…no, when the enemy messes with you and me, God’s precious children, He will swoop down with all His might. Be assured, children of God, you are His temple, and His temple will be protected.

Psalm 18:36, “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

There are times when God asks us to take a certain path and the uncertainty of the direction causes us to fear the next step. David felt the same way; but God will not even allow us to turn our ankle on the rocky trail. He will broaden the path we are on. The terrains of life can be tough: rocky, steep, twisted, narrow, and dark. Life’s journeys can be overwhelming. But David’s words, filled with praise for our God, affirm for us, that even in the toughest of times, God is there.

Some of you may enjoy hiking as well; consider this the next time you are out walking and praise Him for His goodness. Every step you take, God is broadening the path, monitoring the roots, providing the safety net, and strengthening your steps. We can trust God to keep our feet from slipping.

God awakened me!

Isaiah 50:4, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary…”

Christ came to be a voice to the weary. He came to teach the ways of His Father. He came that we might have life. And when He left, He told us He was sending a helper, the Holy Spirit, to live within us (John 14:16).

Do you experience the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to deal with that difficult person at work; the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to handle the foreclosure; the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to handle the sickness;  the ‘KNOW HOW’ to handle the troubled teenager;  the KNOW-HOW to say what needs to be said? If you have a relationship with Christ and have welcomed the Holy Spirit into your life, you have access to it. In fact, it is in you. God has given us a well-instructed tongue so we can speak to the weary in spirit, witness to the non believer, and encourage the broken. When we face hard-times, feel depressed, and all around us seems chaotic, God has given us the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to make it through.

Isaiah 50:4, “…He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed (taught).”

Have you ever thought, “God awakened me!”? It has happened to me numerous times, where I felt with certainty God awakened me for a particular reason.  In fact, this morning at 5 am it happened.  I should have been exhausted but was wide awake an hour early for no reason…or perhaps for a reason.  Whether it was to pray for someone, read a Scripture, listen to His Voice, prepare for a situation I will face, or simply to rest in His presence, I knew He was there…and speaking.  Isaiah is telling us, God wakes us up every morning to instruct us of our day -to tell us how to deal with this or that.

How many of us miss that? He is giving us the ‘KNOW-HOW’ so we can come against any obstacle in our path. How many of us jump out of bed and start running full bore never preparing for our day? How many of us miss out on our instructions and walk blindly through the day? The old adage is “running around like a chicken with its head cut-off.” Perhaps that describes how we jump into our day when we could have learned from God what was coming and how to deal with it.

If you want the ‘KNOW-HOW,’ make God your first uninterrupted appointment every morning. If it means less sleep, so be it. Don’t miss out on God’s instruction to you. It is His promise to us when we listen to Him. As the great reformer Martin Luther put, “I have too much to do today not to pray.”

Fear v Faith

Fear. We project it in many ways. Sometimes we express it, “I’m scared to death!” Other times we panic and use substances to make us feel better – food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or shopping. Some may take it out on others – yelling, using sarcasm, cursing, or cutting people down. There are those who give up, retreat, crouch into a corner, and pull the covers over their heads.

My question is why? Why do we allow fear to consume us, direct us, and cripple us. Could it be that we accept some things without believing them?  Consider one example: could it be that a major flaw in Christianity is accepting that the Resurrection is true while not really believing in it? Before you storm my house and burn me at the stake, let me qualify what I mean. There are many things we accept but don’t believe. I might accept what our government does; it doesn’t mean I believe in it. I might accept what my friend does but I may not believe in what he does. When we believe something, we buy into it. We sell out to it. We go the extra mile for it, because our inner most core BELIEVES it!  If you believe in the Resurrection of Christ rather than just accepting it, your fears will be affected.

Salvation is more than the Sinners Prayer.  Some pray the Sinner’s Prayer because they accept Christ.  Salvation requires that we believe in Him.

Fear questions our belief. Fear is the defining factor in whether we accept Christ or believe Him. Sometimes its hard when you are standing in the doctor’s office and he tells you terminal cancer is knocking at your door. Acceptance questions God, “How can this be? Where are you? Why are you doing this to me?” That’s fear talking. Belief rings in our head, “I know You destroyed death. I know who YOU are and no matter what, I’m believing You will turn this for good. You will not forsake me because I believe in YOU!”

The bills are piling up. You are two months behind on the mortgage. The baby is sick. You receive the pink slip at work. Things happen that do not line up with what you read in God’s Word. You know God IS good but what you are seeing ISN’T good! Things in life happen that do not line up with what you bought into when you became a Christian; but Christianity is knowing the more you need Him, the more faithful He will show Himself on your behalf. Fear questions; but Faith relies.

In your darkest hour, never doubt where He is. Fear tells us He’s gone; Faith shows us He is right beside us. Fear questions His Word; Faith believes His Word.

Daniel 3:16-20, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

We need the “Even if belief…” that sheer confidence that NO MATTER WHAT – we are all in with Him. Today, choose to have confidence in the God you serve.


2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What makes you afraid? What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night? Over the years, I’ve heard many answers to those questions and I’ve answered them myself in various ways. Fear is a very real emotion and one that God is very much aware exists in our hearts.

Maybe you fear getting old; having an empty nest; getting sick; losing your job; not being accepted by others. Maybe you fear public speaking; flying on airplanes; being in crowds; losing your home; losing your money. Whatever it is, God has the answer.

Psalm 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 91:4-8, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

Isaiah 44:8, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Pick any one of these verses and commit them to memory. When you are afraid, speak it aloud and claim it in your heart. Pray today about your fears and ask God to help you fight the fears within you. Seek the Word. God has a great deal to say about our fears.

Psalm 34:4, “I sought (prayed to) the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

Isaiah 35:4, “say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.'”

I love these scriptures because I know I serve a God who cares about me and wants to protect me. What I have to do, is trust He will do what He says He will do.


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