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Inspirational

Standing Firm

 

Faith in Times of Affliction

 

   

 

In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon had a dream. He saw a monolithic image in the shape of a giant; a splendid man with a head of gold, a chest of silver, a belly of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron mixed with clay. The image represented the glory of the earth's kings and kingdoms. It was one colossal man, one mass, one community of humanity led by earthly kings which in Nebuchadnezzar's view, placed him at the head and the most valuable of all earth's kings and kingdoms. The boulder that destroyed that godless humanistic image typifies Christ - a mere 'rock' - not gold or silver, not even brass or iron, just a common rock. Jesus is 'the rock of offense' in whom there is no beauty or appeal from the world's perspective. The earth's ruthless kingdoms seen through Nebuchadnezzar's eyes are humanized, taking the form of a corporate man. Jesus is depersonalized and devalued, taking the form of an unexceptional stone. What a contrast of values. The whole world view is upside down.

Through the eyes of Daniel, we are then shown the same sweep of earthly kingdoms in Chapter 7. But he sees them not in a glorified human form, but as a series of beasts. The last beast is so horrible that it is beyond description. Finally a man, a human, appears and brings an end to the beastly parade of terror. That man is Jesus, the Christ. He is the true human. With His coming, the earth is liberated from the serial beastly reigns of terror, all less than the true humanity God intended for the earth before the fall of man. The differences between these two views of the same sweep of global history are almost irreconcilable. They represent radically different world views and values. One is humanistic and of the earth; one is heavenly, a vision from God.

Between these very different panoramic historical perspectives are stories - of how the people of God fare as these kings and kingdoms come and go.

In chapter 3, a trio of young Hebrew rulers is compelled to gather with other national leaders. The "conference" involves a shared religious experience - let's call it government-based faith enrichment! It is prescribed. It isn't optional. The religious professional training is a new part of their job description. These new government sponsored faith practices are designed to promote a global symmetry of values to assure cultural conformity and national loyalty. I'm extrapolating, but you see the implications. The boys refuse to bow to the image. They refuse to participate in a compromise of their own heart-felt faith. The result is not mere job-less, but the death penalty. They will be examples to non-conformist - at least that was the intention of the authorities.

In Chapter 6, a similar edict comes forth from another king under a new flag that forbids even private prayer if offered to any deity except the one approved by the State. So prayer to Yahweh is outlawed, and Daniel can't even legally talk to his God without the possibility of impunity. The religious freedom ban now reaches beyond public ceremony (Chapter 3). It now monitors personal practices at home. Daniel defies the edict and as a result, he is placed into a den full of lions.

In both these cases of religious tyranny, a miracle occurs. In chapter 3, God cools the furnace and joins the three Hebrews in the fire and delivers them. In chapter 6, God shuts the mouths of the hungry lions and delivers Daniel. The message is clear - in the midst of earthly, even pagan governments, God's people are sometimes put at risk - called to compromise, forbidden to practice their faith, exposed to if not forced into pluralistic postures or worse, idolatrous and pagan practices. When this happens - don't compromise. Keep praying. Don't bend your knee to the idol. Don't give up on your faith. Be faithful to the true God and he will be faithful to you.

 

P. Douglas Small, Progect Pray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is Merciful

 

 

 

 

The Mercy of God

 

When Hezekiah re-opened the temple, repaired its doors and commanded the priests to clean out the "filth," excitement rippled through the nation. The Passover was coming. Israel was returning to God. But the calendar was unbendable. Hezekiah desperately wanted to celebrate the Passover and to celebrate it right, on time. He was endeavoring to meet the legal deadline, the non-negotiable date, and so were the workmen. By the sixteenth day of the first month everything had been scrubbed - cleaned and sanctified. But it was too late - two days too late for the Passover. According to the calendar, that great celebration of Israel's deliverance from Egypt fell on the fourteenth day of the month. What a tragedy to be so near and yet so far! They missed the 'Passover' - the symbol of forgiveness, of a new beginning, of being under God's protective grace, of liberation itself.

The king pondered the matter with his counselors. Would the Lord Almighty bend the rules? They determined that Passover would be held, even if it was one month late. The word went out and the people streamed towards Jerusalem. The city was alive with a spirit of hope and expectancy. They were hungry for the Lord - and the Lord was about to do good things for His people. But then, there were more rule problems. The out-of-town guests hadn't prepared themselves properly for the Passover. The priests weren't numerous enough to handle the needs of the altar - that's a good problem to have, so the Levites cheerfully pitched in to help with the sacrifices. But if the people were going to participate fully in the Passover, they would have bend more rules. King Hezekiah took the plunge. "Go ahead," commanded the king, "let them worship." And they did, eating "the Passover otherwise than as prescribed." They didn't just bend the rules, they broke them. But the momentum was not in a movement away from God, but a movement toward Him. That was the purpose of the law, to tutor us all toward transformational encounters with God. The law was an act of grace; and it was grace that God allowed Hezekiah to give to these people who had strayed so far from Him. An open invitation was offered to seek His forgiveness. Grace triumphed. Mercy won.

Still, Hezekiah was being neither foolhardy nor blasphemous. He had been in touch with God. In the words of Scripture: "Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, 'The good Lord pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness.'" The Scripture says, "The Lord heard Hezekiah, and healed the people." O the power of an intercessor. As the worshippers celebrated the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread which followed, a symbol of the removal of sin, the renewal of their faith awakened such joy and gratitude that they decided to bend the rules again. They extended the feast for another seven days. Incredible. Unprecedented. "Since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem."

Here is an example of great grace on the part of God to welcome back a nation that had drifted from Him. Here is what the ministry is praying for:

Some godly national leader who dares to be politically incorrect and call the nation back to God.

A young Hezekiah generation that sees the social and moral damage they are inheriting from their fathers, and they are motivated to return to old paths.

A spiritual renewal among pastors.

A fresh wave of prophetic voices that strengthen the resolve of other leaders and call the nation back to God, whose voices resound across the land like trumpets.

The reopening of ancient wells, the rebuilding of ancient altars, the reopening of stories of past revivals and interventions by God that showed his glory.

For the nation to see that God is our only hope, that God is not dead, not like the 'other gods,' that Christianity is not a mere philosophy, not a religion among religions - but that our God is alive, our Savior is risen from the dead! "God, show up in America."

For a massive return to God, a Great Awakening, a flood of conversions, the abandoning of pagan altars and ideologies - so many at the altar that 'the Levites' have to assist.

Prayer: God, you saved Judah. You kept them from sure defeat at the hand of the Assyrians. You sent a much stronger army home with their tails between their legs, dizzy and unclear about what had just happened to them - they were not defeated by Judah, but by your mysterious hand in behalf of the nation that was in revival. God save America. Send a revival. Show yourself alive. Do a glorious work for your namesake. Do it in our generation. In our time. Do it soon!

 

 

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Read more blogs by P. Douglas Small> P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

 

God is in Control

"At the healthy center of prayer is always the question of faith in the  of God.  Prayer requires humility before God, and that means the acceptacne of our limitations, our finte nature and trust in God's infiniteness.  It means that we rest in the confidence that God knows what we don't know, what we may never know, and that God discloses as He wills, and we trust and obey (John 16:13).  This place of trust is beyond our own understanding, from our heart more than our head (Prov. 3:4-5).  It refuses to grasp at what only God has the right to give (Phil. 2:6)."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet

Humility in Prayer

"One thing we must ever learn in the prayer journey is that the most unlikely people may, at points, be our most powerful mentors.  The 'child' leads.  It is not the mighty or noble, who know how to enter a prayer closet and prevail in intercessory prayer, who ride the magic capet of prayer around the world, who time-travel - interfering with future events, claiming and interceding for the purposes of God to break into our time-space world - it is the humble one in whom God is hidden."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet

God's Tabernacle

"In the New Testament, people are to be marked by God's presence.  It is no longer about holy places, but about the holy person, Jesus, and his body, the church.  It is about our being, like Hime, a holy habitation of God's presence."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet

Kingdom Praying

"Kingdom praying is strategic prayer for the expansion of God's kingdom purposes.  It involves prayer for the lost, leaders, churches and communities.  Kingdom praying involves intercession for people we will never meet while on the earth, people with whom we are connected by the mystery of prayer.  By our neglect of prayer, of kingdom praying, we allow the kingdom of darkness to both stand and advance without resistance."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet

The Lord's Prayer - purality

"Notice, in this prayer, never once do you find me, my or I.  Instead you find our, us and we.  This is an intercessory, collective prayer, one we pray with others in mind.  It begins not with us, but with God; not with earth, but with heaven; not with our will, but with a desire to know and do His will.  Here, the kingdom of God is found in both the opening and closing lines.  The prayer is not about a transaction with God, not alone - but about transformation."

P. Douglas Small - the Prayer Closet

Public Prayer

"Public prayer strengthens faith, at least in those who by grace want a connection with God; it unites those who believe, binding them together corporately, under heaven, befor God."

P. Douglas Small - The Prazyer Closet

The Noblest Use of Prayer

"The highest calling of prayer is communion with God, but its noblest use is intercession.  The heart of prayer is worshp, but its edge is mission - and that involves intercession."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet

The Priority Position in Prayer

"Before you rush into 'God-help-me' prayers or 'God-use-me' prayers, make sure you are in the 'first position' of prayer, centered in the love of God.  Prayer is not due to your pursuing God nearly as much as your recognition of His pursuit of you.  It is not so much a matter of your love for God - it is the wonderful and enduring fact of God's love for you."

"If you are convinced that God loves you, fatih soars.  And if you struggle with whether or not God loves you, your prayer life will be frustrated.  It is impossible to have faith in a God whose love you doubt.  Most of us do not have a faith problem, we have a love problem.  Push back everything else, and settle the issue of God's love for you, and return that love.  This is the heart of prayer."

P. Douglas Small - The Prayer Closet