Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – God’s Will Be Done

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

Like the prophet Nathan, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego find themselves in a difficult situation that requires them to confront a powerful authority figure.  Throughout history, God’s people have sometimes found it impossible to both serve God faithfully and still follow the strict regulations of sinful earthly authorities.  In these cases, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have the correct approach: honor God by respectfully confronting the authority with his wrongdoing, continue to steadfastly follow God’s Word, and humbly trust in Him as you accept whatever consequences may come.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know full well that they are probably going to die for their rebellion against King Nebuchadnezzar.  Their words, “even if he does not [save us from the furnace]” reveal tremendous faith in God’s grace.  Even if they are to be executed for their refusal to worship idols, God has already saved them from death.  They are willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace for the sake of their Lord, because He has saved them from the eternal fires of Hell – and nothing Nebuchadnezzar can do to them will ever change that.

These three faithful warriors of God bravely face their doom, walking in the light of God’s Word and trusting in Him to take care of the end results.  Following this course always brings glory and honor to God, as we have seen time and again.  For some heroes, like Josiah and Samson, physical death is still the means by which God’s name is honored and His love is demonstrated for the world – and they can then celebrate His goodness and mercy in His very presence.  But for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, God’s will is for their temporal salvation first, so that the King Nebuchadnezzar and all his subjects could see the power and majesty of the Lord.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were able to stand firmly against the king’s wicked proclamation because they put God’s will before their own fears and desires.  In this selfless act, they point forward to an even greater Hero who would face down the combined evil of all human sin and wickedness, Jesus Christ the Son of God.  Faced with the threat of shame, suffering, and death, our Lord trusted in the Father’s mercy and put His life into God’s hands, saying, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  Although death awaited Him, Jesus knew that the greatest triumph would come later, in His glorious resurrection.  Because of this, we can also face even death boldly, trusting in this same Resurrection.  God’s will is done when we faithfully and fearlessly serve Him, just as it will be done when we are raised to life again on the last day and are reunited with Him forever.  Come what may, let us walk with God and glorify Him, even when His path leads into the fiery furnace.

“Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!  They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.” (Daniel 3:28; 4:37)

Prayer: Lord God, our lives are always in Your hands.  Guide and direct us in Your will, that we may please and honor You with each step of our journey.  Let me always trust You alone and Your Word, seeking strength and courage through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Josiah – Facing Bad News with Faithfulness

“Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God.  As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 34:33)

Hearing the words of our country’s top politicians lately has left many Americans yearning for a return to Godly leadership.  Unfortunately, our government officials haven’t exactly been striving for a morality that follows God’s Law.  We need to continue praying for faithful leaders who will direct this nation in the way of the Lord, asking Him to send those who will reform the evils of this land.

Josiah was the kind of king that the faithful remnant had been praying for.  Already at the age of sixteen, he had started down the path of a rock-star reformer.  2 Chronicles 34:3-7 is just a fun passage to read: Josiah the warrior-king, smashing the pagan altars and chopping down the false gods, crushing the wickedness of idolatry wherever he trod.  The God-fearing people of Judah must have wept with joy as he led the people back to the Lord and ordered that His temple be restored.  And then…they found the Book of the Law.

I’m sure Josiah had known that the people had not been doing what was right in God’s eyes, but he never imagined how utterly short they had fallen of God’s demands until now.  He tore his royal clothes and immediately sent messengers to the prophetess Huldah.  They returned shortly:

Josiah: “Well?  What did she say?”

Shaphan: “Well, my liege, we have good news and bad news…”

Josiah: “Hmm, better hit me with the bad news first.”

Shaphan: “Huldah says that all of Judah is going to be destroyed because of the wickedness of our fathers.  Jerusalem will be completely destroyed and all the people will either be killed or carried off as slaves.”

Josiah: “That’s terrible!  Well, what’s the good news?”

Shaphan: “You’re going to die, so you won’t have to see how bad everything will get.”

Imagine; Josiah had put his whole heart into reforming the kingdom and turning the people back to God, only to hear that everything he’s done will be destroyed soon and his life will be taken from him.  Most people would react to this news with anger, resentment, and despair.  How does Josiah react?  “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:31).

Josiah doesn’t question God’s judgment.  He doesn’t curse at Him for this “unfair” pronouncement of doom.  He doesn’t even despair of all the good that has been done in Judah, but rather redoubles his efforts in leading the people with Godliness and humility.  He celebrates the Passover with joy and festivity, and leaves the people with an imprint on their hearts of God’s mercy and love before being gathered to be with Him.  Perhaps it was Josiah’s faithful example that gave the remnant the hope they would need to get through the coming ordeals of destruction and exile.

Unlike Josiah, we don’t know what the future holds for our country, our world, or even our own family.  But even if we did, and even if it looked really terrible, would that be a reason to despair?  Or would we be like Josiah, and rejoice with great gladness in all that the Lord has done and all that He’s promised yet to do?  Would we leave a Godly example for the remnant that would follow us?

I’m not sure if Josiah knew that it wouldn’t be long before those in exile would see Cyrus deliver them out of bondage and exile; and then the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, deliver them from the bondage of sin and death as well as exile from God.  But He knew that God was faithful, and he was saved from despair and despondency by his faith in God’s promises.  We cling to those promises yet today, for they are our hope and salvation, and our strength in the face of dark times.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’  You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’  O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.” (Lamentations 3:55-58)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, hear now the cries of our nation for leaders who will faithfully guide us in Your truth.  Forgive the many sins of our people and redeem our country, that we may be a city on a hill and light to all the nations of the world; to the glory of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

Hezekiah – The Godly Leader

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.  He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.  And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.” (2 Kings 18:5-7)

Based on the verses above, it would be easy to get the false impression that life for Hezekiah and his kingdom was a proverbial bowl of cherries.  After all, “the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.”  How could we expect anything less than a peaceful, prosperous golden age under such a leader?

Hezekiah certainly was successful in all that he did, and the Lord most certainly was with him.  But we sometimes define success differently than the Lord does.  Hezekiah was tried and tested constantly throughout his reign, making his faithfulness to the Lord even greater.  He was forced to deal with the consequences of his father’s sinful and rebellious actions.  His kingdom was attacked repeatedly, since in his allegiance to God alone he cast off the yoke of tribute to the surrounding kings.  Judah was plagued by severe economic woes brought on by years of corruption and heavy taxation.  The people were entrenched in pagan practices and idol worship.  And Hezekiah himself was afflicted with a terrible illness, suffering agonizing symptoms until he came to the point of almost certain death.

When we look at this portrait of Hezekiah’s life, it seems at first glance as if God really wasn’t with Hezekiah at all, but rather against him.  Why would God let such a good and faithful servant-leader suffer such things?  But the truth is there was no other king quite like Hezekiah because of the very fact that Hezekiah faced such awful tribulations and yet remained firmly rooted in his faith.  He trusted God to deliver him from each of these troubles, and God was faithful to do so.  Though tempted to “take matters into his own hands,” Hezekiah repeatedly turns to God, putting his own human wisdom aside and placing his faith in the Word of the Lord.  God faithfully saves Hezekiah time and again, bringing success and prosperity to the country,  miraculously slaying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers without a single warrior of Judah raising a weapon, and even reverting the prophesy of Isaiah by bringing life and healing to the dying king.

What greater measure of success could there be than faithfully abiding in God’s promises despite the sorest affliction?  For this, God honored Hezekiah with earthly distinction above all other kings.  We, like Hezekiah, must never fail to put our trust in God alone for our salvation as we struggle against our own doubt, despair, and unbelief.  To do so is to honor God, and He in return promises an eternal reward.

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

Prayer: Lord God, I thank You that just as you delivered Hezekiah from all his enemies, so too have You delivered me from sin, death, and the Devil, through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Grant me strength to honor You by faithfully trusting in His victory throughout all of life’s trials, by His grace.  Amen.

Joshua – Strength and Courage

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

Perhaps the fearless warrior Caleb is surpassed in strength and courage only by his faithful companion and Moses’ protégé, Joshua.  God reminds Joshua when he assumes leadership of the Israelites that courageous obedience is a direct command from the Lord, as Caleb had testified many years earlier.

In his “inaugural address,” God tells Joshua three times in as many verses to “be strong and courageous.”  After all, he’s going to need plenty of strength and courage as he faces fortified cities, iron chariots, and warriors of incredible stature.  God knows that the tasks He is giving to Joshua are difficult indeed, and He therefore blesses him with strength and courage.  God’s Word is powerful, and it does what it says.  When He says, “Let there be light,” there is light.  When He says, “Lazarus, come out!” the dead man comes forth.  When He says, “Be strong and courageous,” he imparts strength and courage.

At the same time that God is blessing Joshua with the gifts he will need for the journey ahead, He is also emphasizing obedience to His Word: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left…Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it…”  Even in this strict command, however, we find God’s grace at work in the form of promises attached to these orders: “…that you may be successful wherever you go…Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:7-8).

God’s Word always does what it says.  In the law, God promises strength, courage, and success for those who follow His commands; success in our most vital struggle of life – drawing ever nearer to Him.  But we don’t always follow His commands and obey His good and gracious law.  The good news is that He also promises something else: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Yes, God’s Word is powerful and effective, and it can be trusted.  When He says, “Your sins are forgiven,” there is cleansing and renewal.  When He says, “I am with you always,” His presence is real and immediate.  Knowing this, we His warriors can venture forth with genuine strength and courage.

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:11-12).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, be with me on my journey this day.  Preserve my faith, keep me ever mindful of Your promises, and grant me true strength and courage to do Your will.  Wipe away all of my failures and restore me to service to You and to those people around me.  Let me always proclaim the source of my joy and peace; the promise of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord!  Amen.

Caleb – A Fearless Warrior

“Only do not rebel against the Lord.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but he Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:9)

One of the ongoing themes in this devotional series is the fact that no matter how great our spiritual victories and accomplishments may seem, we must always realize that it is the Lord’s hand at work in our lives, not our own strength.  God gives His warriors strength to win their battles for two reasons: because He loves and cares about our well-being, and because doing so brings honor and glory to Himself (something that aids the spread of His Gospel, bringing others to repentance and salvation, bringing us back to the first reason yet again…).  God does not give anything to us for the purpose of inflating our own self-conceit.  God’s purposes always move toward bringing people closer to Him.  Displaying a trust in self rather than in Him takes us and others further away from God.

At a time when his fellow scouts were proclaiming doom and gloom about the inhabitants of the Promised Land to which God had led His people, Caleb remained confident of victory.  He knew that their strength lay not in their own numbers or size or weaponry, but in the promise and protection of God Almighty.  He reminded his comrades that no matter how fearsome the enemy, God is greater by far.  And he also pointed out that courage in the face of hardship and trouble isn’t just a mental health exercise, or a positive thinking tactic, or some other “feel-good” approach to life; it was a command given to them by the Lord Himself, and to disobey meant open rebellion.

God takes our well-being very seriously – especially our spiritual well-being.  He’s not about to sit idly by while we get into a habit of fear and doubt regarding His promises to us.  After all, those promises are the foundation of our life and salvation.  If I doubt that God will give me strength to bear my trials and burdens in life, or grace to fight bravely against the darkness of this world, what will stop me from doubting His promise to forgive and redeem me?

Like all commands, we as sinners often break God’s orders to act with faith and courage in our lives.  Thanks be to God that He is faithful even when we are not: “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  Though we fail to trust many of the wonderful promises that God makes to us – for strength in adversity, for courage in hardship, for help in time of temptation – the one promise that we mustn’t doubt is the central theme of the entire Bible: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me strength and courage in all of life’s trials and temptations.  Give me grace to glorify You before men for the victories unto which You lead me.  But most of all, keep my faith steadfast in Your promise of forgiveness, renewal, and eternal life through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Moses – God’s Instrument of Leadership

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Exodus 15:2)

There are many stories and examples of reluctant heroes who went on to do great things.  They run from whatever task is given them or whatever destiny is laid upon them, thinking themselves unworthy or unable to accomplish it.  These peculiar heroes demonstrate to us that there is a warrior within each of us, waiting for God’s call to adventure.  They teach us the theme that life is not so much about who we think we are as about who God is making us into.

Moses was certainly reluctant to begin the great quest that God had planned for him.  To be a human being living under the curse of sin means to be deeply flawed, and Moses was no exception.  Despite his flaws, God turned him into one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world.

Our loving God cares not only about the “big picture” – in Moses’ case, the Israelites fleeing Egypt and settling in the Promised Land – but also about our personal, individual journey.  The Moses we see after forty years of leading the people of Israel through the wilderness is a very different man than the stubborn, unwilling individual who kept trying to weasel out of following God’s orders.  As Moses walks with God and is led by His Spirit (however reluctantly), God’s power and love change and shape him into the faithful leader and hero God meant for him to be.

Where is God leading you?  How does He intend for you to be a leader in your own life and spiritual journey?  You may not feel like leadership material, but the God who created the universe out of nothing and made the prize of His creation out of the dust of the Earth can certainly make something great out of you.  He has already transformed you from a sinful, rebellious state of spiritual death into a new creation and an heir of His heavenly kingdom.  Whatever other leadership roles God entrusts you with in this life, you can know that your most important one is, like Moses, to lead others to the Promised Land through sharing the Gospel of forgiveness and redemption.

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.  In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (Exodus 15:13)

Prayer: Lord God, through Your servant Moses You led your people out of captivity, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land.  Grant us Your Holy Spirit, that through the Gospel we may also lead those who are enslaved by sin to freedom in Your forgiveness; that we may have the strength and courage to face the wilderness of this life; and that we may come at last to the promised inheritance of eternal life, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Joseph – Faithful POW

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him…” (Genesis 39:20-21)

There are few acts regarded with more honor and heroism than a warrior who is captured by the enemy, and remains true and loyal to his nation or captain despite imprisonment and torture.  We know there is something special about a person who refuses the opportunity to save his own skin by betraying or renouncing his leader or his cause.  Often, these prisoners of war feel hopeless, weary, and abandoned, fearful of their fate at the hands of malicious enemies.  The tremendous strength required to hold fast to their own honor in these circumstances automatically elevates them to hero status.

Joseph was one such hero.  He went from being a favored child to a slave and a prisoner.  He was betrayed by his own brothers – and many of us in his situation would also feel betrayed by God.  But Joseph remained faithful to his Lord and Commander.  When Potiphar’s wife tempted him, it would have been easy for Joseph to indulge his lusts, seeking self-justification through his “hard times.”  Yet he fled temptation, remaining true to his God at the cost of being cast down once again.  Even in prison, he did not curse God or rage against the fate that divine providence had handed him.

How could Joseph remain so strong in such a miserable situation?  He looked to the Lord for strength and courage, and God used this faithful servant to honor Himself.  Joseph was faithful to glorify God in all things, and God remained faithful to Joseph, eventually elevating him to one of the highest positions in the kingdom and saving his family and descendants through him.

We sometimes feel like “POWs” in our own spiritual struggles.  We let ourselves be overcome by sins and temptations.  We feel crushed beneath the weight of our earthly burdens.  We wander, lost and miserable, torn away from our unit and our Commander; finally it seems that the enemy has snatched us up and holds us fast in his own camp.

Often, our instinct in such situations is to betray God and say, “Alright, I’ve tried following Your orders, and look where it got me; now I’m going to do things my way!”  But God would have us bear these afflictions patiently.  We may not realize it now, but our capture serves a purpose.  Our Commander has tracked the enemy to their own base, and will lead a sudden strike against the spiritual forces of darkness that hold us fast.  This defeat on their own ground will be a crushing blow to the enemy and will bring great honor and glory to our King.  And although we did nothing but sit and suffer, God will honor us as well with a crown that will never perish.

“But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’…That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,11)

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You for the victory that Your Son Jesus Christ has won for me through His death and resurrection.  Give me strength to patiently bear the afflictions in my life to Your glory, that all may see Your love and power by my example.  Even when I succumb to sin and temptation, never let them overwhelm me; for I know that their power over me is broken and I have been rescued from their terrible consequences, through Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen.

Abraham – Obeying the Commander’s Orders Part 2

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)

God has promised to bless the children and grandchildren of His faithful warriors: “…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6).  What more gracious and loving reward could we ask of God than that He bless and preserve our offspring in the one true faith?  So we see with God’s obedient and faithful servant Noah and his descendant Abraham.

Abraham, like his ancestor, displayed a courageous faith in God’s promises and good will as he was led from one difficult test to another.  This is not a sadistic attack on the part of God.  The Lord knew Abraham’s heart; He knew he was capable of enduring the challenges and obstacles set before him.  “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God also knew that Abraham’s faithful endurance would be an example and inspiration for millions of lives to come.  Truly, those who have “inherited” Abraham’s godly obedience are as the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore, and are very much his spiritual “heirs.”

Over a dozen chapters of the Bible directly discuss Abraham and God’s promises to him – too much to cover in a short devotion.  This hero of the faith went from one victory to another because he believed and trusted in what God told him.  Sometimes that meant believing a specific promise: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you” (Genesis 12:2); “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7); “Sarah your wife will have a son” (Genesis 18:10); and so on.

However, there were also times when he trusted in God to do what was right and good despite the fact that Abraham hadn’t the slightest notion of what God’s intention was.  The greatest example of such faith would have to be when God told Abraham to take his son, for whom he had waited his whole life as a fulfillment of God’s earlier promise, and offer him as a sacrifice.  Abraham could not have known the wonderful parallel God was constructing to the sacrifice of His own Son on Calvary.  He would not have understood that through this event, millions would be pointed toward the Savior and attain a deeper appreciation for God’s love for us.

All Abraham knew was that God told him to do it, and he trusted that God would still be faithful to his other promises.  How could he become a great nation if his heir was dead?  How could the Messiah come from his line if Isaac died now?  But Abraham had seen God’s power and miraculous intervention on many other accounts; he trusted God to faithfully carry out His covenant with him, even if it meant bringing Isaac back from the dead.  And God did restore Isaac from death to life through the substitute sacrifice of a ram, just as we are restored to life through the substitute sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  If Abraham had known what an awesome and powerful testament to God’s love this event on the mountain in Moriah would one day to prove to be, it surely would have made things easier for him; but then his own testament of faith would not have been as great!

God also asks us to face many challenges and obstacles in life that don’t always make sense at the time.  We can battle the darkness of this world – our temptations, our doubts, our earthly afflictions – knowing that God has something really good in store through our faithful obedience.  He doesn’t promise to reveal everything He has in mind for the future to us, even after the struggle is over.  But He does promise to guide us in the way to go and to always provide us with the love, strength, and mercy that we need to overcome the dark foes that beset us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.  And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of your faithful servant Abraham.  Just as Your hand in his life pointed always toward redemption through Your Son, grant that everything in our lives would direct others to the saving Cross of Jesus Christ.  Keep us always mindful of Your promises, that we may draw strength to fight on throughout this pilgrimage until we come at last to our home in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Noah – Obeying the Commander’s Orders

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22)

One of the most distinguishing marks that sets apart veteran warriors is their ability to follow orders without doubt, without fear, and without hesitation.  No matter how great the martial prowess of any soldier might be, without the ability to reliably follow orders he can quickly become a hindrance, a rebel, and even a traitor.  Great warriors exhibit unquestioning obedience; without it, they are a scourge and menace to themselves, their unit, and their commander.

Noah is an excellent example of a faithful warrior who was commanded to perform a difficult and confusing mission and followed through beautifully.  He almost assuredly faced doubts and questions from his neighbors, his family, and even from within his own heart and mind.  But he knew that his God would prove faithful and wise beyond the counsel of any of them, and because he walked with God, he knew that his trusted Companion and Commander would not lead him astray.

That’s what the question really comes down to for spiritual warriors; do you trust God more than the world or even yourself?  Or will you flout the commands of God because they don’t mesh with all of your own “worldly wisdom” and “enlightenment”?  Sometimes God orders us to operate in a way that the world looks at as foolish, or isn’t “politically correct,” or that we just don’t like.  But God’s wisdom, justice, and righteousness are always vindicated in the end.

Noah wasn’t the only hero of the faith to get some funny looks during his spiritual mission.  Jesus Himself dealt daily with family, friends, and disciples who thought that they knew better than Him and weren’t afraid to challenge His authority.  They were so sure that they had it all figured out, and then the orders come down to them with all this stuff about suffering and dying…is He serious?  This can’t be right!  “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  But Jesus stayed the course, trusting in His Father and knowing that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

God’s love and faithfulness empowered Noah to obey very difficult orders.  His love and faithfulness have been proven steadfast and trustworthy time and again throughout the Bible and throughout history, culminating in Jesus’ victory on the cross.  God’s warriors look to that same love and faithfulness today, drawing strength to go forward into battle even when we don’t completely understand His purposes or see His ultimate intentions.

 “Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” (Psalm 119:144)

Prayer: Lord God, through His perfect obedience and atoning death, Your Son earned salvation and righteousness for me on the cross.  For His sake, forgive me all my sins and give me grace to walk in Your commands, that I may glorify You.  Help me to understand Your ways and purposes; and even when I don’t, to boldly follow Your will, trusting in Your Word – through Jesus Christ.  Amen.