Deliver Us

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13, KJV)

“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NRSV).

“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NLT).

I love reading different translations mostly because I love words.

My wonderful mom tells me from time to time that I’m very good at finding the perfect way to say things, the most accurate way to express something. And sometimes when I’m talking to someone else who doesn’t know me well, they’ll respond to something I say with, “You mean _______ ?” And I reply, “No. I chose my words.”

The truth is, I read a lot and talk a lot. I try to listen a lot. But I also think a lot, and I think in different ways. One of those ways, obvious as it may sound, is in words. If you’re someone who thinks in images (which I also do sometimes), think of it less as my mental self scanning a dictionary and more of her sitting under a tree looking up at the sky contemplatively. I’ll not deny that God has given me the gift of being able to string words together well, but it’s also that between all of these things, I spend a lot of time with words.

So let’s talk about the words in these three translations. We’ll start with the first part.

Two of our three versions say “temptation” while the other says “trial.” The two words aren’t synonymous, but in a spiritual sense, they might as well be. We have eternal, heaven-bound souls in mortal, sinful flesh. If we’re honest, all of our spiritual trials involve temptation. The temptation to doubt or to return to our former ways or to try something we shouldn’t for one hollow, fleeting moment. So I do feel that these two words are connected in a very specific way.

Trials of other varieties exist too, though, and I don’t want to dismiss that or downplay that. Stuff happens in our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and in so many other ways, and it can really push us or stretch us thin. But I don’t want to downplay the impact that can have on our spiritual lives either. Hurt, anger, bitterness aren’t contained to one place no matter how hard we try to keep them there. They bleed through to other parts of our lives, sometimes while we’re unaware of them. They climb over the walls we construct in attempts to compartmentalize, and they spread. Trials of all kinds can become spiritual problems if we don’t handle them correctly by trusting in God.

In the KJV, Jesus asks God to “lead us not into temptation”, but the NLT has Him asking God not to “let us yield to temptation.” This is confusing, right? Because in the former, God is wholly active, and in the latter, we are equally active. Confusing as it is, I think these two are saying the same thing; it’s just that the NLT is doing a better job.

James 1:13-15 (NRSV) says, “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

James identifies the source of our temptation as our fleshly desires. Our desires are played upon by Satan, not God, hence why each version of Matthew 6:13 either asks God to deliver us from the evil one or from evil itself, which is brought by and personified as Satan.

You know, we give Eve a lot of flack for the whole forbidden fruit thing, but look at all the stuff Satan tempts us with to get us into trouble.

So God does not actively lead us into temptation. I think Jesus is more asking that He not let us be led into trials where we are tempted by Satan proding our desires.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: why does the KJV have that extra line at the end of the verse?

Alan informed the congregation on Sunday, that this last bit, which isn’t included in more recent and more accurate translations such as the NLT and NRSV, would have been said at the end of prayers in Jesus’s day. This means it would have been a given to Matthew’s peers and audience, which would explain why he didn’t write it down, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a given to the people of King James’s time or ours.

What a beautiful way to end a prayer!

This shifts our focus back to God and who He is. He’s the powerful king who deserves all the glory and who loves and listens to us. We aren’t praying empty words that won’t leave the walls around us. We’re praying to a mighty and caring God.

And it’s important to remember just who God is after talking about our problems because that has the potential to emotionally drain us or give us anxiety. But in turning our focus back to God, we can gather ourselves and see that our problems, regardless of what they are, are nothing compared to God.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray, but it also shows us a lot about God and His heart for us. It proves to us that a relationship with God is exciting and requires our effort. God is infinite, and we can only discover new things about Him by engaging Him in His word and in prayer.

By Carrie Prevette

Advertisements

Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12, KJV).

Much like Oprah, I love bread. Toasted, warm wheat. Fluffy or flakey biscuits. Sticks of bread covered in salt and/or garlic (and preferably served alongside a salad at Olive Garden). Brown and served with some butter to spread on it. I’m starting to make myself hungry, so I’m going to stop now, but I think you get my point. Bread is good.

Bread is also pretty fundamental. Some restaurants serve bread as a free appetizer. Back in my day, when we learned about the food pyramid in health class, carbs and grains (i.e., bread) made up the biggest section, holding up the rest of the pyramid. And when we say, “That’s your bread and butter,” in regards to a craft, it means that it’s part of the foundation of what your doing and that you’ll be doing it frequently.

Jesus petitions God for bread because it’s critical to His survival. It was what He physically would’ve needed. He could’ve asked for a side of marinara sauce or asked that the bread be served as a side to a meat and two veggies, but He didn’t because they weren’t as necessary.

It’s not to say that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. It’s to say that we should put our needs first. This seems like common sense, but I work at a bank and can tell you that people don’t always do this. God doesn’t want us to have a bare minimum life, but He wants to provide what we need first and foremost. He wants to bless us, but that doesn’t make Him a genie meant to fulfill our endless wishes.

Jesus calls it “our daily bread” not only because we need to eat daily, but because we should seek God and His provision daily.

Before my first car died and I had to get another (RIP Bartholomew. Gone but never forgotten), I didn’t have a car payment every month, so I had more expendable income. I was also on my mom’s car insurance instead of having my own, so that was even more money that I had to play with. I was by no means wealthy, but I didn’t feel the need to pray to God every day for provision. But now that a pretty decent chunk of my monthly paycheck goes toward my car and car insurance, I do seek and thank God for His provision daily. And don’t get me wrong: I know that the fact that I can afford the things I’m complaining about in this example makes me more fortunate than a lot of people, and I’m very grateful for what I have because I know I wouldn’t have it without God’s provision and blessings.

My relationship with God has to be a daily thing. If I call Him my Lord and Savior, if I rely on Him and look to Him and am thankful for Him, I need to do and express those things daily. Not because of what might happen to me physically. God loves me and is faithful even when I’m not. It’s about what that could do to me spiritually. Before long, one day turns into one week turns into one month, and I haven’t talked to God once. It creates space between me and God, which leaves room for other, more destructive things to come into my life.

In the same sense, damage is done to us when we withhold forgiveness from others. Both hold us back from our best.

In Luke 7, Jesus is eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house when an uninvited woman comes in and washes Jesus’s feet with her tears. She dries them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them. Simon gets mad, saying that if Jesus was who He says He is, He’d know He was being touched by a sinner. Jesus tells him a short parable of a creditor who forgave two debts, one ten times as much as the other. He then asks the Pharisee which would love the creditor more. He says the one who owed more, and Jesus tells him that he’s right.

“Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:44-47, NRSV).

Like this woman, we’ve been forgiven of so much. Every single one of us owed a debt we could not pay. Then Jesus stepped in and paid it all for us.

How could we who have required so much forgiveness not extend it to others?

And the love that we feel for the God who forgives us, we’re not to store it up and hide it for ourselves. We’re to let it show and spread. God sees it, and others see it, and they see it through our actions and interactions. And that love and strength that we receive from God is evident in nothing more so than our ability to forgive.

People hurt us. People owe us. But there can never be a debt as big as the one God forgave us.

At this point in the Lord’s Prayer, we start getting into things that affect our everyday lives. It addresses our physical lives– asking God to provide what we need to survive and forgiving the people around us– and our spiritual lives– seeking God daily to know Him more and to find forgiveness. It’s about the things that run over from our relationships with God into our relationships with everyone.

By Carrie Prevette

As It is in Heaven

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).

This was probably the easiest part of the Lord’s Prayer for me to memorize because it rhymes, but it’s the hardest part of the prayer for me to live.

Dave mentioned a couple of options for what “Thy kingdom come” could mean in his sermon on Sunday: a reference to the Second Coming and a reference to our true citizenship being elsewhere. The way I’ve always thought of it relates to the latter, but is much more specific (and weirder, so hang with me here) way.

As we established last week, we are children of God. As children of God who exist in a world outside of that kingdom, we are ambassadors for God’s kingdom in this world. If we believe that God has called us to certain things, this means we will change part of the world through those things, and as ambassadors of God, those changes will cause the world to look more like God’s kingdom. His kingdom comes here, to Earth.

Not that this is easy. I recall being in a volunteer meeting once and Pastor Alan talking to the greeters, saying something about how a lot of people’s first impressions of God would be based on us. That all but made me sweat just thinking about it because I am not always a shining example of God’s love and grace.

So, no, people won’t always see God in us because we’re human, and there will be times that people won’t believe that we have a place in God’s kingdom or that His kingdom will come through us. So it is up to us to pray that His kingdom comes anyway, that we would not hinder it. It is up to us to seek God so much that the moments we do are fewer and farther between as we grow closer to God.

It makes sense that Jesus would follow this with asking that God’s will be done if He’s wanting Earth to look more like heaven, like God’s kingdom.

My will gets in the way. It’s self-seeking and based on how I see the world, which is a very limited view. I don’t see as God sees, so my will often hurts others as well as myself. That is not the way of heaven. God’s will is perfect and complete, even in the moments when it doesn’t feel like it, and that is heaven’s atmosphere.

Heaven is a place where everything works in harmony to glorify God. It also rests our souls. All of that is a result of God’s will, but it’s also part of life in God’s kingdom. Praying for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done means that we set ourselves up to experience part of heaven in our lives here on Earth. It brings us peace and rest, and it brings God glory, and it changes our world for the better.

The point of this part of the Lord’s Prayer is to turn our hearts and minds to God and His kingdom. That we would long for its perfection and want to bring it here. That we would strive to share it with those who don’t know it. That we wouldn’t take our positions as ambassadors lightly. That we would recognize our own faulty nature and pray prayers that overcome that nature through faith in God. Because we could all benefit from Earth being more like heaven.

By Carrie Prevette

Our Father

Before I read Slaughterhouse-Five for the first time a couple of years ago, it seemed like everyone else on the planet had read it. Since then, I’ve discovered that is not the case, so I’ll give a brief summary.

Billy Pilgrim is an eye doctor. He was drafted into World War II, and he was taken prisoner during the war. He says he was abducted by aliens, Tralfamadorians, and lived on their planet for a while. Tralfamadorians do not see time as a linear thing, and Billy Pilgrim doesn’t either after interacting with them. He spends the entire book going back and forth in time.

Billy says:

They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is “So it goes.”

For those who have never seen it or noticed it, tattooed on the top of my wrist is “So it goes.” That’s because I love this book, and I really like the way the Tralfamadorians view death, so much so that the first time I read that passage, I cried and read it over and over again.

I don’t consider this tattoo to be in honor of my dad, but I do think of my dad sometimes when I look at it. It gives me a great sense of peace because even though my dad is no longer alive, he’s alive in my memories, he’s alive through me now if I live out or impart things he taught me, and he’s alive in heaven, in eternity, where I will one day join him. He’s alive in so many other ways and moments.

I love my dad, and I miss my dad, and I am so thankful for the 20 years I had with him. I’m proud to be his daughter. Mostly, I wish my dad was still with me, but I can see how my life has changed in positive ways that it wouldn’t have if he were still here. And I feel no guilt in saying that because I know my dad would understand, in part because I’ve grown and found people and things that make me happy, many of which are a result of following God and receiving His blessings.

I’ve always viewed God as a Father, but losing my earthly dad changed the dynamic of my relationship with my Heavenly Father a bit. My dad was fantastic, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. And my dad certainly shaped who I am as a person. But God is perfect, and in my dad’s physical absence since his passing, I’ve relied more on God and grown closer to Him, and that has shaped who I am and how I see the world more than anything.

I understand why Jesus taught us and the disciples to address God as “Father” when we pray. Jesus says in Matthew 6:9 (KJV), “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

Jesus could’ve addressed God but any role He plays in the universe: Creator, Alpha and Omega, I Am, The One True God, etc. And all of those roles certainly affect us, and those roles show how big and powerful God is. But Jesus identifies God in a way that reflects His relationship with us, and in doing so, He proves how intimate prayer is.

Being children of God, our prayers are heard and listened to by our Father. We can go to Him at any time, in any place, with any situation and any state of mind, and He hears and responds to us, whether we can see that response or not. The God who formed everything into existence and who has always been and always will be cares about us and communicates with us. He’s adopted us and made us royalty within His kingdom.

And Jesus acknowledges us as children when He says “our Father.” He doesn’t say, “MY Father because I’m the real Son of God…” or “Dear Father of the Messiah, Jesus Christ…” He includes us. He recognizes us as children of God as well.

Jesus follows this display of intimacy by showing reverence to God: “Hallowed be thy name.” In doing this, He recognizes who God is as an entity, not only in relation to us. He is holy, and His name should be respected for His holiness.

This duality, familiarity and reverence, are hard for us to grasp and maintain. In my experiences, most people gravitate to one side of the spectrum or the other. For example, I tend to see God in such a personal, familiar light that I often lose sight of how mighty and holy He is. I love that He’s my Father and my friend because those are usually the roles I need Him in the most, but it causes me to forget how grand He really is. Other people are really into how holy and powerful God is, so much so that they lack a lot of intimacy with Him. Jesus shows us in Matthew 6 how to balance this duality by being aware of and acknowledging both aspects.

God is a perfect Father, one who loves you, accepts you, disciplines you, and stays with you. There’s nothing you, child of His or not, could do to make Him love you less. As His child, you have access to Him in ways that others don’t, and this is only possible through the blood of Jesus. Because of what He means to us and because of who He is, we should show reverence to Him and His name through our interactions with Him and others. Demonstrating that respect will draw us closer to Him and impact those around us.

By Carrie Prevette 

Made Us Alive

“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NRSV).

Before we dive in here, let’s just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this is, both Paul’s words and the sentiment. I was once asked by Dave, Abstract’s discipleship pastor, to sum up the Bible in one sentence, and I said, “The Bible is the Creator trying to capture the heart of His Creation,” and when I read this scripture, that idea comes to mind in a much more powerful way than it did when I said it. It would just irritate me later if I didn’t pause for a moment to reflect on how touching I find this scripture to be, so before I discuss how God’s love turns us into the undead, I want to comment on how spiritually filling and lovely these verses are.

Paul must have really understood how dead he was before he turned to Jesus because of the three weeks we’ve been in this series, I’ve felt led to use scripture that Paul wrote twice. And I can’t help but believe that Paul references this concept more than once of how God brings us to life spiritually because he really wants us to understand it too. To Paul, knowing this is the difference between eternal life and death, and he’s right.

Paul identifies our sin as what gives us a dead status. And he doesn’t say that we may have been dead or that some people were more dead than others. He gives us all the one status, with no variation or levels of sin. We were all dead.

Paul refers to himself elsewhere in scripture as “the chief of sinners,” yet Paul has no problem with telling everyone that we were just as dead as he was. Because Paul, evidently, understood something that is very difficult for most of us to fully grasp, and that is that the sort of sin and amount of sin doesn’t matter; sin is sin, and if we’ve got it, we’re dead.

And as we were all dead, we can all come alive through Christ.

And Paul is sure to say what it is that saves us, so we don’t read this and guess why and by what we’re saved. Paul says that it is by grace. Not by our well-intentioned deeds, not by how early or late in life we come to Christ, not by our own abilities. It is by Jesus’ grace.

Since we are all dead, regardless of what sins we’ve committed or how many they are, we all need grace. And the crazy thing: we always receive enough. No matter how thick and mucky your sin is, Jesus has more than enough grace to cover it. What you’ve done isn’t too much or too bad. He has grace upon grace upon grace to give.

And the best thing? It’s not just a one time exchange where Jesus says, “Ok. You good? I’ve got to run,” at the end. The best thing is that there is no end. We enter a relationship with him, and we have the honor of spending eternity with him, us sparkling examples of His love and grace. He takes us from perpetual death to rich, everlasting life.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

I’ll not ask if you’ve been dead because I know the answer. If you’re human, you’ve been dead by Paul’s definition. But do you want to stay that way? Would you rather replace your sin with grace and enter into life abundant through Christ? What does death have to offer you that life does not? Wouldn’t you like to be a zombie?

By Carrie Prevette

P.S.– Here is a fantastic speech from The Walking Dead by Rick where he identifies the survivors as the zombies, saying that they can act as if they’re already dead in the current world so they can get to a new one where they get to live. It’s powerful, and I love it, and it makes me feel more sane for my comparison throughout this series.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHeYBVfZHM

Losing and Finding

“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39, NLT).

Jesus was not playing in Matthew 10. The chapter is filled with some truths that are hard to hear, and honestly, verses 38 and 39 aren’t even the most uncomfortable. In fact, I find verse 39 to be rather poetic.

This scripture goes back to being both alive and dead at once, like zombies. If we choose to keep our lives, we die. If we give up our lives, we live.

So what is Jesus talking about? And why did I include verse 38 if our main point is in verse 39?

Paul used the same symbolism in Galatians 2:20, which we discussed last week, and what he said there is not altogether different from what Jesus is saying here. Paul said he was crucified with Christ, and Jesus is telling us that to be His, we have to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Paul meant that when he accepted that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the sinful man Paul was died. Jesus means that if we’re not willing to let go of the people we were before Him and if we’re not willing to shoulder any of the changes and shifts in our lives that come from following Him, we don’t deserve to belong to Him.

We’re not used to hearing Jesus talk this way. I’d even take it a step further and say that we don’t like to hear Him talk like this. We view Jesus as a great guy who understands us, who loves us, who will forgive us. All of that is absolutely true, so please don’t think for a second that I’m trying to tell you otherwise. But He is so much more than that. He loves us, yes, enough to be honest with us. He’ll forgive us, of course, but He knows the difference between a genuine and an insincere heart, and He knows that if there’s no correction or consequences, we’ll just run out and hurt Him again. He understands us, sure, and He understands how difficult it is to carry a cross, which is why He instructs us to follow Him so He can help us.

This is where the next verse comes in because it’s an expansion of what He was saying before. If we cling to our own lives– what we want, our priorities, how we see things– we will die. Eternally. If our lives remain centered on us and sin and ways that don’t align with God’s, we will ultimately and truly die. We’ll live and then die like typical humans.

To die and then live, however, is the way of the zombie. To lose our lives– accept Jesus as our Savior, seek God’s will instead of our own, be directed by the Holy Spirit– gives us eternal life. Our entire existence becomes centered around God, and when that happens, we find His gifts all around us and in us. We’ll die a mortal death, but then we’ll spend forever in light and love.

I’ll reiterate for any newcomers or for anyone who hasn’t read last week’s post: Losing your life does not mean losing who you are. You are still you, still the person God designed you to be, still capable of doing things in the kingdom of God that not just anyone can do. You’ll have your convictions– places you can’t go anymore or people you have to set up boundaries with or things you used to do that you shouldn’t. And that’ll change parts of your life, but it won’t take it away. God may reign in your life, but that doesn’t mean you no longer get to enjoy it.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

Have you given up your life only to find a new one? If you have, you know that it’s filled with hope, joy, mercy, provision, and love unconditional. If you haven’t, would you like to? You can trade in your sorrows, burdens, and bitterness when you die to yourself. And you’ll come back to life forever.

By Carrie Prevette

Nevertheless I Live

I once taught a lesson on how those who’ve been reborn are zombies based off of Galatians 2:20, which says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I use the KJV translation because that’s the version I have memorized. (I’d like to note here that this is one of very few scriptures I know by heart.)

Additionally, I watch The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I even watch Talking Dead, which is an hour long show that comes on after both of those shows where Chris Hardwick and his guests discuss the episode that just aired. I’ve seen Zombieland more than once and enjoy it, and I’ve seen World War Z. I can appreciate a storyline involving zombies.

Yet I can’t say that I’m fascinated by zombies as a creature any more than other monsters. And I’ve watched Supernatural since I was 14, so I’ve had decent exposure to a range of monsters. However, I do understand the interest in zombies. As humans, we are either alive or dead, and we are in awe or terror of something that is both. They are barely alive, yet they feed off of what is fully alive. I get it.

Obviously, there are negatives to being a zombie, many of which depend on what your point of reference is, and those aspects can be used as spiritual metaphors. I reserve the right to switch gears with this series and discuss any and all of those, but for now, I want to run with this idea of being both dead and alive all at once.

Let’s revisit Galatians 2:20. Paul says that he’s crucified with Christ and that he is alive because Christ lives in him. We know this not to be literal, so what is Paul getting at?

Paul means that the person he was died when he accepted the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. When we accept the crucifixion as God’s greatest gift to us and accept Jesus as Savior, what happened on the cross becomes active and real in us, and so we die with Jesus and arise new and different.

We’re new and different because we are alive in Jesus, not ourselves. He’s running the show. He changes our hearts, minds, and outlooks. The way we live and walk in this world has changed because our internal wiring isn’t the same. Our life source isn’t the same.

In The Walking Dead universe, you can only kill a zombie by destroying its brain. This is because what reanimates it is very minimal brain activity right around the core and stem. There’s very little left of what once was. When we enter our new lives in Christ, there should be less of our old lives as well. Our reanimation doesn’t mean our personalities or tastes or hobbies change, but we have different motives and priorities, and we see our actions and consequences in a new light– the Light.

In season two, our group of survivors encounter another group that has kept alive their loved ones who’ve turned. They do so because they see them as the very same people they were when they were humans. In a universe where zombies are tangible and want to eat you, this is dangerous. In our spiritual lives in this universe, it’s simply inaccurate. We may look the same, sound the same, or act the same, but the fact remains that we aren’t the same as we once were.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

Would you like to be one? Would you care for a new, eternal life source? How about a restart? A different way of existing? Christ offers all of this. (Bonus: He does not come with the cannibalism and disease of actual zombies!) He can turn you into something new and whole and bound for heaven. So what do you say?

By Carrie Prevette 

P.S.: Here’s the link to a song I like that accompanies this post perfectly, “Zombie” by Family Force 5.

Daniel the Faithful

I was led to believe that Sunday’s sermon was going to be on Jeremiah, and I was really looking forward to it because of all the sermon’s I’ve ever heard, I’ve never heard one on Jeremiah. Then Dave preached on Daniel, who I have no animosity towards but was really miffed at on Sunday simply because he isn’t Jeremiah.

As Dave introduced Daniel, I realized that Daniel was an uber human, which is not very relatable to me. And as I listened to how smart and wise Daniel was, how attractive he was, and how heroic he was, I found myself thinking very loudly, “Daniel, Daniel, Daniel!” in the style of Jan on The Brady Bunch.

Daniel may seem like a topdog, but his underdog story involves some very big cats.

In Daniel 6, we find that he is one of three presidents over leaders in the kingdom. Verse 3 (NRSV) says, “Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom.” It’s not surprising or hard to believe that the other presidents and leaders were unhappy about this and pretty much planned a political coup.

They tried to find some sort of fault with Daniel. “But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption, because he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption could be found in him” (v. 4).

There it was. They had their answer. Faithful. Faithful almost to a fault. I imagine a guy just leaning back in his chair and letting his hands fall on the table in exasperation as he says, “There’s nothing. We can’t touch him. What are we going to say? ‘Oh, he’s too reliable.’ ‘Oh, he’s too faithful.'” Then someone else says, “That’s it! What if we show the king that he’s more faithful to someone else than he is to him?” Verse 5 says, “The men said,’We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.'” They go to King Darius with their plan in hand and convince him to sign an ordinance saying that, for 30 days, anyone who prays to anyone or anything but him would be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel knew about this, but it didn’t stop him from kneeling in front of his windows that faced Jerusalem and praying three times a day. So he was found and brought before the king, who did not want to condemn Daniel to the den but eventually had to.

The king went to the lions’ den first thing the next day. “When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Daniel then said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.’ Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (v. 20-23). The king had those who accused Daniel thrown into the den along with their families. All of their bones were broken in pieces before they reached the bottom.

The takeaway here is not to have friends in high places but to have the best possible friend in the highest place.

Daniel was so close to God that I can’t help but think of them as friends. Friends are faithful to each other. Daniel didn’t ditch God because of a new ordinance just as God had never left Daniel before and certainly didn’t leave him in the lions’ den. Daniel shouldn’t have walked out of that den, but God rewarded Daniel’s faithfulness by showing His own.

My sincerest hope is that you don’t feel like you’re in the lions’ den, but if you do, please remember that God is faithful even when we’re not. He’s working on you and for you, and if you put your faith in Him as Daniel did, you’ll make it out alive and well.

By Carrie Prevette

David the Patient

I don’t even dare to think of all the sermons, lessons, and words that have been spoken and written about David. David the shepherd. David the king. David, the giant slayer. David, the man after God’s own heart. David the underdog. There’s so much we can say about David because we know so much about him. As readers of the Bible, we have the privilege of seeing David at his best and worst and knowing that God loved him just as much at his lowest as He did at his highest. David’s life was filled with many mountains and valleys, and his relationship with God was remarkable.

David was merely a shepherd. He was a son of Jesse and had brothers who looked far more kingly than he did, but David was the one God told Samuel to anoint as future king. This did not inherently upset the reigning king, Saul. Saul loved David like a son until David defeated Goliath when Saul would not, and the people of the kingdom loved David and hated Saul. When we join them in 1 Samuel 24, we see that Saul wants David dead. He’s hunting him. Well, Saul and 3,000 of his men.

But David has men of his own, and when they’re surrounding the cave that Saul is in at that very moment using the bathroom, they tell David to go for it. God has promised David that He would deliver his enemy into his hands for him to do to his enemy as he sees fit.

David has Saul in the most vulnerable waking position, and no guard is in there to protect him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I never get this sort of golden opportunity, so had I been among David’s men, I would’ve told him the exact same thing.

So what does David do? He cuts a piece off of Saul’s robe instead of killing him. And get this: David feels bad about doing even that much.

This speaks not only to the patience of David – being willing to wait for the right time to become king and be avenged – but also to how wise David was – knowing the way in which God would fulfill His promise and how to handle it. When most people would’ve killed Saul for vengeance alone and then even moreso with an impending kingship with the support of the people, David showed Saul mercy.

David explains himself to his men and asks them not to attack Saul. Saul leaves the cave, and David yells after him. He bows before Saul, says that he doesn’t want to hurt him, despite what people say, because Saul is anointed by God. He shows Saul the bit of robe he cut off to show that he could’ve killed him but didn’t. David tells him that God will judge between the two of them and will avenge David, but it won’t be by David’s hand. All the while, David refers to him as “lord” and “father.”

And when David is finished, Saul calls him “son.” In 1 Samuel 24:17-20 (KJV), Saul says, “Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. And thou hast shown this day that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.” Then Saul asks that David not cut off his lineage, which David obliges, and they go their separate ways.

David could’ve killed Saul and rushed God’s promise that he would be king, but he knew it was better to wait on God’s timing for David’s reign. He knew it was better to wait for Saul’s death to occur as it would have than for him to end his life. This patience proved David’s trust in God and his love for Saul. And it made Saul realize how foolish he’d been and how incredible of a king David would be.

David was quite an underdog. He was on the run from a jealous king who couldn’t face his own faults and wanted David dead. And when the door was open to take matters into his own hands, he decided to wait on God. When he was telling Saul how he’d spared his life, David didn’t smirk and turn the bit of Saul’s robe over in his fingers, saying, “You really should thank me for not killing you.” He bowed and spoke humbly, only wanting Saul to know that he didn’t kill him because that wasn’t in any way his desire.

It’s hard not to take matters into our own hands, especially if you’re an underdog who feels like you’ve just been thrown a bone. But know that if God has promised, He’ll come through because He is faithful. Don’t give up. Don’t mess it up by taking it into your own hands. Be like David, and let God work.

By Carrie Prevette

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑