Devotional 97: Unending Dominion

Daniel 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.

In the beginning, the Father trusted His new creation with the stewardship of the earth.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

But His new creation, in spite of the fact that his mate gave in to the serpent’s wiles, still had a chance to save it. Sadly, for all of us, he did not.

Genesis 3:17

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.

Hate Mondays? ^^^^

Don’t. Be glad you have a place to go, and be glad you can get there.

Adam didn’t rebuke Eve, but blamed G-d:

Genesis 3:12-13

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

As the saying goes, ‘You had one job…” But the blame game had started, and from that point there was no going back. Man had given his dominion to the enemy of G-d not only on the earth, but within his own spirit.

As a result, we’ve been in rebellion ever since, doubting G-d’s promises ever since, and allowing ourselves to be repeatedly, (and sometimes willingly) deceived if it pleased our ears and fit our agenda, seeing the lie for what it was, and going along anyway.

Dr. Myles Munro described prayer as seeking G-d’s divine intervention in earthly affairs, because G-d doesn’t take back what He gives, and the heart of men is set toward doing evil.

Fortunately, G-d does new things, and is a G-d of restoration: when the smoke and fires of tribulation and judgement are quenched, the power of the grave cut off, and the destruction of sin is thoroughly final, our Savior takes over, restored to His rightful place. He has already withstood the temptation of the evil one, not exchanging His kingdom to come for immediate acclaim of the masses who would see him dead, though He suffered greatly in the desert. It was so intense that the angels had to minister to Him.

As a result, He has not given over His dominion, not handed the scepter to the serpent, and intimately understands the sovereignty of His Father’s plan in ways and to levels we cannot yet understand. The apostle Paul tells us: (1 Corinthians 13:12)

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

How are we known? We were fashioned in the womb by the Father’s hands. I think it’s safe to say then that our confusion will be cleared up in the most wonderful way, and the parts will be made whole.

In that we will be able to trust in our Lord, dominion, like us, won’t ever be taken from His hand. For that, (and Mondays where we can go out to earn our daily bread), let us be  truly thankful.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

From the beginning, we have shown ourselves unworthy and incapable of complying with Your commands, of holding You in reverent fear and honor. 

And from the beginning, You had a plan to reconcile us to You. Yet you also tell us that even in the end, there will be a harvesting of unbelievers, and we as Your ambassadors, are to be about the kingdom work of calling them to repentance.

As the lost slink further into the shadows, the mockers grow louder, the self-righteous twist Your Word to suit political ends of power, control, and money acting like the very Pharisees You denounced and constantly rebuked, let us stand firm against the onslaught.

As we ourselves tremble when we face the mob, stones of science and the wisdom of men in their books and in their mouths ready to fly at us, give us the boldness of the Holy Spirit, the conviction of the Truth we are about to speak, and let us rejoice, whatever the outcome, that we have declared Your Son before men, that He might declare us before You. Indeed, let us confound them as Paul confounded the Jews in Damascus. (Acts 9:22)

And let those who have ears among the crowd hear, and receive in good soil the restoring love and enduring faith of the Gospel message as balm over the serpent’s sting, looking to the second Tree of Life where our Savior spilled His blood to present us before You, that we might not die in Your presence. 

Set for us divine appointments among the seekers, and let us open their understanding with Your words as we walk with them along the way, leaving their hearts afire for You when we go.

Help us to remember the day is far spent, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth echoes on the horizon as the angels gather once more to reap, one final time, and strip us of the corrupted dominion we’ve practiced. Let us dwell under Your light as You shine forth from the new Heaven, as we enjoy the new and unpolluted, sinless earth You will give to Your Son, our Savior, Shepherd, Brother, and Lord King, now and forevermore.

Let it be done to us as You have said.

Amen.

Devotional 29: “But If Not…”

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

There are Scriptures that speak of testing by fire: .tests of our faith, our works, our hearts, and our love.

In general, when those who follow the Way speak of trials, our tendency is to link them to fire.  In days of old, to profess the sovereignty of Christ at the expense of a powerful and corrupt church often did, in fact, end in trial by fire.

Captives away from their homeland, their names changed, and under the constant threat of death or the promise of reward based on the whims of a volatile, arrogant king, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave the ultimate answer to their impending doom, obeying G-d’s commandment to have set no gods before Him, to not worship images of the created, nor images of man.

“We have no need to answer you in this matter…” Their minds were already made up. Surely they already knew of the king’s decree, and didn’t do it. Their hearts were set on G-d, and if they were to meet Him tragically and painfully, they would do so willingly.

Honestly, how many of us would have the faith and courage to say that in the face of impending, indeed, imminent death. The devout and pious young men were not even tranquilized to face their doom, and were excessively bound so that there was no escape from the flames that were so hot they killed some of Nebuchadnezzar’s mightiest men. (I think G-d was sending the king a message even then, I digress…)

They affirmed their faith with an even more fantastical statement. “…but if not…”

We are reminded of ‘the others’ in the Book of Hebrews, who had no last minute rescues, who saw no divine intervention, who were torn apart by various means with their faith in G-d intact in their hearts, and the kingdom of Heaven on their minds.

In these days, as the love of many grows cold, and the once-faithful turn away, as we are all tempted to do when see the flint-like face of our Savior leading His people to a new Promised Land, our Shepherd leading His sheep to the green pasture where the lions lay next to them, we are reminded to let not our hearts be troubled, nor afraid, and to believe in G-d, and the Son he sent for us to reconcile us to our Creator, and to  redeem us spotless and blameless, without sin, into His eternal kingdom, redeeming us from the flames of the Prince of this world.

We are reminded He will be with us, even to the end of the age, and He revealed Himself as He did, in fact, redeem His good and faithful servants from the flame of a worldly king, who then testified as a pagan witness to the presence of Jesus.

25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”[a]

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, You have said the world will hate us because it hated Your first, and that it hates You because You testify that its works are evil. You never wavered in the face of temptation, or persecution, or crucifixion, or death. And even as You died, You took a repentant thief into Paradise.

Give us the resolve to stand, O Lord, as Your three servants who set the example for us on earth, as You set it for Heaven. Help us to keep discernment through the eyes of the Holy Spirit in us, and know that the battle is spiritual, and not of flesh and blood.

In an age of faithlessness, compromise, and blasphemy, we ask You to increase our faith, and help our unbelief.

We need You now more than ever, to impart Your strength to our quavering voices and shaking knees, to shout from the rooftops what You’ve whispered, and to set our holy lights on the hills of a land in decline, and be voices in the wilderness, proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s favor, and to seek Him while He may yet be found.

By the Power of Your Holy Name, I pray,

Amen.