Thursday, August 23, 2007

Our God Reigns! -- Daniel 7-12


Our God reigns!

We proclaim it.
We sing about it.
We even write about it.

Yet, we fret as we read the newspaper, or watch CNN, or listen to the babble of talk radio. We too often live as though the truth we proclaim is not the given reality. We need to remember the tense of the phrase, it is stated in the present tense.

It is not, our God will reign someday.
It is not our God used to reign in the distant past.

It is our God reigns!

In chapters 7-12 of Daniel the prophet is confronted with a number of terrifying visions. Some of it explained, and others left to the troubled imagination. But, in each instance there comes the reminder that God is on the throne. Nations will rise and nations will fall and yet God remains sovereign. Our God reigns!

Daniel, like all of us, is drawn to the fearful and unexplainable images of his dreams, and even when given the visions of God in His glory, he continues to seek the meaning of the horrendous portions of his dreams. Yet, God keeps drawing him back to the greater reality. Our God reigns.

How would my life be different if I not only proclaimed the truth, or sung about the truth, or wrote about the truth but I lived by the truth that our God reigns? How would that truth affect my my, and dare I say, the lives of those around me?

What peace would be afforded?
What justice would be offered?
What truth would be shared?

How would my life be different when I lived out the truth I believed?

Our God reigns!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm actually going to post a short one this time! It occurred to me that the early disciples had a hard time believing that their God reigned when their savior was hanging on a cross - not realizing at that point that Love reigned as God sacrificed his only Son to save mankind.

We have to believe God reigns regardless of outward circumstances, to walk by faith and not by sight.

gentledove

Anonymous said...

Pastor,
Were it not for the deep assurance in the very core of my being that indeed "our God reigns", I would be feeling not only helpless......but HOPELESS. Our family is undergoing much stress and anxiety at the moment as we walk through a very dark ,scary valley . Because I am ablsolutely positivley convinced that God is in control I can "cast my cares on Him" and know He not only CARES but has the answers!
What people do at times like these...without this anchor for their soul....boggles my mind!
Ruthie

Anonymous said...

Actually, I just stopped up short by the phrase:

"How would my life be different when I lived out the truth I believed?"

Whoa and Ouch all in one.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign that last one there.

Dan-o

Anonymous said...

Dan-o,

Could you elaborate a little. I'm a little dense, but Whoa and Ouch only sounds like you think you don't live out the truth, but doesn't give me any idea how your life would be different if you did?

I honestly don't know how my life would be different (outwardly). Peace during trying cirumstances makes sense as Ruthie is currently experiencing while she is going through outward circumstances that would take a non-believer's peace away but how would one's actual outward life be different?

Could you be more specific with how your life would be outwardly different if you lived out the truth you believe -- that God reigns?

Anonymous said...

Ooops, forgot to sign.

Gentledove

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not too sure how to answer your questions, G'dove. I don't think you're dense, as you put it, but what would happen if all those that called upon the name of the Lord were to live out the truth we believed? Pick a level.... What would happen if the Church lived out the truth in its simplistic power? What would happen to the family unit if they lived out the truth? Me?

As much as I'd love to say otherwise, I don't think I live in such a way that it could be said that I live out the truth I believe. I get stressed. I get afraid of things I can't control. It's as if I know better, but I still have days where the stress clobbers me. I would love to say that I "turn it all over to the Lord", but when I do, I usually take it all back. It would be nice to see things from the perspective of Heaven, or see things as the Lord sees them, but too often I see things selfishly, i.e., how does this affect me and my life.

This makes me sound really bad.

OK.

Perhaps I'm not as stressed or fearful as I once was ten years ago, but I would like to be a lot farther down this road!

The "Whoa" in my statement was simply to voice my reaction when I read it. All at once, I saw all the different levels this effected. The Ouch was when I saw the phrase focus in on my life.

Hope this answers your question, amiga!

Dan-o

Anonymous said...

I was really struggling with the answer myself probably because I was having a knee jerk reaction to the blab it and grab it doctrine where the answer to that question would be that we are “King’s kids” who SHOULD all be rich and in perfect health if we believed God reigns. Your answer did help immensely.

Now that I realize the expected “right” answer is not that God reigns so we SHOULD be able order the universe to our specifications, I can get a better grip on responding to the question myself. Obviously, I would produce the fruit of the spirit abundantly, but it also makes me wonder what my life would be like outwardly if I did live as if I really believed God reigns.

Prioritizing in a way that puts less emphasis on material possessions and worldly (although not sinful in and of themselves) types of enjoyment and all the emphasis on what the Holy Spirit within me wants might in fact make my life drastically different outwardly as well as inwardly.

If I owned two coats, would I give one away? What kind of wardrobe would I have? Bet I might have lots of extra closet space? How simplistic my life might be outwardly if Christ reigned completely and totally in my own heart and I gave him complete control. Would I derive as much or more joy from volunteer work helping others than I would from watching movies on my DVD player? Perhaps, the opposite of the blab it and grab it doctrine.

I also suspect that the outward manifestation of Christ really reigning 100% in my heart might be so satisfying inwardly that I would likely experience more joy than I can presently imagine.

It flies in the face of human logic and what the world tells us will make us happy but thinking of the times I have experienced joy (because of the intimacy of the Holy Spirit) rather than happiness (based upon something good that happened to “ME or because I got what “I” wanted)” --- well, there’s no comparison.

If I lived my life as if God reigned (because he did reign in my heart), how many people might see that my simplistic life affords me more joy than any electronic toy or material possession has ever given them. Would it cause more people to want to enter the kingdom if I lived my life like I really believed God reigned?

gentledove

Pastor Randy said...

I guess since this is "my" blog I should enter into the conversation.

I have enjoyed reading your conversations and the struggles that they represent. I suppose, the fact that we are struggling with the issue at hand is good in its own sense.

One thing I learned from my recent trip to Africa is how much we think we must have, or more directly, what we think is our RIGHT to HAVE. Living in Krista's village even for those short three days, helped me to see just how much a person DOES NOT need in order to live.

I have stated it before, and will again, I believe the families that live in Birlamperga were not poor until "we" got there and showed them all the things they were "missing." Sure we brought them good things, like health care, cleaner water, etc. but they did have all that they needed, and they were not bothered by the fact they did not have other things.

I guess all that is to say, even though possessions are not evil in themselves, they do have a subtle and dare I say devious way, of taking control of my life, and thus moving me away from the sovereignty of God. Which of course was the original point of our conversation.

How would my life be different if I really TRUSTED (and that's a key issue) in God's sovereignty? It would be a lot different, in the way I live, the possessions I hold on to, the activities which crowd my life and the interactions I have with people.

I suppose the BIGGER question is, "Am I ready to go there?" I don't know. I know I want to, I know it would be right. I guess the changes would be HUGE, and at that point I must fall back on God's MERCY. Knowing that He wants good for me even more than I want it for myself and thus He will deal with me in His kindness, even if that kindness at time can seem rough.

Does that make any sense? I pray so.

Again, thanks for each of your thoughts. I will have a new blog entry up soon...been vacationing...:o)

Anonymous said...

I liked what Randy said, “I believe the families that live in Birlamperga were not poor until "we" got there and showed them all the things they were "missing." Likewise, I think the people on this earth were not poor until Satan popped in and told men of all the bells and whistles - his riches - they were missing. Now Jesus’ instruction to his followers of “Sell what you have, and give alms,” i.e. back to the basics, sounds just plain irrational to some of Jesus’ followers - because “God wants us to be happy!” I agree, God does want us to be happy, but I think happiness comes - in time - by following Jesus’ light of life teachings.

No fair asking first “Is this going to me on the test!” as the kids would ask of Randy Kay when he taught at Biola.

When I first read gentledove’s gentle challenge to Dan-o to elaborate on his comment of Whoa and Ouch, I kind of chuckled to myself, wondering, “Oh gosh, how is he going to respond to this?” But he answered well, as you have read above.

Gentledove’s concluding statement says, “Would it cause more people to want to enter the kingdom if I lived my life like I really believed God reigned?” This statement has in itself the implication she may think God is not yet “reigning,” at least not reigning in the lives of some others (“cause more people to want to enter”). For God to reign in this world in the total sense we ALL need to be gladly led by the same blessed Spirit, I think. God may be reigning in the background, but it is sometimes hard to realize this as happening in the foreground.

I haven’t thought much of what life would be like if everyone in this world were already trying to follow Christ, and his teachings. It seems to me, at lest at this time, like a Christian’s life is somewhat involved with the concept that everyone else is NOT yet following Christ … and maybe doesn’t even know about Christ, i.e. that God is not yet reigning in his kingdom. Why else would Christians focus - somewhat - on making more disciples, baptizing, and teaching the gospel of the kingdom, if the “all shall know Me” of Jeremiah 31:34 has already become reality?

From my perspective there is the Kingdom of God and there is the Kingdom of this World. God already reigns in His kingdom, the kingdom of his Word, of Truth, which is, for me, anyway, “dwelling in the shadow of the Most High.” By contrast, the kingdom of this world – our so-called reality - which contains degrees of darkness, it is here for us to overcome with Christ’s help. “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” Jesus said, “No one can come to the Father [who dwells in His Kingdom, in heaven], except through me.” John 17:23 reads: “I in them, and Thou in me”. In God’s kingdom – a mental kingdom, I believe - which is always present in the mystical sense, there is “no darkness at all” that needs to be overcome.

I speculate when people “walk by sight, and not by faith” – it is a “what you SEE and FEEL is what you get” world out there. And when we “walk by faith, not by sight,” it can be a “what you KNOW (no fair doubting!) is what you get” world out there.

For an anonymous contributor I’m being fairly long-winded, so I’ll gently lose here. Amen.