How to Serve God with a Humble and Certain Heart

Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory Daniel 2:37

It was with great humility and certainty at the same time that Daniel went before the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s humility came because he fully understood that God was Sovereign over detail of life. It was God’s Sovereignty that had placed even this pagan King upon the throne and that allowed Judah to be taken captive. Daniel’s own fate had been God’s providential hand at work. Even if Daniel did not fully understand all the mysteries of God’s plan; Daniel still trusted God’s Mercy and Grace. After Daniel and his friends had earnestly prayed, God revealed to Daniel both the dream and the interpretation of the dream. So, it was that Daniel went before the King with both a humble spirit and a certainty of heart.

 

God had warned Judah over and over that their worship of selfish desires and pagan gods was leading toward their captivity. Yes, God was in control of the events. We do know that it was God who allowed this Pagan King to take Judah captive.

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How to Find Wisdom When Life Looms as Impossible

Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter. Daniel 2:20-23

 

King Nebuchadnezzar was having nightmares that awakened him with a sense of terror; yet, he could not remember the details. All he remembered was the terror they left behind deep within the core of his being. He called all of the sorcerers, the astrologers, and his most educated of men. Then, he asked that not only they interpret his dream; but, first they must recall his dream for him. Their reply was, “No man can do that! They would interpret the dream, but they could not discover the dream of another”. So the King was furious and decreed that all the wise men were to be killed. When Daniel heard of this he went to seek audience with the King and asked that he be given time to do what the others had not. Having been granted a day, Daniel hurried home and called his prayer warriors to join him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah joined together in prayer.

That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret Daniel 2:18

Note this, they asked that God’s mercy reveal this dream to Daniel. They did not demand or declare it as some right; rather, they cried out for mercy.

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How to Find Purpose and Joy in This World

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore, he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel 1:8

He was only about 14 or 15 when taken as a captive. Prior to that he had been a part of royalty in Jerusalem. Now he was a slave for the King of Babylon. The King ordained that the most intelligent, the most handsome, and the strongest would be chosen to live in luxurious housing and dine on the finest foods of the land from the Kings tables. Daniel was quickly selected as were three of his friends. But there was only one problem. The meats had been offered to idols and the wine was quite strong. So Daniel “purposed” in his heart not to defile himself; rather, to remain true to God’s laws and commandments, even if that meant his death. Yet, he did not protest nor did he sit quietly in despair waiting to die. He was going to follow God with all his heart and all his being. He proposed to the Prince of the Eunuchs to allow him as well as his three friends to eat only water and vegetables for the next ten days; after, which they would be examined to see if they were stronger and healthier than the rest. Then Daniel prayed. At the end of the 10 days, they were brought in audience with King Nebuchadnezzar. Continue reading How to Find Purpose and Joy in This World

MY LOVE IS ENOUGH-Poetry Sunday

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound Isaiah 61:1 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

What an amazing week this has been!  I have had the wonderful blessed opportunity to spend this week with thousands of Christian women in the Proverbs 31 She Speaks 2016 conference.  So many amazing women deeply in love with Jesus and on fire to spread the word.  I could go on and on naming the speakers who so touched my heart and life.  The amazing attendees each with a passion and a story.  We all have stories.  Sometimes those stories are filled with sorrow, pain, and grief; yet, ringing through it all is one thing—God loves me, God never gives up on me, and God’s love is enough to overcome every sorrow.  Friday night as Lysa Terkeurst took the stage, I anticipated a great message.  A woman so anointed as a writer and speaker; yet, I did not expect the raw vulnerability that drew me in. Somehow, we think that those who are so well known in the ministry don’t still have storms; but, they do.  Lysa had recently finished a book called “Uninvited” which is a book dealing with the rejections we face.  Believing all had already been said about the subject, then an uninvited storm came into her life and sent her running in retreat of her own book for comfort.  Sometimes, we feel uninvited and sometimes uninvited storms come in and we feel abandoned, rejected by God.  Ah, but God is right there.  Her talk was raw with emotion, filled with inspiration, and that beautiful grace of God’s sustaining joy in the midst of the storm. That talk inspired me to write this poem.  So if you are hurting, know this God is enough to fill your heart with glee.  Just wait a moment, you will see.

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My Love is Enough

by Effie Darlene Barba

 

Trials arise and storms of the heart

Come raging into our life

Uninvited, unwanted they scream

Words of bitterness and strife

 

Into the depth of our heart and our soul

Driving their pain with sharpest of knife

Cutting, bleeding taking their toll

Stripping away any signs of our life

 

Crying to God, I scream for a why?

Didn’t I love enough? Sing your praise?

Wounded, battered I really did try!

All of my life! All of my days!

 

Then I did feel His warmth, His embrace

Oh, my dear child, don’t you now see

Everything, spiraling toward you with grace

Only reveals the truth that is me

 

I had to remove the scars of this world

The dark hidden spots you never reveal

Twisted, resisted so tightly furled

Had come in the night your joy to steal

 

Come deep in my arms, rest for a while

To heal all those scars you carried so long

The Broken Unspoken pain doth beguile

Drawing you far from where you belong

 

I see your heart wounded deep inside

Come my dear Child, Safe you will be

Wrapped in my love, here to abide

Wait for a moment and then you will see

My love is enough to fill you with glee

Wait for a moment and then you will see My love is enough to fill you with glee Click To Tweet

I also urge you to order your copy of Uninvited as well at: http://www.p31bookstore.com/

Picture used by written permission of the artist, Ronald Barba.  You may obtain copies at http://fineartamerica.com/artists/ronald+barba  where you may also view other masterpieces of his work.  You may contact me if you are interested in his doing any commissioned artwork for you.

©Effie Darlene Barba, 2016

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

What Happens When a Nation Turns Their Back On God?

but he (Zedekiah) stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover, all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36: 13-16

What depth of sadness those words, “until there was no remedy!” There are moments as we listen to the news and our hearts are torn into shreds, that we might wonder if we too have reached that sad time in which there is no remedy. But, I do say that as long as there is at least one man, woman or even child that is willing to stand firm for God; then, there is hope. For though there was a time that the Jews were held captives of Babylon; they did later return to their land. The book of Daniel tells of a man who stood firm in his faith, though he was taken into service of the King. Ultimately he led a pagan king to worship God; because, Daniel lived out his faith boldly. He foretold of the future, some of which was fulfilled even in his lifetime. Some is yet to come. That is why we must learn of this man; so that, we too can dare to be a Daniel in our own time.

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But before we jump ahead into that story, we might want to understand how it was that God’s people were taken captive.  We saw Josiah was a mighty leader that lead the nation back to God.  So, with such a great revival, what happened? Very quickly after Josiah’s death the people returned to doing evil and worshiping man-made idols rather than Worshiping God. It was during the reign of Jehoiakim (barely 4 years after the death of Josiah) that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon captured the King and took him to Babylon in chains. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the riches from the temple and placed them in his pagan temples. Then Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah (Jehoiakim’s brother) to rule over Jerusalem. Yet, Zedekiah did not heed the warnings of God and rather continued in turning his back to God and polluting the house of the Lord. So, next Nebuchadnezzar sent

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What Characteristics Really Make a Great Leader?

 

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. 2 Kings 23:25

Often, we learn from history those characteristics which are essential in the making of Great Leaders; those who stand in the gap. They inspire and transform our hearts from the inside out by setting the stage and by exemplifying that which we need to model. Josiah was such a leader. Monday, I laid the foundation by telling you of his history as King of Judah. Now from the scriptures in 2 Kings 22-23 as well as 2 Chronicles 34 to 35. I will reference for you the scriptures that most represent each characteristic; although, I will not be able to quote each one simply due to the magnitude. So please go and read them yourself in your preferred translation.

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Why is this so important? This year we have the privilege of voting for a President to lead our nation. As I am writing this, I am heartbroken to learn that another police officer was shot and killed in Kansas City. As you see, I am in the airport awaiting a flight that will take me to a conference for Christian writers and speakers. Unavoidably the news is playing in the background. Our country is a great nation with lots of really good people; yet, we are facing a crisis as well. Financial distress, social unrest with anger driving it, attacks from terrorists, an infrastructure that is beginning to fail, and fear. So it is crucial that we study those characteristics of this young King to learn what made a real leader.

Continue reading What Characteristics Really Make a Great Leader?

Can One Man’s Life Make a Difference in the World?

 

And like unto him (Josiah) was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. 2 Kings 23:25 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 2 Chronicles 34:33

Josiah was only 8 years old when he became King over Judah. It was a sad time for the nation. His father had been assassinated. It had been his father and his grandfather who had set up idol worship throughout the land. They had all but forgot God and sought after idol worship and lead the people into a life of seeking after only worldly pleasures. Long since the temple had been left to waste with no repairs. The gold used for worldly pleasures. Had Josiah heard of his great grandfather Hezekiah? After all, Hezekiah may have stumbled along the path; but, in his last days he had turned once more to worship God.

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And then we find that at the age of 16, this young King turned to serve God once more and lead His people back into a worshipping nation.

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. 2 Chronicles 34:3-4

He proceeded on to restore the temple to its former glory. Remarkably, the workers and craftsmen followed his example for we are told that there was never any worry or concern as he gave them supplies they were honest and trustworthy.

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A Moment of Grave Sorrow and A Silence Broken

There are those moments I find it very difficult to write.  The events and the turmoil that is in this world and in our nation at present.  Perhaps there are those moments when one must speak’’; without fear of being misquoted and misinterpreted.  For me, I was in a sense born and raised color blind.  Indeed as a 4 year old child I carried around a black baby doll (which was unheard of in that day), at 6 I wept because a Mexican migrant worker couldn’t cash the check a farmer had given him.  His family stood around him and looked so hungry.  I lived in Mexico with my husband who was of Mexican descent; and after having been widowed I later remarried.  That marriage fractured when one day, my son’s black college roommate came to my home for the weekend.  When, I arrived home that day; my husband ushered me to the back room and told me to get that “N” out of my house.  I, who rarely raised my voice; ordered my husband to leave and never return.  “This is my house and my name is the only one on the deed; so, you will take your things and get out.  I will not tolerate a racist in my home—that child out there is my guest.  So  you GET OUT”.  And He did.  I never remarried after that.

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My best friend in the world whom I love dearly is also black.  A wise, honorable, and caring friend who has taught me so much over the past few years.  With all that being said and with a heart of love; I must not sit silently by as I watch people destroy themselves from the inside out.

Continue reading A Moment of Grave Sorrow and A Silence Broken

Can The Prayer of One Make a Difference in The World?

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God… These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:22-27, 33

On the previous post we came to the close of the book of Hebrews and my plan was to next turn to the book of Daniel. I still believe that it is an urgent time in our nation to be called out to stand for faith and prayer. For that reason, I do believe that Daniel will be just such a call. Yet, as I study this great book of the old testament; I recognize my own limitations and my need for God to reveal His wisdom and His truth. I need to be enlightened and guided that I might be a light as well. It is there that I turn back to these words of Jesus in John 16 before I begin this great task.

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Many people try to use these words in John 16 to be proof that we may ask for wealth, prosperity and freedom from all trials in the name of Jesus with certainty to gain all those things. Yet, you see God is Sovereign and realizes that if those are my desires; perhaps, I fail to recognize that my greatest joy is in Him. If I am too focused on counterfeit joys; I might never know true joy as can only be discovered in Him. It is a matter of the heart.

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When Words Fail, Where Is Hope Found in The World?

 

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13: 20-21 (NKJV)

As we come to the end of our study in the book of Hebrews, I urge each and every one of us to pray this prayer. It is every bit as relevant today as it was in the early days of the church. We live in a broken world and a broken society—broken by all of the evil that selfish, self-centered, self-exalting hearts filled with rebellion can bring. Is this not the prayer that we each need today? Indeed, the writer of Hebrews after pleading with his readers to “beware lest they drift”; had in Hebrews 13:18 also asked that they keep him in their prayers.

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Let us look at that request as well.

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. Hebrews 13:8

That is my prayer as well. Understanding how important words can be; I pray that my words only seek out truth from the scripture. Never do I want “me” to get in the way by action or word in displaying the fullness of God’s Grace, Love and Glory. Each morning before I write, I pray for guidance. Truth, honesty, integrity is too often lost in our “need to exonerate our own person”. So often our own agenda stands in the way of truth. We are so quick to make excuses for our own behavior or words; while, never hearing or seeing another’s reality. So yes, please pray for me as I pray for you and our nation this prayer.

Continue reading When Words Fail, Where Is Hope Found in The World?