A woman complained on Facebook that her life seemed backwards; she got up in the morning tired and went to bed at night wide awake. Does that sound familiar? How many times have you been robbed of a good night’s sleep because you just can’t shut your mind down?
The Bible tells us that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a hard time getting some rest. He remained awake at night, and when he did manage to go to sleep his dreams disturbed him. He “had dreams and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.” (Daniel 2:1) He complained a few years later, “I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.” (Dan.4:4-5)
Lots of things can affect sleep: pain and medical conditions, personal tragedies, or even too much coffee. It seems Nebuchadnezzar’s problem was that he didn’t know God and all the worries of his kingdom weighed on him. He was proud and arrogant. People like that think everything depends on them. No wonder they can’t sleep!
But if you believe in God and His care, sleep is much more peaceful. Half the things we worry about never really happen, and the other half can simply be handed over to God and his wisdom. David – another busy king – said, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).
Before you lie down at night take time to pray to God and tell Him, “Here, Lord, I hand all my worries over to you for the night.” Then tell your brain that it has no need to think about them. Oh, and make sure you thank God for accepting your worries.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Are you sleeping well?
– Tim Johnson
As we struggle to live in a morally loose society, we need the examples of great men and women to encourage us. James pointed out that the prophets of the past serve in this way. “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:10) Many prophets come to mind: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. All of them lived exemplary lives in difficult circumstances. Many other great prophets are mentioned, but we don’t even know their names.
In our Sunday a.m. Bible class, we have been reminded of the difficult life of Daniel. He quickly gained the respect of Babylonian kings. Belshazzar said of him, “…illumination, insight, and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.” (Dan.5:14) When Daniel’s enemies attempted to find some condemning flaw in his life, “they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.” (6:4)
Here is the amazing thing about these prophets: while they were well known as great, godly people, at the same time they were despised and hated. They suffered violence and attempts on their lives. Yet they insisted on living righteous lives in their difficult surroundings. It would only be until future generations that they would be acknowledged for their patience and godliness, as James and Jesus later testified (James 5:10; Matt.5:12).
So, what is the lesson for us today? While it may be useless to live in an upright manner when nobody around us seems to care, God cares; people you may not know may care; people of the future may look back and care. Above all else, you are to care. Like the prophets of old, you are to live your life the way God wants it lived, not to please everyone around you.
This may be hard to do, but when has it ever been easy?
– Tim Johnson
The past few weeks have seen many upsetting things happen in the world. Terrorist violence in London, England, outraged people around the globe. Our national budget promised to plunge us into tremendous debt, sparking worries in the financial sector. Similar anxiety took place in the United States with the realignment of their finances, possibly leaving the poor and elderly in difficulty. It seems that every week brings new worries and surprises. Many people tend to throw up their hands and give up.
When young Daniel was taken to Babylon, he and is Jewish friends faced a barrage of upsetting events and changes that would cause any normal person great stress. I’m sure he longed for home, but Jerusalem had been destroyed. New uncomfortable responsibilities were demanded of them, and soon their lives were threatened by a demanding king who insisted on an interpretation to his dream. Like many people today, Daniel could have thrown up his hands and given up.
But he was smarter than that. He got together with his three friends and spent time in prayer to God, who promptly gave them wisdom. When his appointment before the king arrived, Daniel stood before him with the confidence that only faith can bring. One of his first statements is something we always need to remember: “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Dan.2:28) The king had demanded something impossible, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Daniel’s life had been threatened, “however, there is a God in heaven.” They had been forced to move to Babylon, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Do you see the point? When things seem hopeless and people can’t see beyond the clouds above, we need to remember God. He’s still in control; He gives wisdom generously; He promises to look after His people; He has a plan.
Yes, our world regularly seems bent on falling apart and nobody seems to have adequate answers. God is not acknowledged, and few seek His compassion. That’s when we need to remember what Daniel said: “However, there is a God in heaven.”
– Tim Johnson
Almost daily the networks report threats and disasters. We hear of global warming, frightening scenarios, disastrous politics, and new taxes. Getting up to news like that, one is tempted to stay in bed!
Wouldn’t it be nice if the daily news people reported that God is still in control? Daniel had to tell the arrogant king Nebuchadnezzar this in Daniel 2:28, “However, there is a God in heaven…” Jesus reminded a demanding Pilate in John 19:11, “You would have no authority over Me unless it had been given you from above.” God rules all and has given that authority to Jesus. The world feels threatened at times, but God is the One who keeps things going.
It is of Jesus that the apostle wrote, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col.1:17). The latter means “to maintain the universe in continuous stability and productiveness” (Vincent). The Hebrew writer put it this way, “He upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb.1:3). Jesus is something like “the bond of the universe” (Philo). He keeps it functioning, guides it and uses it for His purposes.
With a being like Jesus in control, why do we need to fear? While nature is unpredictable, disasters have often been stopped in the past, sometimes by scientific breakthroughs, other times by efficient government action – but always by God’s rule.
We should pay attention to what’s happening in the world and do all we can to help our fellow man (Gal.6:10). But let’s rest in the fact that God rules.
– Tim Johnson
This is a time of year when we want to spend time with family, or at least hear from them. Traditionally, the phone lines become too overloaded with calls on Christmas day and you just can’t get through. We have become well equipped with alternate ways to visit with people, such as computer programs (Skype, etc.), and cellphones by which we can text or Facetime. We spend a lot on equipment to allow it: computers, smartphones , and Internet access. According to the Financial Post, the average Canadian family spends $185 a month on communications.
Have you ever considered how remarkable our God is when it comes to our ability to speak to Him? He is the Master of communication. You can pray to him anytime, night or day. Daniel prayed without fail three times a day (Dan.6:10). Peter seems to have followed a similar pattern (Acts 10:9). Paul told the Colossians, “…since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you” (Col.1:9). He also said to the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess.5:17). God is open to our prayers without cost. You will never receive a bill, and you will never exceed any limit of time with Him.
Somehow, God can handle all this communication. No computers jam up, no extra memory needs to be installed, and no new facilities need to be built. He has always had the ability to listen to the prayers of a limitless number of people – all at the same time! If everyone in the world prayed to Him to Him today, God wouldn’t miss a thing. None of our marvelous technology today can come anywhere close to that kind of ability.
Rather than discourage an overload of voices, God urges us to open up and pray to Him. “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). God wants to hear from us, and hear regularly.
What a marvelous privilege prayer is.
– Tim Johnson