Tag Archives: Petra

Showing God’s Glory

 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
Daniel 4:37, NLT*

What I like about the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and return to power (see Daniel 4) is that it not only shows God’s power, it shows His mercy on someone He knew would eventually be able to come to Him in worship.

King Herod had a similar moment of self-exaltation, but he received only judgement and death (see Acts 12:20-23). God saw in Nebuchadnezzar the potential to repent and be restored.

The taking down of the world’s most powerful man at the time, and then his restoration, demonstrated God’s power to grant authority and to take it away. Nebuchadnezzar told the world, once he was restored.

I’m sure many didn’t believe, but those with open ears heard. And he knew the truth.

The Bible shows that God works in our lives for our own good but also for His glory, that those watching can see His character and come to Him as well. He really doesn’t want anyone to go into eternity without Him.

May we who know Him keep close, so He doesn’t need to do anything dramatic to bring us back. May we keep our spirits lined up with His, and be open to recognize – and to share – what He does in and around us, for the glory of His name and for the sake of those who need to hear.

God Most High, You are worthy of all praise, for Your power, Your mercy, and for all that You are. Help us to remember Your character and to live in confidence in Your care. Help us trust You even when all we see in the world is trouble and disaster. You are supreme, and Your kingdom will come.

This week’s song is a classic from the band Petra: “Show Your Power.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Doing Life God’s Way

He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
he restored me because of my innocence.
Psalm 18:19-20, NLT*

My Bible has a note that this psalm is what David sang to God in celebration, when God rescued him from King Saul. Saul had been hunting David a long time, and would have killed him to keep the throne.

God had anointed David as the new king, to replace Saul. David believed it, but he wouldn’t fight Saul and refused to kill him when the chance presented itself. As verses 21-22 say, David did it God’s way, trusted God to fulfil His promise, and would not harm “the Lord’s anointed one”.  God put Saul on the throne, and David waited for God to take him off.

I think this is the “doing right” and innocence David speaks of here. Everyone sins and misses the mark of what God has for us, and I don’t think David was claiming perfection. But in the long hiding from Saul, he resisted the temptation to do it his way and waited for God.

That’s what God rewards. How we conduct ourselves on the journey is perhaps more important than reaching the end. There’s more at stake than we see with human eyes.

Sovereign God who builds up and takes down, we praise You for the plans You have for each of us, plans for a future and a hope, plans of promise. In our times of stress, help us remember to choose Your way over any short-cuts or schemes that our human nature may suggest. Help us live worthy of the Kingdom.

Here’s a classic Petra song to remind us to walk by faith, “Not By Sight.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Performance-Based Living

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:1, NLT*

In Hannah Whitall Smith’s words, “What we do to be seen by men is seen by men—and that’s all there is to it.” (The God of All Comfort, p. 276)

Somehow that unlocks a new depth of meaning for me: the warning isn’t just “live to please God and don’t show off.” It’s also “don’t be a people-pleaser.”

Don’t do your good deeds to impress, but don’t do them to appease or placate. Don’t live and act in fear of rejection, fear of not measuring up, fear of being yelled at or misunderstood.

The enemy of our souls would whisper lies and inflame our fears of failure and rejection, but I don’t for a moment believe this verse says anything about a frowning God who will disqualify us from receiving something good if we’ve operated in people-pleaser mode. Or even if we’ve been showing off.

I do believe our motives will have cost us the reward we could have earned. It’s an opportunity cost, to use an accounting term. It’s not a punishment. God has the reward and wants to give it, but we have a part to play.

Holy and majestic God who hears our quietest prayer, forgive us for the times we’ve acted “to be seen by people” rather than to please Your heart. Thank You for saving us and for loving us too much to leave us in this damaged behaviour pattern. Thank You for today’s and tomorrow’s opportunities to do good with God-ward hearts and to earn that reward in the Holy Spirit’s power. Thank You for the freedom that confidence in You brings, including freedom from fear of other people.

Here’s a classic Petra song: Godpleaser.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scattered Strangers

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2, NIV*

So begins the Apostle Peter’s first letter to the early Christians. What catches my attention is his use of the words “strangers” and “scattered” — I don’t know if they’d been intentionally scattered by persecution as some were, or if Peter is just talking about how the believers are few and far between.

Whatever the reason, telling them there are other Christ-followers spread through the area reminds them they’re part of a larger group. They’re not as alone as they may feel.

I think that’s why he calls them “God’s elect” too — it’s not a snooty term for “better than the others,” it reminds them they’ve been chosen by God and belong to Him. He loves them.

Living in obedience to Jesus Christ can make us feel like we don’t belong. In a sense, we don’t. We’re changing, and while we pray those around us will recognize that God has also chosen them, for now we’re the oddballs, the aliens. But that’s okay.

Our hearts need acceptance, but the world around us is not the place to expect to find it. Peter reminds us we’ve found acceptance in Jesus. We belong.

Father, thank You for choosing us, for knowing and loving us before we came to You. Thank You that Jesus came, God in the flesh, to heal the broken. Everyone is broken somehow, Lord, and you’re not willing that any should perish. Help each one recognize that You’ve chosen them too. Help them come into Your healing embrace.

This week’s song is an oldie from the group Petra. It’s a medley of the Doxology and their song, “Not of this World,” and it’s one of their quieter pieces. I’d forgotten how much I loved this album.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.