Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“We are assured and know, that God being a partner in (our) labor, that all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
Romans 8: 28
Turn The Carpet
“This world which cloudy thy soul with doubt
Is but a carpet inside out;
As when we view these shreds and ends,
We know not what the whole intends;
So when on earth things look but odd,
They’re working out some scheme of God.
What now seems random strokes will there
In order and design appear.
Then we shall praise what here we spurned,
For then the carpet shall be turned.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then the king went to his palace and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him; and his sleep went from him.”
Daniel 6: 18
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 28
“Sleepless In Medo-Persia!”
“But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ saith God, ‘to the wicked.’”
Isaiah 57: 20, 21
Has there been any time in my life when I felt like a “restless sea”?
What was it that caused me to feel so anxious?
“As the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, as the clouds veil the blue of the sky, so the dark happenings of my lot hide the shining of Your face from me. Yet, if I may hold Your hand in the darkness; it is enough. Since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, You do not fall.”
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow – only today of its strength.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
As I’ve shared with you in the past, after our car accident, I developed a sleep disorder. Frankly, that is all I know to call it. For 10 years, I would awaken at 1 A.M. and could not fall asleep until at best, 4:30 A.M. Every night the same sleep pattern played out. Finally, I decided I would use those hours productively and so it was during the sleepless nights that I wrote my book, The Women Who Met Jesus.
Thankfully, a new doctor which was recommended to me finally prescribed a mild medication which, most of the time, has helped me sleep through the night hours. However, there are still times when I find myself tossing and turning.
Recently, I watched an interview where a well-known author was discussing the problems which develop in many lives when we don’t sleep through the night. Now all of us on occasion have nights when we are restless. Maybe it’s an upset stomach or some particular event that has us rolling about. And this is exactly the scene we witness on the night after Daniel was tossed into a den with a bunch of hungry lions.
Notice, we don’t read about Daniel not sleeping. Instead, it’s the Medo-Persian ruler, King Darius whose anxiety kept him from finding any rest at all. Our study text for today states that the king returned from the den of lions and “moved through the night,” as the dictionary relates, fasting or “going hungry” as the Hebrew defines the word “fasting.” No midnight snacks on this night for the king. He had no appetite when he knew that his most loyal friend was held behind a stone in a den of lions.
But there’s another interesting piece of information that Daniel shares with us. The king would not allow any musical instruments to be “brought before him.”
If we’ll recall, in I Samuel 16, we are told about the “evil spirit that would torment King Saul,” Israel’s first king, after his rejection of the advice of the Prophet Samuel. We find in I Samuel 16: 15 that, “Saul’s servants said to him, ‘’Behold, an evil spirit from God torments you. Let our lord now command your servants here before you to find a man who plays skillfully on the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.”
The very enlightening part of the story about King Saul is that his “restless spirit” was due to his direct rejection of God’s instruction as to how he should deal with the Amalekites and King Agag as well as all their possessions.
Rather than the “evil spirit” coming upon Saul because of a mean God, King Saul needed to recognize that his direct disobedience caused him to have a guilty conscience and frankly I believe this is the same reason King Darius was in such a fit of sleeplessness. Even soothing music or his favorite nightly food could not take away the anxious feelings that rolled over him for he knew in his heart that Daniel’s night in the lion’s den was a punishment the king was really responsible for.
It’s tough to sleep when anxiety, because of our own misbehavior, results in consequences that nearly drive us crazy. And if you happen to think I may be describing King Darius’ situation with over-the-top language, in the Hebrew, the words that describe the phrase “and his sleep went from him” mean, in our common language of today, “he wished he could have died.” I think that during that long night – unable to rest at all – this foreign ruler thought a lot about how he had gotten himself into a situation where the best person in his kingdom was being punished by the worst. As I pondered the king’s predicament, I couldn’t help but think that King Darius may well have lifted his own voice to heaven in prayer as he cried out for mercy from a God he didn’t know too well. Author Thomas Merton, writing about the causes of anxious behavior points out that, “Anxiety comes from strain, and strain is caused by too complete a dependence on ourselves, on our own devices, our own plans, our own idea of what we are able to do.” This really describes the position King Darius was in after the fall of Babylon – known as the greatest country in the world.
King Darius and his army led by Cyrus the Persian, were riding high in the eyes of the world. Possibly he was quite ego centric at that moment in time. Words of honor were on the lips of his subjects. And it was at this very time when lifted up by his own pride, he allowed the presidents and princes in his government to talk him into a plan they had concocted to eliminate the one person who was actually the king’s most trusted ally.
The result: a sleepless night in Medo-Persia for the king who found himself under the scourge of a remorseful conscience. President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1892 wrote these words in a letter to his son, Scott Hayes, “Conscience is the authentic voice of God to you.” And on this night long ago, God was talking to King Darius.
“In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!”
Psalm 94: 19
“Beware of anxiety. Next to sin, there is nothing that so troubles the mind, strains the heart, distresses the soul and confuses the judgment.”
William Bernard Ullathorne
Deepen Our Trust
“O God, You know we are often filled with fear and foreboding.
Give us courage and deepen our trust.
You are a rock which nothing can shatter.
On You we can place the whole weight of our lives.”
Spirit of God
“O Spirit of God,
Set at rest the crowded, hurrying
within our minds and hearts.
Let the peace and quiet of Your presence
take possession of us.
Help us to relax, to rest, to become open
and receptive to You.
You know our inmost spirits,
the hidden unconscious life within us,
the forgotten memories of hurts and fears,
the frustrated desires,
the unresolved tensions and dilemmas.
Cleanse and sweeten the springs of our being
the freedom, life and love may flow
into both our conscious and hidden life.
Lord, we lie open before You, waiting for
and Your word.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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