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“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.”          Psalm 71:5

Children love to play hide and seek.  But the funny thing is that the little ones somehow seem to think that if they close and cover their eyes, we can’t see them.  I wonder if occasionally we do that with God.  We close our eyes to His word and fail to listen to His voice and disobey Him hoping that He won’t notice.   But of course He sees everything and it must break His heart knowing that He has something wonderful planned for us if we will only wait on His timing.    So often I am guilty of being impatient and trying to plan things my way instead of waiting on Him. Or even worse, I think something can’t possibly happen so I give up and don’t continue to pray.  Hoping and wishing for something is not enough.  God wants us to develop great faith.   Have you ever wondered about the real meaning of the word “hope.”  Webster’s dictionary defines it as “yearning with expectation.”  In the past I felt like if I said that I was hoping something would happen, it showed a lack of faith.  The second definition in Webster’s says, “one in whom trust or confidence is placed.”  Perhaps hope is step 1. and the purpose of hope is to lead us to prayer which is step 2.  The only one I can trust and place my confidence in is God.  After we pray and spend time talking to God and listening to Him, we need to go to step 3. which is reading the bible and thinking about how God works.  Seeing how God worked in believer’s lives in the past enables us to be confident that He will love, protect, and guide us as well.  Hope, prayer and bible study enable us to develop an intimate relationship with God which will strengthen our faith.  This leads to step 4 which is praise.  We know that all things are possible with God so we begin to praise Him because we are confident that God in His amazing love is working out all things for our good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”     Romans 8:28

I believe that the reason God placed so many examples in the bible of courageous men and women of faith was to encourage us to stand firm in our faith.  One of my favorites is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  When they refused to bow down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, they were brought before the king.  Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar warned them, “But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.  Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”   Daniel 3:15

The best part of the story is found in their reply.  “If we are thrown in the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.”     Daniel 3:17

The faith and testimony of these young men is so strong it amazes me.  I call it unwavering faith.  Their final statement shows the strength of their conviction and allegiance.  They were committed to stand firm no matter the consequences.   “But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”             Daniel 3:18    

God honors this kind of faith.  When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he saw four men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed and he said that the fourth looked like a son of the gods.  Then he approached the opening and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!  Come here!”   Daniel 3:26    Their faith opened the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar and he praised the one true God.  It also resulted in untold numbers coming to believe as they heard the story of how God rescued these men.

Our children’s heroes today remind me of cardboard cutouts.  They have no inner strength or backbone.

They only have fantasy powers and abilities to fight evil. 

If we do not teach our children that the only real strength and power to fight the enemy comes from God, how will they survive in today’s world?

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”        Ephesians 6:12   My prayer is that God will open our eyes to the truth and give us discerning spirits so that we will stand firm and honor Him with unwavering faith.

“By standing firm you will gain life.”         Luke 21:19