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God, How Can I Live?
God, How Can I Live?
by Kay Arthur
God’s Sovereignty…Our Security
The prophet Daniel says, “The people that know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” In a world of shattered dreams, how do we begin to embrace strength from God and depend on Him? The answer, Beloved, is knowing Him more, drinking in the truths of His Word, and clinging to His promises, which are based on His character.
As you start to understand His character and comprehend His immense love and His rule over the world, you will rest in His peace and remember that everything that enters your life is filtered through His fingers of love. He doesn’t waste our pain, Beloved. All the hurt, all the struggles we face, are used to mold us to be more and more like Him.
God’s Sovereignty…Your Strength
I will never forget the first time I really saw the passage in Daniel. I had begun to read J. I. Packer’s outstanding book, Knowing God, when I came across his quote of Daniel 11:32b: “But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (KJV). Suddenly it was as if my Divine Guide, the Holy Spirit, had taken me into a magnificent museum of truth. On the walls hung exquisite pieces of art, each one a portrait of my God.
Awestruck, I fell to my knees as I knew the presence of the Sovereign God. Then, like a lightning bolt, the realization of Daniel 4:34,35 hit me: God does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and no one can say to Him, “What have you done?” He rules! The reality of the words throbbed in my head. Nothing happens by happenstance. I am not in the hands of fate, nor am I the victim of man’s whims or the devil’s ploys. There is One who sits above man, above Satan, and above all heavenly hosts as the ultimate authority of all the universe. That One is my God and my Father!
As suddenly as I had entered that museum of truth, my mind raced back to my first days as His child. Once again I could see Dave Pantzer standing in my living room. He had taken off his ring, placed it in his palm, and then tightly wrapped his fingers around it. “Kay,” he said, “you are just like this ring now that you belong to God. God has you in His hand, and no one can touch you, peek at you, or say anything to you without God’s permission.” I will never forget how Dave’s other hand tried to pry open those whitened knuckles, how he bent down to peep at the ring— all to no avail. The hand held fast to the ring so that nothing or no one could touch it or even look at it until the hand permitted it! Now I truly understood what Dave had been teaching me in those early days of my faith. My God is sovereign!
Beloved, God wants me to take you into this museum of truth so that you, too, might behold your God and, knowing Him, stand firm and do exploits. As we stand before each portrait of His character, I will share with you some of what He has taught me. Together we will grow to know Him more intimately.
God’s Sovereignty…Your Security
Dr. Packer’s book, Knowing God, served its purpose in my life, for it drove me immediately into God’s Word to search out all I could learn about the sovereignty and the character of this One who sits on His throne, supreme over all. In that magnificent museum of truth, my eyes widened in wonder as they fell on engraved plates of gold beneath each portrait:
As I read each inscription, the swell of a great orchestration of violins, harps, trumpets, and cymbals provided the background for heavenly choruses singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8). Yet, although caught in this glorious swell of praise, I could hear the Spirit’s whisper, “Behold your God…and live.” Suddenly concerns about myself—my well-being, my security, my loved ones, my needs, my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions—fell into insignificance. Standing in the knowledge and the presence of One far greater than man or angels or Satan, I was enveloped in a security I had never experienced before. I had found my dwelling place.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD,“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark (Psalm 91:1-4).
Then I knew, as never before, “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1,2).
God’s Sovereignty…Your Peace
If we are to know our God, we must have correct definitions of the terms that describe His being. When I say that God is sovereign, I mean that He rules over all, that nothing can happen in His universe without His permission. People who cannot accept or believe this will oppose the idea of God’s sovereignty with rebuttals about the free will of man. “But if God rules over all, then that makes man a puppet!” they argue. “If God is sovereign, and nothing can happen without His permission, then man cannot be accountable to God. He is only doing whatever God wants!” Yet the truth—the heavenly paradox, if you will—is that although God is sovereign, we still retain our free will and, consequently, are totally responsible and accountable to God.
We have been given a free will. Yet in His grand, eternal universe God so rules and overrules that no man or angel, no demon or devil, no circumstance of life can thwart His desire or His plan. Neither necessity nor chance nor Satan’s malice controls the sequence of events or their causes. Rather, God rules supremely over all.
Stop and meditate on this. Think it through and talk to God about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. When it comes to having total peace of mind, I honestly do not believe there is a more reassuring message in all of Scripture than the sovereignty of God. I know of so many people who truly have been able to pass through trials as more than conquerors because they have realized that God is sovereign and have rested in that truth.
The doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not originate with me. It has been the mainstay of saints throughout all the ages. So meditate on this. Write down your questions, your “ifs,” your “buts.” Seek His face and trust Him by His Spirit and through His Word to guide you into all truth.
Have you ever read the book of Daniel? It’s quite a book! Many historians and liberals say that it could never have been written by Daniel; it is far too accurate historically, they say. Therefore, it must have been written after the fact. Nor can they contend with its miracles; there is too much of the supernatural! However, those who accept the Bible as the verbal, plenary (complete in every respect), inspired Word of God point out that the prophet Ezekiel referred to Daniel three times and that Jesus warned His own followers to take heed when they saw the “abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15).
As he does with all God’s truth, the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy the veracity of the book of Daniel. The father of lies once again hisses his age-old “Has God said?” But we will not fall captive to his empty deceptions. Rather, we will believe our Lord Jesus Christ, who constantly attested to the truth of the Old Testament.
Remember, Daniel declares that “the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many” (Daniel 11:32,33). God will use your knowledge of His character not only to strengthen your own life, but also to enable you to give understanding to others, to those who will listen.
Listen, Beloved, listen. If you will take the time to read through Daniel, you will notice that at chapter 4 Daniel stops writing and another person takes up Daniel’s pen and adds a personal word of testimony! I can see it all. Apparently Daniel, led by God, began writing a chronological account of the events in his life after he was taken captive by the Babylonians, when Nebuchadnezzar was king. In his diary, Daniel recorded the various dreams and decrees of Nebuchadnezzar. However, when Daniel came to the story of the king’s humiliation by God, Nebuchadnezzar had to tell his own story! For Nebuchadnezzar had finally recognized that, as for the King of heaven, “all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride” (Daniel 4:37).
From Generation to Generation
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar takes up his pen to give his own testimony, and he gives his reason for writing: “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.…His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:2,3).
Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar is concerned that all who live upon the earth should recognize God’s sovereignty (Daniel 4:1). But did King Nebuchadnezzar always feel this way? No! Not until after God visited him through a prophetic dream, which was interpreted by Daniel and then came to pass in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. As humbling as it was, the king needed to see “that it is Heaven that rules” (Daniel 4:26). Thus the interpretation of his dream and the decree of the Most High came upon the king, as Scripture says, “that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field…until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Daniel 4:25).
Twelve months later, the dream was fulfilled. As you read Nebuchadnezzar’s account, note why he had to be humbled.
He [Nebuchadnezzar] was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Daniel 4:29-32).
Who Rules Your Affairs?
Humanism. It has come to the forefront in our vocabulary, and yet it is as old as Satan’s enticement: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). However, the first public declaration of humanism recorded in God’s Word came at the Tower of Babel.
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
God’s command to man after the flood had been to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). At Babel, however, Nimrod instigated a rebellion against that command. No, they would not obey. Instead, they would maintain their unity and make a name for themselves. Man, not God, would be supreme.
Men and women do not want to acknowledge that there is a God in heaven who has a direct role in their affairs. We see this in King Nebuchadnezzar, who became caught up in his own importance. He had built Babylon by his own power, for his own glory (Daniel 4:30)! Yet, when brought face-to-face with his own impotence before God, he honored God as God.
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion.…All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Daniel 4:34,35).
Who is at the center of your universe? Do you envision yourself the captain of your own destiny? Do you imagine yourself in the hands of some fickle power called fate? Or have you bowed your knee to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and said, “My Lord and my God, I recognize that I exist because of Your will and that I was created for Your pleasure. I humble myself before You, my King.”