HEARING THE SHEPHERD’S VOICE……..Read John 10:1

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of a trip to the Bronx in New York City to attend a night game at the old Yankee Stadium, the one I thought Babe Ruth had built all by himself!  I remember travelling the Cross-Bronx Expressway following the signs to the Stadium (you must know that Yankee Stadium is called ‘the Stadium’ to us back in the greater New York area as if there really is no other stadium or certainly no other of any consequence!), my father carefully parking his 1956 Lincoln Capri in one of the huge parking lots at the Stadium.  Then hand-in-hand walking together along with thousands of other people up to  and through the turn-stiles to have our tickets checked, then buy a program for that day’s game (who they were playing against meant nothing to this 9 year old as long as the Yankees were here in their Stadium!),  inching our way up those concrete ramps to the right level  squeezing through the musty, cavernous tunnels leading right out to the brightest, greenest grass I had ever seen.  There was the playing field of the New York Yankees! I could hardly believe my eyes.   The stadium lights were so brilliant  that daytime surely could never be brighter.  The smells of hot dogs and roasted peanuts and cotton candy flouted in the air.  The sounds of a baseball cracking off those white bats, and of mitts slapping in reaction to a hardball going so fast and being caught so well.  And then…oh yes, and then came the voice of the Yankees announcer, the man who announced their games for over 56 years.  The voice of Bob Sheppard.  I can still hear his euphonious voice announcing, ‘and now batting for the Yankees, number 7, Mickey Mantle, number 7’.  Still sends shivers up my spine.  And then Yogi and Phil and Whitey and Gil and Billy…and  more shivers and thrills with each Yankee player named by Bob Sheppard.   That 10th chapter of John’s Gospel tells us about sheep and the shepherd whose voice the sheep always know and follow.  It’s the very voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  “…the sheep listen to his voice, He calls his own sheep by name and leads them…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…they too will listen to my voice…” (John 10:3,14,16).  Just as Bob Sheppard called out each Yankee player by name, so Jesus knows us, each one of His very own, and calls us into His service…by name. Your name, my name.   What’s more, He goes before us and leads us.   We follow because we know His voice. As you read the Bible more and more, you’ll hear the voice of our Lord Jesus.  Read it…hear it…pause over phrases that just grab you.  Listen…to the Voice of the Shepherd!  Do you hear Him calling, calling  your name?  

Advertisements

EVEN WHEN I AM OLD AND GRAY……..Read Psalm 71 Again!

Just a few weeks ago I achieved a milestone in my life.  I have now lived longer than any of my grandparents!  Hope that means that they all died premature deaths, way before their time, younger than most half their age!  Nevertheless, here I am! Reading Psalm 71:18, where the author says ‘even when I am old and gray’, a dagger went through my ancient  heart muscle!  Now, officially, I could have written this psalm!  How could that be?  How could I be so old?  Maybe my mother was really 40 years old  when she had me instead of 30 making me that much younger?She never did tell the truth about her age.    But wait, that would mean I had polio years after the Salk and Sabine vaccines were introduced, and long after the epidemic had waned. That’s too bad. Don’t think this is going to fly!  Oh well, as Popeye would say, ‘I yam what I yam!’  Look back at verse 18 again and you’ll see a wonderful challenge for each of us regardless of age, but especially if we’re a bit older.  This is the time in life to, as the 1960’s Gospel song says, ‘Pass It On’.  We’re older, been around the block a few times, know all the excuses, made lots of big and little mistakes, failed a bunch, seen the futility in not following Jesus Christ in our daily lives, we know the only truth worth holding onto in this crazed and crazy world is found between the pages of our Bible…so we can speak from experience, hopefully laced with compassion and mercy and understanding.  This is our time to let the younger generation know of the power and might of our Lord.  Pass it on–institutions fail, people fail but Jesus never fails.He is everything everyone needs for all time. They may not know it, but Jesus Christ is the ultimate all-in-all of life.  Pass it on!   We all have children and grandchildren, step children, children we can sponsor through a good Christian group,children to tutor after school,  kids in  our church  Sunday School and VBS, those in our neighborhoods.  We all have one of the above and some of us have all -of -the- above. Pass it on!  Verse 24 says ‘My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long…’ In the New Testament,Jesus Himself asks His followers who other people say He is.  And they spout off a litany of good guesses.  Then He looks them in the eye asking them who THEY think He is.  How about you?  ‘Who do you say I am?'(Mark 8:27-29).  Behind His question, I hear Jesus telling me (and you) to tell others who He is.  Don’t be ashamed of Him, and we’re not.  Maybe we’re just shy or easily hurt when others snicker or mock.  Pray for courage.  Find a way.  Okay, be comfortable but remember ‘no pain, no gain’!  So, stretch a little.  Say who He is and who He is to you.  Is there not someone right now that God has put on your heart and mind that you know you should tell about Jesus?  Find a way to tell them…don’t hit them over the head with your Bible even though that  may be quite tempting!  As Oswald Chambers said in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, “Don’t say ‘I’ll do it’, do it!”  Couldn’t have said it better myself!  Good advice for me too…That’s exactly why I write this blog, submit devotionals to Christian magazines, and someday put together  these thoughts in book form…even now, to pass it on!

SINCE MY YOUTH………Read Psalm 71

Whoever wrote Psalm 71, certainly said it better than I ever could.  But so much of what is written in this psalm could have been written by me.  Let me explain myself, if I can!  To me it is such a personal psalm.  Expresses my struggles in life, my coming to the Lord as a young teen and even some of my goals now as I approach the latter part of my life.    My struggles in life began at age 2.  In Jersey City, New Jersey, the city of my birth where I also contracted polio and spent a period of time in the Margaret Hague Hospital in the Sister Kenny Polio Ward,  was where I can identify the beginnings of fears and insecurities and what moderns call angst.  My parents had moved to the suburbs just days after I caught the polio bug (drinking out of a water glass at our neighbor’s house–why I am always the 1st to drink out of a common cup for communion or just plain pass it by!).  My sister says I showed no interest in eating ice cream.  I guess a sure sign of dreaded disease in our family!  Anyway,off to isolation back in Jersey City at that Medical Center.  The home I was used to–gone.  The family who cared for me–gone.  Somewhere in my young psyche, I learned that life at any moment can and will shake you out the door into an unknown world of crying children, hot water packs, mean-looking nurses,endless exercise routines,  shrill  sounds and very dark rooms at night.  Like it says in verse 2 of Psalm 71–‘Rescue me and deliver me…’  I thank God…and that Australian nurse Sister Kenny and my mother who for years pushed me to exercise my legs… that I healed well, so that there are very few observable residues of polio in my body.  Moving on… when I was 16, I remember hearing that God loved me and wanted to be in my life by simply accepting His gift of Jesus Christ into my life.  He died for me and rose to new life offering the same to all who believe in Him.   One night, I can’t give you the exact day or month, there in my tiny bedroom, I just opened  my heart and life to Jesus.  I didn’t know much if anything about the Bible or theology or right living or anything else that others think you must know to be a believer. Zippity-do-dah for me!  I knew I needed Him and I believed He wanted me in His life. So, a life-long journey began for me that night.  And now I’m just perfect–yeah, right?!!  Far, far, far…from it, at best!  Just an old sinner, saved by grace. That’s me! It’s not about me but about Jesus…by His mercy and love for me…and you!  That’s good news, right?  As this psalm says in verse 5–‘for you have been my hope…my confidence since my youth.’ Here’s  a personal example.  In those young years in public school, I was an okay student, fair to  middling.  That was before Christ.  BC–actually that was my grade point average in middle and high school!  B’s and C’s.   Until I became a Christian.  Miraculously, I got straight A’s thereafter.  That’s right.  You read it.  Getting straight A’s in my senior year allowed me to bypass all my finals as that was our high school’s reward for avoiding ‘senior slump’.  Great grades…no finals!  Jesus in my life…did something that no physical therapy, as good as that was for me, could ever do.  Gave me an inner confidence, an acceptance from Him.  But this new inner feeling was like that mustard seed which was planted and cared for, and took months and months and years and years to grow.  Still growing…for God’s not done with me yet.  And He’s not done with you either.  You could give your own story.  You can have that same confidence in the Lord…to help you, to rescue you, to deliver you from whatever darkness lurks in your shadows.  Ask for His help…He is never far away.  Never, ever…More next time.

WOULDN’T THAT BE SOMETHING! Read Romans 16

I was reading 2 Samuel chapter 17 verse 17 where 2 names were mentioned of characters about whom I knew next to nothing.  Who were this Jonathan (not Saul’s son or mine either!) and Ahimaaz anyway?  Not major characters in this story of Absalom and his father David.  But their names are in the Bible!  Imagine if your name was in God’s Word?  Wow, talk about something to crow about!   Your name remembered–the greatest  honor indeed.  A few years back my wife and I drove east on one of our 7 cross-country driving  trips.  On this journey  I really wanted to see the building  and some of the people in the first church I ever served.  Immanuel Mennonite Brethren Church in Onida, South Dakota–where I filled in for but a summer in 1970 between my undergraduate work at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and graduate study at the Seminary at Princeton in New Jersey.  I had dreamed for quite awhile about this little church in a small town in rural South Dakota, and so wanted to go back and reconnect with just the most wonderful people who had to endure the most amateur of pastors hopefully they ever had.  I hoped beyond hope that they would remember me, and not the work for the Lord that I should have given them but in reality did very feebly at best!  When we pulled into town and drove to the church, we discovered that this lovely group of Christian people and their friendly, hospitable pastor and wife had a reception ready for us in the fellowship hall.  I guessed they must have remembered me.    We gathered around tables and reminisced for a couple hours until it became very obvious to me that none of these kind people had ever remembered me even in the slightest.  I had been their pastor!  For all of 3 months!  For me, I never forgot.  For them, a totally forgettable experience!  Gone…and totally forgotten! Humbling?  Yes, but probably for the best now that I reflect on what a great pastor I was for them!!  My name may not be in the Bible, I may be forgotten in South Dakota, but when we’re a child of God, He never forgets us.  Never, ever.  St. Paul writes in Philippians 4:3–“…my fellow workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”  And in the last book of the New Testament, in Revelation 3:5, “…I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name my Father and His angels.”  When we accept Jesus into our lives (and have you?),  we have our names written into God’s Book of Life.  That’s a living Bible…one that grows with each new name engraved within its pages.  With our names there, nothing can or ever will erase them.  We’re never forgotten, always acknowledged before God and  His angels.  Our precious names never blotted out of God’s Book of Life.  That’s right–He gives us life and that eternal.  And it’s His gift to us in His Son Jesus Christ.  So, remember–you and I in Christ are as secure as anyone or anything can ever be.  Isn’t that something!  To rejoice over…and over and over again!

AN ILL WIND IS BLOWING YOUR WAY! Read Mark 6:45-52

Sorry for the scary title!  But the disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee after Jesus has performed an amazing miracle (most are!!) by feeding well over 5000 people with just a small basket  of fish and a couple of loaves of bread.  Jesus Himself has sent them off so He could get up on the mountainside to pray, to spend quality and quantity time with His Father, to rest and relax…and pray. Doesn’t sound too scary to  me. After all,  great success in our mission to help people in need, Jesus doing what He needs to do, we’re off on a little cruise on the lake…but then!  All heaven breaks loose!  Someone turned on the big jet engine fans, and we’re going under!  Help!  Help, Lord!  Mark 6: 48 says that ‘(Jesus) saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.’  We have friends who were visiting in Israel near the Sea of Galilee.  What started out as a nice,calm day,  almost in the blink-of-an-eye turned into a storm like they had never experienced.  It came on so suddenly, that they panicked and ran for cover literally falling all over each other resulting in the wife having a terrible crushed hip requiring two separate surgeries in two different countries. That was certainly an ill wind blowing their way.  And maybe, just maybe, you feel much the same.  Not falling all over each other but just in a free-fall like there’s no bottom or if there is, it’s not going to be fun to find it.  This story is for you…and me in the midst of the storm.  Back to the disciples–Jesus sees their struggles and after awhile (God will allow us to struggle, He has a purpose that may be beyond an explanation that He’ll share with us in this life) He goes to them, walking on the water, and they think that when things couldn’t possibly get worse, now a ghost is out to get them!  They are truly spooked!  ‘Terrified’, Mark records.  “Immediately (Jesus) spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage!  It is I. Don’t be afraid.'”  When we are in the midst of whatever storm  blows our way, Jesus is right there with us in the midst of it all.  Like what He told His disciples–take courage, don’t be afraid.  The middle phrase is ‘It is I’–between our need for courage and our great big fears stands Jesus being right there with us. He’ll be there with us no matter what, no  matter how it long it takes.   Tough times aren’t half as difficult when we know that people who love us are standing with us.  I’ve experienced that in my life more than just one time.  Haven’t you?  And maybe there’s someone on your mind right now that needs you to stand with them in the midst of the ill wind blowing their way? Has God put someone on your mind?  He has on mine…Let’s do it, then, standing with them like Jesus will always do for us.

WHAT REALLY IS IMPORTANT Read Mark 6:30-44

This is the story of the feeding of the 5 thousand.  And that just accounts for all the men, now add all those women and children.  So, Jesus feeds thousands and thousands of hungry people.  A very familiar, miraculous story for each of us.  But there’s so much more going on underneath those bare bones facts.  Reading the story again today, I just saw so much more in it  that I had to share with you today.  By the way,  as you read and think about this Scripture, you’ll have your own special insights… from the Lord. But here’s mine.   The context of these verses is that Jesus has sent out His disciples to teach and preach and heal with godly authority.  And now they are gathered around Him to tell Him all about their adventures in the various villages around. But with all the people still coming and going, with all their needs and wants and demands, none of the disciples even had time to grab a bite to eat.  Tired, worn out and just plain famished,  Jesus, in His most sensitive and caring way for His own, tells them to ‘come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’ (verse 31).   Doesn’t that sound good!  Getting away from the phones, the TV, the projects around the house, the work demands, the money issues, the car needing this and that. Oy Vey!   Jesus bids us come to Him.  Spend time with Him.  Alone with the Lord who loves us and so cherishes any time He has with you …and me.  Come by yourself…with just yourself, with who you are warts and all, baggage and stuff from the past you’re just carting along, bring all of yourself to Jesus.  And be quiet…turn off the radio and the world for a bit.  Take a break from the sickening world we live in and bask in the rest and sonshine of our Savior Jesus Christ!  Be on a beach with Him or by a gentle rolling stream off in the mountains.  All this without leaving your living room!  That’s right.  Right there where you are, wherever you are.  I think many Christians don’t feel like their everyday spiritual life is really that special, like they thought it would be. Ever feel that way?  Maybe that’s you today?  Then hear what Jesus says…come away with Him, come by yourself, come to a quiet place, and come to receive rest and nourishment from the One who can feed a multitude with just a couple of fish and some loaves of bread.  He can do that for the disciples and all those hungry people years and years ago now, and He’ll do it for you and me as well…today!  Read verse 31 again…hear Jesus’ words…heed them and be healed by time alone with Him! Why not just get alone somewhere right now and read these verses and spend time with your Lord!   More next time…

SOMETHING YOU CAN HANG YOUR HAT ON! Read 2 Samuel 14:14

Do you find it difficult spending time in your Bible’s Old Testament?  Books like Samuel and Kings and Chronicles?  I used to feel that way until I just decided to spend more time in that Old Testament neighborhood.  Not avoiding it but digging a little deeper, spending more time in that first part of my Bible and even restudying some of my very rusty Hebrew language from Princeton Seminary days!  After all, the Old Testament has such great stories, so many amazing characters, good guidance for living, and some verses you’ll want to memorize, I’m sure.  I was reading today in 2 Samuel chapter 14.  Why not read it yourself and then key in on verse 14–‘But God does not take away life; instead, He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him.’  Isn’t that neat? I love that verse from God’s Word.   Now, the context here is King David estranged from his son Absalom while some others are trying to get them back together, an effort at reconciliation between father and son.  But read that verse again.  Primarily, the verse is referring not to a father and son, but first-and-foremost to reconciliation with God Himself.  ‘…not remain estranged from Him.’  See what I  mean? Being reconciled to God, having peace with Him.   And that’s exactly where we worry the most.  Don’t we?  Children, grandchildren, siblings, a parent, dear friends who seem to have no relationship with the Lord,  who could care less about Him, and we know exactly what the outcome of that kind of life will be for them… forever.  And that just bothers me to no end, especially since I know that I haven’t done everything possible to lay out the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all in my family and all our friends over the years. Not at all.  Have you?   Back to 2 Samuel 14:14–now, this verse gives me great hope.  Not for a moment am I off the hook in praying and sharing with those I love.  But what’s paramount is not my efforts, but what God is doing in their lives.  Read it yet again…it says that He’ll never stop reaching out to them. He’ll never stop finding ways and people and strange situations where they’ll need to seek Him for He’s never really far away from anyone of them or us.  He’s ‘devising ways’ so that they will not be estranged from Him.  Oh, I can relax a bit more.  I can depend on God’s reaching my loved ones, your loved ones.  Yes, yours also; yours ,of course.  He’s knocking on the door of their hearts every single day.  That you can depend on.  That is a promise right here in the Old Testament, like a gem mined deep from inside the ground of God’s being. That is something you can hang your hat on!  Pray…share…and do it all over again knowing that our Lord is working all kinds of ways to bring our loved ones to Him, just like He did with you…and me!  Thank you, Lord…!

 

FAVORITE BOOKS! READ THE BIBLE AND FOR TODAY MARK 4:1-21

I read last month that the 6 favorite books of Americans (to our dear friends in Australia, pardon me!) have 3 of my favorites on the list.  I couldn’t believe it!  I’m batting .500!  Wow!  Gone With the Wind made it.  Read that last year and this year my wife did.  We both loved it, especially spending months in the south this year.    Then Moby Dick, my all-time favorite American novel, which I’ve read 3 times.   You can guess which book was number 1 on the favorite’s list.  It’s always number 1.  Best-seller of all time and the number 1 favorite of all–of course, the Bible.  I cheered when I saw that!  Yes, the Bible, God’s book.  Most purchased, biggest favorite, but most read and followed?  The Bible is to be our tuning fork.  We get out of tune so easily with sin, which the Bible will tell us all about.  We sound weird because we’re not in tune…with our Lord.  We’re off-key, sounding  flat and discordant.  So, it’s time to read that portion of Mark’s Gospel.  Very familiar parable?    About the seed and the soil.  And all the troubles of getting a good crop with those foibles of farming. I just know that you want to be that good soil as I do.  I want my life to mean something for the Lord.  Not for riches or fame or ego or legacy or anything like that (looks I’m getting this part of my wish!!), but to know Jesus and make Him known. Can’t imagine a better meaning in life than just that.   ‘To know Him and make Him known’  became the motto of  the last church we served.  Every program, every idea had to be checked against the tuning fork of knowing Jesus and making Him known to others.  If not, then just plain out-of-tune and out-of-touch with our God.    Jesus says in  Mark 4: 20 that if you want to be that good earth, that rich soil so productive for the Lord, then you must listen to God’s Word.  Not just buy lots of Bible and keep them dusted-off in case the pastor stops by unannounced ; but read the Word, chew on it, digest it, make it  ‘daily bread’  feasting on it at least once a day or maybe like normal meals, 3 times a day.  Whatever,but don’t get legalistic…just listen to your Lord during the day.  Then Jesus says that if you want to be good soil you must accept His Word.  Accept means to receive it, believe it, study it, treat it like the gift it truly is.  Make it a part of yourself.  Food for your inner life… and your outer life as well.  The breath without which you would just plain fade away.  And then after listening and accepting God’s Word, Jesus says that we’ll produce an abundant crop for Him…30,60,100 times what we sowed. It will just happen like good seed in good soil.   How big a crop? Who knows?  Don’t worry about it.   Doesn’t really matter.   That’s God’s business.  I try not to get  discouraged since  only a few ever read this blog.   That’s okay.    I’m going to keep doing  what I feel God wants me to do…and the rest is in His hands.  Satan would love to derail us, to make us sing flat.    Maybe he’s taken the wind out of those sails that God wants you to go with.  Something for Him…for you to do.  Listen to Him.  Spend time with Him in the Bible.  Accept His Word…it’s totally reliable and trustworthy without any error from Genesis to Revelation.  Pretty good, huh? You know what?   I can see a crop growing in your life that will produce abundantly… for the Lord!  Agree?

WE NEED EACH OTHER Read Daniel 2 Again!

You say we just read Daniel chapter 2 last time.  True, but no harm done!  Read the same Bible chapter each day and you’ll always have new meaning from the Lord.  Isn’t that remarkable?  The Bible is like a living organism, growing and changing and breathing yet unchangeable in its truth.  So, I don’t apologize for asking you to read chapter 2 of Daniel once again!  What I’m keying in on is Daniel’s relationship with his friends.  He prays to the Lord for help.  Truly begs  for God’s mercy to save his own life, that of his friends and even for the other wise men and their families, people who don’t worship the true God.  Nevertheless,  He pleads for God’s help… for all of them.  But not a solo flier here, Daniel turns to those 3 friends of his to also join him in that concert of prayer.  And in that night, a night that should have been filled with fears and sleeplessness, God causes Daniel to have a deep sleep and reveals both the King’s dream and what it means.  ‘During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision’ (Daniel 2:19).  Oh, the praises that go up to God, who has so miraculously answered their prayers!  So Daniel goes off to the King and tells him what he has seen in his sleep from the true God of heaven.  I love what Daniel says next.  It’s so generous of him.  Look at verse 36–‘This was the dream, and now WE will interpret it to the king.’  We?  Did they all have that dream?  No.  But in prayer, when we all come to God,  Daniel says the concert has many voices, many instruments.  No matter who had the dream, they were one in prayer.  That’s why I titled this ‘We Need Each Other’.  Of course there are times just spent alone with the Lord in that closet of prayer.  But now we see a concert of prayer where we need each other…in communication with our Lord. I was thinking of something very personal here.   It’s been 10 years now since my wife Sue and I flew to Florida to visit my mother who was obviously not doing well physically.  We found her actually doing much better that we thought.  When we returned home after our visit, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just needed to share the Lord with my mother.  I felt that I had never clearly and unmistakably spoke to her of Jesus love  and the need to welcome Him into her heart.  I had no idea where she stood with Him.  No idea at all.  And that uncertainty and my own sense of failure in not  sharing the Lord I loved and served with my own mother was just too much for me.   So, a few weeks after getting home, we were on another plane back to Florida to spent quality and quantity time with her.  She listened and pursed her lips tightly.  I received that look of hers, that unmistakable look.    I had seen it many times before.  That ‘how dare you’ look.  The last words I said to my mother were ‘I love you’.  She had tears in her eyes, but nothing to say except ‘good bye’.  Three days later after flying home , I received that phone call from my sister that our mother had had a massive heart attack  that morning walking in the hallway of her nursing home, and was gone.  Did what we shared with her about the Lord and His love for her sink in?  I don’t know.  It bothered me.  I, like Daniel, had dreams but mine were nightmares.  Really bad ones.  When we were at Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center that summer for a week, we attended the morning prayer times.  I mentioned at the sharing time about my painful dreams.  That little group that  prayed , most not knowing me at all , but  all knowing our Lord, began a concert of prayer for me…for relief…for peace even without the answers…to let God handle what I couldn’t.  And you know what?    God heard their prayers,our prayers…never again have I had that same nightmare that plagued me so. Never.  Do you hear what I’m saying?  We can help each other…through prayer.  Be generous in prayer…for others and let others pray for you.  Prettier music has never been heard than in a concert  of prayer!

A CONCERT OF PRAYER WITH FRIENDS Read Daniel Chapter 2

Daniel and his 3 friends have had their names changed from godly names to that of pagan, ungodly ones.  All 4 of them were given lovely Hebrew names with God Himself woven into the very fabric of them.  Daniel means ‘God is my Judge’, el being the Hebrew for God;  Mishael means ‘who is like God?’; Hananiah means ‘Yahweh shows grace’, Yah being the shortened version of God’s most Holy Name of Yahweh; and Azariah means ‘Yahweh helps’.  A bitter pill that they did not swallow.  When you read Daniel chapter 2 you discover that King Nebuchadnezzar has had a rough night, a terrifying dream that was like a Hitchcock movie, a kaleidoscope of disaster that shook him to his very core.  And his wise men were just of no help to him.  No comfort at all.  So, he threatens them with death if they can’t tell him both his dream and what it  means.  Well, they realize the end is near,  the gallows await,  the jig is up.   But when Daniel, also one of the wise men along with his 3 friends,  hears about all this, he begs for a bit of time.  I’m sure the king was rather skeptical and personally relished the sweat on Daniel’s brow, but he granted a short reprieve anyway.  So, what does Daniel do now?  Take out a double-indemnity life insurance policy?  Try to flee the country?  Start a revolution?  No, of course not.  You’ve read the story.  In verse 17 Daniel returns to his house, he goes home where he can talk privately with his 3 friends.  The Bible calls them his friends. And the names used here in verse 17 when they talk together in private in Daniel’s home  are not those horribly forced pagan names, but rather the godly Hebrew names with the Lord solidly in the very fabric of their lives and beings and,yes,  their own names.  And Daniel calls them to be in concert  of prayer. To pray together.   Begging the Lord for His mercy…to spare not just their own lives but that of the other wise men as well.  First thing they do, this  Daniel and his friends…live up to their names, go to God, spend time in prayer and relationship and talking with their Lord.  God, embedded  in their very names, is in their very hearts and souls.  Who better to go to?  Sometimes you and I say in effect, ‘well, I’ve tried everything else, might as well pray about it.’  Be honest now.  I’ve thought that…and probably will again, knowing myself.  When all else fails, pray!  Not Daniel…nor  those 3 friends.  First and foremost,they go to God.  So should we.  Tell Him all about it.   Be in concert with Him.  Sing harmony to the Lord.  Sing your part and sing it with others.  Friends together in prayer…making beautiful music to the ears of our God in heaven.  Is there something you need to pray with others about?  And they with you?  “Daniel returned to his house…to his friends…He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this…”  Pretty good concert, huh?