Patience, diligence and faithfulness

Let’s be patient, diligent and faithful to the work the Lord has called to!

(Received from Philip February 1, 2020)

I just came in from outside.  There were just four of us today.  It was quite nippy.  I need to thaw out.

Anyway, I was blessed in what Richard told me.  He is a real student of the Bible.  But he told me today, “You know, I have never studied the Bible this way, or been part of a Bible study like this, where you just go verse by verse.”  He then told me after I walked back to the unit and I said maybe he could take over for me when I leave if he’s still here he said, “I have a feeling that you have had a very unique ministry here, and that nobody could take your place.”  How comforting and reassuring is that!

I just got an email from Carl and he told me he is hoping to get a call from you to come again to see me.  So, I suppose he is awaiting an invitation!

Thank you for the encouraging words about George Mueller.  I am praying in faith, that God will indeed move on Judge Arcara’s heart and the slate will be wiped clean and God alone will get all the glory.  His name alone will be praised.  And then I can tell people that they need to follow Christ with their whole heart, with every ounce of their being.  That when choices need to be made where we are confronted with doing the right thing, we are to just do it!  We are not to find excuses or justify ourselves in not helping someone.  We are not to tell ourselves, “Well, let me pray about it” when in fact it is the only right option.  These choices are put in front of us to test us, and we mustn’t fail in our following in Christ’s footsteps of personal sacrifice.  No matter the outcome for us!  The times will continue to get much worse for us Christians, and I hope I can be of use in convincing believers not to flinch when it comes to giving our lives for Him and for others.  That is all that matters.

Anyway, I am preaching to the choir.  But I pray I will have opportunities to share this word with many people, for we know from experience the blessings of God through obedience in the midst of persecution.  Thank you for standing with me, my love, in persevering till the end!  We shall see Christ in all His glory!  I praise the name of my Heavenly Father!

In His Service,

Philip

January 24, 2020

January 24, 2020

Friday, Day 416

Dear Friends,

Thank you once again for your prayers, and the financial support from so many of you. Both are especially critical right now.

Since I do not have a copy of my previous letters, I do not know or remember all that I’ve already told you. However, yesterday I mailed the response to my attorneys’ answers to Judge Arcara’s specific questions. The answers the lawyers gave were pretty much what I expected from them.

D., the Christian brother here in prison helping me draft all this pro se legal stuff, in consultation with me, has been working for weeks on my response to their answers and the final plea to Judge Arcara to vacate my sentence. We have attempted to anticipate every final thing the government will say in their final amended objection to my petition to vacate my sentence and include answers to those arguments in advance. With Gods help, no stone will be left unturned. I truly believe that even if I had the highest paid attorney in the United States, I would not have found anybody more diligent and capable than D. And he truly loves the Lord and believes that God will ultimately vindicate me.

As far as the civil case goes, it has been delayed several times since December, and I am trying to get it delayed again. Because of my motion to Judge Arcara to vacate my criminal sentence, my attorney, I have had for the past nearly 8 years, has withdrawn from my case without notice. His withdrawal was excepted by Judge Sessions in early January.

Judge Sessions gave us, (me, Response Unlimited, and my daughter Victoria) less than a month to find a new attorney which is a ridiculous and unreasonable deadline. Within a week, D helped me to file a pro se Motion to delay the deadline until March 31. The good news is that the new trial ready date, I believe, is now August 15. If Judge Sessions grants my request for delay in selecting a new attorney or even if he doesn’t, we are hoping and praying to push the trial off until early next year, 2021.

In the meanwhile, I am wondering how in the world we are going to pay a new attorney! But I know my God is able to provide and I know we must continue to trust in HIM.

Some days I can get quite discouraged, and yesterday was one of those days. I was told by the unit team that I was ineligible for early release based on good time credits under the First Step Act. This really threw me for a loop, and I was very down. It kept me awake last night and finally I began to pray and gave it all to the Lord. Instead of wrestling with the disappointment I should have remembered what I had read in Psalm 40 the previous morning. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry, He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm… Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me; Thou art my help and my deliver; do not delay, oh my God.” Then this morning, when I woke up, the Lord took me to Isaiah 46:4 which says, “even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you, and I shall deliver you.” What promises! And just when I needed them most.

Later this morning, on my way back from lunch. I poked my head into the team managers office to inquire about the form I needed to file. I asked whether or not being ineligible for the First Step Act would make me ineligible for the Senior Offender Release Program and she said “Oh no, that’s an entirely different separate thing, you are eligible for that!”  What a relief that was!

Please pray though, especially during the next couple of weeks, that God would indeed move on Judge Arcara’s heart to vacate my sentence. The fact that he had sent the very detailed and thoughtful questions to the attorneys requiring an explanation means he believes my request has merit. Please believe and pray with us for a miracle!  We serve a mighty God! Hallelujah and amen!

In HIS service,

Philip

 

January 3

Radio Interview with E.W. Jackson: https://tinyurl.com/ub47w3n

January 3, 2020

Friday, Day 395

I call the first chapter of II Corinthians the “comfort chapter,” for it will bring tears of joy in the Lord, as it did for me, to anyone who is suffering affliction and studies it closely. For our God is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort! It is He who comforts us in all our afflictions (vs. 3-4). Note that the word “all” appears twice, once as a declaration that all comfort comes from God, and secondly, that there is no affliction that is too great for God to bring comfort – He comforts us in ALL our affliction!

There is no limit as to the severity of our affliction and to which God can bring comfort.  Look at Paul’s own description of his suffering:  “We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves” (vs. 8-9).

But Paul does not end it there, he tells us why God allows us to be brought to this point of desperation, “in order that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and WILL deliver us, on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us” (vs. 9-10).

Here then is where the community of believers comes in, for Paul continues, “… You are also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many” (v.11).

Every time I read this passage in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, I break down with praise, adoration and thanksgiving to the God of mercy and comfort, for I know how true these words have been for me. My despair at times has been excessive, beyond my strength, to the point where I recognized God as my only hope. Indeed He is! This is the point where God desires me to be. Nothing I can do can rescue me from my affliction. I am hopeless in myself and in human endeavor. God alone is my refuge! The fear and trepidation walking through the prison doors on December 5, 2018, being handcuffed and tossed into an isolated cell, contemplating that this would be my life for the next three years, brought me to that point of complete dependence on the Lord. Then, two months later, when Kathie, my wife, was afflicted with pneumonia and I was so fearful and broken that I’d never see her again in this life, I cried out to the Lord in desperation. But many people were praying for us, and just as with Paul, those prayers of many made the remarkable difference.

I think back now, as the days and weeks plod slowly along, how long 36 months is. How can these men be here for 10, 20 or 30 years survive without the mercy and comfort of the Father?  It became obvious that unless they know the Lord they cling to bitterness and to themselves. But I must cling to the Lord, the God of mercy, and put my hope completely in Him, encouraging those around me to do the same. This is part of my purpose for being here. Over time I have seen how that hope in spite of desperation is permeating to the spirits of others, and lives around me begin to change for which I praise God.

So many, both within this prison, and without, are telling me that my time here would be shortened and that I would be completely vindicated. Yet, from a human standpoint, this seemed impossible and I still believe from a human standpoint there is no hope. Yet we serve a mighty God. It is here where God’s comfort comes into play when we put our hope and confidence in Him. As we, like Paul, can say from experience, “indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves, in order that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises from the dead, who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us” (vs. 9-10). God has delivered me from death— spiritual and physical death. The many miracles he has already performed against all odds in our lives demonstrate that nothing is too great for God to overcome; as long as I trust and obey. God will rescue, God will vindicate. He promises this over and over again throughout Scripture as long as we heed the word of God in our affliction. As Paul says, “but if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort” (vs. 6-7).

And so today, I pray for you, that whatever suffering and affliction you are going through that our God of miracles and mercy will comfort your heart as He has mine. Nothing is too great for God. He will get us both through this. He promises, as long as we put our trust completely in Him. Thank you, for your joining and helping us through your prayers!

In His service,

Philip

Interview

Link to an interview that I did with Tom Roten (iHeart Radio) out of Huntington, WV about Philip Zodhiates:

https://tinyurl.com/rx7rt4g

Good News!

December 19, 2019
Thursday Day 380

Dear friends and family,

Today was a very encouraging day for me. I had a call out to the mail room for a registered letter: it was a copy of the order from Judge Arcara to my attorneys demanding answers to questions pertaining to the petition from me to vacate my sentence due to ineffective council.

This is a major development, for several reasons. First, apparently the magistrate judge felt it has merit for Judge Arcara to consider. Second, it was dated within two weeks of me sending my supplemental motion. This is extremely fast, which normally is an indication that the judge feels that I have been wrongly sentenced, according to the paralegal in my unit.

The important thing now is that my  lawyers tell the truth. Pray that the case in Vermont, the civil case, will be dismissed if or when my criminal sentence is vindicated! Also please pray, that because of this significant “legal justification for the kidnapping,” as Judge Arcara calls it, which none of us knew of, Lisa Miller’s indictment will be dropped! Pray and then pray some more!

Today was also significant for another reason, my first cellmate, “J“, left tonight at 6 o’clock for his overnight Greyhound bus ride to the prison camp in Petersburg, Virginia. This will take him within 2 miles of my home off exit 92 off I-64 near the entrance mile post 0 of the Shenandoah National Park! “J” came with me to the mail room when I signed for the letter and read it while I waited for prescriptions from the pharmacy window. I then later, in the afternoon, spent one and a half hours with him at the recreation yard.

“J” asked me, “Do you remember the vision I told you about right after you walked into my cell a little over a year ago? How God would send me a cellmate who would be influential in changing my life for ever?  Well, I am completely a different person now my whole attitude on life has changed. Things that used to matter to me no longer matter.” He went on and on and on how God has totally changed him. He talked about the reasons God allowed it to happen to me.  He said it was all for him, but not just him but for “C,” and maybe for “MM,” and many others including those reading my “blog” at www.Romanseight28.com.  God is going to vindicate me but he still has a purpose in all of this. He said the fact that I received that letter on the very day he was walking out the door is extremely significant. The timing just blew him away and was no doubt a sign.

Now here’s the deal, when “C” left,  I told him about the letter I wrote about him, asking people to write him and explaining how he’s praying for a good Christian wife who loves the Lord when he gets out of prison. “J” made me promise I would do the same for him when he left Ashland. Well maybe I volunteered, I can’t really remember. So Friend, please consider writing a note of encouragement every so often to “J.” (I do not have his address yet just his name and number so that will follow soon. As soon as he is able to get it to someone) he was arrested and put into prison for dealing drugs. His wife subsequently divorced him after 20 years of marriage. He blames himself for their failed marriage and would like another start this time with a godly woman. “J” is 50 years old And has six children, all of them grown but the youngest he’s a very intelligent man and can build or repair just about anything he’s a hard worker but loves the outdoors cooking, grilling, riding ATVs, horseback riding and helping other people. And he, too, has really been changed by the Lord. He plans on settling in Virginia when he is released from Petersburg. That should most likely be at the end of 2021, he does not like the city life, and is interested in a wife of any ethnicity. Since I met him, he has a new found love for reading Christian books as long as they’re not too deep, as he is a new reader.  Please pray for “J” that his faith will remain strong and he will find good Christian fellowship at Petersburg! Pray that He’ll be able to get his CDL license and welding certificate and that God will prepare his steps.

Please pray my attorneys will answer truthfully not evade the truth and Judge Arcara will completely exonerate me and release me.

Thank you again for your continued prayers and financial support!

In His Service,

Philip Zodhiates
P.S. The judge gave my attorneys until January 10 to respond, and they gave me till January 31 to respond, and the government until February 20 to file a supplemental response to my motion to vacate. Please continue to pray that God may get the glory in all things!

PRESS RELEASE

Christian Businessman Convicted of Aiding a Birth Mother in an International Parental Kidnapping to Save Her Child from Sexual Exploitation and Indoctrination.

ZODHIATES FILES MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE

Buffalo, New York:  Philip Zodhiates of Waynesboro, Virginia, has filed a motion with the trial judge to vacate his sentence for his 2016 conviction for aiding and abetting an “International Parental Kidnapping” in connection with assisting Lisa Miller and her then seven-year old daughter with leaving the country in 2009.

According to trial transcripts, their departure was related to family-court orders in Vermont for visitation rights with Lisa’s former civil union partner – a relationship that had been dissolved.  Lisa and her natural-born daughter, Isabella, lived in Virginia with full custody where she battled in the courts over the visitation rights.  According to Zodhiates, what was hidden from the jury and court was the obvious trauma from apparent abuse that Isabella endured during the court ordered unsupervised visitations.  Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Amendment to its Constitution forbade the Virginia courts from recognizing the Vermont civil union, and Isabella’s Virginia birth certificate lists Lisa as her only parent.  Both lived in Virginia when Isabella was born.

Zodhiates contended with his attorneys before trial that protecting Isabella from abuse should be the primary focus of his defense, but the lawyers argued if the alleged abuse was revealed to the jury it would show motive on behalf of Zodhiates, so it would be a losing strategy.  However, Zodhiates, two years after trial, learned that there was an “affirmative defense” for “violent abuse” written into the statute under which he was convicted along with case precedence in another International Parental Kidnapping case in which a mother’s sentence was vacated because the definition of “violent abuse” in the affirmative defense was left up to the jury to decide its meaning while the U.S. Department of Justice clearly defines it can be “physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”

“My attorneys never informed me of the affirmative defense for abuse in the statute,” Zodhiates contends in his motion to vacate based on ineffective counsel.  In his motion, he also cites federal case precedence that the abuse need not be proven, but the defendant must have a reasonable basis for the belief there was abuse.  “And this is what the Petitioner was told and therefore what he believed, Zodhiates says in his brief to Western District Federal Court Judge Richard Arcara, which also included significant documentation of why he reasonably believed there was abuse.”  He further states, “Also, counsel even knew that this defense was built into the statute before trial and still failed to raise it as insisted by the Petitioner.”

Zodhiates all along contended he broke no laws, as Lisa Miller, also charged on the same indictment, had full custody of her child at the time she left the country.  However, this affirmative defense for abuse built into the statute alone signifies Lisa Miller had every right to leave the country and did not break any laws.  Hence, Zodhiates claims “they should never have been indicted, I should never have been tried, and I should never have been convicted.  Adequate counsel would have demonstrated this to the court and jury based on his belief the abuse happened, as well as case precedence.”

One year of Zodhiates three-year sentence has already been served at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky, where Zodhiates claims he is being held as a political prisoner.

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(For interview with Philip Zodhiates, questions must be submitted in writing to:  Philip Zodhiates 18649-084, Ashland FCI, Ashland Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 6001.)

For more information contact 419 Fund at info@419fund.com.

 

One Year Anniversary

December 5, 2019
Thursday, day 366!

Today at 2 o’clock marked exactly one year since I walked through the front doors of Ashland Federal “Correctional Institution.“

I met “J“, my first cellmate on the recreation yard at 1 o’clock this afternoon and we walked 2 1/2 miles . . . my usual routine. I asked him if he was going to the weekly chapel service at 2 o’clock and he said “yes!“  I  said “do you realize what today is?” He did not remember but got very excited about the milestones. He said, “who would have thought one year ago, when I told you about my vision, that we would be walking into the church service together one year later exactly to the minute that I walk through the doors to fulfill the vision God had been repeatedly giving him – – – God told him  “HE would bring him a cellmate who would change his life forever.”  We have become great friends and his whole life has changed. We went into Chapel together and had communion today, it was very appropriate.  One of the inmates preached a very powerful sermon about how believers are call to share in the sufferings of Christ, based on Colossians 1: 23-24.

Janet Stasulli, who started the 419fund.com, asked me to provide a kind of “year in review“ answering some specific questions. So here goes:

I have completed reading 115 books, about a book every three days, the vast majority of them are Christian books but a fair number of history and biographical volumes as well. There have been a small handful of fictional books.

 

There has been a total of 16 different men who have attended my Bible study which continues outside under a pavilion in the recreation yard. Rain, cold, snow, wind or sun, no matter what they have continued to come. We have all grown together. The cold has kept some away but five or six come faithfully in spite of the weather. We’ve studied Romans 12 how we Gentile believers relate to God‘s promises to Israel(becoming through Jesus part of God‘s promise) And a verse by verse study of Matthew, currently we are on chapter 15. I’ve had 16 different visitors and I’ve had three cellmates, “J“, “JB“, and now “MM”. A lot of people have left FCI Ashland either because their sentence was up, they were being transferred to another facility, or they left for a halfway house.  In our unit, I believe, somewhere from 50 to 65 percent of the man who are here now were not here a year ago.

God has taught me and revealed to me many things from His Word. I’ve read through the Bible twice since being here and have learned to depend on the Lord as never before. I’ve seen that suffering is a major theme throughout the scripture and all of us are called to suffer with Christ. It is hard to provide a synopsis of everything I’ve learned but if you go to www.Romanseight28.com you can read my daily journal with my impressions from each day… Complete with the way God has worked in my life. Indeed, I am convinced God can and will use this whole experience for HIS glory.

Once again, thank you for all of your letters, the financial blessings you’ve sent, and most importantly, your prayers. Thanks to your prayers, God is sustaining us; me, Kathie, and our children.  I am eternally grateful to you for them.

In His service,

Philip
P.S. please don’t forget to check out www.Romanseight28.com
Slowly they are getting caught up and soon everything should be current. Thank you to those who have helped get this up and going.

Thanksgiving Letter

Dear Praying Partners,

Happy Thanksgiving!

It seems unreal to me that the one-year mark of my being in prison will be here in about two weeks.  Thanks to your faithful prayers, God continues to sustain me and Kathie and answer prayers.

The day my cell mate, JB, left for a prison camp in October, I was able to secure permission from the unit counselor to move to the bottom bunk for which I was so grateful to the Lord!  I then received permission to use both sleeping mats on my bunk until the time I got a new cellmate.

Frankly, I had gotten very comfortable in my isolation, even though I’ve read Proverbs 18:1 many, many times: “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”  I soon began to realize I was being selfish.

Meanwhile, a friend here in prison who is a new believer and faithfully comes to the Bible study I teach on Saturday gave me a copy of the book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which frankly reiterated the conviction God put in my heart of being selfish.

And so, last Sunday and Monday I began to pray, “Lord, I am sorry for being selfish.  If there is someone you would have me to minister to, I trust you to bring just the right person to share my cell with.”  He arrived the next afternoon — a very quick answer to prayer, but an answer I’m certain.

God quickly enabled me to establish a rapport with MM.  And soon our discussions began to revolve around my faith in the Lord.  MM has used his best arguments on me, but God has provided me wisdom to respond from His word.  The amazing thing is on Thursday, MM found out from the unit counselor he should have been sent to a medium level facility, and his coming here was a mistake on the BOP’s part.  A mistake they would overlook as long as he did not get into trouble.  Once again I told him something, I’ve already said several times to him — “God has you here for a purpose, just as He has me here for a purpose.”

Over the weekend, MM tested his best arguments on me questioning that Christ is the only way to salvation, and I was able to provide some specific Scriptures that dealt with his arguments.  A little later in the day as he was leaving the cell he said, “God must have put you here for a purpose.  I have been using that argument I gave you most of my life, but nobody has ever been able to open the Bible and answer me.”  All I could think was, praise the Lord!

MM has been faithful in coming most nights to our unit prayer circle and has told me he’s trying to give up cursing.  I told him God would help with that if he would accept Christ into his heart.  Please pray he will make this decision to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

On the legal front, I have still heard nothing pertaining to my motion to Judge Arcara to vacate my sentence due to the fact there was an affirmative defense for “violent abuse.”  The government responded back in late summer acknowledging the affirmative defense in the statute, but making a case that the abuse couldn’t be proven so it didn’t matter.  I responded to Judge Arcara citing a case demonstrating that the abuse need not be proven, but rather it merely provides a reasonable basis for motive.

Then, last week, thanks to the diligence of a paralegal here in prison who has been trying to assist me, I filed a supplement to that motion providing still more case precedence.  It was another International Parental Kidnapping case where the conviction was vacated by the sentencing judge, and his decision upheld in the 2nd Federal Circuit Court because the judge at the time of trial refused to define “violent abuse” to the jury, something the Department of Justice clearly defines as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.  This includes any behavior that intimidate, manipulate, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”  Clearly Isabella’s alleged abuse fits this description!

So please continue to pray my sentence is vacated, which should, in all likelihood, also help with my defense in the upcoming civil trial against me sometime next year.

Your prayers mean so much for us.  You can’t imagine how it lifts our spirits when someone comes up to Kathie, drops by the house, or writes one of us that they pray for us every day.  Often these are people we haven’t seen or heard from in years!

I praise God and thank Him for you each and every day.  And we are also so grateful for the way so many have generously donated to defray our legal expense as they continue to mount.

I thank God for you in my prayers and wanted you to know how grateful Kathie and I are.

God bless you this Thanksgiving!

In His service,

Philip Zodhiates

Message from Isaiah

Day 134

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 –

Yesterday, I went to visit my “case manager” about applying for presidential clemency. I learned that she had become very familiar with my case. Surprisingly, I discovered that as of right now, my scheduled release date was July 15, 2021, which is almost 5 months earlier than my sentence. This was discovered by looking at my sentencing report, which also said I was non-violent. After getting the paperwork needed for the clemency request I left and began to review the form she gave me. This created more questions in my mind, which I planned to go back and ask about.

However, a week or so ago, I received an email from the prison describing the requirements for a new program to release seniors (60+ years) who were likely not recidivism risks. To qualify, you have to be 60, with no prior history of felonies, a non-violent offender, and already have served two-thirds of your term. So when I asked her about the questions on the commutation from, I also asked about that program. She actually had a sheet of all the inmates in the prison who will eventually qualify, and I was on it! She started out by stating, “but you don’t qualify.” Pressing her, she said, “well it’s because you have not served two-thirds of your term”. She actually had the date when I will qualify, and it is early November of next year. That was really good news! There are other programs for which I may also qualify for an earlier release.

I recognize, however, that I will be released whenever God wants me released. No sooner, no later. This morning I read again the words God had given to Isaiah (Isaiah 41:10-13):

10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,            Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

11 “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.

12 “You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them,             Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent.

13 “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,             Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

This reminded me of an article I had just read about the liberal non-profit organization that had brought the two lawsuits against me, my company, my daughter and others, entitled: “Southern Poverty Law Center in tatters. Credibility as last word on hate takes hit with bias, harassment claims” (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/apr/3/tom-cotton-calls-irs-investigate-southern-poverty-/).

I have been praying for salvation for all of these people, as I am to bless my enemies.

On Monday, when Kathie had come to see me, I had just told her I had told the Lord that if God wants to spend three whole years here, I’m willing to do so. And the next day I find out I’ll be home in 18 and a half months. Praise the Lord! This morning, I also read Isaiah 43:1-3, a scripture Lucille at Advancing Native Missions prays each night over me. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have redeemed you; I have called you by my name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will flame burn you.”

I can truly say, praise the Lord, that this prayer has been met in more ways imaginable!

Daniel’s influence

September 26, 2019

Thursday, Day 296

As I read through the book of Ezra this morning, I had to contemplate as well on the book and life of Daniel, who was in service to King Cyrus, the Persian king who issued a decree to allow the first group of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem with an official edict to rebuild the temple. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians had destroyed it 70 years prior.

Apparently, Daniel dated his prophecy the year the first group of exiles returned to Jerusalem.

After returning to Jerusalem, this first group of three who ultimately returned from exile (the second and the third being led by Ezra and Nehemiah, respectively), met opposition from local adversaries who wrote to King Artexerxes, the new king of Persia, to stir up trouble and force the Jewish exiles to cease from their work of rebuilding the temple, and consequently ordered the work to stop.

But then Darius became king, who Daniel also served. And so Zerubabel and Jeshua began again to rebuild the temple. Ezra says nothing about Daniel, but I have to wonder if perhaps their knowledge of Daniel’s authority in Darius’ government had something to do with their defiance against Artexerxes’ decree to stop the construction. And so, the adversaries of Judah complained again, this time to King Darius.

But Darius had decided to get to the bottom of the matter, and after a thorough search found the decree of Cyrus the exiles had claimed gave them the right to rebuild. Darius found it and ordered and supported the completion of the rebuilding of the temple, leading to the second wave of exiles being able to return.

Now, in reading all of this, and the fact that the book of Ezra begins, “Now, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah…”’” Daniel 6:28 says, “So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus, the Persian.” Both of these kings, along with Artexerxes, were responsible for the return of the exiles of Jerusalem to their homeland after 70 years in exile.

Surely these three men know God’s deliverance of Daniel’s friends when Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace. And it was Darius himself who reluctantly dropped Daniel into the den of hungry lions, only to be miraculously delivered by God Almighty. The testimony of these four men had an undeniable impact on these four kings who demanded they be worshipped as a deity.

God uses people who refuse to compromise His Word and his authority to move the hearts of kings and help redeem His people from bondage that holds them captive!

Certainly, God could have used someone other than Daniel, and He could have moved on the hearts of these kings without Daniel’s testimony. But we are told the account of Daniel, I believe, to help us to recognize even today the impact a life of one who refuses to compromise can have on even an entire nation and the rulers of those who are your vowed enemies.

What an encouragement to me! What an encouragement this should be to you! No matter what difficulties we may face – ridicule, hatred, financial difficulties, prison or other persecution, or even death – we must never compromise the Word of God.

Still no word from Judge Arcara in Buffalo, so please don’t stop praying!

In HIS Service,

Philip