Who You Know: Favor and Consequence

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

You’ve heard the statement said that “It’s not what you know but who you know.”

Possessing knowledge of something and/or having connections to help resolve situations or to advance efforts are beneficial. More often than not, it’s in the “who we know” that delivers our immediate help. This is the case as we’ll see displayed in Daniel 2 and throughout the book of Daniel’s 12 chapters.

Who Daniel knows — the living God — proves to be his blessing to others by correctly interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. This relationship granted Daniel and the other “wise men” in Babylon a pardon on their lives for the king was going to “cut into pieces” the magicians, sorcerers, and wise men who had promised to interpret his dream and had failed. Through his relationship, commune with and prayer to God, God provided Daniel the dream’s meaning. Because of this, Daniel was given favor with King Nebuchadnezzar and was promoted to a high position, making him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and lavished with many gifts. In addition, “at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.” (Daniel 2:49)

Who Daniel knew not only gained him favor, promotion and spared his life, it also saved others’ lives and gave his closest and godliest wise men promotion and favor with the king.

The favor bestowed was temporary for in chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar builds an image of gold, 90 feet high and nine feet wide in the province of Babylon. He issued a decree ordering everyone to worship the image or be killed. Others did, but Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not. They were committed to honor, worship and serve the Lord God. The magicians whose lives were saved by Daniel, now saw an opportunity to have Daniel’s men destroyed. The magicians went to King Nebuchadnezzar and told him that Daniel’s men would not worship the golden image. This infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar and he summoned them into his presence.

Despite the king’s threats, the men remained committed to serving the Lord and would not worship the golden image. Well, you know how this part of the story goes. Infuriated by their refusal to worship the golden image, King Nebuchadnezzar orders Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than usual (Daniel 3:19-20). In this process, the men were committed to serving God whether He delivered them or not.

You know the story. The furnace’s heat was so intense that it killed the soldiers who escorted them. God joined His godly servants in the fiery furnace. They were unbound, unharmed and didn’t smell of smoke. Upon witnessing this, King Nebuchadnezzar saw how mighty the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and decreed that no one say anything against their God or they would be “cut into pieces.” (Daniel 3:28-29). He further said, “for no other god can save in this way.” The men were once again promoted by the king in the province of Babylon.



How amazing is that?! Because of the Who that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew it brought them to be recipients of opposition yet also great favor and promotion. There’s no one like our God! None!

Daniel goes on to interpret more of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. By chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar now acknowledges the work and miracles of the Most High God. He once again calls upon Daniel to interpret a disturbing dream he had, for all of the sorcerers, diviners and magicians had failed to do so, once again. He knew that he could trust Daniel to give a correct interpretation. But more importantly, he trusted Who was Daniel’s source of information/revelation.

In verses Daniel 4:34-36, King Nebuchadnezzar by this time is praising “the Most High God,” (this is after he lost his mind and throne for seven years, and then God restored him, per the dream) and says, “I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation (v. 34).” By verse 37, King Nebuchadnezzar says, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

This is powerful. Look at this transformation undergone by King Nebuchadnezzar! An arrogant king is humbled. Who would have thought this possible in the earlier part of his and Daniel’s relationship? What I love about this entire journey of Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar is this:

  1. Daniel never apologizes for or compromises who he knows (God) to someone who did not initially believe in his God.
  2. WHO Daniel knows (God) is both a blessing (he and his men were promoted multiple times by the king, and he was able to spare the lives of the other false diviners) AND a consequence (Daniel’s men were thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshiping the golden image). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not compromise their relationship with God and were committed to Him, whether He delivered them or not.
  3. Through the CHARACTER and faithfulness of God and Daniel, Daniel became endeared by King Nebuchadnezzar and through that, King Nebuchadnezzar came to see the true God.
  4. Daniel’s intimacy with His God paved the way for King Nebuchadnezzar to experience God personally and glorify God in his life.

As Believers, we do not have to compromise God when engaging with others who do not believe. We have what the world needs. The relationship we have with God and His faithfulness toward us will speak volumes with many who will place us in trusted positions because of what they see God doing through us, even if they themselves choose not to seek Him. Because of Who we know, we will be able to bless others to see the goodness of God where others have failed. Through Him, we will have greater influence to govern, to lead and to provide counsel on some of our world’s most challenging issues. We will be given access that will puzzle others who will say, “How did you get that?”

Let’s be real: there are some folks where just your association with them is always a consequence and no good can come from it! 😦 There will always be consequence and discomfort in knowing the Lord. Daniel’s story shows us that and if you’ve lived for God more than one day, you know this too. However, Daniel shows us that there is an abundance of blessings beyond what we can imagine (even hearts changed for eternity) in following Him, unabashedly. Never compromise and never discount what your influence is doing now and for eternity. Never discount that God is at work. #Harvest






He Has Earned His Trust With Me

“He has earned his trust with me. He has shown himself faithful.”  These are recent words I spoke to a friend over dinner as we shared in the goodness of God (thank you Frank Henderson for sharing how God is moving mightily through you and your community in Topeka, KS. Thank you also for inviting your daughter Ashley to read our blog. We appreciate it. ). As I’ve journeyed with God over the years, He’s been faithful in my life, never giving me a reason to doubt him.  But I have doubted. Sometimes it takes more “examples” for him to fully prove himself to us because we’re used to being failed by humans. But as reaffirmed to us in Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (English Standard Version)

God-doesnot-lieToday’s post is from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Each devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you.  Enjoy and continue to trust Him! He won’t fail you.  -Nicole

LET ME SHOW YOU My way for you this day. I guide you continually, so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present. Living well is both a discipline and an art. Concentrate on staying close to me, the divine Artist. Discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work my ways in your life. Pray about everything; then leave outcomes up to Me. Do not fear My will, for through it I accomplish what is best for you. Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!

Accompanying Scriptures: Psalm 5:2-3, “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3-In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:12, “For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!” (New International Version)


Faith to Trust God’s Plans

“I don’t see the big picture. I don’t have a clue. But I know God does. I’m going to declare that, even if I don’t feel it right now.” — Steven Curtis Chapman, Christian singer-songwriter


Jeremiah 29:11NIV  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11NASB 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope
Jeremiah 29:11ASV 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.
Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Absolutely one of my favorite scriptures to stand on when I am struggling with making a decision or when my well-laid plans have come up empty.  It’s interesting that no matter how it’s translated, a few things stand out to me:

1. God knows!  I don’t, but God does.  I am so thankful that He does.  So what does He know?  His thoughts and His plans for me/us.


2. God says/declares!  Hallelujah!  When God speaks, it is so, it is done!  You can take what He says to the bank, to the boardroom, to the doctor, to the courtroom.  You can especially take what God says or declares to the most important place of all…the mirror. (I’ll let that one sink in for a minute.)


3. God’s thoughts/plans for me/us is for our good and NOT for our harm.   Let me repeat the last part…NOT FOR OUR HARM.


4. So then, what does it mean when bad things happen to us? When our plans don’t turn out the way we wanted them to?  What it simply means is that points 1, 2 and 3 are STILL in effect!  Our circumstances, our plans, our situations does not change the facts that God knows, God has said and declared and that His thoughts and plans are for our good…period!  Now the final point from this scripture:


5. Everything God has done and is doing is to give us hope for the future. The future that He has prepared for us.  To be with Him for all eternity.


No the journey is not smooth and laid out with roses and a sweet smell.  I have not read in God’s Word where He has said or declared that it would be. But His Word is filled with a hope and a love that tells us that He longs for us to love Him, to trust Him and to depend solely upon Him.
I don’t know what tomorrow may bring. I may be told that my job has been eliminated and my services are no longer needed. The doctor may tell me that the pain I have in my body means that I have only a few days left to live. No matter what bad news may come, it will never change the fact that God is bigger and greater than anything we will face in life. It will not change the fact that God is the creator of all and He alone is in Charge! He sits on the throne of glory and Christ is at His right hand.
We can make all the plans we want, and believe me I have made many. But if they do not line up with what our Heavenly Father has put into place, we will never achieve the fullness of life that God has prepared for us.  Now here’s the final piece of the puzzle for you this morning. WE must decide if what God has planned for us is satisfactory.  Is it okay that what God thinks is good for us, is acceptable?  Isn’t that absolutely crazy when you think about us deciding if what God wants for us is acceptable? ( Lord, please forgive me for my foolish thinking.)


Here’s a thought to consider and maybe for us to declare today: Lord, I want to know your ways and will for my life above all else. And then, to have the faith to walk in the way you desire for me. 
I like quoting Jeremiah 29:11.  But if you go down to verse 13, you will understand the key to God’s declaration.
Jeremiah 29:13NKJV 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
It is easy to place our plans in front of God and beg and/or demand that He approves them.  But if there is one thing I have come to learn in my limited time here is that it’s not about my plans.  It’s not about what I want.  It’s solely about what God has ordained, through His Word and Will for me.
Yes, I/we have been allowed to choose which plans to go after.  Ours or God’s.  Think about it and choose wisely.
Thank you Lord. You have been there for us, even when we have not realized it. You know our coming and our going and you have prepared the perfect path for us to travel. We thank you that when we get off this path, the Holy Spirit guides us back to it. We desire, want and need so much. Help us to realize that all we need is You. Let the light of your love shine in and through us today. We sing praises of your goodness and mercy today. Thank you Lord for everything. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


Have a very blessed day and weekend, knowing that God will always be there when you call.


Minister Dracy
After God’s Own Heart Ministries
Luke 4:18-19 …to bring Good News…

Why You Can’t Figure Out God

“No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.” — Charles H. Spurgeon

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New Living Translation) 8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

No matter how hard we try or desire to, we will never be able to figure God out. Oh, we can come to know Him better and better each day, but trying to figure out what He’s going to do and how He’s going to do it, is an enormous waste of time and energy. At least in my humble opinion.

It’s just as simple as you create the best work of art that you can imagine. You love it and so do many people who see it. But one day, you decide to put it in a security vault to protect it. Or you decide to donate it to a museum or auction it off for charity.

My point is, it is YOU who are deciding what to do with your work of art, not the art itself. To ask or expect the art to determine its fate sounds ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as it is for us to figure out God or try to tell Him what He can or cannot do with us.

Yes, we are God’s work of art and He has given us the ability to choose. Even so, it’s useless or futile to believe that we can figure God out or control His actions. The things that He has revealed to us about Himself, are the things we need to hold on to. He loves us. He wants us with Him for all eternity. He provides and has provided for us to be free from the evil one and sin. He has revealed what He cares to reveal to us about Himself and our future, according to His Will, not ours. He is our Heavenly Father and our God, if we so choose.

Today, I encourage us all to simply know that the Creator of All, has our lives securely in His hands. Even when we try to pull away, He holds on tighter and tighter. He places us where He needs us, according to His Will for our lives and for our created purpose.

Rest assured that if you have chosen His Son as your personal Lord and Savior, then, there is no need to figure out what God is doing. For what He is doing is making you and I ready to be clothed in His righteousness, to take our place in His eternal presence.

Heavenly Father we thank you today for creating us, loving us and fulfilling our created purpose in your kingdom. Forgive us for those times of fear and doubt and endless questioning of “why this” and “how comes.” Please continue to help us simply say, “yes Lord” and “thank you.” Be with us today as always and open our eyes even more to see all of who you are to us. This we pray and ask in Jesus name, Amen.

Minister Dracy
After God’s Own Heart Ministries
Luke 4:18-19 …to bring Good News…

Being Transformed Step by Step

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Since early 2013 to-date, I’ve witnessed transformations God has made in my life—some visible to others and some not. Some of the transformations only I am privy to, which makes the internal testimony and affirmation of His work even greater to me. The habitual planner in me has handed the reins over to Him, allowing Him to prepare my next steps.  I am already experiencing the fruit of this transformation by allowing Him to lead, trusting Him to bring it all together in His perfect way. While I like details, in this case I don’t have to know how He’s going to work it out. It’s an act of faith and trust that I am enjoying too! Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (New American Standard Bible) Believe it!

Are you ready to experience the same? You won’t regret it. Today’s post is from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Each devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you.

LET MY LOVE ENFOLD YOU in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring Me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones.

Through the intimacy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace. Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.   Let-God-Hold-Your-Hand

Accompanying Scriptures: Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name.” 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Psalm 73:23-24, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24- You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into your glory.” (New International Version)

Trust Your Life to an Unfailing God

1 Peter 4:19- “If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Three key words can be found within this scripture and they are TRUST, SUFFERING, AND FAILURE. We SUFFER because we stand against the normality of the world. We are deemed outcasts and failures due to our sweet aroma of moral fiber, which repulses the mundane onlooker. We TRUST in God’s love because it is pure and given without any contingencies. Thus, may we look upon 2014 hopeful that our various circumstances will turn around. For we will not succeed under our own volition, nor can we prosper with the works of our own hands. Now many believe they have and even boast about their prosperity, but, like one strand of straw that could break the back of a camel, so is one problem’s chance of crushing our spirits. So may we must rejoice in suffering, cling to our trust in Him, and recognize that with God we cannot fail. As Christians we can be confident in this word from Philippians 1:6- “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Few Details? Still Follow

I like to read and share devotionals from the book Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Today’s message spoke to me. It encourages us to follow God in His calling for us, even if we’re unsure of the details. We must learn to trust His direction!

BE WILLING TO FOLLOW wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of my richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith—not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.

Follow JesusSometimes I lead you up a high mountain with only My hand to support you. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view becomes; also the more keenly you sense your separation from the world with all of its problems. This frees you to experience exuberantly the joyous reality of My Presence. Give yourself fully to these Glory-moments, awash in dazzling Light. I will eventually lead you down the mountain, back into the community with others. Let My Light continue to shine within you as you walk among the people again.

Accompanying Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight.” Psalm 96:6, “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.” Psalm 36:9, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (New International Version)

Even in Troubles, God is Good

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Good Day Friends.   Often times I am asked to pray for others who are going through something. I thank God that people entrust me with such requests.  Sometimes the person will ask trusted prayer partners to join so we may all stand in one accord—trusting God will deliver in His perfect way. Those of us who have walked with God for many years, experience a deepened trust as He proves His goodness to us over and over.

However, life sometimes throws us curve balls that seem to come out of left field—leaving us bewildered and wondering what happened to God’s goodness, questioning His love for us.  Yet, we know He is still perfect in all He does, even in trials. God’s character does not change.

For those I have prayed for this week in particular (and for others who may need this message), I am lead to share today’s devotional that comes from the book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Today’s Jesus Calling devotional reads:

“TASTE AND SEE THAT I AM GOOD. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness. This knowledge is essential to your faith-walk. When adversities strike, the human instinct is to doubt My goodness. My ways are mysterious, even to those who know Me intimately. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways and thoughts higher than your ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Do not try to fathom My ways. Instead, spend time enjoying Me and experience My goodness.”

As you go through this day, remember Who is keeping you and guiding you along the way. He may be doing something quite different than what you expected. For He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Change Your View of God

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Living boldly…It’s normal to experience moments of doubt and fear when God has placed a task before us which seems out of our league or expertise. Agreed, it’s uncomfortable. For some of us, our first and very natural reaction may be to shake our heads and say, “Oh no, not me Lord. Give it to someone else to do.”

Hold up—give it to someone else to do?? Do you understand what you’re asking God? Let’s think this through. You may discover this faulty thinking is akin to signing over a million dollar check to someone else when the money rightfully belongs to you. Whoops! Your blessings lie in this new territory you want to avoid! So how can you overcome this fear and walk in your blessings?

First, God is purposeful in all He does. He does not waste. He exercises perfect judgement. He does not make mistakes. Most importantly, when He says something about you or for you, His word will not return to Him void. It will be accomplished. Here’s what He promises in Isaiah 55:8-11:

8- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9- As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. 10- As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11- so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  (New International Version)

In other words, “He’s got this. He’s got you.” Trust that God has equipped you for what He has asked you to do, no matter how daunting the task may seem.

Second and last, how small or big is your view of God? Perhaps this is where the doubt begins and should end. By wisdom, He laid the earth’s foundations. By understanding He set the heavens in place. He named “night” and “day.”

Change your view of God!

Change your view of God!

Perhaps you think your talents are insignificant or you are too “small” to be effective in this great big world. Think again. God is notorious for using the simple and “insignificant” things to confound those who rely on their intellect to make sense of life.  A quote from former American officer and pilot Betty Reese we can all relate to: “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”

He formed you in your mother’s womb. He shaped a plan specifically for you from the start. Were you involved in any of this? His track record of follow through and over-delivering in what He says He will do is impeccable. Beyond reproach. God is continuing to do “new things” and seeking those whose hearts are willing. These times require our boldness, reliance upon and understanding of who is God.

Thankfully, He has bigger plans in store for us than we can imagine for ourselves. Does a God who created the night sky think as small as you? Or is He “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us”? (Ephesians 3:20)

Understand what God says about who HE is. He says, “I Am.” Let go of your limitations and misconceptions of what He can do through you. Just show up ready to work and let Him do His job.  Change your view of God and His view of you, for He uniquely created you in His image to do His will and work as only you can do.