Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles mount up to the sun; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”
Isaiah 40: 31
“Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself, consider it in comparison with your trials, so that you may not grow weary or exhausted; losing heart and fainting in your minds.”
Hebrews 12: 3
“With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dew of sorrow
Were lustred with His love.
I’ll bless the hand that guided
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.”
Anne R. Cousin
My Web of Time He Wove
“If the way of heaven be narrow, it is not, long;
And if the gate be straight, it opens into endless life.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, ‘Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image, which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast, the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
Daniel 3: 14, 15
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 12
“Who Is That God That Shall Deliver You?”
“Those that keep themselves pure in times of common iniquity God will keep safe in times of common calamity.”
As I review my life, can I remember times when I’ve witnessed God’s deliverance on my behalf?
If God has delivered me in the past, what makes me think He will not come to my rescue today?
“God offers (us) rest. But it’s a unique form of rest. It’s to rest in Him in the midst of our threats and our burdens. It’s discovering, as David did in the season of distress, that God is our rock and refuge right in the thick of our situation.”
The Rest of God
“When the great waters of trial overflow, they shall not reach…You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs, and shouts of deliverance. Selah – pause and calmly think of that.”
Psalm 32: 6, 7
Psalm of David
“When all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts, we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, (He) keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosanna around my neck.”
Psalm 32: 6, 7
The Message Bible
A Psalm of David
A Reflective Poem
With fury in his voice and a spirit of rage painted all over his face, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the three disobedient Hebrews be brought to him. Just think for a moment how humiliated the king felt. Daniel and his three companions had been treated as fairly as possible. Unlike servants or captives, King Nebuchadnezzar had elevated them to some of the highest positions available in Babylon. And while these four men had served the king well – with heavenly wisdom and discernment - the king was still the king. At least that’s the way Nebuchadnezzar summed up the situation.
I can only imagine that as the ruler of Babylon found himself looking upon the three Hebrews, he had to be recalling all the events which had happened since their capture. He had to remind himself of the fact that they had been proven to be ten times smarter than any of the other Babylonian wise men.
And so in what I’d call an unheard of move for a Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a second chance. Maybe he was hoping that they hadn’t heard the first instruction about bowing down when the music played. So he would give them a second opportunity to obey his command.
It was at this moment that the Hebrews had a life-threatening choice to make. Should they keep standing – defiant of the king’s order? Or should they bow and hope that their actions would pacify the king? I’d like to insert that everyday in your life and mine, we are also asked to bow or stand. It may be in some small, seemingly insignificant way. But decisions like this happen to you and to me maybe just not in front of a fiery furnace.
In the case of the three Hebrews, Daniel’s diary of what happened reads like this:
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point.’”
It is as if the three young men told the king, “We don’t even have to ponder our answer. We don’t have to weigh the pros and cons. We know right now what we are going to do.” Daniel then continues the story with this pronouncement by his three friends:
“’If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.’”
Daniel 3: 17, 18,
We are told that at this point the king was so outraged by their insult to his rulership that he ordered the furnace to be heated to seven times hotter than usual. To get an idea of how this scene looked, Daniel tells us that the facial expressions of the king were changed to antagonism against the three Hebrews he had considered to be on his side – his friends. No friends were they now. And so with immense fury filling his entire body, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the strongest men in his army be called into immediate active duty to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and to cast them into the furnace.
Hidden within the words penned by Daniel, I find the most critical phrase which strikes at the heart of what any of God’s beloved children go through when faced with the heat from the fire that is in the furnace of their affliction. As Daniel wrote in Daniel 3: 15, where Nebuchadnezzar was threatening the three Hebrews with a fiery death, Daniel adds these words which came from the mouth of King Nebuchadnezzar who asked this question: “Who is that god who can deliver you out of my hands?”
After our car accident, on more than one occasion, Jim and I were asked, almost mockingly by friends and acquaintances who didn’t believe in God, “Where was that God you believe in when you were hit by that drunk kid?” For each one of us, this question will inevitably come, in one way or another.
For the patriarch Job, it came after the loss of his 10 children, seven sons and three daughters as well as all his possessions which included “7,000 sheep; 3,000 camels; 500 yoke of oxen; 500 female donkeys; and a very great body of servants” (Job 1: 1-3, Amplified Bible). In words of unshakeable faith, Job said: “Though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him and behold, He will slay me: I have no hope – nevertheless, I will maintain my ways before Him and even to His face” (Job 13: 15, AMP). I love Job. And I love this passage of Scripture for Job says, “God isn’t required to deliver me. No. Even if I die, I’ll go to my grave knowing I will take my case directly to His face.” For many of God’s children down through the ages, when asked: “Who is going to deliver you now?” – the answer has been the same. Today, I think about the Coptic Christians, slaughtered by ISIS because they boldly stood at the door of their own fiery furnace and said, “Our faith doesn’t depend on if we get delivered right now. We won’t give up – period.”
King Nebuchadnezzar found that he had no power in the face of three Hebrews all-powerful God. He had no ability to scare these three bold young men into bowing before a god of this world. They had proved that the God of heaven and earth was who their hope was in, no matter if His deliverance came on that day or at another time.
What’s more, long before those Hebrews stood before the flames of a furnace on the plain of Dura in Babylon, they had staked their trust in their God. They knew Who loved them no matter when His deliverance came. In the words of the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” they believed and trusted their God whose promises are sure:
“’Fear not, I am with thee,
O be not dismayed;
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.’
‘When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.’
‘The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to His foes;
That soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.’”
In words found in Hebrews 13: 5, 6, we can move forward each day with heaven’s promise on our lips: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee…The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Yesterday my college roommate and I were discussing the blessing Pastor David Wilkerson’s ministry has been in our lives. And then as I was finishing up this devotional, I came upon a quotation of Pastor Wilkerson’s that I’ve used once each year for the past 6 years. And since I hadn’t used it in 2016, I thought today was a perfect time to unwrap these words again for they only get better with time and use:
“As far as the Lord is concerned, the time to stand is in the darkest moment. It is when everything seems hopeless, when there appears no way out, when God alone can deliver.”
David W. Wilkerson
Sermon: “Right Song, Wrong Side”
“Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3: 15). In the words of Psalm 91: 14, 15 – ‘If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you and honor you.’”
“A harbor and refuge You are at all times.
When the seas covered me,
Your mercy descended and drew me out.
Again let Your help lay hold on me!
Apply to my afflictions
The medicine of Your salvation
And the passion of Your help!”
Ephraem of Syria
Whatever God Ordains
“Whatever my God ordains is right;
His will is ever just,
However He orders now my cause,
I will be still and trust.
He is my God;
Though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall’
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.
Whatever my God ordains is right;
He never will deceive;
He leads me by His own right path;
And so to Him I cleave,
And take, content,
What He hath sent.
His hand can turn my griefs away.
And patiently I wait His day.
Whatever my God ordains is right;
Though I the cup must drink;
That bitter seems to my faint heart,
I will not fear nor shrink;
Tears pass away
With dawn of day;
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow all depart.”
“Your life is a school, exactly adapted to your lesson, and that to the best, last end of your existence. No room for a discouraged or depressed feeling, therefore, is left you. Enough that you exist for a purpose high enough to give meaning to life, and to support a genuine inspiration.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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