Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He who does not has not become acquainted with God, for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest and displayed where we are concerned; in that God sent His Son, the only begotten into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us so very much, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4: 8-11
God Is Love
“I cannot always trace the way
Where Thou, Almighty One, dost move,
But I can always, always say,
That God is love.
When fear her chilling mantle throws
O’er earth, my soul to heaven above,
As to her native home, upsprings,
For God is love.
When mystery clouds my darkened path,
I’ll check my dread, my doubt reprove;
In this my soul sweet comfort hath,
That God is love.
Yes, God is love – a thought like this
Can every gloomy thought remove,
And turn all tears, all woes, to bliss,
For God is love.
Today’s Study Text:
These three men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics or undergarments, their turbans, and their other clothing, and they were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame and sparks from the fire killed those men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king saw and was astounded, and he jumped up and said to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered, ‘True, O King.’ (Nebuchadnezzar) answered, ‘Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like Son of God.’”
Daniel 3: 21-25
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 13
“How Did Nebuchadnezzar Know?”
“God’s people have their hearts enlarged, through the grace of God, by those very troubles with which their enemies desire to hamper them.”
Do I feel that I have been thrown into a fiery furnace at this time in my life?
In this personal fiery furnace, do I feel very alone?
How have I found God’s grace to be sufficient in my life?
“When through fiery trials
thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient,
shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee;
I only design –
Thy dross to consume and
Thy gold to refine.”
A Selection of Hymns
“Sometimes God gives us a gentle push of courage; sometimes He mercifully numbs us so we don’t experience the full intensity of our pain; at other times He carries us when we cannot take another step on our own.”
Sometimes Miracles Hide
There thy stood. Three believers in the God of heaven and earth. Faithful followers to be sure. Willing witnesses during their Babylonian captivity. I guess my questions, had I stood in the place of these three loyalists for the Lord, would have been: “What did I do to deserve this? Is God punishing me? Why is He letting this happen?” Often these are the questions that will rise to the top of the heap when we are faced with “the flames of affliction,” enveloping us.
Standing in front of a brick furnace, heated to seven times the normal furnace temperature, I wonder what thoughts went round in the heads of the three Hebrew heroes who would not bow to the king’s foreign god. There’s no question that these young men recognized the consequence of their action. But the reality of their action took on new meaning when, after being bound with all their clothes on they were hurled into the midst of a burning furnace.
It is an interesting fact to note that the manic King Nebuchadnezzar, in his haste to deliver punishment, not only was losing three of the smartest wise men in the country but also, the men who were the “hurlers” of the three Hebrews, ended up falling dead in the front of the furnace as well. The heat was too hot for the best and finest soldiers. So with his dead soldiers lying in front of the blazing furnace, and the Hebrews likely burned up, the king was just getting ready to believe his problems had been taken care of when to his “shock and awe” he began to see movement within the brick furnace.
Just yesterday as my husband Jim was doing some personal Bible study, he made this observation, “It’s really wonderful to have so many different versions of the Bible. But there are times when you just love the way the old King James Version reads!” He was absolutely correct – and today, Daniel 3 is one of those times when the Biblical passages in the King James Bible are perfect. “Then Nebuchadnezzar was astonied, and rose up in haste” (Daniel 3: 24, K.J.V.). In the Hebrew the word astonied means to be “swept to ruin, totally caught up in amazement and alarm.” And there’s another word I want to check on in the English dictionary and it is the word “haste,” which means, “rash and impetuous action.” I’d say that certainly qualifies in describing the way the king had acted up to this point in time. In other words, with total amazement and alarm consuming his demeanor, the king rashly jumped up from where he was sitting and I think what he may well have done was, without thinking, run closer to the fiery furnace so he could get a better look at what was going on in that furnace. Most likely, he simply could not believe his eyes for he said to his counselors, “Didn’t we throw three men into the fire? What’s happened because I see four!” Then in words that should fill your heart and mine with exceeding joy and hope, after taking a closer look the heathen king pronounced these words: “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire” (Daniel 3: 25, K.J.V.). If you want to jump up right now and Praise God that’s fine with me for these words, out of a non-believer’s mouth, should make believers like you and me shout, “Glory to God!”
You might think this story couldn’t get any better. How do you top the fact that the three Hebrews were alive and walking in the midst of the flames. This to my recollection as a child hearing this story was as good as it got.
But then, if we continue to read the sentence, we will recognize that we stopped too soon. Daniel 3: 25 continues with the king reeling in wonder as he exclaims, “they have no hurt!” That in itself would be something for the entire multitude gathered on the plain of Dura to marvel at. But Nebuchadnezzar still wasn’t through. He ended his remarks with this amazing revelation about the fourth figure in the fire: “And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3: 25, AMP.).
I’d like to stop for a moment and try and take in this scene. Nebuchadnezzar had to be aghast at what he was witnessing. However, it’s the faces of those snitches, the Chaldeans, who tattled in the first place on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that I would have liked to focus on if I’d been present. How would we have felt when we realized that those Hebrews we had targeted were alive and well as they walked around on the path of obedience with their eternal Guide and Saviour or as King Nebuchadnezzar correctly identified Him – “the Son of God.”
As I’ve thought and prayed over these words penned by Daniel in Scripture, there came to my mind this critical question: How did Nebuchadnezzar know? How was he able to identify the fourth man correctly? There’s no record that the Son of God came down and met with the king just to introduce Himself. Yet there’s something in the king’s words that is so certain he knows the fourth man that you can’t get away by just saying that Nebuchadnezzar made a good guess.
After much study, thought and prayer, I’d like to offer this answer to the question: “How did the king know?” I believe he recognized the Son of God because there were four replicas of the Son of God standing in his palace everyday – Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. “Oh,” you may say, “but Dorothy, they didn’t look just like the Son of God. Their physical features were different.” This could indeed be the case. But I’d like to offer this human example to better explain what I mean.
I can’t tell you how many times my dad said to me, ‘Dorothy-girl, we’re cut out of the same piece of cloth.” My dad was male, I’m female. But over and over again people tell me, “When I’m around you, I think of your dad. You look like him. You have his enthusiasm. You just make me recall the way he acted.” One of our close family friends, Edna who passed away years ago, once told me, after I had given a talk at an event where she was present, “I just closed my eyes and for a minute, other than the pitch of your voice, I thought you were your dad.” I must say I find this to be one of the greatest compliments anyone could give me – to be like my father. And I believe with all my heart that after years, watching the four Hebrews and witnessing their daily behavior, King Nebuchadnezzar began to get a picture, a lovely portrait, of the God of heaven and earth, our Eternal Father.
And so when the Son of God appeared in the fire with three of His children; immediately, Nebuchadnezzar knew who had come to deliver His children. I like three words Matthew Henry uses in describing this scene: “Never more seasonably” did the Son of God come to stand by His dear children. Yes, the foreign king knew what the Son of God looked like because as one of my favorite author’s, Amy Carmichael writes: “We are weaving for God the garment, the only garment, (others) may ever see of Him.”
Right now, you may be in the middle of a fire so intense it is burning seven times hotter than anything you’ve ever endured before in your life. As you walk through this fiery trial, whatever it is, someone may say about you, “She’s really going through it right now. But she’s still walking. And you know what, there’s “Someone” walking right beside her. And He looks like the Son of God!” That’s the reflection you and I give to those around us every day. As George Fox, who suffered many times for his Lord wrote in a letter many years ago, “So, let your lives preach, let your light shine, that your works may be seen, that your Father may be glorified.”
“Then combat well, of naught afraid,
For thus His follower thou art made,
Each battle teaches thee to fight,
Each foe to be a braver knight,
Armed with His might.”
J. H. Bohmer
The Beauty of Jesus In Me
“My life touched yours
for a very brief space,
And what, oh,
what did you see?
A hurried, a worried
and anxious face,
Or the beauty of Jesus in me?
Was I steeped so deep
in the ways of the world
That you couldn't detect one thing
That would set me apart
and show that my heart
Belonged to the Heavenly King?
Did I carry no banner
for Jesus my Lord,
Not one thing at all to show
Whose side I am on
in this glorious fight...
I am His! But you wouldn't know!
Forgive me! And if
we should e'er meet again
Upon earth, oh, I pray you will see
No mark of this world,
but His banner unfurled,
And the beauty of Jesus in me!
Alice Hansche Mortenson~
Poem submitted by
Always For His Glory Ministry
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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