In the Fiery Furnace

Dan3-16-17--FieryFurnace

 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to
defend ourselves before you in this matter.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
the God we serve is able to save us from it,
and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, 
we want you to know, O king,
that we will not serve your gods
or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
—Daniel 3:16-18, NIV

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship a gold statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s likeness. They firmly believed God would rescue them from a “blazing furnace.” But their faith didn’t stop there. They refused to worship any other gods or images even if God did not rescue them.

In his fury, Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into a fiery furnace seven times hotter than usual. The intense heat killed several soldiers who were standing near the oven. However, inside of the oven, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were not harmed at all. In fact, four men were seen walking around in that oven, the fourth described “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25, NKJV).

Do you feel the heat of your own fiery furnace today? Those of us who experience unrelenting pain oftentimes wonder why we are going through this. Will it ever end? Why isn’t God taking away our pain?

There is so much going on in our world today that seeks to divert our attention from God. It is much easier to complain and blame God for everything that is wrong in our lives than to pray for His help in coping with our pain. I admit that I struggle at times with this very thing, as well as the why of the path God is allowing in this season of my life. But when I do that, it turns my focus from God to myself, which keeps me from being able to embrace the joyful hope that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Beloved, God is always with us and fully understands what we’re going through better than any human being ever could. All He asks is that we trust Him to walk with us through our own personal fiery furnaces. He knows our fears and frustrations. He understands our pain. And He will always be there with us and for us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we hurt so much that we don’t have the words to pray what is in our hearts. But You know what we’re going through and what we need from You without our having to say a word. Help us to always reach for Your hand in our fiery furnaces. Amen.

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Majesty and Mercy

 

Jehovah-Majesty

Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

—Matthew 6:9-13

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Press On

Phil3-13-14--PressOn

But whatever things were gain to me,
those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss
in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,and may be found in Him,
not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on
toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude;
and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
—Philippians 3:7-16

I have never been what could be called graceful. I regularly walk too close to doorknobs and bruise my arms. I turn my ankle on real or imagined pot holes when I walk. I trip over things that are not there. When I first saw that the meaning of the name Anna is gracious, I was appalled because I thought it said graceful.

Recently I made the special cherry vanilla creamsicles that both Rick and I love. I poured the mixture carefully into the molds, then wiped away the tiny drops that spilled onto the mold. Just that fast, the mold tipped over. I watched in frustration as the thick concoction oozed over the counter, dripped down the front of the cabinet and onto the floor. A big sigh escaped me as I pulled out paper towels to clean up my mess. Will I ever overcome my clumsiness?

We start every day with another chance to get it right. Some days we do; others we don’t. No matter what happens, though, we should be thankful for the next chance and the next, and on and on. Realize that this side of heaven we’ll probably never get things exactly right but we have the assurance of knowing that one day we will attain the prize that Paul talks about here:

the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul is talking about the day when we will be called home to Jesus. Wow, what a time that will be!

Beloved, are things not going right in your corner of the world? Are you struggling with the things of this life and becoming frustrated too? Do you feel as if there is no end in sight?

Press on … just press on. Keep on keeping on.

We who have the hope of knowing we’ll be spending eternity with Jesus need to remember that life here on earth will never be easy. I read somewhere once that if we had an easy time of it on earth, would we ever yearn for heaven?

In case you have never asked Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior and Lord, please visit my A…B…C page to read more about how easy it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, write to me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in your Christian walk.

There is a song that has been running through my mind almost every day since I first heard it. “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” is a great song by Building 429 and is based on Philippians 3:12:14. The lyrics really speak to the stresses and complications of living and how we can all press on to complete whatever mission God has for us in this life. 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please click here for the lyrics.

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In Christ Alone

InChristAloneMyHopeIsFound

 

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The LORD is Your Shade

 

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It has been a long, pain-filled summer for me. Thank you for bearing with me as I’ve been sharing some of my old posts with you, mostly by my very close friends and mentors, Pat Knight and Donna Baker. I did not want to completely leave the blogging world for several months, so being able to schedule those precious posts ahead of time really helped.

Thank you again, Pat and Donna, for allowing me to share your hearts with my readers. I love you both so much!

Today I have a new one for you that seems to fit in with how my summer went. 

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The LORD is Your Shade

TheLORDIsYourShade--ShadyGrove

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

—Psalm 121

Years ago, I moved from northern Vermont to Phoenix, Arizona. One of the first things I noticed about the Southwest is how people look for parking in any available shady spot, especially in the summer. There might be loads of open parking spaces near the entrance to a store or business, but if there is any kind of shade elsewhere in the parking lot, you can be sure those shady places are the first to be taken. And no wonder, given that average daytime Phoenix temperatures in the summer are at least 105 degrees.

Although most of us enjoy sunshine, consistent sunlight can damage all sorts of surfaces, including our skin, car finishes, and exterior paint. We are urged to use sunscreen on our skin; the color finish on newer cars includes a clear, sun-resistant top coat. As for the paint peeling off our homes, short of using aluminum siding, all we can do is scrape the peeling areas and repaint every few years.

Ten years ago today, we moved to the north country of Arizona, and as wonderful as the sun is, it still can take its toll up here. Temperatures are typically about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix, but it still gets hot up here. And heat truly aggravates my chronic pain illnesses.

I love this Psalm, particularly verses 5 and 6. The Psalmist tells us that the LORD is our shade! Ponder that for a moment. Imagine standing in the middle of the desert with nothing around you for miles. The scorching sun is baking your weary body; you have barely enough energy to put one foot in front of the other. Suddenly the area where you’re standing is in the shade, but you cannot figure out why. You can see no trees or other shelter to provide shade but nevertheless you are being protected from the blazing sun.

This is how I picture God protecting us.

No matter what is happening to us each day that is causing us to feel down, if we look to the only One who matters, He is faithful to shelter us from the blazing heat that can sometimes characterize our lives. 

Beloved, let’s see if we can hang tight to that thought when we need it most! Our Heavenly Father can be our shade no matter how hot things get for us here on earth. We can close our eyes and picture His shade as we go through each trial in our lives, letting it fill us with the certain knowledge that only under the shade of our Father’s loving arms can we find protection and relief from the storms in our lives.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to care about even the smallest details in our lives.

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Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Ps122-6-7--JerusalemWailingWall

Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.

A Song of Ascents, of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

—Psalm 122

 

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God’s Everlasting Consolation

2Thes2-16-17--BeachSitting

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and our God and Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
—2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

One of my favorite places to spend time is at the coast, although we live far from there now. Almost 20 years ago I went on a solo road trip that took me up the California coast and back, where I decided to spend several days in Monterey. I enjoyed lots of time on the beach just sitting and contemplating the seemingly endless rise and fall of the ocean’s white-crested waves.

Recently it occurred to me how much the ocean is like God. For one thing, when you’re looking into the horizon, the ocean seems to go on forever. The rising and crashing of the waves keep occurring in a constant and mighty display of God’s power. This is not very surprising, considering the fact that He’s the One Who created the oceans in the first place.

Think of some of God’s attributes:

  • unchangeable
  • infinite
  • eternal
  • omnipresent

and several names we associate with Him:

  • everlasting
  • living
  • mighty
  • eternal

Some of these designations could describe the ocean’s characteristics, but all of them depict a God Who is unchanging and always there for us, no matter what is going on in our lives.

So many of us experience times when we feel like certain stressful circumstances will never change for the better. Or we’ll never find a decent paying job. Maybe we’ve finally realized that this chronic pain illness will never get any better. And then there are days when we think there’s no one who truly understands what we’re going through.

We start to believe we are completely alone.

That’s when we need to lean on God, “…Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace….” We can always be assured that He will “…comfort [y]our hearts…” and give us the strength to persevere in spite of our circumstances.

Never give up, Beloved, because our God will never give up on you!

Please allow me to pray for all of us: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that You love us enough to be our everlasting consolation and comfort. Help us to remember to always turn to You no matter what we’re going through. Amen.

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God is Hope [REPOST]

 Here is another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight. As always, I so appreciate you, Pat, and thank you for allowing me to share these special devotionals with my readers.

hope-one-way

God is Hope

By Patricia Knight

When we visited our grandsons at their home we were entertained with their evening after-dinner game. Our son, their father, would position himself on the carpet in the living room. Already the oldest boy was maneuvering into position in the kitchen for the run and jump assault on his Daddy. At age five and starting first, he gave himself a little thrust by pushing at arm’s length from the kitchen cabinets. In stocking feet he appeared to fly with a minimum of three to four steps to reach his Dad. Then, they both ended up in a congealed mass of love and fun rolling with arms and legs flailing out of control.

Daddy-Son-onthefloorNext in line, the four-year-old would rev his motors in the kitchen, his feet barely hitting the flour as he flew to his destination. His Dad was ready for him with arms outstretched. They would roll and tumble in the victory of the game, laughing and hugging in a big rollicking ball.

With each boy excitement mounted. The youngest was already running into the kitchen preparing for the game with his little fourteen-month-old body of determination. Having learned to walk only a few months earlier, he was hoping his actions would be the same as for his brothers; there was no doubt he had watched from the sidelines many times.

The littlest must have known he needed an advantage, for he started his journey in the middle of the kitchen floor. From the beginning he had a victorious grin plastered on his face. He was off and, uh, running. His shoes echoed “slap, smack” on the floor as he struggled to keep his balance while those hesitant tottering steps resounded on the surface of the hard kitchen floor.

He was gyrating with giggles and squeals. His top-heavy body struggled for stability with each new step. Just as he was ready to fling himself at his Daddy, he checked quickly for his parent’s outstretched arms. His Dad was waiting, smiling proudly at the mettle of his little toddler. The game ended all too soon with the son engulfed in a loving embrace in his Daddy’s arms.

Romans8-24-25

Most of experience hope many times a day. Even though they were unable to verbalize the process, the boys hoped their father’s outstretched arms would catch them, that his body would cushion them from the fall, or that he would laugh with hugs as he had done so many times before. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24, 25).

Hope is dynamic, involving a confident expectation. Hope relies on God’s blessings and provisions with the expectations of future goodness in our lives. Hope involves trust in One who can deliver. God is hope. We base our hope in God upon evidence of past events where He has proved He is able to keep His promises. Jesus is called the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). When we believe in our Lord and put our trust in Him, we transfer our worldly hope to Him.

Ps119-147Hoping in our Lord is so different from the hope of what will happen to us or around us. When we believe in God, we transfer our trust and worldly cares to Him. We are free to put our hope in God, awaiting His good works and provisions for us. “I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:147).

We willingly transfer our cares and concerns, wishes and desires, to God. If we only place hope in ourselves or in other people, there evolves a perpetually disappointing cycle. As we transfer our hope and trust to God, He gives us strength by removing the burden of hope from our own lives. God’s love and understanding are vast compared to our limited resources. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

There may be times when we are ready to give up on all hopewhen the situation seems hopeless and we have no more strength to hold on. God is in the business of hope and strength renewal.

Those who have no faith in God can only cherish a desire with anticipation, without any basis for expecting attainment. However, the Christian has his hope placed firmly in God, who is the fulfillment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

We can place our hope on a firm foundation of God’s promises. All of His covenants to His people from the beginning of time have been accomplished exactly as God specified. Since God is immutable, all of His promises remain constant and without error.

1-corinthians-13-13Faith and hope are inseparable. Having faith in our God is defined as trust, belief, and hope combined. Faith and hope are both dependent upon belief in a God who is worthy of faith, hope, and love in God’s Word. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

For centuries the Israelites were promised a Savior who would establish His kingdom and rule on earth. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Like the people who had witnessed Jesus ascend from earth to His heavenly home after His three years of ministry among them, we, too, hope for the promise of Jesus’ second coming to earth to rule in righteousness. “There is surely a hope for you and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18). God wants to simplify our lives by assuming our expectations. His Word is full of promises to His people. We are able to expect a beautiful life and a future full of greatness when we hope in God’s Word.

During their nightly playtime our grandsons eagerly ran to their father’s outstretched arms, hoping the same events would play out in excitement as they had the previous time. We, too, are invited to run into the arms of our heavenly Father, the same arms that were outstretched on the cross for us. There is hope in the crucifixion and resurrection and the promise of eternal life with our Savior and Lord. We know because God has promised it from the beginning of time (Titus 1:2).

Titus1-2

“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2)

“God is Hope” is taken from Pat’s book, REJOICE!

REJOICE

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Sunrise Faith

 

Sunrise-Faith---lightstock_21174_small_anna_popescu

 

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.
~Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord

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The Time Bank

Eccl3-1--Time

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NKJV

 

Time is something that we either do not have enough of or that we waste. In my own case, I have often referred to painful days that I spend not being able to do much as wasted days. Yet God has shown me that what I might consider as wasted He is using for my good and His glory. 

When I am not able to do much, I still can pray for others and sing songs of praise and worship in my heart to my Savior and King. That’s not only something, it’s what we were made for. How can we look around and not see the glory of His creation? And if we understand that He made all of it from nothing, how is it possible for us to not acknowledge it by praising and worshiping Him?

As Solomon’s words above tell us, God created all things, all purposes and all times. It is up to us how well we use the time allotted to us.

My good friend, Donna Baker, sent me this video the other day titled “The Time Bank.” It speaks to how important time is to us. 

Beloved, if you cannot view the video here for any reason, click here to take you directly to the youtube site.

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