“Look!” he answered, “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 the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25
Their faith was strong and their bond with one another and with God so unassailable, that the three young Hebrews didn’t backdown when confronted. They told Nebuchadnezzar, who was enraged by their actions: “We have no need to answer you in. this matter…. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:16-18).
This reminds us of Paul’s words: “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
There is a Fourth Man who will come and be with us through any fiery test we face. He can, has, does, and will deliver us!
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient, shall be thy supply. George Keith, “How Firm a Foundation”
Daniel 3 • The Fiery Furnace
[He] began to tell . . . how much Jesus had done for him. Mark 5:20
“I lived with my mother so long that she moved out!” Those were the words of KC, whose life before sobriety and surrender to Jesus was not pretty. He candidly admits supporting his drug habit by stealing—even from loved ones. That life is behind him now and he rehearses this by noting the years, months, and days he’s been clean. When KC and I regularly sit down to study God’s Word together, l’m looking at a changed man.
Mark 5:15 speaks of a former demon-possessed individual who had also been changed. Prior to his healing, helpless, hopeless, homeless, and desperate are words that fit the man (vv. 3–5). But all of that changed after Jesus liberated him (v. 13). But, as with KC, his life before Jesus was far from normal. His internal turmoil that he expressed externally is not unlike what people experience today. Some hurting people dwell in abandoned buildings, vehicles, or other places; some live in their own homes but are emotionally alone. Invisible chains shackle hearts and minds to the point that they distance themselves from others.
In Jesus, we have the One who can be trusted with our pain and the shame of the past and present. And, as with Legion and KC, He waits with open arms of mercy for all who run to Him today (v. 19).
Reflect & Pray
How has Jesus changed you? Who do you know that needs to hear about it?
God, I’m so grateful that, through Jesus, things that controlled me in the past can indeed remain in the past.
Teenagers are known to measure themselves against peers, but I’ve noticed that many adults today also struggle with comparison. Social media platforms make it especially difficult to outgrow this type of thinking. When comparing ourselves to others, we tend to …
Think security is based on what we own. This attitude tempts us to work longer hours or pressure others to do so. But since material things can’t bring lasting security, the search for better or more possessions can be endless. Real security is found only in our position as the heavenly Father’s adopted children (Eph. 1:5). Our place in heaven sets us free from materialism.
Believe we are failures. When we think this way, no success in business or personal life can be effective—we crave affirmation but can never get enough praise to really change our opinion of ourselves. But God says He has chosen us and made us co-heirs with His Son Jesus (Rom. 8:16-17). Our value comes from belonging to Him.
Let’s acknowledge any detrimental thoughts, surrender them to God, and intentionally embrace what He says is true about us. This is the path that leads to spiritual maturity and healthy relationships.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
As Joshua’s death approached, he gathered the people around him for a final address and challenge. “Fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served” (v. 14), he exhorted as he reviewed the history of God’s provision for Israel. Indeed, God was worthy of their service in light of all He had done for them. Speaking on behalf of the Lord, Joshua used the divine pronoun “I” no less than 17 times in the previous 11 verses, in a majestic listing of His work on their behalf.
There seems to be a twist of irony in Joshua’s words. Even though the people adamantly maintained, “Therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God” (v. 18), Joshua evidently knew they had already decided not to follow God. He did not offer them a choice between the true God and false gods, he offered them a choice between sets of false gods—those “on the other side of the flood” (i.e., the Euphrates River), or those “in Egypt” (v. 14), or “the gods of the Amorites.” None can compare, obviously, to the Lord.
Joshua’s point is still applicable today. Man must worship; he must have a god. One may recognize his god as an actual “god”—an idol to be openly worshipped. Many times today, however, the god is that of human reason, science, evolution, or humanism, and worship is performed unwittingly. Our duty in witnessing includes helping the unsaved to make a knowledgeable choice, pointing out the consequences of their choice of gods. Such a comparison should drive one to the same decision as Joshua’s: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” JDM
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Peter 4:11
To please God, a person must be just an instrument for God to use. For a few seconds, picture in your mind the variety of wonderful and useful appliances we have in our homes. They have been engineered and built to perform tasks of all kinds. But without the inflow of electrical power they are just lumps of metal and plastic, unable to function and serve. They cannot do their work until power is applied from a dynamic outside source.
So it is in the work of God in the church. Many people preach and teach. Many take part in the music. Certain ones try to administer God’s work. But if the power of God’s Spirit does not have freedom to energize all they do, these workers might just as well stay home.
Natural gifts are not enough in God’s work. The mighty Spirit of God must have freedom to animate and quicken with His overtones of creativity and blessing. TRA005-006
Lord, deliver us from our dependency on natural gifts. We hunger for effectiveness in Your work, but too seldom turn loose to let Your power flow through us. Amen.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
Too many want the Holy Spirit in order that they may have the gift of healing. Others want Him for the gift of tongues. Still others seek Him so that their testimony may become effective. All of these things, I will grant, are a part of the total pattern of the New Testament. But it is impossible for us to make God our servant. Let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit of God for secondary purposes.
God wants to fill us with His Spirit in order that we should know Him first of all and be absorbed in Him. We should enter into the fullness of the Spirit so that God’s Son may be glorified in us.
I try to bathe my soul in the writings and the hymns of the devoted saints of God….I wonder why we ever stoop to read or sing or quote anything but that which is elevated and divine, noble and inspiring. FBR153-154
When the Holy Spirit comes, He lifts our minds to new ideals and gives us conceptions of things so much in advance of our present experiences that we long for higher ground. WCC096
1 John 3:14
During my life I have been faced with many serious problems, but the most difficult thing I have ever faced was when I had to take my wife to a nursing home, and my daughter and I said goodbye to mother and wife. As we closed the glass doors behind us, she pulled on them, trying to open them and we heard her calling, “Open the door, I want to go with you!” But there was no handle on the inside.
My daughter and I tried to comfort each other. It couldn’t have gone on any longer. We could still see her coming home that time in the police car. Somewhere along the way she had gotten lost and couldn’t make herself understood to the people around.
The most difficult period was in the beginning. At first you don’t realize what is happening; you are surprised by changes in behavior. Then you are amazed by attitudes and reactions which until then you had never seen. In the course of the illness we had tried everything. We tried to bring help in, but she wouldn’t accept it. Sometimes she became aggressive, and then of course, no one would come back. Wietske was no longer Wietske; she had become another person.
When my daughter and I arrived back home we both sat and cried. We agreed that our loved one did not deserve such a goodbye. And we remembered the many times goodbyes were said in a dignified and warm manner. But at this goodbye there were no speeches, no flowers, no encouraging words. Was this how a faithful career as an officer in The Salvation Army was to end?
Of course I missed her. I visited her often. So many things were fading away. Sometimes we would sing the songs of years gone by. There was only one song she still remembered. It was our favorite song, and we sang it two or three times. The Dutch song seemed to be engraved on her heart. “Lord I Am Thankful That By Your Grace I Am Your Child.” It broke our hearts to hear her trying to sing it, and yet, somehow, it comforted and encouraged us.
After all, one of the most essential truths of Christianity is that it is our faith that keeps us going. For a Christian doesn’t live to die, but dies to live. Life with a capital L—a life in which there will be no more goodbyes.
Reinder Schurink, The War Cry