Before the Fire

Read Daniel 3

Much of our focus is how God delivered the three Hebrew boys out of the burning furnace.  We celebrate their faithfulness, their courage, and their boldness.  Their unwillingness to bow and conform to movement of the world is a message that has been preached all over the world.  I find myself looking at these men and trying to determine what got them through such a difficult circumstance.  I ask myself what I would have done if being placed in the same scenario.  What would it take to get me through such a difficult trial?

I truly feel as though we get so focused on what these men did during their trial that we forget that what they did before the trial is what truly made the difference.  These men did not just decide the same day of their trial that they would not bow.

  1. Their faith before the fire is what fueled their faith through the fire.
  2. Their walk with God before the fire is what help them walk with God through the fire.

It is evident that our relationship with God matters now.  Everything may be great and there are no problems within your life.  Please do not ignore the importance of deepening your walk with God because the trial will come, the fire is going to happen, and your day will come when our faith will be put a test.  Our relationship with the Lord before the trial will have an impact to our response for the Lord during the trial.

I find myself asking the question:  would my relationship with the Lord be deep enough to get me through something as difficult as a fiery furnace?  Maybe I need to strive diligently to pursue the Lord right now so that when that day comes, I will not waiver.  Please…lets not neglect our relationship with God.  What we do before the fire will have an impact on how we respond during our fire.

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Moving Forward

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Ever feel like you are moving backwards?  Your body is in motion but you are either going in the wrong direction, or not going anywhere.  One of the most frustrating truths I have encountered is that the Lord causes us to go backwards before we can actually move forward.  The truth this verse gives me is that God does not leave his work unfinished.  He takes us all go through moments where we feel like we will never accomplish our dreams, and our vision will never come to fruition.  Paul was confident in the Lord’s work and His ability to finish what he starts.  I must remember the same principle.  God leads us around, and God leads us about.  I have to remember this is the Lord’s work.  I have to remember my life, plans, and dreams belong to the Lord.

I am sitting here thinking about what Joseph must of felt when God gave him a vision and then God allowed him to be sold off to slavery, and even then sent him to prison.  Can you imagine God given you a dream and then the next thing you know your in a prison cell?

This leads me to believe that God is always progressing us, but from our prospective we feel like we are going backwards.  I would like to just share some truths that God has given me about moving forward.

  1. I remember that is as long as I am still breathing God is not finished with me.
  2. I rehearse my promises the Lord has given me.
  3. I rejoice in my final destination.
  4. I resolve that God can do a better job with my life than me.

It is important that I remember these truths…otherwise…I would have given up.

 

Unshakable

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  

Life can rattle us.  Lets be real…life can be just down right tough.  I think about the command the Lord gives me to be steadfast and unmovable.  Then I think about all the things that make me the complete opposite.  I think about doubt, distractions, discouragement, and defeat.  All of these things can occur and it causes us to waver, and quit.  I ask myself the question:  “what keeps me going?”  I believe this verse gives some helpful insight as to the things we must implement in order to stay unshakable.  Lets look:

  1. My Relationship with God’s Son:  The text teaches me that victory does not just come from the Lord, but victory comes through the Lord.  This means the closer my relationship becomes with the Lord the more stable I become.
  2. My Resolve toward God’s Work:  I have to constantly remind myself that I am not working for fame, popularity, or applause…I am working for the Lord.  Just thinking about being about the King’s business gives me a jolt.  Alert!!!  It is not about me…can’t ever be about me.  My reward is in eternity and it matters very little about my rewards on earth.
  3. My Reliance on God Promise:  God promises us that our labor will never be in vain.  God takes record and will not allow the labor for His Kingdom to go unnoticed.

Every now and then I will complain about what God is not doing in my life.  These I realize that I am forgetting all the things that God is doing within my life.  However; these principles keep me stable, strong, and moving.  It is important to take a close look at each of these areas and address the one’s that need work.  I, for one, need a reminder from time to time.

Evangelistic Zeal

Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”

This verse gives an insight to the heartbeat of the Apostle Paul.  Paul’s Passion, Paul’s Prayer life, and Paul’s Pursuit was geared toward the Israel’s salvation.  I find it amazing Paul’s purpose for life was geared toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation of souls.  It convicts me to the core to assess the thoughts, desires, and intention of my heart from day to day and find that my desires are not always based on eternal value.  I can honestly say that deep down my desire is to see my community come to know Christ.  The problem that I face is whether or not I am pursuing it in the right manner.  This verse causes me to really evaluate my evangelistic zeal.  It makes me assess my schedule, my habits, and my prayer life.  Is the salvation of souls really at the forefront of my desires?  Is a person’s eternity really the most important aspect of my life?  Is things of eternal value really a personal value of mine?  What was the first thing on my mind today?  What has motivated me today?  Did it ever occur to me throughout my day that the people I encountered could be lost?  Personally, I have been weighed, I am been measured, and I have been found wanting.  How bout you?

A Fresh Perspective from a Familiar Verse

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Many times we read, quote, or rehearse verses so much that they begin to lose their potency.  This, for me, is one of those verses.  I have quoted this verse countless times.  I have even preached from this verse.  However; today I am have been given a fresh perspective.  Today the Lord is charging me, challenging me, and convicting me through this verse to evaluate whether or not I am truly trusting Him.

Trusting the Lord with all my heart is something that requires me to completely disregard my own understanding and logic.  I cannot say that I am truly trusting the Lord with all my heart if I am getting frustrated when things are not working out as I have envisioned.  I am learning that my frustration with the Lord’s business is actually a lack of trust.  Trusting in the Lord with all my heart requires me to not get frustrated with God’s timetable and God’s will.  Trusting in the Lord means that my understanding and logic must be put away in order to rely on Him completely.

Today, even though I get disappointed and discouraged, I must look deep within my heart and evaluate whether or not I am truly trusting the Lord with all my heart.  My life, my plans, and my dreams belong to the Lord.  If that is true, then I must learn to trust him in all areas of my life.  I encourage you to do the same.

Three Foundational Principles of Discipleship

Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

There is nothing that was created without God’s hand.  When you study the origin of all things; all of it dates back to God.  God is the origin of everything.  The key to believing the Bible is believing the first verse in the Bible – “In the beginning God…”  Matter of fact, if you want a great understanding of the word “origin” then it could be just as well that we use “God” in its place.

The reason many of our young people are falling out of Church today is because they are not getting their facts straight.  We have built an educational system that emphasizes evolution as more “fact” than “theory”.  While at the same time we have created a spiritual system that emphasizes Biblical “history”, Biblical “accounts” as nothing more than a “story”.  Bottom line…We go to school to hear the “facts” about our origin and we go to church to hear “fairy tales” about our origin.  There are three foundational principles that Christians must begin to bring back into the structure of its discipleship in order to see a radical change in our future.

  1.  God Created All Things:  The things in heaven, earth, visible, invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers were all created by God.  God created us and everything around us.  It is not just a fairy tale; it is a God given fact found throughout the Bible that God created everything.
  2.  God Claims All Things:  All things were created by God, but at the same time, all things were created for God.  This principle helps us remove the selfish mindset that many of us have toward our possessions.  While God has allowed us the authority to rule over these things, He still reminds us that these things were created for His good pleasure.  If it is not for His glory then it is all in vain.
  3.  God Controls All Things:  We quote it often, but I am afraid we rarely believe it.  Everything is in God’s control.  Sure, man has a free will but the things created by God are the things controlled by God.  The movement of the earth, the storms, the stars in their sockets, the sun and its orbit, and everything else though of is under the control of God.  So before we go giving Satan more credit than He deserves we must remember that God is ultimately in control. Personally, I would rather give God the glory than give Satan the credit. 

Today’s Challenge:  This is more of a life-long challenge than a “today-only” challenge.  We must begin to lay these three foundational principles in the backdrop of all our discipleship if we are to save this next generation.

Six Things That Make Us Better Thinkers

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, thing on these things.”

The mind is a powerful tool.  Honestly, we must realize that the things that we think upon are the things that control our actions as well as our relationships.  Our thought-life is the mechanism that builds or breaks our relationship with Christ as well as with others.  The Lord gives us a great picture of what should be going through our minds.  I would like to identify the things we are to think upon.

  • Things That are True – Don’t focus on error when you can hold truth in the backdrop.
  • Things That are Honest – There is nothing that brings us more frustrations than a lie.  Remember that Satan is the most dishonest being ever to live.  Don’t think about the author of lies.
  • Things That are Just – God is fair and just. Life is unfair and if we get focused on the unfairness of life we will neglect the fairness of God.
  • Things That are Pure – This may take changing a channel, even if it is something as simple as a news broadcast.
  • Things That are Lovely – There is nobody more lovely than the Lord.  There is nothing uglier than sin.
  • Things That are Good Report – The glass can be half-full if you look at through these eyes.

Notice that these things have virtue and at the same time offer praise.  They take our minds off the problem and help us to focus on the solution.

Today’s Challenge – Think on these things!