Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: When Jesus Christ is in the fire with you

There is Another in the Fire
A devotional by Julia Wilson

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” –Daniel 3:25 (NIV)

I absolutely love this Bible story in the book of Daniel as it shows the faithfulness of God to His people at all times.

My devotional today is focusing on the experience of three Hebrew men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I want to zero in on the time when they refused to bow down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Because of their disobedience, the king ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

Despite this impending doom, these three friends were confident that God would rescue them. According to Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV), these are the words that they declared to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

This made the king so furious that he demanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego together and throw them into the blazing furnace. The Bible goes on to say that the flames from the furnace killed the soldiers as they threw the three Hebrew men into the furnace

Reading on to Daniel 3:24-25, the Bible says that King Nebuchadnezzar “leaped to his feet in amazement his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” The kings advisers said, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” Then the king said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

The fourth person walking around in the fire is believed to be Jesus Christ. This just blows me away. Not only does God rescue the three but He sends His Son to walk alongside them. Wow.

When we face difficult times, God walks right alongside us. We are never alone. God has already made provision for us as He rescues us from our situations.

August 30, 2020 marked the five-year anniversary of a devastating fire at my church Lifecentral in Halesowen (used to be called Zion Christian Centre). God has been so faithful that I wanted to share my perspective with you.

I awoke on that fateful Sunday to my husband saying, “There’s no church today. There’s been a fire. Leon Evans (our pastor) put it on Facebook. We are to stay away.” As the day progressed, photos appeared on Facebook and the church was on the local news too. The auditorium was gone and the building was severely damaged. The photos were awful and I cried. I cried because my church, the place where I had met God, been baptised and had many encounters with Him was gone. It felt like a very black day.

Our pastor Leon Evans put out on Facebook that there was to be a prayer meeting outside the building on the Monday night. He expected half a dozen people … 200 people turned up. We met in the old job centre next door, that the church had bought several years earlier, after God prompted them but they did not know what they were going to do with it at the time. But God did. God knew there would be a fire and we would need a building. Wow. What a faithful God.

For the next four days, volunteers from church, other churches and the local community, cleaned, painted and transformed a dinghy space into a new worship space. Other churches lent us chairs, sound systems and equipment. We were humbled and blessed.

Friday night saw another prayer meeting in a newly transformed space. Again, several hundred people turned up. There were a lot of grateful tears. We all took our shoes off for we felt the place we were standing on was holy ground. This reminds me of Exodus 3:5 (NIV) where God tells Moses to, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Those few days felt like we moved from Black Sunday to Grateful Friday. Everyone’s faith moved up a level. As my pastor said, “the building burned and people caught fire.”

I felt on that black Sunday that I had lost God that He had somehow burned in the fire. But the truth was that God had walked through the fire and provided and comforted His people. God was not dead. God was alive. My memories of God’s faithfulness are not dead either, they are alive. To quote my pastor again, “buildings don’t change people but what happens inside them does.”

Five years later on from the fire … we have had a name change as a church, the building has been completely renovated, Lifecentral is now one church in four locations: Halesowen, Hagley, Rowley, and Durrës in Albania.

As a church, we have walked through the fire and we came out transformed. God walked with us. He went before us and beside us. He walks with us still.

Due to COVID-19, church meets online on Sunday mornings and the Spirit of God still moves among us. He is changing lives one at a time.

Let’s pray: God, You are amazing. Your love knows no bounds. Your faithfulness just blows me away. You never leave us. You walk through the fires of life with us. Your presence is tangible. I thank you for Your love and your care. In Jesus's Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

My name is Julia Wilson but I also go by Christian Bookaholic. 

I live with my husband and five cats in a small town in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Severn (England). We have four grown up children and three granddaughters.

I have always loved reading and have always been surrounded by books. I used to work as a teaching assistant for special needs in the local high school. Ill health forced me to stop working in December 2015. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as M.E.) and fibromyalgia. I now have plenty of time to read and review books!

Our eldest son set up my Christian Bookaholic blog. I review every book I read. I read over 300 books a year. I read Christian and mass market. I prefer stories set from 1850 onwards. My favourite type of books to read is stories set in WWI and WWII, and Russia under Czar Nicholas II.

I am a historian, having a Combined Humanities degree where I majored in History and minored in English. I also love swimming. I only learned how to swim in 2017 and go swimming four mornings a week for 90 minutes before breakfast, it keeps my joints going.

I am also a crazy cat lady. I absolutely love my cats. I have grown up with cats and cannot imagine life without them. My dream is to own an old fashioned seal point Siamese … but not while we have our young rescue cat as she hates other cats!

I love God and love going to a large lively church called Lifecentral. I cannot imagine life without God. He gives a peace even when life does not. He guides my life. He is my Rock.

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