Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. (Daniel 3:19)
King Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant and powerful man who had built an enormous empire by bringing entire nations under his control. Yet when three youths refused to compromise their devotion to God, he lost rational control and flew into such an intense rage that his face became visibly distorted.
Wanting to vent his wrath upon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. You might expect him to have turned the fire down, thereby punishing them more severely by prolonging their pain. But the king was reacting emotionally, not logically, which often is the case when sinful people are confronted by righteousness.
We see the same pattern throughout Scripture. For example, King Herod’s wife hated John the Baptist and had him beheaded for confronting her sinful marriage to the king (Mark 6:19 ff.). Those who couldn’t cope with the wisdom and spirit of Stephen stirred up the Jews against him, which eventually led to his death by stoning (Acts 6:9 ff.). The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Himself were killed by those who were hostile to God. Similarly, the Thessalonian and Judean Christians endured angry persecution from their own countrymen (1 Thess. 2:14-15).
The opposition we face today may be more subtle, but it all has its source in Satan, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). So don’t be surprised if subtle opposition suddenly erupts into murderous wrath. But be encouraged, knowing that even when it does, it can never thwart God’s plans or overcome His sustaining grace.
Strength For Today – John MacArthur
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Some day there’ll be a break in the blue overhead. It’ll be followed by a break in the brown underfoot. As Jesus comes back again through that doorway of the blue, our believing loved ones who have been laid away under the sod will rise again, and we who are living and trusting Jesus will join them and be caught up into the presence of the glorified Jesus.
It may be sooner than we think. Lord Jesus, come quickly.
From “The Bent Knee Time” devotional – Samuel D. Gordon
“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).
True religion produces holiness and sacrificial love. In the above verse James continues his practical and penetrating assessment of true faith. So far he has said in effect, “Don’t just study the Bible—obey it! Don’t just dabble in external religion—have pure speech!” Now he adds, “Don’t just say you’re religious—demonstrate sacrificial love! Don’t just claim to love God—live a pure life!” Shallow claims to Christianity meant nothing to him. He wanted to see godly attitudes and righteous deeds.
The apostle John used the same approach when he wrote, “The one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. . . . The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:6, 10-11). “Light” in that passage represents truth and righteousness; “darkness” speaks of error and sin. If you are truly saved, you are in the light and show it by your love for others.
In our society, the definition of religion is very broad. Almost any belief system qualifies. But to God, any religion that doesn’t produce holiness and sacrificial love is not true religion. That narrows the field considerably because anyone who isn’t saved through faith in Jesus Christ remains in bondage to sin and has no capacity to live a holy and selfless life.
Do you flee from sin and reach out to those in need? If so, you have true religion. If not, receive Christ now. He alone is the source of holiness and love. If you are a believer, God’s love is already shed abroad in your heart through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Ask God to increase your capacity to love others as Christ loves you.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.
“And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest…as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” — (Isaiah 32:2)
WE ARE reminded that this prophecy was uttered in a time of great unrest. The clouds of war were gathering dark on the horizon, and Israel was looking for help from the arm of flesh. In this emergency the voice of the prophet was heard, saying: “Look not to Egypt, but to God” (Isa 31:1). The kingdom depends on the king: “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes rule in judgment.” When all politics and commerce, social and domestic life are under the sway and guidance of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God will come, and the Will of God shall be done on earth, as in heaven.
The Lord Jesus is many-sided enough to meet all the varied needs of His people. Some need a covert from the tempest, others rivers of water to quench their thirst, others the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. But He is all and equal to all. When a man or woman owns the sway of Christ, eyes and ears are cleansed, there is no longer the hesitation of stammering confession, the judgment becomes rectified and the heart opened to a new generosity. First righteousness, then peace—such is heaven’s eternal order.
Excerpt from “Our Daily Walk” – F.B. Meyer
I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3)
Loving God is the essence of our relationship with the Lord. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mat 22:37). Our love for the Lord is in response to His great love for us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1Jn 4:19). Long ago, the Lord had promised that He would be available to work in the heart of His people, if they were to love Him properly. “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deu 30:6). The context of David’s promises to love God indicates that He understood this promise from the Lord. “I will love You, O LORD, my strength.” God was the one David was trusting in to give him the strength that was needed to walk in a loving relationship with the Lord.
As we grow in awareness of the love of God, we learn to call upon Him to deliver us in times of trouble. “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.” David’s promise to cry out to God in the midst of difficulties was based upon the Lord’s praiseworthy character. David had called upon the Lord many times before, and He had delivered him. David had come to know the Lord (to experience Him) as his mighty protector. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust.”
Excerpt from “Day By Day Grace” – Bob Hoekstra