Daniel 3:4-6 – Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." (NIV)
The recipe that I was following called for toasted nuts. At one time, I wouldn't have bothered with the toasting process as I didn't think that it was that important. Through the cooking channel, however, I discovered that toasting the nuts brings out the fullness of their flavour. Thus, I have now become a faithful nut toaster.
God knows that toasting our faith also brings out the fullness of His presence within us. The apostle Paul identified this "toasting" as suffering:
Romans 5:3-4 – We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (NIV)
In the book of Daniel, we discover the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who, due to their refusal to bow down to the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, were toasted in a fiery furnace. Amidst the toasting, it was noted by the spectators that though three men had been cast into the fire, four men were in the flames, "and the fourth looks like a son of the gods" (Daniel 3:25b NIV). When the toasting was over, the three original men came forth unscathed, with not even the smell of fire upon them.
How this toasting experience must have strengthened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's faith, perseverance, character, and hope! What a witness to the spectators as well! In fact, Nebuchadnezzar's whole kingdom felt the positive effect of the three men's faith, for he decreed, "The people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [shall] be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." (Daniel 3:29 NIV)
Yes, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is able to rescue in this way, not only then, but even today, amidst whatever fiery furnaces of suffering that we may find ourselves cast within. Just as there was a fourth man in the fire with them so long ago, we, too, have Someone with us. For God, the one and only true God, has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5b, Deuteronomy 31:6b NIV)
Toasting nuts brings out the fullness of their flavour. Though there are those in this world who may think that Christians are just "nuts" — period — rest assured that it simply isn't true. Through God's fiery furnace of suffering and trial, we're nuts, full of perseverance, character, and hope. "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5 NIV)
Prayer: Father God, we thank You in advance for any toasting experience that You may bring our way. We also thank You for the strength of Your Holy Spirit within us to keep us standing firm in our beliefs amidst such times or circumstances. We trust in Your power and love to bring about Your fullness within us, that others might also come to know You. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "No Never Alone" (Lyrics)