Monday, July 10, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, July 10, 2017

We are blessed to have a guest author for this weeks Pastor’s Ponderings, Dr. Jacqueline Ramsay.

The Fires in Our Lives

California has been in a drought for several years. Even though we had record amounts of rain and snowfall this past winter and spring, the fire season is once again upon us.  Some fires are caused by lightning strikes, some caused by careless people and some intentionally.  Many fires burn acres and acres of land, some destroy property and some even take life. Thank God for the men and women who work to protect us from these fires.

I think of the metaphoric fires in our lives.  As with real fires, sometimes they are just events that happen, other times they are due because of our own actions and sometimes they happen because of what someone does to us. The latter reminds me of the story of the three Hebrew young men found in Daniel. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Hebrew names), or as more commonly known Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were bound and thrown into a blazing furnace at King Nebuchadnezzar’s command. But then something amazing happens. Daniel 3:24-25 states “King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there 3 men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O King.’ He said, ‘Look! I see 4 men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” King Nebuchadnezzar orders them out only to find that they were not only unharmed by the fire but “there was no smell of fire on them!”

Sometimes our pain and circumstances can make it difficult to believe God is with us.   Other times we do believe that God is with us. We see it in acts of kindness, in things that happen that ordinarily don’t or if so blessed, we feel it in the tangible presence of God in prayer or in worship or even in our crying out to Him.  Those things let us know He is present with us in the fire.  The “no smell of fire” speaks to what our future will be like after the fire.   After a fire is put out, the smell of smoke can linger letting us know there has been damage and ruins. Can we go through our fiery trials and not stink afterwards? Will we end up bitter, broken, in bondage and useless to the kingdom never fulfilling our purposes?  Or will we trust that the Jesus, the One who is with us in the fire, is also the one who can give us a future? A future where we abide in Him and receive His love and allow Him to transform us for His purposes.

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:11 “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and saves; he performs signs and wonders…”

Jeremiah 29:11 “ I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

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