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Tuesday Thoughts 11-27-18

Regardless of the length and depth of my walk with Jesus, I periodically get caught up in the chaos of the world.  I’m not talking about being sucked into worldly patterns and practices, rather, a growing sense of futility in regard to my contribution to God’s Kingdom here on earth.  It can become a bit paralyzing.  Because my call from God is pastoral in nature, the effects of succumbing to it are very public (like not completing a Tuesday Thoughts for 2 weeks in a row).  Therefore, I spend much time in prayer asking and listening to the Holy Spirit to prevent the pot holes in my journey from becoming stumbling blocks in yours.  I don’t think I’m alone in this process.  I think each of you come up against hard walls and seeming dead-ends that open passages to futility.  This is what motivates me to probe beyond the initial, “how are you?” greeting and ask about what’s really going on (I see in other’s faces when the frustration I feel shows on theirs).  In answer to my recent heart-cries, God has provided powerful reminders that I want to share today.   They are both from my routine Bible reading yesterday morning.  The first is in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel, and it is about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace (a story that used to be known by everyone but, sadly, may be new to most).  These three advisors to an ungodly king refused to bow down in worship to a statue, insisting on maintaining allegiance to the One True God, under penalty of being burned alive.  This was their faith statement, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17–18 (NIV84).  In anger the king had them bound and tossed into a furnace stoked to seven times its normal heat…and God showed up big-time!  Read what the king saw and said, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” Then [the king] shouted: “…Come out! Come here!” Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” Daniel 3:24–27 (NLT).  The second is from the New Testament book of 1 (first) Peter.  This was written to Jesus-followers trying to live a God-kingdom life in a worldly kingdom (with futility a stalking enemy), “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12–13 (NLT). The combined effect of these two passages on the same day in a time of need provided just the right reminders.  Allow me to state them.  There will be times, in our obedience, when we’re bound, unable to accomplish what God has called us to do.  In those times, it will seem like the ways of the world (or the work of the enemy) blaze around with life threatening force.  But right in the middle of all that, Jesus will take off the ropes and escort us, untouched, out of the furnace and into fullness and fruitfulness!  These events are not strange but part of the process, so I don’t have to submit to futility, I merely need to press on!  Where is futility tempting you these days?  Keep going, declare your faith and see your deliverance!

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