Apples of Gold

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But if not....

‘If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’

Daniel Chapter 3 Verses 17 & 18

'...but if not!!!'

I find these words truly remarkable!

For me they should be written in gold, carved in granite and engraved in the heart of all true believers in Christ. The words in verse 17 show wonderful faith and trust, yet these three words at the beginning of verse 18 are greater still.

There are days when I simply cannot find words to write. I always have a desire to encourage my brethren as best as I can and I feel so downhearted when I am unable to write even a few lines that may prove to be a blessing to some needy soul.

It is usually when I am in desperate need of encouragement myself that I am able to write for others.
Some call this a ministry, but I see it simply as an individual Christian trying his best to help others along the way. The way is tough and can be painful for many.

Death, illness and pain never seem to be far from our doors. The hardships of unemployment, debt, a broken relationship, a failed marriage, a wayward son or daughter all add to our woes in this life.

I cannot imagine living without Jesus. I just could not function. There would be no hope, no deliverance from trouble and no eternal rest to contemplate. Last night as I lay me head upon my pillow, I once again unburdened my problems and fears to my Saviour.
Then I slept in the knowledge that there are some things that are simply beyond my 'fixing!' Some things only God can do.

It is not a nice position to be in. You see, I am a very independent person and where possible I try not to be a burden to anyone. Though I am in constant pain, I try not to make a fuss about it.
Whenever a feel my chest pains coming on, I use my spray in 'secret.' I do not like adding to the stress of those whom I love. (Can you follow what I am trying to say here?)

Life would be a whole lot easier if I conformed to some 'worldly' tricks! Perhaps I should give up 'trying' to earn an honest living and simply lie back and accept state benefits! There would also be less conflict if Dad would only allow a greater degree of freedom for his teenagers!

I could give up this writing business and just surf the Net for pleasure. Why should I take the time and effort to try and help others when things are so difficult for me?
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also had a choice. They could have saved themselves a lot of grief had they simply bowed their knees to Nebuchadnezzar's golden image! Who would have known?

Their names would not be known to us today, the furnace would have been put out and life would have gone on.

But that is not the way with the chosen of God. It cannot be. We are 'Born Again' into warfare, a conflict that rages within and without. There is no getting away from it.
We are either alive in Christ Jesus or dead in trespasses and sin. We either love the Lord and all that He stands for or we stand against Him. Choose you this day whom you will serve!

Daniel's three friends made their choice and they made their stand before the king. They had the faith to believe that God was able to deliver them out of the hand of the king and surely this was their prayer. It would certainly have been mine!
It takes courage and strength to make a stand and these three men showed great courage. Their stand and their courage did not make their problem disappear.

God did not dramatically remove the problem - or the furnace! It is important to note that though we may make the right decision and do God's Will it may not remove the furnace.
Some days it seems that my soul is overwhelmed with difficulties and problems. Often I feel as though I am at the end of my tether and that things cannot go on the way they are, but they do! Sometimes they even get worse!

When trials come my way I have been thankful for the hope of deliverance from these trials. I have the faith that knows that my God is able to deliver me and to set me free from all my difficulties. He can do all things and for a while I am expectant.

What happens when the trials drag on and there is no sign of deliverance? Has God forgotten about me? Has He lost His power to deliver? Does He want me to live like this? Can He truly love me when all these things are against me? Gradually hope itself fades. If things were difficult before then the way they are now is the pits!

Do I give up on God? Do I curl up in bed and fall into depression? Believe me, it is easy to do! We are frail creatures and we can only take so much! A deadness and hopelessness envelops the soul at such a time. Everything is an effort, a monumental task, and the outlook is always a darker shade of grey.

But God.

But God does not allow us to mourn, even though He is putting self to the sword. A resilience is nurtured in our darkness and self is put on the back burner with only the glory of God and His honour in view.

Our furnace may still be facing us, and we know that God could easily have delivered us, but now instead of our selfish freedom we desire His name to be glorified - come what may. We want more than anything else for our God to be exalted, no matter what may happen to us in the process.
This faith is a gift from God. This is the faith that Daniel's three friends were given when they were enabled to say,' but if not!' It is our chief end to glorify God. This is something we are quick to forget.

We are happy to take all His blessings and His favour yet we revolt when things turn sour. It is a learning process for us all, and the school of faith can prove a difficult place for many.
There is no better place to be than in the company of the King. Our troubles this day may abound, and we may indeed have to go into the furnace, but there will be Another along with us in the midst of the fire. Not a hair will be singed, our clothes will not need changing, and neither will anyone smell the fire from us.

God's name will be glorified among the heathen. We will be delivered and the heathen shall utter the same words as Nebuchadnezzar, 'there is no God that can deliver after this sort.'
'....our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not...'


Author : Iain Mackenzie  Edited by : Pastor Al Moak