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I turned into a botanist overnight trying to gain resolution (read: compensation) for four arborvitae trees that died within only months of being planted.  The professional landscaper is claiming it’s a temperamental tree; I’m claiming they didn’t stand a chance once I confirmed the garden irrigation system wasn’t properly installed. A “this year” discovery on a “last year” installation.  Aye yai yai.

So speaking of botany, did you know that there are some plants on this Earth that only germinate after being exposed to extreme heat, like a forest fire?  Plants such as Eucalyptus have what they call serotinous cones, which have seeds trapped inside by a thick resin.  Once that resin is melted by fire, it releases the seeds for germination.  Think about that for a second, something good coming from something bad.  God needs to create fire in order for something new to be born. He uses fire for good sometimes. Rick Warren taught me this insight.

That’s kinda like us, right?  God tests us with fire (1 Corinthians 3:13, CEV) to burn off our resin, grow our character, and test our faith.  He typically does that by way of helping us through a crisis by giving us the strength to hold on. Or saving us from a crisis by sending us on an unexpected detour through what may seem like Hell. Or He will use the crisis to distract from the bigger crisis at hand.  For the latter, I can’t help but think about my Priest, whose toothache is what ultimately revealed a terrible cancerous diagnosis in other parts of his body.  Please pray for Father Tim!

Today’s hope can come from the Book of Daniel and the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the three Jews – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  The King summoned everyone to fall down and worship (idol) a gold statue of himself that was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide.  He warned everyone that if they didn’t, he would have them thrown into a burning furnace. 

Those three Jews held out, knowing that the God they serve was the only god they worshiped, and they wouldn’t be blackmailed otherwise.  They weren’t scared of the burning fire because they were confident in God’s promises. 

We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  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 3:16-18

As a result, the King had their feet firmly bound and thrown into the furnace.  The fire was so hot, that the soldiers who threw them in were killed, yet the three Jews were unharmed.  Instead of them dying, or their hair getting singed, or their clothing getting scorched, they were saved because of their loyalty and faith in the Lord!  They WALKED (remember, their feet were tightly bound!) out of the fire and they didn’t even smell of smoke! (Daniel 3:26-27).  How is that even possible?  I don’t know about you, but I know that I have smelled like smoke after my neighbor has a bonfire, so it’s unfathomable to think how they were able to walk out of the furnace and they didn’t smell like smoke after sitting in one!

If we have faith in God – that He will protect us, provide for us, and rescue us in our times of trouble – then He will!  The three Jews “trusted in [God] and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28).  They were not only rewarded by God who saved their life, they were rewarded by the king himself who promoted the three men to positions of authority (Daniel 3:30). 

Today’s reminder is to hold firm in your faith.  God uses fire for good sometimes. Just because you may not see Him working in your life, know He is.  Don’t be held captive or victimized by Satan’s tactics.  Keep your eyes on the LORD.