Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The invitation


Today Jesus is invited to dinner.

We don't do hospitality like they do in other cultures. Apparently this was a big deal, in a big house, with a big group.

He starts with a healing, and teaches about what the relationship of love vs legalism.

Luke 14:1 "One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. 2 There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen.[a] 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” 4 When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. 5 Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son[b] or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” 6 Again they could not answer."

He uses the shuffling for seats as a moment to teach.
7 "When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Goes on to help us understand social psychology from God's point of view...

12 "Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

Then puts an overbearing, and overeager guest in his place.
15 "Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet[c] in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

Altogether a most interesting dinner party!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Homeless Man is Filled with Joy!


OK. I'll admit. The title is a twist.

But in this time of high unemployment, severe financial stress, massive foreclosures, and general discontent, I wanted to highlight something.

Jesus was homeless.

Jesus was unemployed.

He lived entirely off of donations.

He had no retirement plan.

He had no cash reserves.

In today's reading we read that He was full of joy.

21 "At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.


22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Let's disconnect the relationship between money and joy.

And experience the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Which comes, not from comfort, security or circumstances.

But from God.

I am one of the 72



Today Jesus sends out 72 disciples.

We don't know any of them by name (other than the 12)

We never hear of this group again.

They never became famous, either in Scriptures or in history.

Luke 10:1 "The Lord now chose seventy-two[a] other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. 2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."

Yet they had an important part in the spread of Jesus' message and the Kingdom of God.

3 "Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.
5 “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. 7 Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
8 “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. 9 Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ 10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’ 12 I assure you, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on judgment day."

I feel like I am one of the 72.

Never done anything grand for the kingdom.

Just quietly plugging along.

But hopefully making a difference...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why is there adversity? Whose fault is it, anyway?


Why is there pain?
Why is there difficulty in life?
Why do people suffer?
Whose fault is it anyway?

These are all age old questions, yet every time we get "close and personal" with pain, adversity, untimely death, difficulty - we ask them all over again.

Like we were the only ones to experience it. The only one to suffer...

The scenario today was Jesus walking along.

There was a man born blind. One of the great puzzles of the universe. (Why do children suffer? What did they ever do?)

Go to a modern cancer wing in a children's hospital and this question smacks you hard in the face.

Why do children suffer?

The religious leaders asked the obvious question. Was their interest genuine, or semantic? We don't entirely know...

John 9:1 :As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us.[a] The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

A most unexpected answer, to be sure! The story goes on...
 
6 "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”

The man is simple, and his answer was simple, and classic...

13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.

17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”

The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”

20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this,[b] because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Religion or relationship?

Jesus is God among us. He is teaching. Doing miracles. Explaining the way to God.

The religion peddlers come to see him. They want to know God? They want to learn from him? They want to find out how he does the amazing healings and miracles?

No, no, no and no.

They are annoyed that some of their plethora of onerous religious rules aren't being followed.

Matthew 15:1 "Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, 2 “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus nails them. He is not nice. Not polite. Not diplomatic.
3 "Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? 4 For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 6 In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.[c] And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

8 ‘These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

9 Their worship is a farce,

for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’[d]”

Wow!

The same Jesus who was so compassionate toward repentant sinners is straight out hard on proud religion peddlers.

It is about relationship with God, not blind obedience to religious rules...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh we DO LOVE those Taxes!!


As I write this we are in the last few weeks before the mid term elections.

Obama and his "kin" are being excoriated for never seeing a tax hike they didn't like. We have plunged further into debt in the two short years he has been in office than all the other 234 years of this country's history COMBINED. Patty Murray and Gregoire are being taken to task for the 8 BILLION deficit in the State of Washington. The way out is more taxes. Tax and spend.

Come to find out, taxes weren't that appreciated in Jesus' day either. The taxes for the oppressive Roman government were collected by entrepreneurs, who could use their power and position to enhance their personal wealth. (Sounds like our Senators) But in that day they were called what they were - sinners.

9 "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?[d]”

Did you catch that? Sinners and scum...

12 "When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’[e] For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

OK. OK. The real story here isn't taxes or government. Many abusive governments have come and gone since Jesus was walking the planet.

The real story is that Jesus knows that we are ALL sinners. That our artificial categorization of the righteous and the sinner breaks down under the scrutiny of the high holy standards of God Almighty.

That Jesus came to SAVE sinners. That the first step toward a relationship toward God is the free admission of our own sinfulness. That God loves every single one of us. No one is excluded.

Not even polititians.

Or IRS agents...

Friday, October 15, 2010

When God Doesn't Seem to Care


We're in the life of Jesus now. Jesus does lots of miracles.
LOTS of miracles. He heals people. He casts out demons. He makes things happen that could not happen in the natural.

As an aside - Buddha never did a miracle. Mohammed never did a miracle. Those are man made religions. Jesus, God in flesh, did miracles one after the other.

So now, there are 13 men in a boat. They cross this large lake.

23 "Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

Say what?

Jesus was sleeping.

I know, in the natural world, he was exhausted. He would routinely get up before dawn (about 4:30 am) to pray to his heavenly Father.

Then he was pursued all day long by people with needs and demands. Sort of like the combination of polititian and celebrity.

He had delivered some sermons to a very large crowd. So he was tired. And was fast asleep.

25 "The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”


I have felt like them many times. Lord, do you not know? Do you not care? Is it just me? Have I done something wrong, and now I'm being punished? Lord, save us! We're going to drown!!!!

26 "Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm."

It was so easy! Jesus is God. Nothing happens that He does not allow.

27 "The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

I'm always amazed, in retrospect. But at the time, its

Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”





Monday, October 11, 2010

Things I Don't Understand

There is, of course, a lot I do not understand.
Here is one of the many things that puzzle me...

Jesus said,
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’[p] 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow."

I have never met a person who does this.
I don't know any Christian community that fully embraces this.
We all are influenced by it.
But what would happen if all Christians everywhere fully embraced it?
Already in Muslim countries Christians are routinely killed for their faith.
Would we all perish?
All become pooor?

It is one of those things I really do not understand...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Words of Jesus

The Words of Jesus

A few days have gone by and all of a sudden the reading is in the sayings of Jesus. Not his lineage, or miraculous birth, or the 30 years of life before he began his "career" as an itinerant preacher.

The words themselves.
I have read the story of many people who, as adults, were introduced to the New Testament and were blown away.

I remember the story of Anil Kant, a singer/composer from India who said he started reading the New Testament and could not put it down for 3 weeks.

Or Mark Ishmael from Egypt who wept as he read, and could not eat or sleep as he read the words of Jesus.

Here, for today, are a few of the words of Jesus...

1 "One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lost Dreams

Fast Forward to the New Era of God speaking to man.

Luke Chapter One.

Doctor Luke is setting up the background of Jesus birth and life.

He begins, interestingly enough, not with Jesus or his birth, but with an obscure priest called Zechariah.

5 "When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old."

A couple, married many years, and no kids.

Luke, the doctor, points out that it was Elizabeth, not Zech. That seems a little cruel today. Was the doctor just being precise in where the problem lay? Don't know, but anyway, he points that out.

Many many years after they had been married, and many years after they had given up ever having their own baby, this happens.

8 "One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.[b] 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,[c] and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

The angel was scarry! But the news he gave was astonishing! Have a baby? Now? They had given up years ago...

Even though life is hard, sometimes dreams do come true...

Monday, October 4, 2010

You are very precious to God

Buried inside the bigger story of Daniel's prayer, and prophecy, and end times, it this delightful statement...

  20 "I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. 21 As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. 23 The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision."

you are very precious to God

Hmmm. We need to be reminded...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A great man begs God in prayer


It starts with Daniel reading the Scriptures. He was reading Jeremiah, written shortly before...

"I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the Lord, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.[l] 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes."

He prays a prayer of repentance.

4 "I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. 5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. 8 O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9 But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 10 We have not obeyed the Lord our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.
“So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin. 12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem. 13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. 14 Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.
15 “O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness. 16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.
17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.
18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.
19 “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”


He prays - We have sinned. I repent for my people.
For your sake, Lord. FOR YOUR SAKE, please deliver your people...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tried by Fire


Many times we use this expression.
I was tried by fire.
It was a trial by fire.
He made it through the trial by fire.

None of what we refer to compares to the real deal...

Daniel 3

1 "King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide[h] and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3 So all these officials[i] came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

4 Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments,[j] bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

7 So at the sound of the musical instruments,[k] all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 But some of the astrologers[l] went to the king and informed on the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king! 10 You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments. 11 That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.[m] But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

The Blazing Furnace


19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god[n]!”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 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!

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon."

Now THAT was a trial by fire!