There’s a fire burning in my heart… in the day and in the night… the skies of Heaven’s hope baptized in water running freely by the tree of Life. A holy fire. The phenomenon of purest love revealed in the fiercest heat of trial and pain. But it doesn’t burn you… it makes you glow. It shows you love was in your soul all along, and nothing can quench it. What kind of love is revealed in your heart when the flames rise?
I saw His love for me… when the forest fire inched closer and closer to me. Enswarmed me… to envelop me… but He encircled me. And I wasn’t burned. His arms held me closer and closer… wrapped around me stronger and stronger until it was safe to open my eyes again and when I did I saw Him… for the warrior He truly is.
Nothing can shake my Jesus from fighting for me. He fights for you too… in the blizzards and avalanches cascading towards you… in the burning fires and flames coming for you… He is the fire that won’t relent from pursuing His beloved. And His fire is a fire that melts you with the sweetest of love. I want this kind of fire… this kind of love… this kind of passion and fearless desire that won’t step outside of the front lines of battle. He wars for us… and His victorious love is manifest in the fires flaming for us.
Victorious… a love that prevails over the pain.
Glorious… a heart that endures in the rain.
Joyous… a soul that glows in the knowing of good and bad. Love becomes real when the war ensues and your heart stands resilient in the wake.
Happy in love… to be happy in love… where nothing shakes you and nothing breaks you but then you get bit. Can you keep loving your lover when he hurts you? Because he didn’t know how to love you like he wanted to. Sometimes God lets us experience the pains of love because it catalyzes as a healing agent drawing emotions to the surface. Reminding us to be joyful in everything… accepted and loved for all of us. God also lets his people experience the pains of love to teach the world how to be joyful in this realm of human life, where love can be a great pressure and burden on people. But when God is the center of your life, the pains of love
God showcased this today through an unlikely incident… It was Thursday and a day that meant something to me. I wanted it to be special. And it was… basking in the beauty of Ala Moana Beach in the gorgeous sun flaming. A beautiful day.
Hours passed and then something happened…
My babydoll Emmie had wandered from where I was at, exploring the beach as he likes to do when I heard a growl and commmotion. He was in the clutch of a ferocious pitbull. Jawlocked on his neck, biting him and leaving a hole in his neck. A crowd of people surrounded and I was beside myself yet God kept telling me to be kind to the owner. I let him go. I looked at Emmie’s neck and blood was all over and a hole there from the dog’s tooth. But Emmie was just as happy as before. Frolicking in the sand.
How could that be?
He is a picture of what it means to be joyful in everything…
To be burned but not burned…
I’m reminded of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego. A trio of friends who boldly anchored their faith in Jesus Christ despite the Babylonian king demanding their allegiance and their definace of Yahweh. We find this story in Daniel chapter 3.
“You as king have issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music must fall down and worship the gold statue. 11 Whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” Daniel 3:10-11
When people ask you to bow down to them and their orders to defy Jesus Christ… do you?
Or do you say no and only bow to Jesus alone as God?
“There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:12
These 3 friends said no.
They didn’t bow down to the Babylonian king.
“Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”
When men get angry because you won’t bow down to them, do not fear.
The fury of man is no match for the fury of God.
“Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”
Wow… Nebuchadnezzar believed that his power was stronger than God’s. And when man asserts his power over God, they are communicating illogical ideaology. You don’t even have to give an answer to that. Simply trust in God. This is what the 3 friends do.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s love for God is being revealed right now… in the fire… in the threat of death… they do really love God… so much that they are willing to die for Him.
Are you willing to die for your lover?
Your answer to that question determines the genuineness of your love or not.
“But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
Even if…” they said. “Even if…” we have to die for our faith, we will. And we will never bow down to you.
You saw I loved You
when I wouldn’t bow down
wouldn’t let them
strip my faith
so that my life could be saved
I’d rather die for you
than deny the truth
that You’ll always be
You’ll always be my God
NEVER BOW DOWN TO A NEBUCHADNEZZAR… never bow down to a man or woman… to an idol.. to a leader… to a person… to anyone other than Jesus Christ. This has nothing to do with honoring authority. These three friends had done everything to show honor and now they are being taking advantage of for it and forced to go so far as denying the Kingship of Jesus. So this is about evil and good. This is about evil authority trying to be God. And when this happens, you say no! And you do not bow down.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are about to see God show up for them in the fire.
But right now… they are unaware of how or what will happen. Can you imagine? Being tricked and trapped and forcefully thrown into a furnace all for loving God?
God’s love kept burning that day… the day my puppy was thrown into the fire so to speak.
I walked on the beach with him after this talking to God about what just happened. God said… no attack could ever shake your loving spirit. All the sudden I felt the Lord connecting this incident to so many things. It was a metaphor for how we are to love. Even when we are in the clutch of those who bite us. We keep loving and living joyful just as before.
The dog owner said his dog has been attacked a lot so he isn’t good with other dogs. But God said… that’s a victim mentality. And that’s not who I made my people to be. I did not make you to be a victim who lets others abuse give you an excuse for harming others.
What kind of person are you?
Do you use your history of abuse as an excuse to hurt everyone around you?
Or do you acknowledge the abuse done to you, arise out of it and then love despite it?
Jesus… He loved despite the abuse He endured when He walked the earth. So much abuse and hatred… that they even went so far as to kill Him. Literally killed Him… Ruined Him. That’s intense. Yet Jesus kept loving… “Forgive them they know not what they do” He said as He hung on a cross mutilated. What irrational words. Outrageous. Counter cultural words. To love the very ones who tormented you. That’s the love Jesus expresses…
What kind of love do you express?
I want to express that kind of love… gritty love.
I’ve experienced that kind of love. The painful side of love. The heartbreaking side of love. The betrayals. The disappointments of seeing the ones who you thought were for you turn on you. But there is no understanding of God’s love without it.
Christ followers… you won’t get through life without experiencing this kind of painful love.
Jesus said “In this world you will have suffering, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Suffering and pain are inevitable. But it does not have to define you nor change your kind heart. Jesus overcame. Because Jesus is a victor. A true warrior.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego suffered greatly because of their faith in Jesus… walking into a furnace they knew could lead to their death.
But their love would not be stopped…
“So these men, in their trousers, robes, head coverings, and other clothes, were tied up and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire.”
You will be thrown into a furnace…
When you follow Jesus Christ loyally…
And it will look foolish to everyone else. Because it’s not the world’s normal way of life. But Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world.” Don’t follow what the world says is normal. Follow what Jesus says is. And Jesus lived a radical lifestyle.
Are you willing to follow Him even if it leads you into death?
Remember there is one closer… your God… Jesus… who will show up with you so that you keep prevailing and enduring and walking around freely and they won’t understand it… but they will see Jesus Christ because of it. And that is the most beautiful part of the story…
“He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
These three men were willing to die for love… and now they are being rescued by love… for all to see…
“Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God—come out!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. 27 When the satraps, prefects, governors, and the king’s advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent His angel and rescued His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
Wow… isn’t this so amazing…
Nebuchadnezzar goes from saying that He is God to now affirming that their God is GOD!!!! This is a big deal!!!! This is why you never bow down! Because God wants Nebuchadnezzar to get saved! And see who He is. And now he can see that He is not God. And He doesn’t have to be. He now discovered a greater God than Himself… and he is happy about it…
Nebuchadnezzar just got delivered and rescued by love… all because Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to him.
Love God more than the person, and the person will see who God really is and so discover the same love that really need too.
You cannot be someone else’s God.
Only Jesus can do that.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to assertively make it clear you will not bow down to them nor love them more than God. And that you will not defy God to obey them when their words conflict with God’s.
Better to lose your life for this, so they can see clearly that your God is real. And they will be transformed because of it when they see Jesus with you in the fire. Leaders can change too… and your defiance of anti-God leadership may be what God uses to save them. So let them try to kill you… don’t worry… they will see God show up for you… and then they will want to believe in your God too. Crazy methods isn’t it… but that’s how God works. His ways are not our ways. His love gives you the strength and bravery so go through anything for him.
Nothing quenches love, Song of Solomon said… and it’s true… when you are in love you will go to the very end for it no matter what happens to you. I love their love displayed here. SO much love for God that they walked right in to that furnace. Full of faith in God to rescue but also peace in their hearts that they were doing the right thing to sacrifice their lives even if He didn’t rescue them. That is what you call honor. And loyalty.
They had a victor mentality, just like Jesus.
Do you have a victor mentality? Or a victim mentality?
Remember that you are forever a warrior in the army of the Lord!
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5
We overcome the world when we gain supernatural rebirth into the new person Jesus makes us into. Let Him be Your God and Your everything… and nothing will deter you from hope.
You are victorious because of love.
You are victorious in love.
You know what I have discovered in my own sufferings throughout my life… how to look up to Heaven where my help comes from (Psalm 121:1) and keep pressing on with joy… You know what brings the joy? The gift of experiencing a love deeper than you even knew existed… when it’s painful but you discover supernatural love in you for that person. To love to that depth and cosmic level of kindness even in the suffering of it.
Philippians 3:10 says “we fellowship with Christ in His sufferings.”
I prayed that prayer years ago… to fellowship with Him in His sufferings… be careful when you pray this because Jesus will answer you and you will suffer in ways you never had before. I had no idea what I was praying. But my heart just wanted more of Him, to know Him. When you’re in love you can’t help it but to crave intimacy in knowing the other… and I wanted to know that side of Him… the side that hurts… and I’ve lived it. Me and Jesus will have a lot to talk about in Heaven… the marks we both carry. And the happiness we found along the way. Seeking God. Ministry. Persecution. To rescue our lovers. Jesus loved all the way to the cross… and if you are one of His, you will too. But love always rises
Love is a rose that never fades.
“Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Solomon 8:7
I used to read this passage and skip over the last part because it didn’t make sense to me. Why would someone be scorned for giving all for love? But then I read it again… it doesn’t say “giving all” it says giving “all his wealth” for love. In other words, you can’t buy love. And you can’t coerce it. Love is so strong that it generates effortlessly and you can’t help it when it comes to you… it happens and it touches you and you can’t make it stop… you can’t lose it… you don’t have to try and keep it nor sustain it. Relationships take work. But the love itself… the actual substance of love… that is irrevocable, if it’s real love. That’s why it’s so painful. Have you ever loved someone so much and even though they have hurt you, you still love them? And you find yourself mad at them but so intertwined with them that you heart is soft for them even though your mind tells you a million reasons why you should let it go but you can’t… and now I know why Jesus said “forgive them” when He hung on the cross. He loved them… and that’s why He could genuinely say He forgave them.
You forgive the deepest grievances when you are in love, genuine love.
It’s a synesthesia of pain and pleasure I’ve never felt before. Heart-wrenching agony… yet intimate connection much deeper than before. A truer understanding of what pure love is. And this love I feel only enhances my understanding of Jesus’ life and love. As something greater arises within me from the Holy Spirit who formed me and nothing can shake me or my love. It drives happiness… Jesus. My faith. And it’s been my whole life so it’s conditioned me to handle great weights of pain and love in a season where I now need it. Resilience shows up when you need it. Because faith strengthens you over time.
You know if someone really loves you when the fire starts blazing. Are they willing to be burned for you? On trial for you? Are they willing to lose their life for you? In danger for you?
Real love illuminates in the fire.
The fire of God. The fire of the Holy Spirit. Blazing with power. Blazing with authenticity. Everyday. Unshakable.
Experiencing what it feels like to love like Jesus’ loves is a vital part of the Christian life. We follow the Son of God, named Jesus Christ. So it’s only neccessary that we would follow in His footsteps and feel what He feels.
Jesus lays down His life for His lover… and I want to love like that.
What I know from Jesus’ example, is that when we lay down our lives for love in sacrifice it leads to resurrection. So God’s best miracle awaits on the other side of the sacrifice.
Nothing stops love… no pain, no bite, no trauma, no betrayal… love is permanent… and you don’t have to earn it nor buy it… it’s yours… let God transform you… with this kind of love.
Emmie did not let the attack at the beach affect the rest of his day. He let me take care of him and he moved on from it. Isn’t this a good example of what it looks like to forget wounds and live joyful. Once given the opportunity to acknowledge and confront abusive and toxic influences in your life, do what you need to do to seek healing and then move on from it. You have to keep moving forward. You cannot carry those memories with you anymore! Or it will ruin the new foundation of joy and cheerfulness that you have the right to enjoy.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego suffered the greatest trauma of being thrown into fire to die… yet they stood resilient.
As the story moves into chapter 4, we understand even moreso how profound this encounter was for the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. He now proclaims His Lordship to the whole region…
To those of every people, nation, and language, who live in all the earth:
May your prosperity increase. 2 I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders the Most High God has done for me.
How great are His miracles,
and how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom,
and His dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:1-3
That is the most beautiful conversion story…
Never give up hope on seeing someone change. If Nebuchadnezzar with so much power and authority who killed Jesus’ people can change… anyone can.
God-defiant kings become God-loving kings when you lose your life for Jesus.
Why? Because when they witness God’s rescue of you… it shows them your God is real. And your love for God becomes something they want too. Let that fuel your joy in the fire.
Emmie could never stop being the happy pup he is. No matter what happens to him… no matter the bite from the pitbull on the beach… How much more resilient are you, o beautiful man and woman of God?! Don’t forget your hope and joy comes from the Lord not man.
I see You
when I look up
the fire in the skies
in victorious love
in the meadows
where You hold me
and I’m stronger
because I lost it all for You
found the victory
of love illuminated
You carried me into
You will carry me
wherever You go
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”