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Christy Catherine Marshall

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October 4, 2007

Oh, this Bible Study keeps getting better every week. I’m absolutely amazed at how much we’re learning together. If anyone reading this knows Beth Moore personally, please give her a big hug from all of us preschool moms here in west Georgia.

I made it ON TIME this week to the study — actually, I was 15 minutes early! It was my turn to bring breakfast and help get the food table set up — hey, that works for getting me out the door earlier. I brought fruit, cheese, and cinnamon rolls — along with ruby red grapefruit juice. And of course I got the coffee brewing for us sleepyheads!

Our discussion focused on prayer this week, since we talked about what it was like for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to pray together, hoping they wouldn’t be cut to pieces by Nebuchadnezzar, who was freaking out in a big way about his nightmares. He got so angry he wanted to kill all the wise men in the kingdom.

I’d never thought about how the other three felt when Daniel woke up saying God had answered their prayers through his dream. Why did God choose the mind of Daniel instead of the others? We went around the room sharing experiences where we felt like God spoke through someone else with a message for us.

I was sitting next to this sweet lady who taught 2nd grade for 26 years before retiring, and she shared a story that blew me away. She said when she was in college, she was dating a boy who wasn’t a Christian. One night, she started to feel convicted about it, and she prayed about what to do. She said, “I REALLY liked this boy. I mean REALLY. I didn’t want to stop dating him. So I prayed to God about it. I asked God to show me in ‘black and white’ if He didn’t want me to date this boy anymore.”

The next morning, she walked to the lobby of the boys’ dormitory to see this guy, and while she was waiting she saw a newspaper sitting on a side table. The paper was flipped open to Billy Graham’s question-answer column. A girl had written in, “I’m dating a guy who’s not a Christian. What do you think I should do?” Billy Graham answered with great power and conviction!

Isn’t that timing incredible? This lady said it was just like God was speaking to her directly, through Billy Graham, and it was in BLACK AND WHITE. I love this story. How different her life would have been if she hadn’t prayed that prayer and been perceptive to God’s answers. They truly are all around us.

The video lesson focused on Daniel chapter 3. King Nebuchadnezzar had built a 90-foot golden statue and wanted everyone in the kingdom to bow down to it. This was as tall as an 8-story building. How weird! We can’t even imagine that in our culture.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Rack, Shack, and Benny for all you Veggie Tales parents) refused to bow to the statue, and they were thrown into the flaming furnace. The heat was so intense, the guards who threw them in were killed.

Now here is the really amazing part — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not burn when they were thrown into the hot furnace. They walked around unharmed, and there was a fourth “person” inside the furnace walking with them. Beth said the Hebrew translation implies this was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, though some scholars believe it could have been the angel Gabriel.

At any rate, all that burned was the rope that tied up their hands. When the three emerged back out of the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

Beth taught the bulk of the study on how we go through all kinds of fiery trials. Referring to Daniel 3:3-18, there are three different scenarios that can happen when Christians face fiery trials:

1) We’ll be delivered from the fire, and our faith will be built.
Beth compared this to finding out a suspicious lump turned out to be benign, or after prayer, it was miraculously GONE.

2) We can be delivered through the fire, and our faith is refined.
Using the cancer analogy, Beth says this may be like the patient finding out the cancer needs treatment, such as chemotherapy. God brings many people safely through this fiery trial.

3) We can be delivered by the fire into His arms, and our faith is perfected.
What would have happened if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had burned to ashes? They would immediately have entered heaven, into the arms of Christ. This is what happens when a patient succumbs to disease; their faith becomes sight.

If we come through the fiery trial alive, will we smell like smoke? We will, if we insist on clinging to the past instead of moving forward and embracing the freedom that comes from Christ. Beth made the point that sometimes God will allow us to go through fiery trials so that our bonds can be burned — so that we’re set free.

The teaching was so powerful, yet several times during the video, we all laughed when Beth told a funny story. It feels great to laugh — most of us in the room live under so much stress with small children in the house! We love learning together — but it’s also great to just enjoy BEING together.

After the video, we prayed for each other. Always, I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. There are so many people struggling through major illnesses, job changes, trouble with children … we really need the fellowship to pray for each other and build each other up.

I was thinking today about how this Bible study is kind of like a gym. You go to the gym to build up your muscles and increase your physical stamina. When you do this, endorphins are released that make you feel good — and your health is better.

With our Bible study, we’re coming together to build up our spirits, increase our knowledge of God’s Word, and increase our perseverance to head back out into the world as women of faith. It feels wonderful to get together — and we can’t be spiritual wimps if we’re going to survive in our modern-day cultural Babylon.

Each of us has our own sphere of influence. Most of us still have young children in the house, but some of the women in our group are grandmothers and are directly influencing two generations. Will we be wise women and use our toned-up spiritual muscles to help spread the Gospel? Because of this Daniel study, I know at least the women in THIS group will.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us women opportunities to get together to grow spiritually and learn more about your Word. Thank you for the legacy of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You saved them from the fire, and we know you’ll also refine us from whatever fiery trial we’re going through. Give us wisdom, Lord! Sometimes we feel so spent, as if we’ve given everything away. Only you can refresh our spirits. We praise you for your Word that knows no boundaries. Amen.

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