From time to time, we blog to keep you updated with lessons from God’s Word, special events and memories to cherish.

You will find our prior blogs at https://northsidehbc.blogspot.com which we have called "The Chronicles of Northside." Newer blogs, starting 10/6/2020 and onwards, will be available here at northsideharvest.org or on Faithlife. May you be blessed and encouraged!

The Call to Holy Living: A Prepared Mind - 1 Peter 1:13-16
The Call to Holy Living: A Prepared Mind - 1 Peter 1:13-16

NorthsideHBC • April 14, 2021

One of the challenging aspects in the believer’s life is the call to “Holy Living”. It is one of those commands where we find great difficulty and not without resistance. And it is due to the fact that we are still in this sinful human flesh, living in this broken world.

Is it really possible then to live a holy life, or to be holy in this present time and age; when a child of God is surrounded by worldly influence which pulls him to do the exact opposite?

One of the interesting things that Peter suggests is the preparation of the mind. For the reason that, everything starts in the human mind. It is a battlefield. It is the area where Satan attacked when he tempted Eve in the garden. He begins to cast doubts on the mind of Eve regarding God’s direct and explicit command. He made God a liar. And it is for this reason that present day believers should be cautious with a mind ready for such attack.

God’s word encourages the believers of several truths in the preparation of the mind:

  • Set your mind on Eternal things. This is what the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:1-4…“to set our minds on things above and not on things on this earth”…
  • Set your mind on excellent things is another truth found in Philippians 4:8-9, where the writer reminded the believers to think on things that exalt the character of God.
  • Having a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2) is a mind saturated with the word of God. It is the Holy Spirit’s work who makes a change in our way of thinking, as the believer mind is filled with the truth of God’s word.
  • Having the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11)doesn’t only refer to His humility pointing to the direction of the cross, but it also reminds us of His total submission to the Father’s will throughout His earthly ministry.


Fellow believers, by God’s grace, may we have a prepared mind in order to live holy before Him.

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God’s Grace in the Glory of Redemption - Notes in 1 Peter 1:10-12
God’s Grace in the Glory of Redemption - Notes in 1 Peter 1:10-12

NorthsideHBC • April 14, 2021

Considering the text in the lens of Biblical history, would bring us all the way back to when God made the first promise of a Messiah. And it is so amazing for us to see (on this side of the cross) how God in His perfect wisdom and sovereign ways, displayed the glory of His redemptive plan.

Throughout Biblical history, God has used various agents in the fulfillment of His plan. He has used prophets, kings, shepherds, priests, angels, fishermen, high profile men and even persons whose name was never mentioned. But it is interesting to note that one of these agents, particularly the prophets, servants whom God used to deliver His message to His people; were never given the privilege to witness the fulfillment of God’s promise. They were individuals who had a closer encounter with God, but were not granted the once-in-a-lifetime experience of becoming eyewitnesses of God’s fulfilled plan in the promised Messiah. And that’s why; they were carefully inquiring and investigating as to the fulfillment of this plan. As a matter of fact, even the heavenly beings whose proximity to God is even much closer are also curious, as to how God’s plan of redemption would consummate.


How blessed we are, presently day believers. As the prophets of old were intrigued as to how God’s redemptive plan would unfold, we on the other hand, have the complete picture. Although we have not witnessed the earthly ministry of Christ and His suffering at the cross, yet we are privileged to have knowledge of His person and His work as revealed to us in His word. We have come to know that everything that Christ did and accomplished was a fulfillment of everything that was written of Him (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).


O the beauty of His perfect wisdom and eternal Sovereignty! But more importantly, the majesty of His grace! From Adam to Christ, and even until now, God’s grace has always been in full display.



"It took a miracle to put the stars in place,

It took a miracle to hang the world in space;

But when He saved my soul,

Cleansed and made me whole,

It took a miracle of love and grace!"

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Jesus: The Believer’s Inheritance
Jesus: The Believer’s Inheritance

NorthsideHBC • March 14, 2021

It is fascinating to observe when people talk about inheritance, ones mind would immediately cater properties, wills, houses, jewelries, and other material things. All of which are centered on material temporal things.

 

In 1 Peter 1:4, although The Apostle Peter used the term “inheritance” once in his letter, Apostle Paul on the other hand, mentioned this term in his letters several times. (Eph_1:14, Eph_1:18, Eph_5:5, Col_3:24,) But what is so significant about this particular emphasis of Peter? After all, he made a brief description of the inheritance (verse 4-5) a believer will obtain now that he is part of God’s family.

 

The term “inheritance” is not something new among Jewish ears. Going back to the OT, when God divided the promised land among the 12 tribes of Israel, every tribe received a portion of the land as their inheritance, except for the tribe of Levi…”the priestly tribe”. They were the only tribe that didn’t get one. God’s reason for doing so is interesting. The LORD made it very clear, that even though they (Levi tribe) did not have a portion of the land as their inheritance, the LORD will be their portion. The LORD will be their inheritance.(Deut. 10:9)

 

Even though on several occasions in the New Testament, the use of the term inheritance could refer to heaven, to eternal life, to salvation, and everything that God has ordained for His people. But there is ONE unifying factor of ALL these truths, and that is the person and the work of Christ. It is pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the believer’s inheritance.

 

Similar to what God is to the tribe of Levi, Christ also is to the believers. And since Christ is the believer’s portion, it means God’s people have everything (2 Peter 1:3). There is nothing lacking in the believer’s life because of this truth. There is therefore no reason for worry, or to be anxious, because Christ is his all in all. The believer’s happiness also is demonstrated

and determined, and is not dependent on the circumstances but in his relationship to Christ.  

And it is because of this truth that the believer’s hope is in the Lord.

(Lamentations 3:24)

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance (portion); therefore, I will hope in him!” -NLT

 

Fellow believers, when we consider our eternal inheritance, may we never focus on the place (heaven) or other wonderful things (eternal life)…but may we focus our eyes on the person – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the believer’s inheritance. 

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Kept by God
Kept by God

NorthsideHBC • March 08, 2021

When the Apostle Peter described what kind of inheritance the believers will be obtaining in 1 Peter 1:4-5

, we cannot help but be amazed on the terminologies he used. These terms can never refer to temporal things. “..imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,...who are protected by the power of God…”

 

But one very significant truth that he mentioned is the reality of that last phrase…”protected by the power of God”. It is a military term that refers to something being continuously guarded (literally garrisoned) so as to protect it from danger or hostile intent. And no one else is guarding it except the omnipotent God Himself.

 

But the further implication of such term is not just referring to the “inheritance” per se, but including those who will inherit it. It is not only the inheritance that will receive constant protection but also those whom God willed to obtain such amazing inheritance. The believers who are regarded as heirs (Gal. 4:7; Rom. 8:17) are also recipients of such faithful protection.

 

This is a humbling truth to know for every genuine child of God. If believers are to be left alone to figure out how to live their lives before God, not a single soul would remain. In our human frailty and limitations, we could never make it apart from Christ. Because the only reason why we are able to make it this far is the fact that God is the ONE who has kept us by His mighty power…just as He promised. (Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18)

 

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;

When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.

I could never keep my hold through life's fearful path;

For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;

For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast.

-Matt Merker

 

24 Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude-NASB)

 

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Temporal Suffering and Eternal Inheritance
Temporal Suffering and Eternal Inheritance

NorthsideHBC • February 17, 2021


One overarching theme of the 1st chapter of the Apostle Peter’s 1st letter is his use of the terms “perishable” and “imperishable” in 4 different verses. The obvious implication conveys a contrast between the temporal and the eternal as we consider these two realities.


Peter used this comparison in light of the on-going suffering due to the persecution of believers in the Northern regions of Asia Minor. He reminded them, not only of the unique relationship that they have with God, but that as followers of Christ, their eyes should no longer be set on temporal things (their present suffering). The eternal inheritance that is reserved for every genuine child of God (1 Peter 1:4) is not worthy to be compared to the temporal nature of the sufferings that a believer experiences in this present life. (Romans 8:18)


His use of analogy to further illustrate his point is also evident as he used earthly elements and objects like gold, silver, flower and grass which are subject to decay and will eventually fade away. Because they are temporary things, they will all pass away. Similar to the suffering due to the persecution that they are going through, it will also pass away. Reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), Peter is also expressing the same truth. The “trial” that they are going through is only “for a little while”, only “for a season”. It will not remain forever.


Unlike the object of their calling unto salvation, the means of their redemption, and the indescribable and matchless inheritance from God, they all point to something (someone) eternal. Being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, born again according to God’s great mercy, through the living and enduring word of God are truths that are eternal in nature. And it is in these truths that Peter greatly encouraged them to be mindful of despite their present predicament.


16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)

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Jesus' Call To
Jesus' Call To "Follow Me" -Hebrews 12:1-3

NorthsideHBC • February 05, 2021

John 21 paints for us a portrait of God's mercy and grace. Here we see Jesus, the resurrected, going to the sea where his disciples were fishing. He prepares breakfast and it is during this time that he restores Peter who had denied him. He asks him thrice if Peter loved him. Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." And when Peter asked about John, Jesus told Peter that it is not his business. Jesus told him, "You follow me."


Jesus' call to "follow me" is the point of Hebrews 12:1-3. It is a call to persevere, looking unto Jesus!


1. Learn from the lives of the great cloud of witnesses. They have lived by faith and they have set the example for us to follow. They engaged themselves in the work of godly living. Good works resulted from their genuine faith.


2. Run without encumbrances and sin. "Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." See also 1 Cor. 9:27. There is urgency in putting away what distracts us so that we can run without impediments! See 2 Tim 4:7. Finish the course! Keep the faith!


3. Fix our eyes on Jesus! This is a call to turn our eyes away from other things so that our focus is on Jesus. HE is the author (the originator, the lead, the chief, the standard, the pioneer, the champion) AND HE is THE perfecter of our faith!" (the one who completes the good work begun in us)! "For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."


Note how the author of Hebrews used not Christ's title but his human name, "Jesus." Jesus endured the cross and thought nothing of the shame. Consider (think over, ponder upon) HIM so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Now, Jesus is our High Priest. He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God! He is our Mediator who intercedes for us!


As demonstrated by the lives of "the great cloud of witnesses," we have the ability to live out the Gospel by the Holy Spirit's empowerment! Those witnesses were made of the same flesh like we are; but, they lived by faith by the grace of God. Let us do the same! Jesus himself, fully human when he walked the lonely road to Calvary, had set for us the ultimate example; and, he bids us, "Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Me."

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Final Exhortation -- Notes on James 5:19-20
Final Exhortation -- Notes on James 5:19-20

NorthsideHBC • February 02, 2021

We have learned from our prior study that two essential parts of the believer's life is prayer and praise, whether in times of joy or times of sorrow. (Ponder on Romans 8!)


As we focus on the last two verses of James' epistle, we find a final exhortation-- that is, for believers to bring back one who is among them, if he wanders from the truth.


What is the "truth" referred to here? God's word as the truth? (John 17:17) Jesus as the truth? (14:6) The Gospel as the truth? (Eph 1:13). John 1:1 and 1:14 make clear that Christ is the living Word, he is the truth, and the reason we have the Gospel.


To stray from the truth, then, is to be led away from Jesus, His word, from the Gospel that we are to proclaim and live out.


Concerning the "one" who is led away, two trains of thought can be examined. Could James be referring to one who is a part of the assembly but is really not a genuine believer, as described in 1 John 2:18-19; or is James thinking of one, who although a genuine believer, is living a life that is inconsistent with the truth? If the latter, such a one can be described as one who is no longer walking in a manner worthy of his calling (See Eph. 4:1-3).


Based on James' repeated call in his epistle for "brethren" to show their faith by their works, the straying one that James refers to here is more likely a genuine believer who needs restoration. Indeed, we find a similar exhortation in Galatians 6:1-4 during which Paul calls for the spiritual to restore a brother who is caught in any transgression. Also, in the case of Peter, we find an example of a genuine believer being restored by Christ himself. 


What James says next is an encouragement to the one who restores a wandering brother-- that is, "he will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." Heb 9:11-14 is clear that it is through Jesus that we are saved, which reminds us that we need to be continually dependent on the Lord. By His grace and through the enablement of the Holy Spirit, we can obey His command to watch for and care for each other. Let us, therefore, encourage one another and when one strays, let us pray for and work towards his or her restoration.


Oh, to grace how great a debtor

Daily I'm constrained to be

Let that goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it

Seal it for thy courts above.

-Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing


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"Pray in Faith" - Notes on James 5:16-18

NorthsideHBC • January 18, 2021


We will focus first on James' statement that "the prayer of a righteous man avails much."

The word "righteous" in the original means "approved of." As Scripture is clear that "none is rghteous" (Rom. 3:10-11), it follows that it is the prayer of those who have been MADE righteous THROUGH Christ that is at point here. The prayer of the redeemed is that which is powerful and effective. Such prayer is possible because of Christ's finished work at the cross. Through Christ, believers can freely enter into God's throne. Whether one is new in the faith or has been a saint for decades, the privilege of calling God, "Abba," our Father, is the same. All believers have the same Mediator, the same Intercessor-- that is, Christ who died, was buried, and risen again! In Him we have forgiveness of sins; and, God's wrath is no longer upon us. He reconciles us to the Father, unto whom we make our prayer, our requests, our heart's cry.

Of course, there are hindrances to prayer. Unconfessed sin or doubting, for example, hinders a believer's prayer. When we pray, we must do so "in faith" (James 1:6-8, 5:15).

Interestingly, James brings to our attention the great prophet Elijah. He makes the important point that Elijah is actually "a man just like us." Even the apostle Paul communicates this truth, as made clear in Acts 14 when a crippled man was healed and Paul and Barnabas were heralded as gods by the crowd. They told the people, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you." The point is apparent: whether you are a Paul, an Elijah, or a babe in Christ, your prayer is reckoned as powerful and effective. Why? Because Christ is your Mediator and Intercessor!

Next, notice HOW Elijah's prayer is described. He prayed "earnestly" or "fervently." The expression is "he prayed with all prayer" (parallel expressions are found in Gen. 2:17- "you will die the death" or "dying you will die;" Luke 22:15- "eagerly desired" or "with desire I have desired"). The emphasis is on the INTENSITY of the action described. Elijah prayed with intensity because he had a clear understanding of who GOD is and what GOD is able to do.

As we know, prayer is not a matter of using "magic" words or a matter of praying "long enough." It must be a prayer offered in faith! Apparently, we need to be taught and reminded of this fact. Indeed, there is no biblical account of Jesus ever teaching his disciples how to preach. However, he taught them how to pray.

Before wrapping up, let us not neglect how that prayer is tied to praise. We find in Scripture a number of instances when believers are joyful, not because of the absence of suffering but as a result of it. We find this complementary act of prayer and praise on the part of believers while they were undergoing suffering. See Acts 27:25 when Paul calls for the men to "be of good courage" during a fierce storm. This call is the similar call to "count it as joy," which is often expressed in song! See also Acts 16:25 when Paul and Silas, bound in prison, were "praying and singing hymns to God." These accounts are reflected in James 5:1 when James calls for the brethren to "sing songs of praise."

For further thought, consider your own sufferings, past or present, and view them in light of the truths presented in the epistle of James:

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Pray.

Pray fervently.

Pray in faith.

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"Enter the Place Where Nothing is Impossible" - Notes on James 5:13-16

NorthsideHBC • January 11, 2021

James addresses very specific needs in this passage: personal suffering, physical illness, and the need for forgiveness. Indeed, James' closing words simply reiterate the reality of trials in the believers' life, the same reality of which he spoke in the beginning of his letter.  

Observe how James directs the brethren's thoughts to two vital needs in the life of a believer: to praise the Lord and to pray.  

With respect to prayer, two ways are encouraged: personal and intercessory. First, pray directly unto God if you are suffering. Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, gives insight as to the importance of personal prayer. As a Dutch believer who suffered severely in a Nazi concentration camp as a result of hiding Jews during WW2, she could personally testify as to the wonderful privilege of prayer, as it allows the believer to "leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God's realm where everything is possible....Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love." When we fail to enter that realm, we needlessly worry, which Corrie describes as being like a rocking chair that "keeps you moving but doesn't get you anywhere." 

As we enter personally into God's throne room, we not only pray for ourselves but also for others. "Call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over [the sick]... and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Note that when we pray, we should trust in how the Lord answers. When the answer is yes, we praise Him. When the answer is no, we praise Him. The reason we are able to do so is because of a vital truth that has been clearly revealed to us—God is trustworthy. He declares without reservation that He is molding us to be like His Son, working all things—whether they mean moments of rejoicing or tragedies marked with weeping—so that we, as a body of believers, may be presented as the bride of Christ, blameless and spotless!  

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, we are given the experience of the apostle Paul whose pleading for the Lord to take away his thorn in the flesh was met with a clear, "No." This "thorn," in fact, was given so as to "keep [him] from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations" granted to him. He is told by God himself, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." In response, the apostle Paul concluded, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  

In the experiences of Job, we are also taught that illness is not necessarily the result of personal sin. Job was "a blameless and upright man." However, illness came upon Job for the purpose of testing. Job's illness and tragic losses displayed for generations to come that Job's trust in the Lord was genuine; and, his example of perseverance continues to give courage to fellow believers all over the world and for every generation that has come after him. Job did not follow the ways of God just to be blessed materially, as Satan had accused. He did not revere God just to be given good health. Job's trust in the Lord was not dependent on what the Lord would give or not give. Indeed, when his own wife told him to "[c]urse God and die," Job responded, "You speak as a foolish woman speaks. Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" (Job 2:10 HCSB). At the end, when Job began to complain and defend his own righteousness under pains of prolonged suffering and the comfortless words of his friends, the LORD said to Job, "Dress for action...I will question you.... Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? To this Job replied, "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.... therefore I retract and I repent, sitting on dust and ashes" (Job 42:1-6). (Indeed, even if God where to answer our every "Why," our finite mind cannot comprehend His infinite mind!) 

In light of the life of Paul and of Job, we can see from James' exhortation that when praying, we can always rest in the fact of God's goodness and sovereignty. He will never do wrong. In what He permits or prohibits, every act of His will is perfect; and, none can thwart it. For this reason, we can obey what He commands, for He is trustworthy. James, therefore, calls us to enter God's throne room not only for ourselves but also for others. He also calls us to confess our sins one to another, a task which requires humility. Let blaming be set aside. Rather, extend the grace and mercy we ourselves receive daily.  

More quotes from Corrie Ten Boom: 

  1.  The devil...laughs when we get too busy. But he trembles when we pray—especially when we pray together. 
  2. Discernment is God's call to intercession, never to faultfinding. 
  3. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. 
  4. If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest. 
  5. Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. 
  6. When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. 
  7. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. 
  8. In order to realize the worth of the anchor we need to feel the stress of the storm. 
  9. Jesus did not promise to change the circumstances around us. He promised great peace and pure joy to those who would learn to believe that God actually controls all things. 

 

For Further Reading: The Hiding Place  

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Our Ultimate Deliverance - Daniel 3:8-18
Our Ultimate Deliverance - Daniel 3:8-18

NorthsideHBC • January 04, 2021

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a very familiar one. As a result, we sometimes fail to appreciate its historical and doctrinal significance. These three young men were taken captive by the Babylonians. They were educated in the ways of this foreign power and appointed over its affairs.  

 In Daniel 1:7, we find that the Hebrew or original names of these three young men, respectively, were: (1) Hananiah, which in Hebrew means, "the Lord is gracious;" (2) Mishael, which means, "who is like the Lord;" and, (3) Azariah, which means, "God is my help." Why did the parents of these young men name them as such? And why did the Babylonians change their names? 

 Observe how that these three young men stood their ground along with Daniel, the beloved of God. They determined in their hearts to please God, despite their being under a foreign power (Daniel 1). Given the meaning of their names and the resoluteness of their hearts and actions, one cannot help but think of the kind of family from which they had come. Could it be that they were nurtured and trained in God's word and ways? In Daniel 3, even on the pain of having their bodies burned alive, they would not break God's commandments. They would rather give up their safety and power as high ranking officials. They are convinced that as their God is the only God whom they should worship, they will not bow down to an idol, even if it meant an agonizing death by fire. 

 Notice first how Nebuchadnezzar gives these 3 men another "chance" to bow down. Notice next the pride (and ignorance) of Nebuchadnezzar who said, "who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"  

 Now recall what had happened to these men as youths. They beheld the destruction of their homeland. They experienced being torn violently away from their families. They were taken as captives. These trials could have shaken their faith in God who did not deliver them from the cruel hands of the Babylonians. These trials, though, instead of stripping them of their faith, strengthened them. They, indeed, were grounded in the truth of God's sovereignty, for they said to the king, "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." 

 We all know the outcome of the story. The three men were thrown into the fiery furnace, but not a hair on their heads was singed. Not even the smell of fire was upon them. The Babylonians saw 3 men thrown into the fire, but four walked unharmed in its midst. The Lord delivered them.  

 As we start this new year, let us remember the example of these three men. Their service to God did not depend on whether God will deliver them. They were grounded in the knowledge that God is Sovereign. He is God. They determined in their hearts to honor him, no matter the consequences. After all, as ones who have been redeemed, we know of the cross of Christ-- how that the greatest tragedy of all resulted to our ultimate deliverance. And as ones who have been set free from sin, we can suffer for Christ's sake. Let us take up our cross and follow Him.  

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