Weekly Devotion

Romans 15:4-13

A few weeks ago I was leading a Bible study and they requested the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You might remember the three guys in the fiery furnace? If you grew up in the church maybe you remember it from Sunday School. It does stick in the mind as a moment of miraculous preservation but also a miraculous witness to the reality and presence of God at all times and in all situations.

When is the last time you read that story? You may think I don’t need to read that story again. I know that story. I haven’t thought about it in decades, but I remember the gist of it. Isn’t that enough?

According to the Holy Spirit and St. Paul, no, that probably isn’t enough. Paul talks about the encouragement of the Scriptures. In other words, the Bible isn’t simply a moral guide book or a doctrinal handbook, it’s also a book of encouragement. And it is to provide both encouragement and endurance for tangible ends such as living in harmony with one another. Knowing the Bible is one thing. Believing the Bible is another thing. But allowing the Word of God to regularly encourage us? That’s something else as well.

Being able to remember the situation Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found themselves in is important. But remembering their response 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, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. What an encouragement! What a tangible reminder that our God is the God of history, and He is everywhere present and more than able to save us from the worst of our fears and realities. Whether He chooses to do so or not is his decision according to his perfect knowledge and will. Faith is proclaiming God’s presence and ability, not a retroactive response to things working out well.

Let Scripture be your encouragement. Let it guide you in living your life and guide you in what you believe and profess. But let it also draw you into greater harmony with one another. The God who created us, redeemed us and sanctifies us is also the God who encourages us each day through his Word!

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