When you walk through the fire …

Two families – our friends – are walking through the fire at the moment. Each has a young child with an untreatable medical condition that has brought them close to death. There are some options, but the outcome is far from certain. To say that it’s a very difficult time is an understatement!

fire orange emergency burning

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Perhaps you, too, are going through a fiery trial, as the apostle Peter calls it. You may wonder, “What is God doing? Why me? How will I get through this?”

At times like these, the enemy – like King Nebuchadnezzar in ancient Babylon – sets up an idol on the plain of our lives and invites us to bow down. He says, “Your God is not good or He would not let this happen. Or He is impotent and can do nothing about it. Abandon your God and worship my idol instead.”

Maybe like King David, we fast and pray, but to no avail. What then?

Perhaps our best response is to echo what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar when threatened with the fire if they did not bow down to his idol (Daniel 3:16-18), telling our enemy:

“We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter … the God we serve is able to deliver us … But even if He does not, we want you to know … that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

And to remember that, like them, we are not alone!

I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:2

God is not impotent and He is good, whatever happens. Jesus walked through the fire with them and He walked through his own fire of crucifixion, laying down His life for us.

He has not promised to rescue us from our fiery trials, but this He has promised: never to leave us and to walk with us through them.

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

Jude 24-25

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Fix your eyes on Jesus

We’ve made it too difficult, too complex, this Christian faith of ours, this life we get to live.

Oh, that’s not to say it isn’t hard, but how to make sense of it all is easy … in a way.

We want to know how the world works, what God is like, what we’re supposed to do, what He wants of us, why bad things happen to good people, and on, and on.

And to answer these questions we have a way of looking at the world. Sometimes this is called a world-view, or a frame of reference. It interprets the world for us.

Maybe we interpret the world and God through science, or through religion (Christian or not) or in terms of a moral code, or the idea of karma, or any number of philosophies in any number of combinations. For a while they work, until something happens that they don’t explain. It’s like this world-view is a hypothesis which is fine until some facts come along to disprove it … and we have to think again.

Maybe like the apostle Paul, it’s that when we were children we thought like children, but then we grew up and put away childish things: the faith we grew up with, the religion that was perhaps imposed upon us. We became adults and those explanations of life no longer satisfied us. Having unburdened ourselves of these views we felt free … but something nagged at us and, sooner or later, the new frame of reference was no use either.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11

But I’d like to suggest that there is one world-view, one frame of reference that will make sense of everything. And it’s not a philosophy and not a religion.

It’s a person: Jesus!

backlit cemetery christianity clouds

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The writer of the letter to the Hebrews – 1st-century Jewish believers – explains it well and sums it up in one phrase:

Let us … fix our eyes on Jesus.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Do you want to know what God is like?

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Hebrews 1:3

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

John 14:8-11

Do you want to know how the world was made?

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Hebrews 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

Do you want to know how to live life?

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

Hebrew 3:1

Therefore … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Do you want the life you were meant to have?

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus recorded in John 10:10

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Jesus recorded in John 17:3

Do you want a world-view that makes sense?

Fix your eyes on Jesus!!

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

C.S. Lewis

“This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

God’s voice from heaven, recorded in Luke 9:35

Jesus is the beginning and the end of our faith, the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the author, pioneer, perfecter and finisher.

Focus on Him – not on church, religion, the Bible or anything – or anyone – else! These may be good – meeting together with other Jesus-followers (church) and reading the Bible are particularly good – but they cannot be your focus.

Fix your eyes on Jesus!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13: 8

I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!”

Jesus recorded in Revelation 1:17-18

“Therefore … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12: 1-3

For more on this – and a far better explanation – I recommend Andy Stanley’s three-part talk: Welcome to Wonderland.

You can watch it all on YouTube. You’ll be glad you did!