"And the herald proclaimed aloud, You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace." (Daniel 3:4-6 NIV)

The recipe I was following called for toasted nuts. At one time I wouldn't have bothered with the toasting process as I didn't think it was that important. I discovered through the cooking channel however, that toasting the nuts brings out the fullness of their flavour. Thus I have now become a faithful nut toaster.

God knows that toasting our faith also brings out the fullness of His presence within us. And as the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, this toasting, which we view as suffering, produces, "perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3 NIV)

In the book of Daniel, we discover the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who, due to their refusal to bow down to the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, were toasted in a fiery furnace. Amidst the toasting, it was noted by the spectators that though three men had been cast into the fire, four men were in the flames. And when the toasting was over, the three original men came forth unscathed, with not even the smell of fire upon them.

How this toasting experience must have strengthened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's faith, perseverance, character and hope. And what a witness to the spectators as well, in fact Nebuchadnezzar's whole kingdom felt the positive effect of the three men's faith for he decreed: "Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way." (Daniel 3:29 ESV)

Yes the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is able to rescue in this way, not only then but even today amidst whatever fiery furnaces of suffering we may find ourselves cast within. Just as there was a fourth man in the fire with them, so long ago, we too have someone with us. For God the One and Only true God has said: "Never will I leave you;" (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 13:6 NIV).

Toasting nuts brings out the fullness of their flavour. And though there are those in this world who may think Christians are just nuts, period, rest assured it simply isn't true. Through God's fiery furnace of suffering and trail, we're nuts, full of perseverance, character and hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who as been given to us.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you in advance for any toasting experience that You may bring our way. And we also thank you for the strength of Your Holy Spirit within us to keep us standing firm in our beliefs amidst such times. We trust in your power and love to bring about your fullness within us that others might also come to know You. In Christ's name. Amen.

Lynne Phipps