JULY 2020

July podcast.mp3

Audio file 00 Intro Great is thy faithfulness (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Introduction: Thomas Chisholm, the author of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and 1200 other poems was born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1866, and he lived a pretty unremarkable life. He worked as a school teacher, a newspaper editor, and insurance agent. Unlike many hymns that have heart-wrenching stories behind them (for instance "It Is Well With My Soul"), "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is inspired by the simple realization that God is at work in our lives on a daily basis. He wrote, "My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness."

The hymn reminds us that God doesn't only work in dramatic or miraculous ways, but also in simple, everyday ways. It also reminds us that Jesus has never failed us in the past, so we have no reason to doubt his faithfulness in the future.
Music: William M. Runyan (b. 1870) was a substitute church organist by the age of twelve. He became a Methodist minister in 1891 and served several churches in Kansas. He worked for the Central Methodist Conference for the next twenty years. He wrote a number of hymn texts, gospel songs, and hymn tunes.

Audio file 1-07 Great is thy faithfulness (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; 
there is no shadow of turning with thee; 
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; 
as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. 


Great is thy faithfulness! 
Great is thy faithfulness! 
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided--
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness 
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, 
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, 
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

PRAYER Audio file 00 Prayer (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Our heavenly Father, once again we are privileged to come into your presence. At times it is difficult to realise that we are able to not only able to thank you for all the blessings we receive but that you invite us to bring our concerns to you. How fortunate we are to do that for you are the only one who is truly omnipotent. We are so often tempted to ask you to answer our prayers in the way we want them answered but as we come before you remind us, please, dear God that it is only when we leave our concerns in your hands that the perfect answers can be given.

Remind us, dear Lord, that because you love us so much you will always answer our prayers in the way which will be in our best interest, however much in the short term we might want some other answer. Help us to increase our trust in you, Lord.So today, we bring to you this world which has suffered so much lately with a pandemic. So many have been bereaved; others are struggling to recover from the effects of coronavirus.

We pray for guidance for the medical researchers so that an effective vaccine can be found. Meanwhile we pray for those in the caring professions who are doing so much to comfort those who are so desperately ill. Grant, we ask, reserves of strength as the demands on them are so heavy.We commit ourselves for the sake of others, and indeed ourselves, to your service, our loving Lord, and see by our faithfulness to your will that we recognise and thank you for your unfailing faithfulness to the promises you have given to us.

In the name of Jesus our Saviour, we bow before you here in prayer.

Introduction Audio file 00 Intro Guide me O Yhou great Redeemer (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
William Williams, called the "Watts of Wales," was born in 1717, at Cefn-y-coed, near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. He originally studied medicine, but abandoned it for theology. He was ordained Deacon in the Church of England, but was refused Priest's Orders, and subsequently attached himself to the Calvinistic Methodists. For half a century he travelled in Wales, preaching the Gospel. He died in 1791. Williams composed his hymns chiefly in the Welsh language which are still largely used by various religious bodies in the principality.  Music: Cwm Rhondda, taken from the Welsh name for the Rhondda Valley, is a popular hymn tune written by John Hughes (1873–1932) in 1907. John Hughes wrote the first version of the tune, which he called "Rhondda", for the Cymanfa Ganu (hymn festival) in Pontypridd in 1905, when the enthusiasm of the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival still remained. The present form was developed for the inauguration of the organ at Capel Rhondda, in Hopkinstown in the Rhondda Valley, in 1907. Hughes himself played the organ at this performance, using the English translation of William Williams' words perhaps because of the large number of English-speaking industrial workers who had migrated to the area. The name was changed from "Rhondda" to "Cwm Rhondda" by Harry Evans, of Dowlais, to avoid confusion with another tune, by M O Jones.

Audio file
11 Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

1. Guide me, O
thou great Redeemer
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;`
Hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven,
Feed me now and evermore.

Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer,
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death and Hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.

Introduction: 00 Intro what a friend we have in Jesus (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) Music: Charles Crozat Converse was an American attorney who also worked as a composer of church songs.

Perhaps not many people know the story behind the words of this much loved hymn. If you do, I’m sure you won’t mind me repeating it. And as the band plays this arrangement you might like to follow the words which are given here.

Joseph Scriven was born in Ireland in 1820. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and was engage to be married. The evening before their wedding, Scriven's fiance drowned. This tragedy coupled with difficult family relationships, caused Joseph to begin following the practices and teaches of the Plymouth Brethren.

Shortly after moving to Canada to become a teacher, Scriven became engaged to Eliza Roche. Tragedy struck again and Eliza passed away from illness shortly before marriage. Joseph used the tragedies and hardships in life to empahtize with the elderly and poor. Scriven used his time to saw wood for the stoves of those who were handicapped or elderly. Joseph wrote his famous hymn in 1855 to comfort his mother who still lived in Ireland. He did not seek to be noticed for it, and his authorship was only discovered by accident shortly before his death. 

Scriven himself began to experience poor health, financial struggles and depression his last years of life. To this day, no one knows for sure if Joseph Scriven's death was accident or suicide. He was in serious depression at the time. A friend reported, "We left him about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait. You may imagine my surprise and dismay when on visiting the room I found it empty. All search failed to find a trace of the missing man, until a little after noon the body was discovered in the water nearby, lifeless and cold in death."

And, of course, we can’t help but wonder why Joseph didn’t take his own words to heart….’O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.’

Audio file
07 What a friend (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Audio file 00 God's Tithes and our offerings (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
We often hear people say that they don’t have any great talent they can use to serve God but God can use us all when we place ourselves at his disposal. Whatever he wants us to do, he will equip us to do regardless of our estimation of what we ‘talents’ we think we have or haven’t . But one of the ways that every follower of Jesus can serve him is by the simple act of providing finance to churches or ministries. It’s an obvious fact that without finance they cannot exist. Just as we can all pray for the ministries to be effective, we can equally provide the finance for them to do what is helpful to build God’s kingdom.
As you allocate finance to whichever church or ministry you feel led to support, may you sense God’s blessing as you give.

Audio file 00 Intro Simply Trusting (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Introduction: Like many other songs, this one first appeared as a poem, published in a newspaper. When a clipping of it was handed to evangelist D.L. Moody, he gave it to his song leader, Ira Sankey, who is sometimes called “the father of Gospel music”. Thus began its popularity.
Although the lyricist, Edgar Stites, became a preacher, his earlier days were quite different. He helped in the American Civil War by managing the distribution of food to transient soldiers. Later he was a riverboat pilot on the Delaware River. He belonged to the First Methodist Church in Cape May for 60 years, becoming a local preacher and also a “home missionary” in Dakota. Edgar lived from 1836 to 1921.

Audio file
00 Trusting as the moments fly (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly does His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Audio file 00 Daniel 3 (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attentionto you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what godwill be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 
27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

Audio file
Intro The longer I serve him (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
A gospel style song with words which are a sermon in themselves.

Audio file
00 The longer I serve him (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

Ev'ry need He is supplying,
Plenteous grace He bestows;
Ev'ry day my way gets brighter,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

The longer I serve Him,
the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him,
more love He bestows;
Each day is like heaven,
my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him,
the sweeter He grows.

Audio file
00 Intro Magnificat (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor of the late Romantic Era. Born to a well-off and highly musical family in Dublin, Stanford was educated at the University of Cambridge before studying music in Leipzig and Berlin
While still an undergraduate, Stanford was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge.
Stanford composed a substantial number of concert works, including seven symphonies, but his best-remembered pieces are his choral works for church performance, chiefly composed in the Anglican tradition.

Words (Luke 1:46-55)
My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel: as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Audio file
MAGNIFICAT IN C To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

Audio file 00 Intro Mid all the traffic (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Introduction: Words William Arthur Dunkerley (12 November 1852 – 23 January 1941) used the pseudonym John Oxenham for some of his writings. (John Oxenham is the name of a character in ‘Westward Ho!, a book given to him by his Sunday School teacher. )He was born in Manchester, spent a short time after his marriage in the US before moving to Ealing, West London, where he served as deacon and teacher at the Ealing Congregational Church from the 1880s. In 1922 he moved to Worthing in Sussex, where he became the town's mayor. Dunkerley wrote under his own name, and also as John Oxenham for his poetry, hymn-writing, and novels.  Music :My Shepherd by John Campbell, born 1807, Paisley, Scotland-died October 1860, Glasgow, Scotland. He was a Glasgow merchant and an amateur musician and organist.

Audio file:
Mid all the traffic (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

Mid all the traffic of the ways,
Turmoils without, within,
Make in my heart a quiet place,
And come and dwell within;

A little shrine of quietness,
All sacred to thyself,
Where thou shalt all my soul possess,
And I may find myself;

A little shelter from life’s stress,
Where I may lay me prone,
And bare my soul in loneliness,
And know as I am known;

A little place of mystic grace,
Of self and sin swept bare,
Where I may look upon thy face,
And talk with thee in prayer.

Audio file 00 Intro Through it all (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
Introduction: Soloist: Sandra Entermann.

Screenshot 2020-06-08 17.06.55

The words Sandra sings to us are just perfect for the situation the world faces today. Bless you Sandra for blessing us.

Audio file
00 Through it all (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
there's been times I didn't know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I've been to lots of places,
I've seen a lot of faces,
there's been times I felt so all alone.
But in my lonely hours,
yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus lets me know that I was His own

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I'd never had a problem,
I wouldn't know God could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.



Dr. Malcolm Westwood

Audio file: 00 Sermon Daniel 3 (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
No doubt many will recall from their Sunday School days the account of the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. Many Biblical scholars contend they would have been 17 or 18 years of age. It’s an amazing and inspiring story but we need to go back a chapter to Chapter 2 in the book of Daniel to appreciate the way the story in Chapter 3 unfolds.
In Daniel 2 we’re told that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which terrified him. He called his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what the dream was and what it meant. Naturally, they protested that no-one on earth could tell him what he had dreamed but if he told them the dream they would interpret it. Angry beyond belief the king ordered the execution of all the wise men in Babylon including Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (or to use their Hebrew names Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah the
meaning of which centered on the one true God: Daniel – God is my judge; Hananiah – Yah has been gracious; Mishael – who is what God is; Azariah– Yah has helped.)

Daniel explained the situation to his friends and asked them to ‘plead for mercy to the God of heaven, concerning the mystery so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon’ (Verse 17/18)

During the night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.

Daniel went to the king and described the dream in which the king had seen ‘a large statue- an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.’(verse 31) Daniel described the statue in detail.
The king was so impressed that Daniel could not only tell him his dream but could also interpret it thoroughly, that he ‘fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him an honour and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him and said, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries for you were able to reveal this mystery.’(verse47)

In v 48/49 we read, ‘Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all the wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as administrators over the province of Babylon while Daniel remained at the royal court.

Human nature being what it is, one cannot be surprised that such appointments created not a little jealousy so when King Nebuchadnezzar made a 90 feet high, 9 feet wide statue and decreed that everyone in the land should worship it at the sound of an accumulation of musical instruments,’ some of the astrologers came forward and denounced Shadrach Meshach and Abednego for not paying any attention to the king’s decree. They must have been waiting for a time to get their own back for being overlooked for the positions of administrators in the province of Babylon.

The king wasn’t best pleased and summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and gave them one further chance to obey his command but the young Hebrew boys stood firm despite the threat of being burned alive.They replied (Verse 16)’We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing fire, the God we serve is able to rescue us from your hand, O king.’

We remember they had already experienced one miracle when God had revealed to Daniel what King Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed . They had escaped execution once. Would God help them again? One miracle in a life-time might be thought amazing. In the human mind might two miracles just be one too far! Perhaps they might have thought, ‘Would it really be so awful just to bow down to King
Nebuchadnezzar’s idol?’ After all, what harm would it do. Worshipping the idol would keep them alive and in their role as administrators they could benefit their fellow Jews. What would be the point of dying for the sake of bowing down to a lifeless idol for a few minutes. But they had taken a vow to honour God’s commandments- ‘You shall have no other gods but me’ and ‘You shall not make idols’ as described in the Shema (c.1450 B.C.)

About 830 years on and Judah had a new king-Josiah. In his reign, the scroll of the law of God was discovered in the temple and King Josiah gathered the people together to covenant to obey the contents of the scroll (or the Shema). That was about16 years before Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were challenged by King Nebuchadnezzar and thrown into the furnace.
The three Hebrew boys would have been just tots when the scroll was found but undoubtedly their parents would have been there and would have taught them obedience to the laws of God.

Even today, observant Jews recite this prayer each morning and evening and it’s the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism. They had discovered that if they honoured God, he would honour them.Their commitment was one with a capital ‘C’. Their trust in God was not one which began with another ‘C’ -convenience. They understood that their God was totally committed to them and could only provide for them if, in return, they were totally committed to him. Their God required that they trusted him in all circumstances. His way of providing might not always - or perhaps even seldom-be conventional. They must be prepared to trust him even when they couldn’t understand just
how he would provide.

So these three very human young Hebrew boys told the king that their God
was able to deliver them from the blazing furnace but-and how’s this for trust! (v.18) ‘but even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”They faced the ultimate test of their faith. If God did not answer their prayer to be spared in the flames, they would die trusting him nevertheless. How often do we Christians pray and think God has let us down if he doesn’t give us the answer we want. How desperately must the three Hebrew boys have wanted a miracle for their God to prevent them from being thrown into the fire. Wasn’t their God a God of miracles? Couldn’t their God have put out the flames miraculously? It’s quite a thought that had they prayed that desperate prayer to be somehow, miraculously taken out of that situation, they would never have had the far greater miracle of surviving the flames.

But, all praise to them, they were willing to leave both their present situation and their future situation in their God’s hands.King Nebuchadnezzar told them quite clearly that the situation applied to everyone. There were no exceptions. We can identify with that, can’t we. We’re in the middle of a pandemic at the moment and we’re constantly being told, ‘We’re all in this together.” And no doubt we’ve prayed sincerely and earnestly for a way out of this pandemic. The relatives of those suffering from covid-19 have prayed for the healing of their loved ones and there was only one answer that would suffice them-the healing of their loved ones.But what faith and trust the three Hebrew boys showed-‘Our God
is able to deliver us but if he doesn’t-we’re in his hands still.Unswayed by their expressions of loyalty to their God, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the temperature of the fire to be raised as hot as was possible. The Bible says seven times. Seven is a number that is used in the Bible to mean completely-or in this case as much as possible.

The boys weren’t even stripped of their clothes. They were firmly tied (Verse 23) and they were thrown into the furnace. If they had expected God to come to their aid, we might think at that precise moment their prayers had not been answered. Helplessly the fell into a raging furnace. What a terrifying experience!But here comes the miracle:-V24… King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’v25… Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed…’Let’s remember they were so tied that as they
fell into the furnace they were helpless but now they were able to walk around!I don’t know about you, but if I was in the middle of a blazing fire and I was able to walk around, there’s only one place I’d be looking for and that’s the exit and even Usain Bolt wouldn’t beat me to it. But I get the impression from the narrative that in the middle of their horrendous experience, the Hebrew boys weren’t in any rush. It’s almost as though they were marvelling that their God was protecting them.

King Nebuchadnezzar saw four people in the fire but the narrative doesn’t say the Hebrew boys actually saw the fourth person who King Nebuchadnezzar and the onlookers saw. But the boys who were able to walk in the flames must have sensed God’s presence
. They didn’t allow their human instinct to take over at that point. They waited in the flames for the result of God’s miracle. And it was King Nebuchadnezzar who shouted for them to come out. He wanted to see if it was really true what he was seeing.

Many people today are in the middle of their fiery furnace-they are facing death by coronavirus. It’s not easy, is it, to pray to be delivered from the disease yet be content if that prayer isn’t answered in the one way they specifically want.
The three Hebrew boys trusted God with their future whenever it came. And God sent his presence to reassure them.They may come through the flames but if not, God’s presence would be with them through their ordeal and bring them to an eternity so infinitely more wonderful than their present world with all its problems and anxieties. The three Hebrew boys were quite prepared to witness to the miracle of their God in the middle of the worst thing which had ever happened to them. They weren’t preoccupied with finding an escape. And in the end, God was glorified by their deliverance, not
before they were thrown into the fire but in the middle of their terrifying experience.

The boys had to endure the ordeal until King Nebuchadnezzar could no longer believe his eyes and released them from the fire. Until then, the Hebrew boys were obviously where they didn’t want to be! And all the time, the challenge must have been to maintain their trust in God…would their clothes eventually catch fire; after King Nebuchadnezzar had seen them walking in the flames accompanied by God’s presence, would that be an end for the boys, leaving King Nebuchadnezzar to think over what he had seen.

The Hebrew boys weren’t super humans and like us it’s not always easy when we’re in the middle of a crises situation knowing how things are going to work out even when we’re doing our level best to keep trusting God.
Sometimes we can find ourselves in places and situations in which we would prefer not to be. O that we would remember the miraculous presence of God is with us even if we are in situations as dire as that of the three Hebrew boys. If our trust in God remains absolute, we can be certain that our God has our future in his hands. In the meantime, we may think God is not giving us the answer which we want but he always answers in a way which is best for us even if we don’t understand his reasoning. He will never give us
second best.

We might well identify with the Hebrew boys if they felt the best answer to their prayer might have been for a miracle which prevented them being thrown into the fire in the first place, but God’s answer was better than their best answer because he allowed them to have the experience of walking through a red hot furnace without a mark on them. What a testimony to God’s power and grace they would have for the rest of their lives as they told people of their incredible experience!

If, at the moment, you feel you’re walking through what feels like the most difficult situation you could ever experience, be assured that God’s presence will be with you and what he will provide, will be better than the very best you could ever hope would be.
Through the intensity of the fire you may be experiencing, the power of our God is able to bring you through unharmed.
Your God will not only be with you
in your time of trial, in the intensity of the fire you may be experiencing but he will bring you through the trial to a time of inexpressible joy. That is the kind of God we serve. That is the kind of miracle he gives and that is why we can trust him in every situation we experience. As we worship together let us sense that amazing, miraculous presence of God.

Audio file 00 He giveth more grace (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength as our labours increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ‘ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.


Audio file
00 Benediction (To hear the audio file please right click mouse, then left click to open new tab) 
May the presence of God be your refuge as you trust him to strengthen you by the Holy Spirit to declare the miracle of salvation through Jesus. Amen.

If you would like to comment on the service,  please e mail 
Dr Malcolm Westwood