But If Not

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Last week, I read a short except written by Margaret Feinberg from her new book Fight Back With Joy. She told a brief story referencing a couple verses in Daniel, and it made an impression on me.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a decision: would they obey the Babylonian king and the law to bow down to his golden idol, or would they be thrown into the furnace as punishment for breaking the law? Their beliefs were strong.
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The important words there are “But if not”. The three boys were telling the king that their God could pluck them right out of the fiery furnace, but if He chose not to do that, they would still not worship another god.
Their belief in God was absolute. They had no doubt that their God could save them from the furnace, and if that did not happen, they did not care, they still believed that God was Almighty.
Sometimes I need a reminder of God’s absolute might. I know it, of course, but there are times when I put myself in charge. Yeah. I’m not really in charge, and life is a lot easier if I remember that God can pluck me right out of the fiery furnace. I sure can’t do that myself.
So, here is my visual reminder. It started as a scrap of wood and now tells the story of the unwavering faith of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
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To make one, you need:

  • a piece of wood: mine is 4″ x 7″ and thick enough to stand on its own. You can use any scrap of wood, unfinished or already painted. You could easily do it on any surface: paper, terra cotta, tin, etc. The pattern is easy to adapt.

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  • acrylic paints, 5 colors of your choice, these are mine:

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  • a medium flat paintbrush, a liner brush
  • a black permanent marker (optional)
  • pencil with an unused eraser
  • hair dryer (optional)
  • palette or paper plate, water container
  • ruler

Here is what you do:

1. Paint the front and sides of the block white. Let it dry, or use your hair dryer to hurry the drying. Hold it no closer to the surface than about 10″ for best results.

2. Paint the sides of the block one of your colors. Let dry. Paint the back of the block another color. Let everything dry.

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3. Measure and draw an outside border of about 1″. Make your pencil marks light. Measure and mark a 1/4″ border inside the 1″ border.

4. Paint the inside rectangle and the outside border in colors of your choice. Let dry.

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5. Squeeze a little paint out onto the palette. Dip the pencil eraser into the paint and print on the outer border. Continue until it is polka dotted.

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6. Make black and white checks on the 1/4″ border. If it is easier to use a marker for this, use your permanent marker instead of your liner brush.

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7. Using either the liner brush or the black marker, print or write in the center: but if not. You can freehand this or print it on your computer/printer, transfer it and paint it.

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8. On the back side, using your marker, write Daniel 3: 17-18.

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Every time you look at your piece of art, you will be reminded that if God does not save you from the scary furnace, you know that it is not because He can’t. It is because He has a better plan. You believe that.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

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Peace is Yours

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Peace. Shalom. Being at ease internally and externally.

My word for 2014 is peace. This year I have been studying how to find peace, and how to hold on to it.

Some things I have learned about peace:

  • Having peace does not mean that the problems have all been solved. Having peace means that the problems have all been given to God with faith that He will handle them, and so they are no longer viewed as problems.
  • God’s peace is always available to me. God is unchanging and the Holy Spirit does not take a vacation. So, if I am missing peace, it’s me causing it.
  • When I am most in need of peace, the fastest way there is to focus on the proven character of God. There are plenty of examples of that in the bible.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were asked if they were ready to worship Nebudchadnezzar’s golden idol or be thrown into the fiery furnace, they said,

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From the boys, I learn that the peace they have about being thrown into the furnace comes from the fact that no matter the outcome, God is in control of the situation. He is bigger than the fire and the furnace. The boys were not worried, they were at ease. They had peace.

I know peace jewelry reminds some people of a turbulent time in the 70s, but it reminds me that peace is mine whenever I need it.

You can make these peace sign earrings in 10 minutes. If you have never made jewelry before, you can make these in 10 minutes. If you have made a zillions pieces of jewelry, you can make these in 10 minutes. No tools are required but a pair of scissors.

You need:

  • 2 peace sign charms: any color, any size
  • 2 beads: any color, any size (I had these gorgeous jasper beads. Use any beads that make you happy)
  • 2 ear wires: any color
  • 8″ of embroidery floss: any color
  • scissors
  • clear drying glue (optional)

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10 minutes. Start now:

1. Separate the floss so you have two pieces of three strands each. String a charm to the center of one piece and tie a knot to hold it in place.

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2. Hold both ends of the floss together. String a bead over both.

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3. Separate the floss pieces. Slide an ear wire over one piece. Knot floss ends together, keeping the ear wire close to the bead.

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4. Trim the ends of the floss.

Repeat steps 1-4 to make the other earring. You can add a tiny drop of glue, if you want, on the knot at the ear wire. Use jewelry glue or any glue that dries clear.

You’re done!

Do you have a favorite story of personal peace from the bible? Who and what is it about? Share!

Pray about everything. Philippians 4:6,

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