Saturday, December 26, 2009
by Debbie Guinn
“Dear children, don't just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love.” 1 John 3:18 (NIRV)
Being the single mother of three teenage girls is difficult and being on disability—due to blindness resulting from Multiple Sclerosis—makes not only paying bills difficult, but made buying Christmas presents impossible, last year. My girls took it well when I told them we would not have enough money for presents and we all agreed—and were content—to shift our focus from presents to the true meaning of Christmas…the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Little did I know that across town the Martins were teaching their four children about the importance of giving to those less fortunate than themselves. Having saved one third of the money they earned by doing chores the previous year, the children had decided to give it to someone in need at Christmas.
A local radio station had a Christmas Wish contest to help those in need and unbeknownst to me, Suzanne, a dear sixteen-year-old friend, had entered my family and me into the contest. Although we did not win the contest, the Martin family had gone to the radio station to look through the contestants for a family to bless with the money they had saved. As they looked through the entries, the middle son felt a tug on his heart when he read our entry, submitted by Suzanne. The Martins agreed to choose our family to bless with the money they had saved.
On December 23rd, I received a phone call from an elated Suzanne, revealing her secret Christmas Wish and the Martin’s desire to help us. I was speechless! To know that this precious sixteen-year old would want to help make our Christmas special, was so touching to my heart. Then, to learn that a family chose us, out of the hundreds—even thousands—of wishes submitted, overflowed my heart with joy and gratitude, beyond anything words could express, at the moment.
The Martin family came to our house on Christmas Eve, bringing the money that they had saved. It wasn’t in a check; it wasn’t even a rounded off amount. It was every wrinkled, crumpled dollar that they had saved taken straight from their piggy banks…given from the unselfish hearts of children who wanted to bless us for Christmas.
This experience wasn’t about the money we received. We soon forgot how much was in that pile of money they brought us. The real gifts—the real blessings—were those that came from obedient hearts that desired to give as Christ did. God impressed my sweet friend to nominate me...and she did. God impressed that little boy to choose me...and his family did. In return, God blessed my girls and me beyond words. I guarantee He blessed the Martins and Suzanne too…and Christmas took on new meaning for everyone.
This year, as we celebrate Christmas, let us not forget the true reason for the season. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. Just as Christ came to earth, offering hope and bringing the promise of salvation, we also ought to share that hope and salvation with others each and everyday. I pray that none of us—myself included—get so caught up in the Christmas festivities that we neglect the Holy Spirit’s nudges on our hearts, prodding us to give the most important gifts of all.
It may be the gift of submitting a Christmas Wish for a family who won’t have any presents under the tree this year. Maybe you are the one who is to fulfill such a wish. It could be you have a hurting friend who needs an encouraging word or a listening ear…or needs you to stop and pray with them, instead of saying you will pray for them. God may want to use you to bring somebody into His family this year by sharing why Jesus came to earth…to die for our sins so that we can live forever with Him in Heaven some day.
The greatest Christmas gifts are not those that are bought with money, wrapped in pretty paper with great big bows, and placed under the tree. They are acts of love, performed out of unselfish hearts…and they usually bless the giver as much, if not more than, the receiver. I had the privilege of giving such a gift this week. The precious five-year old who was on the receiving end said, “Miss Debbie, you must be really happy because your whole face is smiling!” I was indeed happy and you will be happy, as well, when you give a love gift from your heart. Your whole face will be smiling too!
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” I John 4:9 (NIV)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The requests for more books continues to flow in on a daily basis...something I was, in all honestly, not prepared to happen...especially not this soon. I have not advertised anywhere--other than talking about it to friends on Facebook and face to face. Yet, I received 119 orders in 12 days. I ordered 130 books and sold them all within two weeks.
I continue to receive requests for orders--some wanting them to give as Christmas gifts. So, I am going to print some more books the end of this week...to be picked up the first of next week and shipped out Priority mail so that you can have them in time for Christmas. Whoo-hoo!! Incidentally, all books will be autographed.
If you would like to order, I need your order no later than, 6:00 AM, Saturday, December 12, 2009. That is in SIX days!!! ALL ORDERS NEED TO BE MADE THROUGH THE WEBSITE!!! Please do not leave comments or send me messages here, telling me you want to order. I really need all orders completed on the website, so that I don't miss any when I go to place the order for printing.You can order online at www.joyinthefurnace.com You can order using PayPal or you can click the "Go to Checkout" tab for an option to pay by check.
All orders will be shipped Priority mail. Due to the flat rate shipping with Priority mail, you can order many quantities at the same S&H rate as others. For example, the S&H for 3 books is the same as it is for 14 books. So, if you are ordering now but are considering ordering additional books, in the future, you might check out the S&H to see if it will save you money to order now rather than waiting until the next time. (I'm not trying to make a sales pitch here...just trying to save you money. Believe me, I wish I could just give them all away.)
Feel free to copy this note to your blog (I always get asked that question.) and share with anybody you think might be interested in this study. I am not out to sell books. I am simply here to share the truths from God's Word that you CAN have joy in the furnace...no matter how hot it it.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Every year around Thanksgiving, I find myself sitting with a group of friends or family answering the question “What are you thankful for this year?” As we go around the table or room, eyes well up with tears as loved ones thank God for family, health, wealth, friends, or other blessings the Lord has given throughout the year. There is something about that time of reflection and joint thanksgiving that causes us to recall just how good our Father is toward us, His children.I wonder, though, how our Father feels when we fail to thank Him for the tough times…the seemingly bad things that happen in our lives. Oh, we may thank Him for bringing us through those times. How often, though, do we thank Him for those times, especially when we are still in the midst of them?Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to give thanks in everything. He doesn't say to give thanks for the good things or when you see the bad things work out for good. This verse does not give us the option to decide those things for which we want to be thankful. In Ephesians 5:20 Paul says we should be “ always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ .” (NIV) Not only are we to give thanks for everything but we are to be doing it at all times…not just when we feel like it.A common therapy for individuals suffering from depression is to make a daily list of ten (or more) things for which they are thankful. Research has shown that finding things for which one is thankful can heal their depression. Actually, Solomon told us that several thousand years ago in Proverbs 17:22 where he said, “ A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones .” A thankful list might consist of things such as air, water, food, clothing, shelter, ability to walk, ability to breathe, ability to eat, ability to move an arm or leg. They might include children, spouse, and friends. Suffering from severe depression at times in my life, I know how hard it can be to come up with even one thing at times. As the depressed person progresses, they begin to find more and more things for which they are thankful.I wonder what would happen if we were to make a daily list of ten things for which we are thankful, including five good things and five of the seemingly bad things in our life…the areas where we don't feel like giving thanks but choose to anyway. My list from yesterday would look like this:
Thank you, Father, for loving me.
Thank you, Father, for giving me friends who love and pray for me.
Thank you, Father, for my beautiful daughters.
Thank you, Father, for helping me accomplish some things today that I needed to do.
Thank you, Father, for your peace and comfort
Thank you, Father, for the side effects of the medication that are still wreaking havoc on me.
Thank you, Father, for the lack of sleep the last two nights.
Thank you, Father, for my dear friend's death last night.
Thank you, Father, for not allowing me to see my friend again before she died.
Thank you, Father, that I still cannot think clearly enough to get my article written.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have had a WONDERFUL professional editor working with me and she has put the book into a format where it is ready to present to a publisher. Actually, she is feverishly working to finish it by the deadline. This printing will be a pre-published book. In other words, it is not officially published yet...but ready to be either self-published or presented to a publishing company, whichever I choose. However, it is very professional in format. The only difference is I won't have an ISBN and can't sell it in stores. I am waiting on God's leading and timing as to what direction to go on the publishing. Those who have edited and "field tested" the study have all encouraged me to publish it...that it is a much needed message.
Many of you have asked about ordering books from me. So, I wanted to let you know that you now have an opportunity to do so. Some of you may want to hold off for the published version and that is fine. Although, I have no clue when that will be. I just want to let you know it is available, if you are interested.
I am only ordering a limited number of the books right now. You MUST pre-order one if you would like one. The cost of the books will probably be around $15 depending on the number of books we order. I don't anticipate it being more than that--based on what we paid for the first set we purchased--but it could be less, if I get a lot of orders. For those of you who don't live in Fort Worth, there would also be shipping charges.
If you would like to order books, please let me know no later than Wednesday, November 11th.. You do not have to pay now. I just need a count to know how many to order. Once I know the exact price, I will contact you and start collecting money and mailing out books.
If you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you! I hope that this study ministers to all who read it and that all of you find joy in the furnace!!
Consider it all joy? How am I supposed to consider it all joy when my life is coming apart at the seams and my world is crumbling around me? You must be kidding!
Join Debbie in this exciting six-week journey through the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where you will discover that it is possible to find joy—even greatly rejoice—right in the middle of the deepest darkest furnace you can imagine. Debbie uses her own personal story and powerful truths from God's Word to share six key principles for finding joy in the furnace. You will discover that:
• The furnace is inevitable
• God is with you in the furnace
• God sets you free in the furnace
• God heals you in the furnace
• God perfects you through the furnace
• God receives glory through the furnace
This study can be done on an individual basis or in groups. Group discussion questions are provided at the back of the book.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Joy in the Furnace Part 2
By Debbie Guinn ©
James 1:2-4 -- Consider it ALL joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking in NOTHING .”
In Part 1, we looked at the principles I will have trials and God is always with me in the furnace (trials). We are going to continue our study in Daniel Chapter 3 and see what we can learn from the time that Shadrach , Meshach , and Abednego spent in the furnace. I hope you will see that God has a plan for each of the furnaces in our lives and He is at work in them.
The third principle is one that REALLY excites me!! I am set free in the furnace! Daniel 3:21 says, “So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. Verse 23 says, and these three men, firmly tied , fell into the blazing furnace.” However, in verse 25 it says, “I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound ….” The soldiers had bound the men before throwing them into the furnace and now they are FREE -- walking around unbound.
Not only is God IN the fire with us but He will also “unbound” us -- set us free of those things that keep us in bondage -- during those times of trial. As I study Scripture, I cannot think of any place in the Bible where God delivered somebody from something when they were just going along enjoying life. He always sets people free while they are going through the trials and hardships in their lives. He sets us free in the fire!! Now that is something that I can get excited about! Yes, it makes the trials worth it, knowing that He is setting me free during those times.
The fourth principle I found in this story is I will NOT suffer harm while in the furnace. Daniel 3:25 goes on to tell us that the king saw the men “walking around in the fire… unharmed …." Verse 27 adds, “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.”
God does not lead us into the fire to bring harm to us or to destroy us. He wants to give us life, not bring us harm. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you….” . Satan is the one who is out to bring us harm. John 10:10 says, “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” Satan is the thief – the one who tries to harm us – not Jesus . Jesus comes to give us life – real, full life – a life better than we ever dreamed or imagined.
We may feel incredible pain and it may seem like we are suffering greatly when we are in the fire. However, in God's eternal scheme of things, we will not be harmed. In fact, once we emerge from the fire, we won't even smell of fire. In other words, the work that God does in our lives as we go through trials is SO great and powerful, that once we come out of that trial, we will radiate with joy, peace, healing – to the point that we carry on us only the fragrance and aroma of Christ and His work in our life. We will “smell” of that abundant life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 speaks of this. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
The fifth principle that I find in this story is that My trials “promote” me in my pursuit for God's perfection in my life. In Daniel 3:30 we find that the king promoted Shadrach , Meshach and Abednego . They had already been in a place of high rank before this, but here they were promoted to an even higher status. It is the same for us. Going back to James 1:2-4, we see that our trials are meant to make us “perfect, complete, lacking in nothing.” A couple of other verses that address this are: 1 Peter 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” and 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Each trial we go through brings us one step closer to complete perfection in Christ that will be revealed when we go to spend eternity with Him.
Jesus , Himself, was made perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10 says, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 5:8-9 adds, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” What an honor to be made perfect in the same way that Jesus Christ , the Son of God was also brought to perfection!
The sixth, and final, principle is what I believe to be the ULTIMATE purpose behind ALL of our trials. It is that God will receive glory and honor through my trials!!! In Daniel 3:28, we find that the king had a total change of heart. "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.'” In verse 29, he issued a 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." In the end of this entire fiery ordeal, GOD WAS GLORIFIED!!! These three men had been such a strong witness, standing up for God even in the face of death. God rewarded their obedience and the king saw God's power and gave Him the glory and honor that He was due.
I believe that one of the reasons God allows us to go through trials is so that we too can give Him glory. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice , though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed .” I love that!! My suffering will ultimately result in praise, honor and glory when Christ is revealed!
You see that is how I can “consider it all joy”…that is how I can “greatly rejoice” when I go through trials. I begin by accepting that I WILL have trials. I KNOW that God is ALWAYS with me through every single one. I get excited knowing that I will be set free during these trials, that I will NOT be harmed by them, and that they are bringing me one step closer to perfection in Christ where I will not lack in ANYTHING. The thing that causes me to rejoice the most is knowing that my trials are bringing glory and honor to the one who suffered far more than I ever have or will in order to give me eternal life with Him. Knowing HE will receive glory and honor makes any trial worth whatever suffering it brings.
My challenge to you today is to do just what James 1:2 says…”Consider it ALL joy…when you encounter various trials.” Thank God for your trials and for the work that he has done and will continue to do in your life, in and through each and every one of them. I pray that each of you will learn to find true JOY in the furnace.
Keep pressing in to HIM!!
Debbie Guinn was born in Phoenix, AZ, graduated from Southwest Baptist University and has lived in Texas since 1994. She is the single mother of three daughters and lives in Ft. Worth Texas . Debbie resigned from her job as an Administrative Assistant in 2001 when the effects of Multiple Sclerosis began to take her sight. She is a speaker, an editor, as well as an author who regularly contributes to Heartbeat the Magazine and is currently working on two books. Debbie 's transparency and firm grasp of God's truth challenges women of every age and stage to trust in the life-giving power of God's Word for every aspect of their lives.
Joy in the Furnace – Part 1
I don’t know about you, but finding joy in any trial – even the “little” ones –was never an easy task for me. I knew that as a Christian, I “should” look at things that way, but it just seemed to be one of those things that I would never accomplish during my life here on earth.
That all began to change last winter, when I found myself dealing with a debilitating illness. For four months, I was unable to do much of anything from a physical standpoint. However, God used that time to do a work in my spiritual life…mainly teaching me how to find joy in my trials. It was more than simply choosing to be happy IN SPITE OF my trials. It was a time of truly learning to thank God FOR the trials. It was a process of discovering that it IS possible to rejoice in – yes, get excited about – even the toughest, most painful trials.
One day, I was telling God how tired I was of being sick. I was completely overwhelmed with my circumstances. I had so many things that needed done; I couldn’t do anything because of my health; I had nobody to help me with things; I was afraid; I was lonely; I wanted it all to end…. Honestly, I was just having a good pity party that day. I had put on a CD to listen to, hoping to lift my spirits.
A song started playing and two lines from that song really got my attention. It says, “If you lead us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand; We’ll gaze into the flames and look for you.” God just stopped me in my tracks right there and said, “
He was so right – but then again, He always is. I tend to do one of two things when I am going through trials in my life. Either I look at the “stuff” (situations, circumstances, people) going on in my life – or I decide to ignore all that “stuff” and focus instead on all the good things that God has done/is doing in my life. There is nothing wrong with looking at the good. In fact, God’s Word tells us that we ARE to think on good things. It says in Phil. 4:8, ”Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”(KJV)
It IS good to think on the good – we need to have our thoughts on those things. However, I believe God was telling me that I needed to look to HIM wherever HE is. He doesn’t want me to forget or ignore the good things He has done, but He wants me to follow Him and see Him IN the trials too. If I am looking at the “stuff” – even the good “stuff” -- I can’t focus on HIM and see what He longs to do in and through the trial.
I began to think of trials as being in the fire, comparing the “stuff” to the flames. I was drawn to the story in Daniel of Shadrach,
For sake of time and space, I am not going to cite the entire story, but I highly encourage you to read the first three chapters of
More importantly, though, is the fact that they were men who loved and served God – and ONLY God. When commanded to bow down and worship the king’s golden image, they refused. Even when threatened with death, they stood firm in their convictions, certain that one way or another God would deliver them. (
The first principle from this story is that I WILL have trials in my life. It is easy to think that trials only affect certain people – those from a certain social or economic class, race, etc. Many times, we think that trials only come to people who “deserve” them due to sin or “poor choices” in life. Therefore, if I am going through a trial, I must have done something wrong to deserve it.
The truth of the matter is that EVERYBODY has trials. NOBODY is exempt from them. It does not matter how wealthy we are; how high up on the socio-economic ladder we are; how good or bad we are. It doesn’t even matter how little or great our faith in God is.
The second thing we can learn here is that God is with me in the furnace (trials).
The Bible contains MANY passages where God promises that He will ALWAYS be with us and that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. One of my favorites is Isaiah 43:2-3 “When you pass through the waters, I WILL be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”(ESV) Here are some other passages where this promise is evident: Genesis 21:22; 26:24: 28:15; 31:3; Deuteronomy 4:29-31; 20:4; 31:6-8,23; Joshua 1:5,9; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Psalm 9:10; 16:8-10; 23:4; 37:25,28; Isaiah 41:17; 42:16; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 15:33; 2 Corinthians 4:9; 13:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:5.
I think there are two parts to God being with me in the furnace. The first is the more obvious factor, simply that I am NEVER alone. He is ALWAYS with me through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The second part – the part I often forget – is that there is NOTHING I go through that
Next time we will look at what God does during the trials in our lives. Until then, “do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (I Peter 4:12). Remember, you will have trials BUT you are never alone. Your Father who loves you is with you, wanting to do a mighty work in and through that very trial.
Debbie Guinn was born in Phoenix, AZ, graduated from