Complete Trust

Connecting Points

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Today’s Topic: Complete Trust

Today’s Text:  Daniel 3:28 (ESV) 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”

Sunday after church I spotted a new family in the atrium of our building. I made a beeline for them as I had not met them yet. I introduced myself to the gentleman who was obviously the father of a little girl he was holding. After exchanging names and a handshake, I asked what the name of his little girl was. She turned her head from his shoulder, looked into my eyes, and lunged towards me with extended arms. As I took her into my arms, she nestled her head into my neck and gave me the warmest and most loving hug I had had since the one I got from my wife before we left for church. It lasted a long time. It was a moment of joy, but more than that it was a moment of complete trust.

As I talked to the parents, I discovered that this little girl didn’t go to everyone like that, but that she had displayed this incredible ability to know the trustworthiness of people based on looking into their eyes. I made an immediate connection with her, and this little downs syndrome two-year old is my new special friend.

It is that kind of trust that I want to have in my Lord and Savior. It is the kind of trust I see in the lives of three men from the book of Daniel, and it was obvious to those who lived around them and with them in their day.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had taken a stand against an incredibly arrogant king who had set up a huge idol for the people to worship. King Nebuchadnezzar had issued a nation-wide command that every person was to bow down and worship the idol whenever they heard music being played. If they didn’t, they would be thrown into a furnace and burned to death.

God’s three chosen men for that time refused to bow down, and the Chaldeans, the Pharisees of their day,  brought Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before the king for their punishment. King Nebuchadnezzar explained the rules to them, and the punishment for disobedience, and then asked them a question that revealed his arrogance – And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Or, to put it in the language of our current lives, “Is there really a god who can handle things better than I can?”

At this point I would be tempted to launch into an apologetic defense of the existence of God and take it upon myself to prove to the king that his views are wrong. But that would be equally arrogant. Instead, the three men of God simply respond, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

They are immediately whisked away to the fiery furnace that has been heated to seven times its normal heat, and as the door is opened to throw them in, the guards holding them are instantly killed. But not God’s men. The One and Only God of all creation, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has accompanied His people into the fire and it does not touch them.

When the king sees it, and has them removed, they don’t even smell like smoke let alone show any signs of burning. Then the king declares “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had so much trust in God that the declared two things to King Nebuchadnezzar – that God is able to save, and that God is worthy of trust whether He rescues or not. Based on his response to what happened, the king learned both of those lessons. True trust in God results in the yielding up of our lives, our ambitions, our dreams, our desires to serve the living God rather than serve and worship the god of self.

Go ahead, look into His eyes, and discover that He can be trusted with your life. Then lunge into His arms and stay there.

Pastor John

Don’t Forget the Net

Connecting Points

Monday, July 29, 2013

Today’s Topic: Don’t Forget the Net

Today’s Text:  Luke 5:4-6 (ESV)  4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.

It was a great vacation. I am refreshed, relaxed, and restored in my spirit. I had never been that far north into Canada before. The beauty of the wilderness filled me with awe and wonder at the mighty power and majesty of God. I saw moose swimming in the lake. I saw eagles soaring over the waters looking for food. I watched a beaver smack his tail on the water as he escaped the approaching boat. I got up close and personal with a loon as she protected her fledgling baby. Every experience made me consider the glory of the Creator who instantly made all things that exist with nothing more than His words.

While all of the glorious sights were thrilling, they were not the reason I was there. I was there to fish. And fish we did, with plenty of catching included. As my brother and I motored away from the dock every morning, our primary thoughts were not on what we would see that day, but on what we would catch. Every day was all about fishing.

Before we would start the motor we would run through a mental checklist.

  • Lunch packed? Check.
  • Tackle Boxes? Check.
  • Fishing poles? Check.
  • Nets? Check.
  • Stringers? Check.
  • Depth finder? Check.
  • Gas tank filled? Check.
  • Rain gear? Check.

Once we got out into the lake we did not want to have to return for something we needed to accomplish the mission, and the mission was to catch fish. All our thoughts and conversations were about fishing. We talked strategy. We talked technique. We evaluated locations. We analyzed weather patterns and wind conditions and lake structure. Everything we did was about finding fish and catching fish.

After a couple of days of doing that, God slammed me with this truth – I am not just a fisherman for this trip, but I am a fisher of men every day of my life. But there are many days when I leave the dock without my fishing equipment, and some days without even a thought of even going fishing.

Jesus has called us all to be fishers of men. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) He has given us all the same mission to cast the net of His Gospel truth over every person that we contact every day so that He can gather into the net those that He is saving from their sin. But many days we leave the net behind, and walk out into the world with a self-defined and self-serving mission on our minds. We become so self-absorbed in our own lives that even when an obvious lunker swims by ready to be caught, we miss them because we are looking at other things and are not prepared to catch them. We leave the dock without the net of God’s love and grace because we are so in love with ourselves.

The reality of that being true in my own life broke my heart. I realized how many days I get up, grab my coffee, and head out to conquer the day without a thought or prayer for all the fish that are waiting to be captured in the net of the King. I realize that underneath that reality there are two truths at work in my heart. First, I must admit that I am more concerned about my own life and maintaining its status quo than I am about the floundering fish around me. And second, that God doesn’t really need my net to accomplish His purpose. Both are wrong, and one is downright sin.

So I commit to making sure that my purpose every day is to look for fish, and to be prepared every day with the net of God’s love and grace. I will cast it out in every situation as I make contact with people, because it is what God has called me to do. He has called you to do the same.