Jayson Combs | Family Pastor
I was the guy who was always excited to hear the tornado sirens. I was the guy who always wanted to see a tornado. One day, however, that all changed. My wife and I were attending an outdoor graduation party, one of a current youth group member. As we were eating our food and chatting with others, we all noticed a storm approaching across the southern sky. We quickly finished our meal and decided to head for shelter in our car that happened to be parked a block away in a church parking lot. I vividly remember the wall of rain moving toward us as we picked up the pace to our car. Right before we reached the car, the rain hit hard. Then the wind whipped around, as I had never seen before. In the blink of an eye, a sheet of metal blew off the top the church building, narrowly missing my wife, and slamming into our car. One thought ran through my head; we need to get home, fast! We pulled out of the parking lot watching the traffic lights swing furiously. We turned onto our street, but two trees fell across the road in front of us, causing a power line to explode. We turned the car around to try to find another way home, but every road we chose had an uprooted tree blocking the way. We did manage to make it home safely that day, but the events of that day challenged the way I used to view a storm. I now realize how small, helpless, and powerless I am when it comes to fighting Mother Nature. As a result, I have more respect and appreciation for the power of any given storm.
Do you have a storm story?
As a follower of Christ, storms happen. Difficulties, stress, death, and pain, it all happens. So how do we deal with the storms?
1 Peter 4:12-16 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
God clearly (and repeatedly) says that we will have trials in our life. Why do we “Christians” question God while facing the storms of life?
Will God always take away the storms in our life? As you consider this question, read Paul’s response in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”)
What was Peter’s struggle in the storm of Matthew 14: 30-31 (“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”)?
For me, I often relate to Peter. In the storm, I begin to focus on the wind and not on my Savior. Have you had storms in your life where the wind took your focus off God?
What types of storms did Jesus face while He was here on the earth?
He was __________ . Matthew 4:2-3
He had __________________________ his head. Matthew 8:20
When Jesus heard Lazarus was dead he didn't just heal him, he walked approximately 20 miles.
Peter, his close friend ___________ him. Luke 22:54-62
The Disciples __________ over who was better. Mark 9:46
Judas who walked with Jesus _____________ Him. John 13:21
Daniel 3: “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 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. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 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. 18 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.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 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. 29 Therefore I make a decree: 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.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”
What type of storm were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego facing?
What type of peer pressure do you think they were facing?
Look again at Daniel 3:16-18.
How did they respond to the storm?
Did they have a lack of faith because they did not fully believe God would rescue them?
Years ago, I taught on the story in Daniel chapter three. I planned to use a large metal garbage bin as a visual aid during the lesson. As I presented to high school students, I went all ‘WWE’ on the garbage bin and dented it all up. After I finished having my fun with the garbage bin, I related the banged up bin to our lives. The garbage bin represented how storms would damage and dent up their lives. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also in the midst of a storm. They were facing death as a result of not worshipping the idols set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. Look at their response to the king in the scripture again.
“17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods…”
Verse 18 proves to be an incredibly powerful verse. They told the king that if God did not deliver them how they thought He should, they still would not serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego were B.I.N Christians, “But If Not” Christians. They would not give up. In the midst of trouble and pain, the storm was not going to destroy their testimony or faith in God, even if God did not intervene as they thought God should intervene.
Do you ever struggle with being a “But If Not” Christian? If so, how?
Why do you think God would allow his followers to be in storms?
Have you had a storm in your life that brought you closer to God?