Tag Archives: trust

Launch Out into the Deep

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.  And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Luke 5:4-5

“Launch out into the deep…”  I’m sure many a sermon has been preached on those five words in chapter five, and deservedly so.  Those five words address a faith many are inspired by but few experience.  Launching out so far that God is the only possible rescue and the only possible explanation for success.  Reading from our desks or easy chairs gives us a false sense of detachment when we think about faith of this magnitude.  The mere thought of that kind of blind obedience brings with it exhilaration, excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety, doubt and of course rational thought.  That’s why it is the kind of faith that only 300 men in Gideon’s 32,000 man army possessed.

“Nevertheless at thy word…”  Simon Peter along with James and John had just cleaned their nets.  Being up all night they surely had not sat in one place.  They had moved back and forth across the water, looking for any sign of fish.  They were tired and ready to go home.  Maybe tomorrow would be better.  (It certainly couldn’t get worse.)  There was no earthly reason to go back out and drop those nets again.

But something caused Simon Peter to do it.  Maybe it was the literal thought that it couldn’t get any worse.  Maybe it was to demonstrate that he knew what he was talking about.  Maybe it was just to appease this man and get him off the boat.  Whatever the reason, I doubt it had much to do with strong, unwavering faith.  That came later. Notice that Jesus told him to let down his nets; plural, and Simon agreed to let down the net; singular.

No, the faith and belief that sustained Simon the rest of his life began with obedience. 

God is God.  He will test our faith, reward our faith, and grow our faith to a degree we can’t imagine.  Want He wants from us is not huge, undying faith – that will come.  The Almighty God of the Universe, our Lord and Creator wanted one thing from the Israelites and He wants one thing from you and me – obedience.  What minuscule amount of faith it takes to obey is sufficient.  

Think of all the rational objections you can.  Reason how what you feel led to do makes no sense and you don’t even believe half this stuff.  Tell yourself how crazy this will look to everyone around you.  And then remember the four words of obedience that changed Peter’s life and eternity – Nevertheless at thy word.

Article by C.S. Depew

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Green Pastures & Still Waters – but no Bed of Roses

In my opinion one of the most misunderstood passages of the twenty-third Psalm is verse 2: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” As you read this passage, you might imagine herds of sheep eating on the green hillside and drinking in a nearby babbling brook.

What made me stop and consider was the thought that the Shepherd had to make the sheep lie down in green pastures. It would seem that life in a pleasant, green land, you would not have to make the sheep lie down. So consider with me what would make the pastures so green? Storms – of course. Remember, Psalm 23 is talking about life on Earth with the Shepherd – not life in Heaven. In Heaven the green fields will not need storms, but on Earth they do. The same applies to the Christian life. The small storms of the pasture prepare us for the dark valley ahead.

Unfortunately, too many Christians are ill-prepared for the Christian life.

We must realize that a life of faith is grown. Look at the lives of great men of faith – men like Abraham, David, and Moses were not born as men of great faith – they were grown. The small difficulties faced on the green pastures of their lives grew their faith. Yes, it is true that God provided for their need on the pasture, but he also taught them. The sheep will jump into any water to drink. It is up to the Shepherd to lead him to the water that is safe to drink. It is the responsibility of the sheep to learn to listen to the Shepherd. That is the true purpose of the time spent in green pastures and by still waters. These are the places were we learn the voice of the Shepherd. We learn to walk where He says; we learn to lay down when He says. The reason for the storm becomes less important as learning to trust Him becomes more important.

Dr. Lee Roberson led me to Christ as a 5 year old boy. I can still hear him in my head saying, “Have faith in God.” As we grow in the Christian life, we will be tested. There will come a day that you face a valley. It will be dark, and you may not see the hand of the Shepherd like you did on the pasture. It may only be His still small voice that encourages you on. If you have not learned to listen for His voice you will be lost when the valley comes. It is easy to enjoy the green of the pastures and the stillness of the water and to take for granted that the Shepherd is trying to train you. We bristle as sheep against the rod and the staff. We want to live our way.

A sheep who has not learned the basics of the rod and staff will wonder off the path.

I can not emphasis enough the importance of learning the lessons of faith early. As a teenager, I took a softball to the head. I spent my 18th birthday in a hospital bed unable to move. For the first time in my life nobody could help me. The only person who knew what was really going on was my Shepherd. After a month of the doctors shaking their heads, I slowly began to learn to walk again. That step of faith back there seems so small compared to the level of faith I need for my daily walk today. I claim to be no great Christian, but I have learned to take steps by faith. The Shepherd has had many lessons for me. Each new loss of ability seems like a giant storm coming my way. It is in those times that the Shepherd makes me lie down in the green pastures. It is when I am desperately thirsty for some life-giving water that He leads my beside those refreshing, still waters.

I can testify that I have seen many storms come by, but I must also testify that the Shepherd has always been faithful. The storms may swirl around me so strong that I can not see the hand of the Shepherd. It is in those times that His still small voice breaks through the storm. It is those times that the rod and staff comfort me. If I had waited till the storm came to learn His voice it would have been too late. The time to learn the voice of the Shepherd is when the sun is shining on the pasture.

My friend, you will face storms in life.
The faith you have in the Shepherd will be tested.

Each opportunity for faith will be one step outside of what you think you can do. The decision you face is this: Will you learn from the Shepherd, or will you try to live the Christian life alone? Think about it this way… If your faith is never tested than you can never grow in faith. I will tell you this, I do not have the faith to stand in front of a million people and stretch my rod out over the Red Sea and expect God to part the water. That is not my test nor is it yours. I can tell you this though, that when Moses acted in faith God parted the water. The question is not if God can do something, but rather will He use you to do something. Learn to walk in faith, and give God the resource to do great things. 

Article by David Wagner

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Scriptural Steps to Secular Success – Part 2

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Title Is Earned

Genesis 39:4-5 “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.”

God Rewards Faithfulness, As Do Bosses

The Christian life is a call to faithfulness.  In the secular world, consistent productivity is noticed.  While some members of management may seem to “have it out for Christians,” today’s economic climate dictates that they not only notice but reward productivity.  When your testimony improves, opportunities will present themselves.  As Joseph found grace (or favor) in Potiphar’s sight, he continued to serve.  That is exactly what you must continue to do.  Beware!  There is a tendency to get comfortable, to relax, to become lazy. Put simply, be faithful!  Remember, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life!

Temptation Often Comes Before and After Success

I’ve never worked to obtain a title.  But I will be the first to admit that I enjoy recognition and affirmation.  Just like Joseph, I have been made an “overseer” of some sort at almost every job.  However, I never compromised to obtain it.  The temptation was there.  They threw out the infamous, “Well, we really are going to need you to work Sunday morning.”  I always respectfully said no, and God never went back on His word.  He blessed my faithfulness just like he blessed Joseph’s – and just like He will bless yours.  As we see in verses 7-12 of Genesis 39, temptation came to Joseph – and it came at some point following becoming the overseer of Potiphar’s house.  But, I am confident that temptation and opportunities to compromise had presented themselves much earlier as well.  Maybe Joseph was asked to participate in some pagan ritual or eat food offered to false gods.  Maybe he was mocked for his belief in only one God, rather than the Egyptians’ many gods.  Had Joseph compromised, his success would have been “his” and not “His” (i.e., the Lord’s)!

Trust Is Exhibited

Genesis 39:6 “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.  And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”

A Title Is NOT Synonymous with Trust

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute!  You earn trust before you get a title.”  That is not what we see in this passage.  Joseph is made “overseer” but only of Potiphar’s house and what Potiphar put into his hand.  Later, in verse 6, we see that Potiphar leaves “all that he had” in Joseph’s hand.  My experience has been that managers often do not trust other managers; as a matter of fact, managers will often trust their employees more than other managers.  Stated differently, you can have a title without having trust.

Trust Is Superior to a Title

Trust is more difficult to earn than a title and much easier to lose.  If you lose your temper, stretch the truth, or fudge the numbers – even once – you can lose or diminish the trust you have built over many months or years.  But each time you “do the right thing” you increase the trust.  If a co-worker told your boss that you swore at them or mishandled money, would they question you or summarily dismiss this as “something I know he/she would never do”?  I have had co-workers defend me to my boss, not because I was a supervisor, but because of trust.  As a Christian attorney, if I had to choose, I would much rather be a trusted associate than a distrusted partner.  However, following simple, Biblical principles and trusting God to reward as He has promised means that you will rarely have to choose!

No matter what your occupation or geographic location or the level of your compensation, you can be successful in the secular world.  Over time, look for ways to display Christian qualities in your work.  Make your testimony a priority, higher than friendship or recognition.  Faithfully work and look for opportunities to serve your boss; they will result in your boss giving you a place of leadership.  And, most importantly, build and guard the trust that you earn.

If the life of Joseph teaches use one thing, it is this: Doing right is not always easy, but it is always right.  And, right is ALWAYS blessed by God.  


Read Part 1

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Scriptural Steps to Secular Success – Part 1

For those of us not in the ministry, work is the place we spend the largest amount of time each week.  It therefore presents a great opportunity to display Biblical Christianity.  Nowhere in Scripture is the life of a Christian in the world better exemplified than Genesis 39.  In this portion of Scripture we find Joseph, who had been sold by his brothers into slavery, serving in Potiphar’s house.  If we fast-forward to Genesis 41, we find this very same man is now the second in command in Egypt, wearing the Pharaoh’s ring, married to the Pharaoh’s daughter! His “success story” was no accident; it was not the product of luck.  I believe the first six verses of Genesis 39 are a microcosm of Joseph’s life and hold the key to Joseph’s success.

While many books could be written about Joseph’s life, I believe a few important “steps” were the key to his success while working in the world.  These steps are something from which every Christian can learn.

Time Elapses

Genesis 39:1-2 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.  And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

 Don’t Hide Your Light

I’m going to start, rather than end, with the disclaimer.  I am not advocating being a “closet Christian” or hiding your light under a bushel – not even for a day.  However, experience has taught me that our Christian witness is often much more effective and powerful when exhibited over a period of time.  People can question “religious” words, but they find it much more difficult to discredit true Christian living.  Joseph was purchased by Potiphar.  For some period of time, Joseph was “in the house of his master.”  It was during this time that Joseph continued to live his life for God, just as if he were still at home.

Be an Exemplary Employee

The first step to secular success is to live your Christianity every single day at work.  Be the best employee in every way possible.  Show up on time.  Work hard.  Be absolutely honest.  If you are wronged by someone, turn the other cheek.  Don’t aim to be popular, aim to be profitable.  Every boss I have ever had has taken notice of employees that excel.  Remember to do your work “to the glory of God.”

Look for opportunities to talk about the Lord and church.  Don’t tell people you can’t come to the barbeque on Sunday “because you’re busy.”  Tell them you will be at church.  Love your fellow employees.  When you see or hear they have a heartache, ask them about it, tell them you will pray for them, and actually pray for them.  Follow-up telling them that you’ve prayed and asking how the situation turned out.  Over time, your co-workers and bosses will not only know something is different, they will know what is different.

Testimony Is Elevated

Genesis 39:3 “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

You Are on the Stand

The secular world calls it “reputation.”  Most Christians refer to it as “testimony.”  I much prefer the latter.  Think about the word.  The definition includes: 1) affirmation, declaration; 2) open attestation, profession; 3) witness, evidence, proof of some fact.  For a Christian, each day presents an opportunity to help or hurt the cause of Christ – to build the case for Christianity.  To put this differently, and in paraphrase of a devotion written by Oswald Chambers, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life.  If you profess the name of Christ at your workplace, people will start collecting evidence; they may even interrogate you.

You Are NOT Testifying on Your Own Behalf

We often forget the purpose of our life.  What do you see as the end goal of your secular work?  It is not to obtain a comfortable life.  Though important, it is not ultimately about providing for your family.  The purpose for everything you do in life should be to bring glory to God.  Imagine that you were on the stand testifying on behalf of a loved one who was accused of a serious felony, who was believed by many to be guilty, who you knew to be innocent.  How careful would you be with your words?  How careful would you be with your life the days before and after testifying if you knew the “accusers” were watching your every move to discredit your testimony?  If we were all this careful when it came to our testimony on behalf of Christ, the world would have a much different view of us and Him.

You ARE in Control of Your Testimony

Nowhere is our Christian testimony more “on trial” than in the workplace.  But just like a witness on the stand, you are completely in control of the testimony you put forth, and you must tell the truth.  You’ve heard the euphemisms – “A testimony takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.”  It’s true!  If you live your life every day to please Christ, you might not be the most popular person with your co-workers, but you will gain their respect.  They will “see that the Lord is with you.”  And, I can tell you from experience, your boss will also be pleased.  Your testimony, influence, and opportunities will continue to expand.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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