A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Daily Encouragement on
Friday, May 3, 2019
Note: Today's message is a bit longer than most.
Message summary: Today we consider a powerful, vitally necessary type of faith expressed in the words "but if not".
Listen to our message on your audio player.
"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" (Daniel 3:16-18).
We met Tim Heitz about five years ago when he came on board as the sales manager for a company we serve as chaplains. Tim had served as a pastor and right away expressed to us his vibrant faith in the Lord. He was active as a fill-in preacher and several times we went to hear him preach. On one occasion he and his wife, Julie, invited us to their house for dinner following the worship service.
This January Tim was diagnosed with ALS. We have been following his very candidly reported journey since then on his Facebook page. Last week when hospice was mentioned we knew we wanted to get over and visit Tim.
His disease has advanced quickly but his faith is not deterred. In fact it is more visible as his frequent utterances of faith stir the hearts of those with whom he engages. During our visit it was a blessing to see him receiving so much support from family and friends though it was not surprising, for Tim is highly esteemed and greatly loved by many. We visited for a little while and I told him I believed his story would bless others so he gave us permission to share it along with the photo we took in the lead photo. We made sure his big white pickup that he used to haul his camping trailer was in the background, as he and Julie often went camping in the past!
He has lost function in various parts of his body but is still able to text using his left hand. Early this week knowing we would be sharing his story, he sent me a text quoting the daily text and wrote, "I'd like to remind your readers of these verses. As I paraphrase it 'my God whom I serve is able to deliver me, but if not I will still praise Him'".
Today let us examine the three word phrase "but if not" which we believe is one of the great faith proclamations in the Bible. It was uttered by three courageous young men whose story is recorded in the book of Daniel. Their testimony is an extraordinary example of uncompromising allegiance to Almighty God in the face of our relentless enemy.
While in exile they were given the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But in actuality their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azzariah (Daniel 1:11). *
The account of these men of faith is surely one of the greatest stories of deliverance recorded in Scripture. It demonstrates to believers of all ages the incredible power of faith, courage and obedience. They got into serious trouble because they refused to compromise a core commandment of God in bowing down to the 90' golden image Nebuchadnezzar had set up. The consequence for failing to comply to the kingís command was being thrown into a fiery furnace.
They were brought before the king and given a final opportunity to submit to the king's edict. Their powerful response was, "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."
Many of you have likely heard the story many times, perhaps even from childhood Sunday School, and you know it for the amazing deliverance that took place. But going into it they did not what know what the outcome would be and their faith stance was not dependent on the deliverance they experienced.
When pressed to comply with the king's edict to bow down to the idol they answered, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter". Their faith was completely in God and they knew ultimately that it was He Whom they needed to answer. Their training as earnest, faithful Jews clearly stipulated that bowing to an idol was forbidden.
"If this be so (being thrown into the fiery furnace), our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace." Notice the phrase, "our God whom we serve". This probably infuriated Nebuchadnezzer who was accustomed to demanding the service and even worship from his subjects. "Is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace". Indeed God is able to do all things, He is a supernatural God.
But what follows is that three word phrase that powerfully demonstrates their unconditional, unwavering faith, "But if not". Some versions word it, "But even if He does not" That is, even if our God who is able chooses to work in another way, "be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up".
Bible readers are familiar with the events of deliverance like that which happened in the fiery furnace or later with Daniel in the lion's den. These events are recounted later in the Book of Hebrews in the "Faith Chapter" and specifically alluded to in this portion, "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection" (Hebrews 12:32-35a). He's summarizing here how God worked in the faithful in providing deliverance of various sorts.
But midway through verse 35 the outcome, at least as it pertains to this earthly life, changes, "and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground" (Hebrews 35b-38).
The Bible also has this record with those such as John the Baptist, Stephen, and James who all died while faithfully serving God, not experiencing deliverance in the same sense that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.
No matter the circumstances God is no less God and no less powerful, faithful, good, or merciful. Our narrow, temporal outlook may be "skewed" because we can only view from this side of heaven but as we consider God in the eternal realm we realize that He is working for our good, no matter what. As the oft repeated phrase from years ago states, "God is good all the time and all the time God is good".
Like these three men we need to demonstrate an attitude of "But if not" faith, and Tim is doing this. He knows God is able to deliver him and grant him a healing for additional years on this side; he along with his family and friends would surely joyfully welcome this. But Tim has declared, "but if not I will still praise Him". Indeed he will praise Him during the remainder of his days on this side of eternity however long that may be and he will then offer endless praise on the other side. May that be our testimony as well.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
"Let your faith roar so loud that you can't hear what doubt is saying." (unknown source)
Several mutual friends have shared a tribute to Tim:
Ron Hoover is the chair for a Convene team and a business mentor.
"I first met Tim Heitz when he was serving as CEO of Superior Walls in New Holland. He joined and contributed significantly to our Convene team. I had the opportunity to assist him in obtaining a leadership position at Lancaster Bible College where he served faithfully as head of the Development Office. Tim's strong pastoral background coupled with his corporate experience brought him significant success in this role. Upon returning to corporate life, Tim has always found ways to serve and care for his staff and clients in a Christ-like fashion."
Chris Leaman is the owner of JK Mechanical where we met Tim.
"Tim joined our team in July 2014 and for almost four years, I had the honor of calling Tim a co-worker and team member. Tim is a great servant leader. He exudes care and kindness for his direct reports and for his coworkers around him. Tim demonstrated our core values at the highest level, and he is a strong collaborator and supporter when working with fellow team members. As a member of our team, Tim positively impacted my life and the lives of many other coworkers. God bless you, Tim! Your contributions and impact on our team will not be forgotten."
Casey Blackwell leads the plumbing department at JK Mechanical and was a member in one of the churches Tim pastored,
"I began attending Mt. Zion UMC, under the pressure of my younger brother, Keith, who had asked me to come and hear Tim Heitz. At the time, I was struggling spiritually and was even questioning my faith.
A particular sermon hit me so hard, it brought me to tears. For those who know me, thatís not typical. Tim had such a powerful delivery, it lit a fire in my life that helped me get back on track. I will forever be grateful for the privilege of listening to Tim deliver Gods Word at Mt Zion. I want him to know the kind of impact heís had on my life and Iím sure, countless others. Tim, youíre loved."
Tim Heitz, with June Uhler, who is over 90 years of age. She was Tim's youth leader. He also sang duets with her on the local AM Ephrata radio broadcast their church aired for many years back in the 70's. Tim is considerably taller and is courteously kneeling beside her as we took this photo.
We first heard Tim speak at a rural congregation in eastern Lancaster County. Tim preached a sermon regarding listening for God's voice.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Blessings" Video Laura Story
"He Is Able" Video Maranatha Singers
Early yesterday morning we attended the National Day of Prayer Breakfast at the Gathering Place here in Mount Joy, PA. Stephen was invited to pray for area businesses along with many other individuals who prayed for our government officials, military, police, fire and first responders, education, churches, families and media. It was nice to participate in one of many prayer gatherings that took place yesterday all over the country.
Friends who sat at our table and participated in the prayer service.
Senator Ryan Ament led in prayer for our government officials. He also shared this beautiful and humbling Puritan prayer that touched our hearts from the book he is holding, "The Valley of Vision" (a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions) given to him years earlier by his father.
* When I was pastoring in New England I once shared a message about the three men in today's text and I asked a trivia sort of question, "Does anyone know their Hebrew names?" Without hesitation 9 year old Garrison raised his hand and with a knowing smile confidently responded, "Rack, Shak and Bennie." Now if you have children or grandchildren you're probably laughing right now as you might recognize these are their nicknames based on a popular Veggie Tales video. I can understand why a child (or others) might guess these were the Hebrews names!
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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