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Sunday, July 12, 2015                                        Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION (24)
Letting God Work in Our Lives (2)[i]

Trusting God

 

This month we are addressing God working in our lives as Christians.  Last week, we noted it is not some mystical force or miraculous.  God works through influence – His grace, His word, our brethren, our actions and our prayers. 

But at times we struggle with God working in our lives.  At times we struggle with our faith.  We know that we ought to trust God.  It is easy to say and at times it almost seems to be a mere platitude as we try to encourage those who are hurting and struggling.  We say it because it is truly what is needed.  But trusting God is far more difficult to do than it is to acknowledge it is what we need.

As we seek to “go on to perfection”, we will face difficulties – trials, setbacks, disappointments, failures, anxiety, rejections, etc. 

 I.                    Faith and Trusting God

a.        Understanding faith is an important aspect of our lives as Christians. 

                                                   i.      It is crucial to becoming a Christian. Mark 16:16, John 8:24, Romans 10:9-10.

In fact, our part in becoming a Christian can be summarized with the term “faith” or “believe”.  Ephesians 2:8, John 3:16, 3:36, etc.   That is why the term is often used to summarize all that we do (cf. Acts 16:31). 

                                                  ii.      It is equally crucial in serving God as a Christian.
Our obedience to God is a product of our faith – cf. I Peter 3:20-21, Romans 1:5 (for obedience to the faith).   Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
As Christians it is at the very foundation of who we are.
2 Peter 1:5 – we begin with a foundation of faith as we seek to go on to maturity. 
It is something that ought to continually increase – 1 John 5:4 tells us our faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

b.       What is faith?
Faith is believing God with complete confidence and reliance.   “Firm persuasion” (Vine’s)
Heb. 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Notice the word, “substance” – sub – under; stance – what we stand for.
Evidence (or conviction) of what we don’t see – there are things we cannot experience with the physical senses, but we know they are there.  For example: We have not seen God (1 John 4:12), but there is enough evidence to know He is there – if we choose to honestly examine it, cf. Rom. 1:20)
But faith is not merely believing in God, it is believing God and trusting Him. 

c.        What is trust?  To believe (have faith) in something to the point that you have complete confidence and reliance upon it.   By definition, trust is related to faith. It is the quality of genuine faith. 
Consider getting on an airplane – do you have faith and trust that you will get to your destination?  Yes: you put trust in the pilot – whom you have probably never met, the airline and its ability to do its job, the air traffic control system, the integrity of the air-craft, the constancy of the laws of aerodynamics, etc.  Because of that trust you get on the plane. 
NOTE: ALL of you (100%) gets on that plane.  There is no in-between.  You either trust or you don’t.
Another example is the tightrope walker across Niagara Falls.  People cheered as he asked if they believed he could do it.   Even with a wheelbarrow they cheered with confidence.  But then he asked, “Will you get in the wheelbarrow?”  That is trust!

d.       Genuine trust in God means that we have complete confidence in Him and rely upon Him always –in both the difficult times and the good times (both have their challenges to faith). 
Hebrews 11:6 - without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
Genuine faith is like getting on that aircraft – it is 100% confidence in God.  It is the attitude that says, “He said it and I believe it!”

e.       Worry – is a lack of faith/trust in God.  We are not speaking of genuine concern over certain things, but dwelling on things that you cannot change.  Matt. 6:25-34.

f.         Most, if not all of us, struggle with trusting God from time to time.  It is not that we doubt He is there or able to help, but our confidence in Him is weak as we face uncertainties in this life, or the unknown ahead of us.  We want to be sure so we rely on the physical things, often to the neglect of trusting in God.  We are like the servant who said to the Lord, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

g.        Israel of old had many sinful qualities that caused them to reject God and eventually for Him to put them away.  Among their failures was this lack of trust in Him to help them.  On more than one occasion, kings were told to trust in God rather than neighboring armies.   Usually they didn’t listen.  (cf. Isaiah 7 – Ahaz was told to trust in the Lord for deliverance; Hosea 10:13 – they trusted in their own way , in the multitude of their mighty men;   Isaiah 30:1-2 – they trusted in the shadow of Egypt, etc.)
- Paul even notes that unbelief is what caused Israel to be cut off.  (Rom. 11:19-20) 
- They failed to enter the promised land because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19)

h.       Our challenge then is to fully put our trust in Him.  So is there anything we can do to increase our trust in God?

 II.                  We are not alone – God is there

a.        There are times that we feel as if we are alone. 
There may even be times when we ask where God is, times when it doesn’t feel like He is there for us.    He doesn’t answer our prayers (like we want it).  We are facing burdens that we think we cannot handle, and they don’t go away.   Many times our challenge is in asking WHY.

b.       Many in the Bible faced times where God’s presence seemed far away.  But they reminded themselves that God was there. 

                                                   i.      David faced times when he felt he was alone.  It is reflected in the psalms. 
In Psalm 22:1 he said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”  Jesus quoted these words on the cross (Matt. 27:46). 
There is discussion over why Jesus said that (i.e. did God really forsake Him?  Were they real feelings or was He quoting the psalm for those around Him to show what they had done? Etc.), but they are words that demonstrate a wondering about the presence of God. 
Later in the psalm we read, “But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.” (Psalm 22:19–21)
Psalm 13:1-2
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Then in vs. 5-6 he says,  But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 10:1, Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?  The success of the wicked is then described and a plea for help.  Later, in vs. 14 we read, “But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14, NKJV)

                                                  ii.      Job – faced troubling times.  He lost everything and then his health.  We find from the book it was the work of Satan.  During all that time, Job didn’t understand why this was happening.  Like his friends, he thought it was the hand of God, but he held to his integrity. 
In despair Job 23:1-9 finds Job thinks that he cannot find God.  BUT in vs. 10 we read, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.   Job acknowledges that he is there. 
In Job 19:25, he says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

                                                iii.      Paul faced times – 2 Tim. 4:16 toward the end of his life Paul said, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
Then in vs. 17, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…”

                                                iv.      Jesus faced troubling times – in the garden when his sweat became as drops of blood and he fell on His face, He pleaded with the father to “let this cup pass from Me.”  (Luke22: 41-42).  But even in that, He put His trust in the Father as He said, “nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.” (vs. 42)  Then we find an angel appears to strengthen Him.
Even on the cross, as we have noted, He cried the words David penned in Psalm 22:1 – He was in agony!  (Matt. 27:46)  But even in that He knew God was there!  As He is about to die, He says, “It is finished” and then He says, again quoting David, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46, cf. Psalm 31:5)

c.        In all these examples we see times of despair and a feeling that God is not there, BUT we also see in each of these that He IS THERE!  When facing difficult times, we have to remind ourselves He IS THERE and we need to trust Him!  Consider again Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is…the evidence (conviction) of things not seen.”  We apply that to the universe, but do we apply that to putting our complete confidence (i.e. faith) in Him.  Will we get in the wheelbarrow?

d.       Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always” – Matthew 28:20.  (cf. John 14:18 – He told His disciples, “I will not leave you orphans.”

e.       Matthew 11:28-30 – Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden…”

f.         Even in Matt. 6:25-34 (dealing with worry) we have assurance that God is with us. (vs. 30, 32-33)

g.        Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

h.       1 Peter 5:7 calls for us to cast all our care upon God because He cares about us. 

i.         Psalm 34:17–18, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

 

Many more passages could be added to these demonstrating that God is here for us.   It is a blessing we have as His children.  When facing struggles, we must continually remind ourselves that God is there for me.  He knows what I am going through and how I am handling my lot in life.  May we use these thoughts to keep us pressing on toward that goal.   Tonight, we are continuing this study by noting some things we can do to help us learn to trust God as we should.


 Sunday, July 12, 2015 pm

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION (24)

Letting God Work in Our Lives (2)

Trusting God - 2

 

This morning in our lesson we addressed our need to trust in God.  We noted that faith and trust accompany each other.  In fact, trust is a quality of our faith.  We also reminded ourselves that when we face troubling times, God is there!  He always has been and always will be.   It is easy to say these things, but giving God our complete trust is not as easy.    So are there some things we can do to help us learn to trust God?  In our lesson tonight we want to notice some of these things.    So how do I learn to trust God?

In our lesson this evening we want to present some suggestions to help us learn to trust in God.  I will be honest; I don’t have all the answers to this question.  I wish I had some mystical formula that would remove our anxiety, but I don’t.  But what I will give you is some suggestions that I have found in preparing this lesson – things to think about and do that can help us. 

 III.                Do not be afraid

a.         “Do not be afraid” –Genesis 15:1 says, After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

b.       Fear of the unknown or change often affects one’s trust.  When you are in a situation where your fate is in the hands of another, it requires more to trust.    You are already dealing with difficult circumstances and now you add to that the uncertainty of putting your fate in the hands of another.   Yet that is exactly what God is calling for us to do – when He tells us to trust Him.   
We find that many who experienced God were fearful.  When men saw “the angel of the LORD” they thought they would die.  That is understandable when you consider how great He is and who we really are (oh, that men today would have such reverence).   

c.        YET, throughout scripture, the Lord continually said “Do not be afraid.”  That exact expression is found some 50 times in the NKJV.   Most of them are attributed to the Lord God. 
Matt. 1:20 – when an angel appeared to Joseph he said, “Do not be afraid”
Matt. 14:27, Jesus walking on water at night said, “Do not be afraid”
Matt. 17:7, after the voice from heaven declared to hear Jesus, He touched His disciples and said, “Do not be afraid”
Matt. 28:5 – the angel told the women at the empty tomb, “Do not be afraid”
Matt. 28:10, Jesus said it to the women
Acts 27:23, Paul spoke of an angel who said to him, “Do not be afraid…”
1 Peter 3:14, as we suffer, “Do not be afraid of their threats”
Revelation 1:17, John saw one like the Lord who said to him, “Do not be afraid…”
In the Bible fear is addressed literally hundreds of times (nearly 700 times – fear & afraid), many of the in reference to God and how we ought to not fear Him (provided we are serving Him).
There is certainly a time for fear when we speak of God.  I often associate reverence with fear.   We need to realize WHO we are addressing and serving.  And if we reject God there is plenty of reasons to fear Him - Rom. 13:4, if you do evil, be afraid.  Matt. 10:28, fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.
2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear. 

d.       Realize He is worthy of your trust - Trust is usually the result of proven conduct.  Has God proven Himself?  Consider what He has already done?

                                                   i.      Consider what He has already done for you.   Romans 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:21, John 3:16, etc.  
Take a few moments to think about the cross and what Jesus endured for us.    Compare that to whatever our struggles might be facing in this life.

                                                  ii.      Consider His word, His church, etc.    That which He has made available to come in contact with the blood of the cross and to stay in a saved relationship.   His word, even though it is some 2000+ years old is still just as reliable today as back then.

                                                iii.      Consider everything God has done which can make our lives better from a practical standpoint – relationships, actions, words, etc.   Count your blessings, name them one by one.

e.       Num. 23:19, ““God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19, NKJV)

O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” (Isaiah 25:1, NKJV)
Prov. 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

.  We don’t fully understand the ways of God.  Did Job understand His ways as he was suffering?  Not according to the book of Job. 

f.         1 Corinthians 10:13 – note: “God is faithful”

 

 IV.                Some other things I can do

a.        Walk with Him - 1 John 1:7 – we need His fellowship!  Are you walking with God?
Isa. 59:1-2 – have we walked away from Him?  “Your iniquities have separated you from your God”
Luke 15 - The prodigal son had a home to come home to (God didn’t leave, the prodigal son did). 
It is when we are living faithful to Him that we need not fear.  That is when we can trust Him.

b.       Fear God
Rom 11:22 speaks of the goodness and severity of God. 
Heb. 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 12:28-29, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
Fearing God sounds contradictory but it is not.  We need to have a proper reverence for God.  He needs to be treated with the honor and dignity He is due.  It is that proper respect that leads to our serving and obeying Him, which results in our fellowship with Him.  When we do this there is no need to be AFRAID of Him.  Rather, we love Him as we serve Him. (1 John 4:19) This helps us develop trust in Him.

c.        Learn contentment – godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim. 6:6).  I have learned to be content (Phil. 4:11). 
This helps you deal with worry (which is an antithesis of trust/faith).  We need a proper perspective of things in this life.  Things have a way causing anxiety, especially when they become a primary goal.  Therefore, if you are not so driven by the pursuit of worldly possessions and pursuits, it will be easier to trust in God.  Lay up your treasure in heaven – Matt. 6:19-21.
The SAME is true with dealing with who you are – your weaknesses, disabilities, etc.

d.       Be patient – just as God is longsuffering with us (2 Peter 3:9), we need to learn endurance.  It is a part of trusting God.  One reason some struggle with trusting God is because we don’t get our way right now.   We want God to miraculously solve our problems.  Sorry!  But the days of miracles are completed.  In whatever way God works today, it is through natural means – that requires patience.
Consider Hebrews 10:36-39.  This text leads into the numerous examples of faith in Hebrews 11. 
James 1:4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

e.       Realize tested faith can make you better – James 1:2-3, Romans 5:3-5 - trials will either make you stronger or defeat you.  What happens is up to you. 
There are many who have faced tragedies and as a result their trust in God has grown stronger.
Have the attitude of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, dealing with his thorn in the flesh that God refused to remove.  We read, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

f.         Feed on His word – if we are going to trust God, we need to LISTEN to Him!  That means, reading, studying and meditating on His word. 
Psalm 1:1-2 speaks of the man who is blessed, not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.    He will be firmly rooted.
 It is through His word that we get understanding and thus we hate every false way.  (Psa. 119:104)
Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.” (Psalm 119:41–42)   Do we believe what God has told us to do?

Romans 10:17 tells us, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

g.        Prayer – again we are reminded of the power of prayer.   The very idea of praying to God demonstrates that you trust Him. 
It is something we do not fully understand, but one who is close to God is one who prays often. 
We are continually told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, Col. 4:2)
Philippians 4:6 tells us to be anxious for nothing, but with prayers and supplications let your requests be made known to God. 
1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us
Finally, Luke 18:6-8 – in our continued prayers we see that God bears long with us as we pray.

h.       Make up your mind to trust Him – that is what this all boils down to.   You just have to decide that you are going to trust God.   Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above.”   Let it go!
This is the easiest thing to say, but perhaps the most difficult thing to do.  You RESOLVE, “I’m going to put this in God’s hands.”

 

As we can see in this brief study, there is nothing new.  Just a reminder of things we have already discussed, but we have made application to the topic at hand.  It is my hope that we can see in this lesson that trusting in God is simply about being a Christian as recorded in scripture. 

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NKJV)

 



[i] A major source consulted for this study is a workbook by Wilson Adams entitled, “Where is God When I Hurt?” © 2015, www.courageouslivingbooks.com

 

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