Tag Archives: Trust

What Does God Think?

Do you order stuff online?  If you do, you trust the process – you place your order and truly expect to see it on your doorstep in a few days.  If not, you probably have suspicions.  Maybe you started to place an order, got everything filled out online and then thought, “I don’t know about this…” and failed to push the “submit” button.  You didn’t trust it completely.  Consequently, nothing is left at your door.

The same principle is true when it comes to asking God what He thinks.  Maybe you are considering a new job.  Or, “Is this the guy for me?”  Should you volunteer for some cause?  Is that what God wants?  When you pray about it, essentially what you are asking is,”God, please tell me what You think.”  If you pray that question but don’t really expect God to answer, you won’t receive it if He does.  It’s kind of like not pushing the “submit” button.  Your request is tentative.  You are not sure the process will work.  But, if you are fully convinced God wants you to know what He thinks, and is eager to share it with you, then your request is wholeheartedly sent off with the full expectation of an answer.  God says, a prayer like that will get answered.  James, talking about getting wisdom in times of trial, shares the principle:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  (James 1:5-8)

Look carefully at what that says. The problem is not that God won’t tell you what He thinks.  It’s that you can’t be sure you have really heard from Him.  Your mind goes back and forth on it, wondering if what you heard was really from Him.  But when you are convinced God will show you, He does and you trust it.

Because God’s wisdom is frequently contrary to the ideas of the world, it takes real faith to hear what God thinks.  Hearing what God thinks requires setting aside the ways of the world, listening and trusting.  Do that, and when God speaks you will know.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2)

 

 

The Rest of the Story

Violently persecuted in his home land, he joined a group who fled by boat, hoping for safety on some different shore.  But, what they found was terror – from pirates, from storms at sea and even from one another.  In desperation, he jumped overboard.  Soon, he was exhausted from his futile attempts to swim, surrounded by sharks and coughing up sea water with every breath.  A ship drew near and a life ring was thrown.  Should he take it?  Nothing to lose, he thought, and grabbed it.  The next thing he was aware of was waking up in a comfortable bed, washed, rested and fed.  He made his way up on deck, found a place to hide and watched intently for any kind of danger.  When the men working on deck noticed him, he raced away to the rail, preparing himself to fight or jump.

That is when he heard the voice of the captain, saying, “You are safe here and we will not hurt you.  You do not need to hide, or dash back and forth, watching and worrying about who is coming.  If you trust me, you can rest from all that.  Of course, if you are too frightened to trust me, too used to scheming and fighting to protect yourself, you can keep doing so.  I cannot force you to rest, but rather, I invite you to do so.  How about it?  Don’t you want to leave all this stress behind and rest?”

Could this be real?  Could it be true?  He had to decide: either listen to his old fears, try to protect himself and jump overboard or trust the captain and rest.

Hebrews 4, an extended warning about failing to trust God and missing out, also contains these lines about His promise of rest for those who trust:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”   (Hebrews 4:1)

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, …”  (Hebrews 4:3a)

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  (Hebrews 4:7b)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest,…”  (Hebrews 4:9-11a)

Hand in Hand

Have you ever felt resentful or a sense of reluctant obligation when they pass the offering plate?  Yeah, me too.  But that’s because us knuckle-headed humans don’t understand how an offering works.  First read this:

And He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”  (Luke 21:1-4)

How could her meager offering be worth “more?”  Apparently, the value of an offering is not measured in dollars and cents.  Makes sense (no pun intended) when you remember that God doesn’t need money.  Offerings are not about raising money for God.  So what is the reason for an offering?  The widow’s offering was “more” because her trust was greater.  With her copper coins, she was saying, “Father, this is all I have but I love you and trust You to provide.”

Offerings were set up by God as a tangible way to experience a relationship with Him based on thankfulness and trust.  That is why the offerings were to come from the first part of each harvest.  Thankfulness and trust.  See that? 

A friend of mine is an expert builder of houses.  One day, as I was trying, unsuccessfully, to tear out a soffit to remodel my kitchen, he happened to stop by.  He watched in silent amusement as I continued to get my butt kicked.  Then he asked, “Would you give me your hammer and let me work with you?”  I knew he was good and I was ready for help.  I gave him (offered him) the hammer and watched in amazement as, with a few expert strokes, he made real progress.

Offerings are like that.  God holds out His hand, not as a beggar or a bill collector, but with a smile on His face, asking, “Hey, you want to work together with me?  Got a hammer I could use?” 

Offerings are opportunities to strengthen our relationship with our loving Father, the relationship based on thankfulness and trust.  And it is a real thrill to join Him in what He is doing, working hand in hand.

Real Wealth

Do you want to be wealthy?  The secret  is feeling like you have enough.  Wealth is not measured by the numbers you see when you check your bank account.  It is measured by how contented you are.  It does no good to have lots of money, as so many do, if you feel poor and continually stress about not having enough.  Far better off are those who own comparatively few possessions and yet feel truly contented.

Here are the words of one such person, the apostle, Paul:

“… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  –  (Philippians 4:11b-12)

Paul lives with joy and confidence, the attitudes we assume go with having wealth.  It’s because he knows the secret to contentment.  If you learn that secret, you, too, will feel wealthy. And what is the secret?  It is trust, trust in God’s love and ability to provide.  Paul says:

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” –  (Philippians 4:13)

That kind of trust doesn’t come from merely memorizing that verse and quoting it.  It comes from developing an ongoing awareness of God’s presence and His interactions in the details of our lives.  A good way to strengthen that awareness is to ask God to show Himself to us in tangible ways.  We can ask Him to make us more aware of His presence as we go through our day.

God loves to answer prayers like that.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  –  (Jeremiah 29:13)

And as He does, you will grow in trust, contentment, and the realization of how truly wealthy you are in Him.

Red Pencil

As it came time to bury Ann Maree’s ashes, I began looking through her Bible, to see what passages and verses meant the most to her.  Easy enough to tell; she had a red pencil and carefully underlined her favorites.  Your eye was automatically drawn to the places her heart hung out.  Especially The Psalms; some of those wound up looking like a grammar school theme after Mrs. Owens was done with it.

I was also taken by the lines she did not highlight, contrasting them to those she did.  For example, consider some lines from Psalm 31.  As Stage 4 bladder cancer continued its inexorable siege, you might think she would have underlined this:

“Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.” – (Psalm 31:2)

But she did not.  No frantic plea for healing.  No desperation.  Instead, she settled herself with this:

Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”  –  (Psalm 31:3) 

Through her red pencil, she said, “I know I can trust you, even in the midst of this final struggle, so please, God, show me what I should do.” 

I was gripped with awe.  Ann Maree never made a big public deal about how much she trusted God, but in her quietness and peace, the straps of her faith were cinched tight.

You can see it for yourself, in the rest of what she emphasized with that red pencil:

“But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands…” –  (Psalm 31:14-15a)

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.”  –  (Psalm 31:19a)

“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me…”  –  (Psalm 31:21a)

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” –  (Psalm 31:5)

Dealing with Fear

Be afraid; be very afraid!  That’s the message of the news shows on TV.  The more you worry, the better they like it, because worry drives their profit.  What do you worry about?  What keeps you awake at night?  Do you have an answer, something specific?  Me too.  If you would like to worry less, here’s a good word:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Whoever wrote those words was living at a time when it was frequently necessary to grab a sword and run out to chop and slash murderous attackers,  It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.  I’d have been pretty jumpy.  Maybe we have it comparatively easy, but worry can still harass us.   Whatever it is that worries you, let those truths soak in and do their work.

And this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What Will You Do?

It’s supposed to be easy to install the new operating system on my Android phone.  But when I read the instructions, I froze up, because I couldn’t understand all the special terms and acronyms.  Even knowing that OTA means “over the air” made no difference.  I felt stupid and backed away.

Too often, Christians say things like “accept Jesus by faith,” a quote from my last post, forgetting that those words might sound like secret code-talk.  People don’t understand, feel stupid and back away.  Worse, many have a distorted idea of what those words mean and back away.  If I don’t install a new operating system on my phone it’s no big deal.  But failing to “install God’s new operating system” in your soul is tragic.  It’s a life or death thing.

So, what does it mean to “accept Jesus by faith?”

Your car breaks down in the middle of Montana, shudders to a stop and emits a brackish smell.  You get out and open the hood, looking down at the engine and trying to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.  You don’t realize it, but you only have a short time to fix it before a deadly storm blows in from the west.  You reach down and fiddle with the thingamawidget and tap on the fuse box.  Along comes a guy in a van, who stops to help.  After assessing your situation, he says,

“There is no way you are going to be able to fix that on your own.  But if you would like, I’ll be glad to take you with me into the next town.”

What do you do?  You might say, “That’s ok, I appreciate it, but I think I can get it…”  To which he replies,

“You don’t want to be out here much longer; there’s a really bad storm coming.”

You have two choices: you can continue to take care of your problem by yourself, or you can “accept his offer by faith.”  If you trust him, and truly believe he can save you from the coming storm, that he really has your best interest in mind, then you abandon your own efforts to get yourself going and surrender to whatever it is that he will do.  You climb in, and let him take over.

“Accepting Jesus by faith” is the same kind of decision.  There is something desperately broken with human life as we know it.  Most of us try one thing and another to fix it, or at least to make the best of it.  Jesus comes along and says,

“You will never get that fixed on your own.  But if you will trust Me, I’ll take you with Me and take you to the only One Who can fix what is broken.  You don’t want to stay out here, though, because before long it will be too late.”

What do you do?  If you accept His offer, you trust Him, so to speak.  Jesus then brings you to The Father (John 14:6), Who forgives you completely (Romans 8:1), receives you in a loving and sustaining way (John 1:12), and gives you His Holy Spirit to fill your soul (Acts 2:38; John 14:16).  This Spirit is life, a kind of life we cannot imagine without experiencing it, and it lasts eternally  (John 7:37-38).  It truly is a new operating system.

What will you do?