Read at beginning of service:
Romans 12:1-8 (NIV)1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer 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. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
In Proverbs 3:1-10, there are some marvelous words of wisdom for us on our relationship with God. This morning, and for another three Sundays I?m going to be talking about what I believe is the key to successful Christian Living! I want to talk to you about trusting God, his being able to trust us, and what happens when our whole relationship is based upon obedience and trust. How many of you remember this song: “Trust and obey, for there?s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Top two questions Christians ask:
1. “How can know God?s will? ”
2. “How can I be a success for God, others, and myself? ”
Series Title: “Stewardship…Begins with Trust”
Series Thesis (main idea, most important point, thrust of these messages): Trust is the most important factor in…
Knowing God and His will for my life.
Growing His Kingdom and myself as a steward.
Open your Bibles now to Proverbs 3:1. I want you to have your pen ready, because I?m going to have you underline some words. Let?s get going. “My son, (or my daughter), do not forget my teaching. But keep my commands in your heart,” Would you take your pen out and just circle or underline the word “keep” and then write in your margins “complete”. As the Proverb writer begins to talk to us about this relationship with God, he talks about “keeping” his commands, he is talking about “complete” obedience.
Now, the result of this obedience is found in verse 2. “for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” Verse 3,4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” He talks about love and loyalty always being at the very fore place of our life, and the result is that God and people will like you and consider you a success.
Verse 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 will make your paths straight.” In verse 5 underline the word “all.” “With all your heart,” the Proverb writer says we must trust the Lord. And in verse 6 underline the word “all”. “In all your ways acknowledge him?” or in other words, “always let Him lead you.” The Proverb writer tells us if we do these things, that He will make our paths straight! Verse 7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes;” Underline the words “do not.” “Don?t ever think that you are wise enough,” and verse 7 continues, “fear the Lord and shun evil.” If we do this verse 8 says, “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Verse 9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” Again, underline the word “all.” Verse 10 “Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Observations on Proverbs 3:1-10:
1. The commands are all-inclusive.
Did you notice that there were no exceptions? He didn?t say that we were to partially obey our Lord?s teachings and instructions. He didn?t say with most of our heart we were to trust in Him, and that we were sometimes supposed to let Him lead us. Notice these words: keep, all, all, do not, all of your crops. These words are all inclusive exhortations. No exceptions. No leaks. He says, “I want you to understand that trust is a total affair in your heart and in mine.”
2. The commands precede a promise.
God tells us that if we do these things, He will do some wonderful things in return.
3. The promises are conditional.
We do our part, and God does His part. If we trust Him completely, if we obey Him completely, then He has some wonderful provisions for us as His children.
1. God is trustworthy.
2. God has entrusted (placed within our care) the possessions, opportunities, talents, and time
that we now experience.
3. We are trustees of everything God has given us.
Now I suppose after making these statements there are some questions we have to ask ourselves. Ask yourself: Do I trust God? Where do I place my faith? Where do I place my confidence?
Now, I know it?s easy to say, “I trust God.” It?s easy to say, “Oh, yes. I obey God completely. I trust God completely.” But this is just for personal introspection. Do I trust God? Is He truly my source? Do I trust Him in everything? Do I trust in Him some things? Do I trust Him in big things and not in small things? Or do I trust Him in small things but with big things, I kind of want to take control? This is an incredible question. I?ve wrestled with this question for a large part of my life and I?ve come to the conclusion that it?s the key to success, and it?s not an easy thing to do in a self-reliant society. Well, that?s why I want you to stay with me the next three weeks. And, folks, I tell you what, the potential for your spiritual growth is greater than anything I?m going to do all year. Because we?re going to really look at these penetrating questions. Can I trust God? Do I trust God?
When we?re through looking at that, we?re going to turn the tables around and ask another question. And if you think the first one makes you sweat bullets, how about this one: Can God trust me? Does He trust me? Have I proven to be a trustworthy person? Can He give me what He wants to, knowing that I am trustworthy? Or am I one of these people who are trustworthy in some areas, but in other areas, God says, “I cannot touch this area in your life because you?re not yet trustworthy.”
We?ll wrap up the series by taking what I call “the Trust Test.” Hang with me, folks. The next three weeks can be life changing. In Week 3 and Week 4, we?ll go through a process of taking the “Trust Test” where we can really begin to look at ourselves, and ask ourselves, “Am I truly trusting Him?” Now, let?s talk about God for a moment.
Trustworthy thoughts about God:
1. God?s Care is Constant.
When it comes to trusting God, you can rest assured that He gives you and me constant care. I love Hebrews 13:5,6, where, “God has said, ?Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.? So we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Amen? That?s a great promise. Literally, in the original language it reads this way: “I will not, no, not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.”
Five times God wants to assure us that He is never going to leave us. George Beverly Shea, the singer who partnered with Billy Graham for so many years, was sharing that he had many requests for songs to be sung at crusades. And he said the strangest request he ever got was when somebody handed him a slip of paper one time, and wanted him to sing a song entitled “God?s grip don?t slip.” Now, I want tell you it?s very poor grammar, but it?s marvelous theology. God?s grip don?t slip. God constantly cares for us, and because of that the writer of Hebrews can tell us that we are to cast all of our anxiety, all of our worries upon Him. His care is constant. It?s not occasional or sporadic; His care is total, not partial. His care is sovereign. Nothing can touch a child of God without first touching God.
Most of us have read the beautiful poem called Footprints. It?s brought comfort I think to all of us. Kerryanne and I have it hanging (in of all places?) our bathroom. We?ve also got a copy of this poem hanging on the wall of Elaine?s office when you first come in the side door. I see it continually. What?s interesting is that the lady who wrote Footprints, Margaret Fishbeck, went through amazing trials. The person that she loved left her, she caught meningitis, and was literally bedridden for many months. She came to the lowest place of her life. During that time, another man fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. But she wouldn?t marry him. She basically said, “I?m out of trust. I?m not sure I trust God. I know I don?t trust men. I?m out of trust.”
One night in her diary as she lay in bed, she began to write that beautiful piece, Footprints. And that night she saw the answer. I?ll just take a moment to read it to you, if you?ve never heard it: “One night a man had a dream, and he dreamed that he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes of his life, and for each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other belonging to the Lord. After the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. And he also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and at the very saddest times of his life. This really bothered him, and he questioned the Lord about it. He said, ?Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you?d walk with me all the way. But I?ve noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there?s only one set of footprints. I don?t understand, Lord. Why, when I needed you the very most, you would leave me?? And the Lord replied, ?My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.?”
2. God?s Gifts are Generous.
God not only constantly cares for us; but He is also generous in His provisions to us. He has blessed us with gifts, and talents – all kinds of blessings. Just write in your sermon notes Psalm 136. When you have time today, read that Psalm. I?m going to read just a few verses just to give you the flavor of it:
Psalm 136:1-9 (NIV)1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. 4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. 5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. 6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. 7 who made the great lights– His love endures forever. 8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. 9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
Every time he makes a great statement about God, the Psalmist says, “God?s love endures forever.”
Developing our Trust…
1. Trusting in Adversity.
We are responsible to trust him in times of adversity, but we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to do so.
You see, David said in Psalm 56:4, “?in God I trust; I will not be afraid…” And in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” What?s David saying? You and I are responsible to obey and trust God. That?s our part.
You see, here?s where the conflict comes. Now, hang in here with me. Here?s our problem. God asks us to obey or to trust Him in an area of our life that?s bigger than what we can reason or understand, and instead of doing our part, which is total trust and obedience, we want to get over on His side. And we want to say, “Now God, if I do this, how are you going to work? If I really let you have my marriage…” It?s almost like, “God, you just don?t understand all the problems I?ve got in my marriage.” “If I surrender this financial issue to you, God, I?m not sure you understand how bad the finances are.” “I?m not really sure, God, you understand how deep the problems go.”
It?s so simple. I think this is why our Lord said, “We have to be like children to get into heaven.” The simplicity, the willingness to be vulnerable, just to say yes to God and trust Him. Even in adversity, when we don?t have answers. Even if we have to say like the Psalmist, “I trust in the Lord, and Lord, I give you my fears.” That?s not conflict. That?s not a double standard of statements. What he?s really saying is, “God I believe you, and God, help my unbelief.” Have we all been there before? “I?m willing to obey you, God, and yet there?s something within me that wants to pull back.” He?s basically saying, “God, I don?t understand, but I?m willing to trust you.”
2. Trusting in Plenty.
The extent to which we genuinely thank God for the blessings he provides is an indicator of our trust in Him.
I suppose truthfully, this area becomes most difficult. Because when we are blessed, there?s a tendency for us to either trust in ourselves or trust in our blessings. Huh? I think we run to God fast when we have problems, but I think we kind of ignore God when we?re being blessed. There?s tendency for us just to kind of think “You know, I?m doing pretty good here. ” And we become self-reliant. It?s so human for all of us.
3. Trusting God as our Source.
Human tendency: Trust in God?s instruments of provision rather than in God himself.
We trust the job instead of realizing that God is the provider of the job. We trust our health instead of realizing that God is the provider of our health.
In Proverbs 18:10, 11, there is an interesting contrast between people who trust in God, and people who trust in themselves or their possessions. Listen very carefully. Here?s what he says:
Proverbs 18:10 (NIV)10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Beautiful picture. Now, listen to what he says:
Proverbs 18:11 (NIV)
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.
What?s he saying? Very simple. He?s saying that those who trust in the Lord when they have an issue or need, they immediately go to Him. And He is their trust. But those who have possessions, they make them a fortified city, and they look at that fortified city and say, “It?s an unscalable wall. I cannot be touched. I?ll hide behind it.”
What?s your unscalable wall today? Is it your college degree? Is it your savings account? Is it your job? Is it your health? It?s so easy for us to trust all of these other things, and not make God the source and platform of our trust. It?s like the fellow who said, “God, it just seems like I cannot not lean on you like I want.” And God says to him, “It?s because you?ve never put your total weight on me. You?re still using your own strength. You?re still using your own muscles. Relax.”
In preparation for this message I came across a quote from a man by the name S.M. Lockridge. I don?t know if you ever heard him, I know I hadn?t until I came across this short message delivered by him. He?s a black preacher who pastored for a long time at Calvary Baptist church in San Diego, USA. He passed away in April, 2000 but I?d like to share something he preached in Detroit in 1976 about trusting God. I?m going to read it. Listen carefully to the words.
“You Can Trust Him.
He?s the one who made us. It is He who made us and not we ourselves. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. No means of measure can define His limitless love, and no farseeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply. I?m telling you today you can trust Him.
“No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing. He?s enduringly strong, and He?s entirely sincere. He?s eternally steadfast, and He?s immortally graceful. He?s empirically, powerfully, and impartially merciful. He?s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world. He?s God?s Son. He?s the sinner?s Savior. He?s the centerpiece of civilization. I?m trying to tell you, Church, you can trust Him.
“He does not have to call for help, and you can?t confuse Him. He doesn?t need you, and He doesn?t need me. He stands alone in the solitude of Himself. He?s august, and He?s unique. He?s unparalleled. He?s unprecedented. He?s supreme. He?s preeminent. He?s the loftiest idea in literature. He?s highest personality in philosophy. He?s the supreme problem of higher criticism. He?s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He?s the cardinal necessity of the spiritual religion. He?s the miracle of the age, He?s the superlative of everything good that you can call Him. I?m trying to tell you can trust Him.
“He can satisfy all your needs, and He can do it simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak, and He?s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He sees, He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleansed the leper. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the people. He blesses the young. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent. He beautifies the meek. I?m trying to tell you, Church, you can trust Him. (Congregation: Amen.)
He?s the key to knowledge. He?s the wellspring of wisdom. He?s the doorway of deliverance. He?s the path of peace. He?s the roadway of righteousness. He?s the highway of holiness. He?s the gateway to glory. You can trust Him.
“He?s the master of the mighty. He?s the captain of conquerors. He?s the head of heroes. He?s the leader of legislators. He?s the overseer of the overcomers. He?s the Governor of the governors. He?s the Prince of princes. He?s the King of kings. He?s the Lord of lords. You can trust him.
“His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
I wish I could describe Him to you. He?s indescribable because He?s incomprehensible. He?s irresistible because He?s invincible. You can?t get Him off your hands. You can?t get off your mind. You can?t outlive Him, and you can?t live without Him. Pilate couldn?t stand it when he found out that he couldn?t stop Him. Pilate couldn?t find any fault in Him, and the witnesses couldn?t get their testimonies to agree, and Herod couldn?t kill Him. And death couldn?t handle Him, and thank God, the grave couldn?t hold Him. There was nobody before Him. There?ll be nobody after Him. He has no predecessor. He?ll have no successor. You can?t impeach Him, and He?s not going to resign. You can trust Him.”
“He?s the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last. He?s all things. He?s the giver of life. He?s the joy out of every sorrow. He?s the light of every darkness. He?s the peace that passes all understanding. He?s the giver of every good and perfect gift. You can trust Him. There?s no God before Him. There?ll be none after Him. He is the first. He is the last. He is preeminent. There is no other God.” YOU CAN TRUST HIM!
Hallelujah. Thank you, Lord. We give you praise, we give you glory. We walk out of this building today knowing, God, you are trustworthy. And God?s people say, “Amen”. All right. You can trust Him. Amen