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Trusting God

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love…..That one thing is trust.” 
S
tephen M.R. Covey (The Speed of Trust – The One Thing That Changes Everything)

As Christians, we hope that we embody the very meaning of trustworthy.  We’re called to be honorable, upright, dependable and reliable…..and yet…….sometimes….even many times……we’re not those things. No matter how hard we may try…we will ALWAYS fall short of perfection in those things.  God, however, is all of those things and more.  What can we learn when we study His faithfulness and trustworthiness to us?

We are to trust in the Lord. 

“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.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

God is always faithful.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”
Lamentations 3:32

God’s mercies are new every morning.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22

We are not to trust in this world, culture, power, or wicked people.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

God cares for those who trust in Him.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.
Nahum 1:7

Isn’t it wonderful that we have one person in whom we can completely trust – no matter how many times other people have let us down or hurt us by breaking trusts?  We, as believers, have one person who will never let us down.  He may not give us the answers we always want to hear, but His answers are always trustworthy and always in our best interest and always out of love for us.  We must trust in Him always and for everything and He, alone, will sustain us.  I challenge you today to trust God in whatever your situation is.  Confess all to Him – give it up to His direction. Leave it at the foot of the cross.  Lean into Him and He will draw you closer.  You will feel His loving arms around you as you reach to Him in trust and faith.

The Christian’s Struggle With Unbelief

With so many transitional situations forced upon us by the current economy, it’s easy for us to lose our way. It’s easy for us to lose our life’s focus, because we allow ourselves to get pulled off track. Even worse, is that many of us no longer remember what our focus was supposed to be. As a believer in Christ, however, we are called to trust in Him, always, no matter what the circumstance in which we find ourselves happens to be. We are called to focus on His way and His purpose for our lives.

In the past two years, specifically, I have taught numerous students that are in the middle of some type of life transition. Many of these precious men and women have come through my soft skills classes as people who have had to learn new skills and to redefine themselves in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and yes, even their 70’s. During the last year, however, the transitional situations for most of these people have been initiated by job loss. Many of these students, like much of the American population, have been unable to move beyond their initial shock and confusion. They continue to struggle in their attempts to gain peace and perspective within their respective transitions. They continue to struggle to reclaim their life focus.

Through anguished tears and expressions of self-doubt, these students have graciously shared their personal stories with me. Some have been out of work for as long as two years and have now lost their homes at a time where retirement was seemingly “just around the corner.” Others have gone through their initial savings accounts and find themselves in the process of depleting the last of any reserve funds. Some have families and some don’t. Some are married and others are not. Yet with all of the differences in their individual situations, there are two things that most of these students have in common: The first is their belief in God. The second is their struggle with unbelief while they walk with Him.

When we, as Christians, lose our “focus”, it’s easy to be plagued by unbelief. We may outwardly profess to others that God is in control, while internally, we are a swirling and unrestrained current of unbelief. We are gripped by unbelief that God is doing anything active in our situation or even listening to our pleas for help and rescue.

To regain our Christian “focus”, I believe that God calls us to do the following things:

  • Remember that, as believers in Christ, we are not going through our trials alone. He will be with us and sustain us. God is with us through all of our experiences. He never leaves us. We are told in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” In addition, we are told in Isaiah 41:10 to:“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Think back through the timeline of your life and remember the trials you’ve previously faced where you knew God was with you. Reflect on how He walked with you through those trials. Do you believe He is with you, even now, as you face your current trials? Why or why not?
  • Remember that we aren’t called to understand everything God is doing all of the time. Isaiah 55:8-9 puts it this way: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” We are called, however, to exercise our faith that He is at work, even though we may not see with our eyes everything that He’s doing. 2Corinthians5:7 explains it to us like this: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Think about your life journey. What challenges have you previously gone through, confused, only to see and understand the purpose behind it later? What is God doing in your life right now that you don’t understand? How can you walk more in faith with Him, than by sight?
  • Remember that we are called to surrender the wholeness of our lives to Him always, not just part of our lives part of the time. If we depend on Him and release our struggles to Him, He will show us the right path to take for our lives. He will show us His will for our lives. The issue for a lot of Christians is that we want His help and deliverance only during times of great stress and tribulation. The rest of the time, we try to grant Him vacation days! In fact, we can allow our relationship with Him to even become “lukewarm” during times of peace and calm. We forget that we’re to seek Him in ALL areas of our lives, ALL of the time. We need only ask Him for His direction for our lives, and the bible tells us that He will grant it. We are reminded in James 1:5 that:“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” What area of your life have you not surrendered to God? Why do you think you haven’t surrendered that area? What first step could you take towards surrender in that area? What do you think is holding you back?
  • Remember that through our times of tribulation, our faith is being refined. It’s easy to have faith when things are obvious and right in front of us. It’s not so easy when things aren’t. During those times when things aren’t so obvious, we have to refine our spiritual ears and eyes to see and hear Him. Romans 5:3-4 speaks of faith-refining trials when it says: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” How might He be using your current struggle to refine your faith? How might your refined faith be used to help others facing similar struggles?

Remember that He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts. When we live a life of surrender, He will grant us the desires of our heart because those desires line up with His purpose for our lives. In fact, in that situation, He has placed those desires within us. 1John 5:14-15 says to us: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Further, Psalms 37:4-5 says to us to: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” For many who have suffered a job loss recently, it may be that God is providing an opportunity. He may be providing the chance to realign our lives with His purpose so that He may, indeed, grant us the desires of our hearts. Have you confessed the desires of your heart to Christ? Do you think He hears you? Are you afraid to be honest with Him about your desires? If so, why?

I believe that for many of us, during these times of transition, He’s giving us a chance to change our focus, restate our values, and reprioritize our lives. He will help us overcome those areas of unbelief; we need only ask. Have you confessed your areas of unbelief to Him? Is your current focus on Him and His purpose for your life, or is it focused on the immediate ease of your current struggle? What first step could you take, today, to align your focus with His purpose for your life?

Living the Purpose God has Ordained for My Life

I believe that RIGHT THIS MINUTE God is giving many of us a chance to change our lives forever and for better.  He’s giving us a chance to receive the riches that He has planned for us and has wanted to provide for us from the beginning.  Many of us, however, don’t seem to recognize this opportunity. We are continuing, unsuccessfully, to depend on ourselves to meet our own needs while we head down a path that won’t bring us the joy and fullness of a life lived for Christ.  Now is the time that we need to permanently and consistently turn to God and live out His purpose for our lives.  For some of us, this means we need to change the life coordinates we previously entered into the GPS and wait expectantly to see where His divine coordinates take us.

In order to live out the purpose He has ordained for each of our lives, we must first seek His counsel on what He expects of us.  Next, we must actually do what He tells us to do. Finally, we have to realize that we can’t do anything on our own. In other words, once He makes His instructions known to each of us, we must respond with acts of obedience.  From there, we must depend on Him in faith every step of the way.  He will give us everything we need in order to accomplish His purpose.

1. We must seek His guidance regarding everything in our lives. This means to us that we don’t just offer up the pieces of our lives that are messed up and in the midst of stress and strife.  It means that we go to Him for everything, all the time.  In other words, we don’t make a plan without first consulting His direction and waiting to hear His comment on it. How do we know what He wants for us if we don’t first seek His counsel?   We have to go to Him for wisdom and knowledge on the subject – whatever the subject happens to be. God is concerned with every detail of our lives.  Nothing is too small to talk to Him about! He has numbered even the very hairs on our heads.  Now that’s attention to detail!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:5

“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.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“…I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.  If you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me.”  Isaiah 48:17-19 

2. Admit to ourselves and confess to Him that we can do nothing without Him.  Without His blessing on the paths that we take, and without His help, we will feel like we’re going against the current. Sound familiar? Nothing works easily when we’re in opposition to His will for us. When we operate within the center of His will for our lives and we actively seek to live out the purpose He’s designed for us, we will be blessed.  The resources we need to accomplish our tasks will seem to almost effortlessly fall into place.  He will move things and people around in order to accomplish His purpose.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”  Psalm 37:4-5

 “…Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28 

3. God requires us to act by faith in Him when we live out His purpose for our lives.  He won’t always give us the full picture of where we’re headed before He asks us to take the first step of obedience.  For many of us, that’s a challenge.  We like to be the one in control.  We want to know what the “50,000 foot view” looks like before we agree to embark on a project.  God expects us to trust Him.  He will reveal information to us as we need it and as He wants us to have it.  Sometimes it may be revealed all at once, while other times he’ll disperse it on a “need to know” basis.  Stepping out in faith can be a scary thing for some people because it represents the unknown.  But for Christians, it’s not the unknown.  We have the promises of God that His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. His plans are to give us hope and a future. (Ref.  Jeremiah 29:11)

“For we walk by faith, and not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  1Thessalonians 5:13

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”   Jeremiah 17:7-8

I believe that obedience to God never goes unrewarded.  Though the first step may be the most difficult to take, remember that God never forgets His promises, nor does He break His covenants.  He will never lead you the wrong way.  Keep your eyes fixed on Him and your feet moving forward in obedience on the path that He sets before you.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”  Proverbs 4:25-27