Trusting God Strategy #3: REMEMBER GOD’S CHARACTER
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21)
We grow in our trust in God by actively calling to mind God’s faithful, steadfast character. We must call three specific things to mind on a regular basis: first, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Second, the mercies of the Lord never come to end and are new every morning. And thirdly, great is God’s faithfulness. The combination of God’s steadfastness, faithfulness, and constant mercy compels us to trust God.
Here’s the key. If we’re going to succeed in trusting God, we must actively and constantly call to mind these truths about God. It’s not enough to just know them, like I know that 2 + 2 = 4 and that kale tastes gross. I must engage my mind with these truths. With God’s character in mind, I’m able to trust God even when things don’t make sense.
Charles Spurgeon said: “Let us lean on God with all our weight. Let us throw ourselves on His faithfulness as we do on our beds, bringing all our weariness to His dear rest.”
Trusting God Strategy #4: RECALL GOD’S PAST FAITHFULNESS
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
This verse says that God is absolutely unchanging. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. Period. He never shifts, never changes, never fluctuates. If God never changes, and He has been faithful to us in the past, then we can be absolutely sure that He will be faithful to us in the future.
In His faithfulness, He has sustained us through all kinds of trials, toils, and snares from the moment we were born. Because God never changes, His past faithfulness is a guarantee of His future faithfulness. We can be sure that God will continue to sustain us, to uphold us, and to shepherd us to green pastures.
Yes, God has indeed held us fast, and He will continue to do so. For this reason, trusting God in the midst of trials is truly possible.
Trusting God Strategy #5: PRAY FOR FAITH
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:5-6)
Trusting God is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even if we know all the truths above, the Holy Spirit must empower us to take hold of them by faith. We need the Holy Spirit to move these glorious truths from our head to our heart. Otherwise, trusting God will be impossible for us.
We must consistently and constantly pray that God would enable us to trust Him, even when life doesn’t make sense. We need God’s help to wait patiently for Him.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Yes, we are called to actively put our trust in God. We must work at trusting God. At the same time, God must empower us to obey. We pray and we also obey. Because we know that He’s good, faithful, steadfast and ready to give us grace, we can trust Him with our whole heart. As Charles Spurgeon put it: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
When life goes out of control, such as we have today, trusting God becomes really hard. There are all kinds of “What if?” scenarios. What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay the bills? What if I catch the virus? What if run out of food and supplies?
Rather than trusting God who promises to be faithful to me, I am tempted to trust in my own ability to navigate my current circumstances. When that happens, I usually end up feeling really anxious, burdened, and like it is the end of the world.
So how can I learn to trust in God even when life is really hard and confusing? Here are five biblical strategies that can be deployed at any time.
Trusting God Strategy #1: LEAN NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)
When overwhelmed, burdened, and battered by life’s circumstances, the temptation is to trust in self rather than the Lord. Sinful self-sufficiency is hardwired into us. The belief is that if we can devise the right strategy and smart moves, we can get through life on our own. By our wit and grit.
Of course, the painful reality is that we’re not smart enough to navigate the dangerous shoals of life. We don’t have the wisdom to successfully weave through all the hazards of life.
God’s Word calls us to trust in Him with all our heart and to not lean one iota on our own understanding. When tempted to fear and doubt and worry, God calls us to abandon our own understanding of the situation and trust Him completely. The simple reality is that we don’t know all the glorious things God is doing in and through our circumstances.
John Piper wrote: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them…Not only may you see a tiny fraction of what God is doing in your life; the part you do see may make no sense to you.”
Things might not make sense, but God knows exactly what He’s doing. Trusting God starts with not leaning on our own understanding and trusting God with ALL our heart.
Trusting God Strategy #2: RUN TO THE THRONE OF GRACE
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
What an awesome and powerful promise this is. The Bible is so open and honest. It clearly acknowledges that there will be times of need. There will be times when we are brought low. Brokenhearted. In tears. Feeling absolutely bewildered by everything going on around us. Fearful. Scripture never makes life to be all roses and peaches. The Bible fully acknowledges that there are times when life is plainly difficult.
But the Bible also tells us exactly what to do in those times. When life is hard and bewildering, and when trusting God is difficult, run to the throne of grace. There we find Jesus, ready to give us exactly what we need. He too endured hardship, heartbreak and suffering, and because of this, He can give us grace when we experience the same things. When we are struggling with trusting God, He invites us to run to Him for sustaining grace.
(… to be continued…)
(adapted from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
As humans, it is natural for us to be concerned about what is going on around us. Here are five things we can do in response to the ongoing COVID-19:
1. Pray earnestly and without ceasing.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)
As believers, we look up, seek God through prayer, and trust in His sovereignty. Prayer is one of our most powerful resources. When we are at a loss for words in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit for help. He is our intercessor and pleads on our behalf before the throne of God.
2. Root yourself in God’s Word
Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. (Proverbs 30:5).
How do we find comfort and hope in this situation? God’s Word is our refuge and comfort. Let us look to the Bible for God’s mercy and faithfulness. Here are a few: Ps. 27:1; Deut. 31:8; Ps. 23:4; Job 5:11; Lam. 3:22-23; John 14:27; Ps. 46:1; 2 Cor. 1:3; Ps. 119:76; John 16:33; Ps. 139:11-12; Isa. 49:13; Matt. 5:4; Ps. 55:22; Rom. 8:37-39.
3. Guard your heart
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Prov. 4:23)
It is important to recognize how what we view, read and hear can affect us; they can be physically, emotionally and spiritually damaging. We need to counteract them with God’s power and strength. If you are worried or need to talk, reach out to a brother and sister. Please know that as your pastor, I am available to talk to you.
4. Care for others
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
Besides guarding your heart, you can also support your brothers and sisters as we are all experiencing this situation together. Let us share God’s hope and love with one another through this time.
5. Support Crisis Ministry
… not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Phil. 2:4)
No matter how helpless the situation gets, when we take action to serve others selflessly, we allow God’s perfect peace to fill our heart. If you cannot help in person, you can share hope with others through your giving. Your generosity matters as it enables God’s work to go on.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life…. (Proverbs Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Here are additional truths about our speech from Scripture:
6. The Bible commends wise and informed speech. The way we speak is a recurring theme in Scripture. Words have power. Words can be life-giving or life-crushing. James devotes an entire chapter to the power of the tongue (Jam. 3). David prayed that his words would be “acceptable” in the sight of God (Ps. 19:14). There is great value in applying the right word in the right moment (Prov. 25:11). The Bible rebukes those who speak before thinking (Jam. 1:19; Prov. 17:28, 29:20).
7. The Bible says that the mouth is a good barometer of the heart. “… for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). Words are not neutral; they reflect either good or evil. When we misspeak, we should not say, “I didn’t mean that.” Instead, we should say, “Those words come from an unsanctified part of my heart.” Speaking my mind may not reflect speaking that is true or virtuous, because the Christian mind is in constant state of needing to be renewed by the gospel (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5).
8. The Bible commends the wisdom of not sharing everything with everyone all the time. Trustworthy people keep confidential information confidential and it is a sign of low character to reveal secrets (Prov. 11:3). The Bible extols the “prudent man” who knows to keep information to himself and rebukes the “heart of fools that speak folly” (Prov. 12:23). Sharing everything all the time to anyone who listens is not a sign of “authenticity” but of foolishness.
9. The Bible commends humility as a sign of grace. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” is found 3 times in Scripture (Prov. 3:34; Jam. 4:6,1; 1 Pet. 5:5). What does humility have to do with speech? Graceful, measured, civil speech is a sign of God’s grace and proud, boastful speech is a sign of God’s resistance. Humility means speaking with recognition of our own fallenness, resisting the urge to speak out of turn. We need the self-awareness to know if we are the right person to speak on a particular issue at a particular time.
10.The Bible commends speech that edifies. Christians can speak words that destroy (carnal weapons of destruction) or words that build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:29). There is a difference between verbal and written engagement meant to crush and winsome polemics meant to inform or rebuke.
Let’s pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to seek after God in the way we use our words and pray for repentance when our mouths reveal as-yet unsanctified parts of our hearts.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen!” (Ephesians 3:20)
Last month, we reconciled our accounting books for year ending 2019. I am amazed and truly humbled by God’s faithfulness and favor upon us again! As many of you know, we approached the last half of the year with a very significant deficit. But yet, we ended the year with a slight surplus! GOD IS INDEED FAITHFUL! God has always provided for us in the past 32 years, He provides for us in the present time, and He will continue to provide for us if we follow His leading and guidance. And because He is Jehovah-Jireh, we can rely and depend on Him in every circumstance. His provision was in place long before we prayed and asked for it! Words of Hudson Taylor continue to ring true today: “God’s works done in God’s ways will never lack God’s supplies”.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank all the faithful brothers and sisters who have cheerfully, sacrificially, and generously given to the work of the Lord through the years at FECC. It warms my heart to hear of the many ways you have helped to defray our deficit. Some even took out their own retirement savings and gave it sacrificially to further God’s kingdom work. I pray that the Lord will bless you more than you can ever imagine. And let us be reminded that because God has been faithful to us, we MUST indeed remain faithful to Him. 2020 will be a tougher year for us, but we continue to trust God for His gracious provision and look to your continued faithfulness and generosity towards contributing to further the work of His kingdom. We pledge to be good stewards of all the resources that God has entrusted to us.
I also believe God wants more for His church than just meeting our “needs”. In Matthew 25:14-15, Jesus told a parable to teach us that God gives each of us kingdom responsibilities. As with the servants, He only asks what we can handle. Are we satisfied with status quo? Do we pass up opportunities following His will because of fear or intimidation? Do we cast doubts on people’s minds to discourage, intimidate, and detract them from doing God’s will regardless of how daunting the task ahead may be? Dear brothers and sisters, if we believe God has commanded us to follow the Great Commission, if we believe God has gifted us to serve others, if we believe God has prospered us to share our resources with the less fortunate, then we ought to follow Him in obedience and humility.
The path that honors God and follows His will is often not pleasant. At times, it even involves severe opposition from so-called friends and people with “good” intentions, and requires courage and self-discipline on our part, for the end may be uncertain. We don’t know what the future holds; but we know who holds our future. And no matter what we face, we know that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us on the hard path alone (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deut. 7:9) God testifies in Malachi 3:6a, “I the Lord do not change.” His name expresses His eternality. God is always faithful. And Hebrews13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Christ has been and will be the same forever, even in this ever-changing world.
How will you choose to serve God today? What talents, gifts, or resources is He calling you to use for His glory? Do your personal financial goals and possessions hinder you from giving generously, loving others, or serving God? Laying up treasures in heaven is not limited to tithing, but is accomplished by all acts of obedience to God. How can you reflect kingdom values most accurately with your lifestyle? Brothers and sisters, let us strive to live in this world without letting the world control us. God has given us one life to live for Him. Make yours count!