Tag Archives: trust

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When God Doesn’t Explain . . .

Have you ever been confused in God? When I was a young Christian, I was told that confusion was not ever from God but always from the enemy. I have learned that that statement is oversimplified to the point of being untrue. Yes, confusion is often a hallmark of demonic activity, but does God always explain Himself? Of course not! And when we don’t understand, we are confused, sometimes even baffled and dismayed. In fact, sometimes it feels like we just walked off the map! puzzlement3

The cause? He is God and we are not. The difference between us invites bafflement.

In Luke 11 Jesus is asked by his disciples to teach them to pray. He gives them a prayer example which we now call The Lord’s Prayer, and then, to explain the prayer process, he tells a parable.

Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to  him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and from inside he answers and says, “Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (Luke 11:5-8)

Why would Jesus describe the Father as a friend who does not care for you and your needs? Perhaps it is because sometimes He appears that way to us. We cry out to Him about some need — in our lives or even in our service to others — and He does not answer. We may even cry out to Him for quite some time, years even — remember Hannah and Elizabeth and Abraham and Sarah? Our reasoning mind tells us He does not care or He is not paying attention or even He is stingy and withholding good things from me. Do not believe it! God Himself is the definition of unconditional love. It is His Nature to care for us.  He always hears us when we pray. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He never withholds good things from His children.

But He sometimes is silent. He sometimes seems distant. He sometimes appears callous or indifferent. You will be tempted in those times to think He is an unkind friend. But He is not. He is after something you cannot see.

The next thing Jesus says after sharing this parable is

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

He is saying, “I want you to trust me and trust what I have said even when it looks like I am not paying attention.” Can I hang onto Him and believe in His love and goodness in the face of  His seeming indifference? Will I cling to Him and trust Him to provide for me even when He is not answering me? Can I continue to believe He is Who He says He is when it looks and feels like He is not?

Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:11-13)

He is reminding us that He is Who He says He is, that He will do all He has said He will do. He is better than we are. He is more loving than we expect. But there are times when God’s ways are so far beyond ours that we cannot possibly understand what He is doing. Perhaps we will understand in the future, but perhaps not. He is God and we are not. He wants us to trust Him, especially when we don’t understand. He wants us to have faith that He hears and answers and provides, especially when we do not hear Him and cannot see beyond our need. Look for the presence of the Holy Spirit in those times because He brings grace to stay close to God and faithful. And the Holy Spirit is always with us.

My friend, Katelyn Peers, from Christ Community Church in Brockport, NY, delivered a message recently about things that trip up our faith. She talks about the lies of the enemy, about making an idol of our experience, and about making an idol of our understanding. Aren’t those wonderfully descriptive phrases? I suggest that you take about 35 minutes to listen. She is one of Michael’s prophetic disciples and a marvelously gifted speaker. This message will take that convoluted string of your thinking and pull it straight again. Here’s the link, and there are even sermon notes you can download. Really, please listen. http://cccbrockport.org/sermons/where-is-your-faith-at-things-that-trip-us-up/

 

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What Do You Trust?

“Anything that depends on human effort for success is doomed to fail.”  I don’t know who first said that, but it has proven to be true in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an advocate of laziness! But I am an advocate of dependence upon God!

“God helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible! What is in the Bible is

“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 your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

And then there is

Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

There was a rich young man who came to Jesus and asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) Jesus first told him to obey the scriptures. The young man replied that he had done that from his youth. Even so, he knew he was lacking something. What must he do? Mark’s account of this story tells us that Jesus “felt love for him” and so said to him, “One thing you lack; go, sell all you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The sad thing is that “the young man went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” buy-and-sellJesus put His finger on the one place where the young man felt self-sufficient, the one place where he depended on himself, the one place where he perceived himself to be strong. Jesus saw that the young man’s properties were a hindrance, his perceived assets were a liability. In reality, all the riches he had accumulated had created a lack in his soul because he was depending on them instead of on God. Perhaps the property had been in his family for generations. Or perhaps he had worked hard and invested wisely to acquire wealth. Or perhaps he had written books or painted pictures or given wise counsel that had made him affluent. Whatever it was that had his trust, it stood in the way of obtaining the thing his heart longed for, eternal life with God.

richesWe tend to rely on whatever we perceive to be our strength. Money, physical strength, beauty, family, friends, artistic talent, a head for business, intellect, education, writing ability, a gift for public speaking. even the natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge and experience — all of these are desirable, but they can be a hindrance to knowing God if our trust is in them instead of in Him.strive-personalpowerOswald Chambers said it beautifully: “As long as you think there is something in you, He (Jesus) cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you . . .” ( My Utmost for His Highest, entry for August 17)creativity

 

We were created for dependence upon God. God did not give Adam an instruction book on how to be a good farmer. He gave him something much better, a relationship of intimacy with Himself. God came to the  garden in the cool of each day anddiploma they talked. Out of friendship with God would come the guidance Adam needed to be God’s gardener.

Of course, we know that Adam rejected the relationship of trust and dependence on God in favor of figuring things out for himself. The rich young man, though he longed for a relationship of security in God, was not willing to give up depending on his possessions in order to follow Jesus.

Have you figured out yet that everything but God will fail you? Failure can be devastating, but it may also be your best friend if it brings about new dependence on God. Remember: anything that depends on human effort for success is doomed to fail.  I hope that young man experienced the failure of his riches and became a follower of Jesus.