Learning to Trust God

It was a glorious day when I made a decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. After the decision I had a deep settled peace. I knew that my eternal destiny was settled and that I was truly a child of God.

However, I soon realized the decision to follow Christ was creating a whole new paradigm for living. Before, my life was all about me, my needs and what I wanted. Now I was being called to let go of my life and trust God with all of my dreams, plans and goals.

Letting go of a self-centered life is not an easy thing. To be completely honest, I still struggle with giving God complete control. There is something about the flesh that wants to control and be in charge.

It’s an issue of trust. I think most believers struggle with this. We may give verbal agreement that we trust God, but when it comes down to crunch time, we had rather worry or take matters into our own hands than give God control.

Why do I choose at times not to trust God? He has never failed me nor allowed anything to come in my life that was eventually for my benefit. As I have pondered this question, I discovered a recurring pattern that keeps me from relinquishing control and fully trusting Him. It is called spiritual indifference.

Spiritual Indifference
Spiritual indifference is a gradual thing that happens, but left unattended it quickly becomes drifting. We wake up one day and realize that we have drifted away from God. One of the problems with spiritual drifting is you never drift upward, always downward. Spiritual indifference creates a downward spiral that sends you away from intimacy with the Father.
Spiritual indifference is a result of several factors, but I think its root cause can be traced to neglecting personal fellowship and worship.

Early in my Christian life I did the daily devotional thing because I was told it was something I ought to do. My goal was to get it done so I could check it off my list.
That was a big mistake. My indifference kept me from getting the spiritual nourishment I needed. I thought the Sunday sermon would be enough to carry me through the week. The only problem with that is I hardly ever remembered what the sermon was about on Monday. I found myself spiritually enemic.

Trust is only developed by spending quality time with someone. If that is true in building human trust, then its reasonable to assume it’s also true with getting to know and trust God.

When your devotional time becomes a priority rather than an obligation, you develop a longing to know God and develop spiritual intimacy. As you expectantly read through the scripture, you get to know the character of God. The more you know and understood His character the more you realize you can trust Him with your life. Surrender becomes a positive word in your life rather than something negative. Surrender no longer means you are going to lose or give up something, but it becomes the door to knowing and trusting God. Your spiritual indifference turns into a new level of trust.

Bottom Line
Spiritual indifference is the doorway to drifting away from God. Left unattended it can lead to indecision, doubt, worry and fear. But it’s an easy fix; it just takes courage and deciding to be intentional about regular fellowship with God. It’s making a decision to pursue God.

Remember, God loves you as His child. He accepts you and He desires to pour His love and His very life into you so that you will manifest the “sweet aroma of Him in every place..” ( 2 Cor. 2:14).

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

The Word of God is like a foot lamp

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105)

I have had the privilege of reading the Bible through several times. Sometimes I would read it through in one year, sometimes I would read it thorough in six months and a couple of times I’ve read it through in 60 days.

There is nothing super spiritual about reading your Bible through in one year. But if you are like me, unless l have a plan and a set timetable I will not usually read the whole Bible in a year. I am famous for getting stuck in a book or two for an extended period of time and studying it verse by verse. (“That’s also a good thing.”)

Since it has been a while since I have read the Bible through in one year, I decided to set a goal of reading the Scripture through in 2014. I chose a plan that has a daily reading in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament and a reading in Psalm and Proverbs. From the first day I grumbled because I didn’t like jumping around from Old Testament to New Testament. After I got through January, I stopped the grumbling and started listening for what the Lord wanted to show me from each morning’s reading.

(How long you take to read through the Bible is irrelevant. The main issue is that you make a deliberate choice to read through God’s Word and make it part of your daily life.)

The primary reason for my grumbling is because I was breaking my rules for reading God’s Word. I don’t mean rules as in legalism, but I am referring to a mindset I develop when I open God’s Word to read. Listed below are the things I do when I read my Bible. Maybe you will find these things helpful.

1. I ask the Lord to speak to my heart while I read. Since the Bible is a supernatural book, we need supernatural understanding to discern what He is saying. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to illumine the Scripture so we can learn what God has to teach us in the passage.

For example, I was reading in Mark the other day about the disciples crossing the sea in stormy weather. All of sudden they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them and they thought it was a ghost. After Jesus got into the boat and calmed the storm, Mark writes, “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52) The disciples were so unmoved and unaffected by the miracle of the loaves and fishes that it never crossed their mind that Jesus could walk on water and calm the storm.
From this passage, the Holy Spirit showed me that God wants us to count and remember all that He has done for us and in us. God wants us so focused on God’s goodness and grace that our first instinct, when trouble comes, is to trust Him and not worry about what’s going to happen.

2. Don’t read the Scripture with an unrepentant heart. Many years ago I heard a preacher say that “the water of life does not flow through a dirty vessel”. Given the context of the message, he was probably referring to our ability to be an effective testimony. But I believe it could also mean that in order for us to fully comprehend and understand the Scripture our heart must be right with God. Since the Scripture is a supernatural book, unconfessed sin hinders the flow of God’s Spirit and thus blocks us from Spiritual enlightenment. Also, I have found the Scripture to be the primary way God speaks to me. So keeping our sin confessed when we approach the Scripture is paramount to hearing His voice.

3. Look for Jesus in all of Scripture, both New Testament and Old Testament. One of the key principles I learned in reading Scripture is all Scripture points to Jesus. The Old Testament speaks of, points to, witnesses to, and testifies of Jesus. Jesus even said that “all Scripture points to me.” When you read the Old Testament keep in mind that many of the events, ceremonies, sacrifices and even the characters are types of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.

4. Read the Bible in context. There is an old saying, “When you read the Scripture out of context it becomes a pretext. A pretext had no value.” When you read the Scripture consider to whom it was written, where it was written, why it was written, and the culture they were writing to. Some books are written to an individual and some to a church. It is important to understand the context as you read the Scripture.

5. Reading the Bible slowly. The Bible is full of interesting and relevant stories but it’s not a novel. It should be read slowly and deliberately, keeping in mind the context and then considering how the Scripture could apply to you. That’s one reason I don’t chose to read the Bible through every year. I find myself reading it too quickly to get through my assignment. The Scripture is meant to be understood, comprehended and applied. And that is difficult to do when we are reading it like a best seller novel.

I am often surprised how many believers’ neglect reading the Scripture on a regular basis. I would often tell my counselees that the Word is a remedy to their doubt, fear and weak faith. The Word of God increases my faith, reveals my true identity, aids in the tearing down of strongholds and reveals that fellowship with the God is possible.

I trust the Word of God will be a lamp unto your foot that lights your daily path.

Some things I’ve learned from Reflection

Now that I am a senior saint I find myself reflecting on the past more often than before. Like most people I have few regrets. There are some things that I would do differently and a few things I would not do at all. I keep telling myself that I am older, seasoned and have more wisdom, so I should make better decisions. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Through this self-reflection process I have learned a few things about my older self. Maybe you can identify with some of the things that I have learned.

1. Too much reflection causes me to center on my failures and stupid decisions. I have found that too much reflection causes me to delve into the world of “what if’s”. When we ponder all the “what if’s” of life we begin to second guess many of our past decisions. The result is always an unhealthy picture of us as failures. Then we have the danger of becoming fixated on the past. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and miss the great things God has done for and through us. I must remember that God does not dwell in the world of “What If”.

2. The greatest moments of my life were when I was “all in”. I am an “all in or nothing” guy. Whatever I am doing I am laser focused, and fully commit myself to the task. I have found that there is a connection between my level of commitment and my overall spiritual condition. When I make a deliberate decision to wholly consecrate my life to Christ’s complete control, I am able to approach any opportunity that God brings my way with passion and zeal. As I submit my every thought to the Spirit’s control, my guidance comes. I have found that I must stay hungry for God’s touch on all that I do, whether it’s a ministry project or a business opportunity. I find if I am not consciously hungry for God, I am full of myself, which usually means I am dead in the water and pretty much useless. For me, my passion to begin and sustain any new project is directly related to my present level of consecration. I have to keep in mind that I can’t separate my spiritual life from my secular life. As a committed follower of Christ every area of our life has a spiritual connection.

3. Surrender and abandonment must not just be something that we’ve learned in the past. Just because I have personally experienced surrender and abandonment in the past does not mean I am experiencing it today. Surrender and abandonment should be a daily awareness. A lack of surrender almost never occurs suddenly. It’s usually a gradual thing that occurs when we begin to take back control of our self-centered life. We forget that God can do more in one moment than we can do in a lifetime of operating out of our own strength. For me, I learned that I must have a daily consciousness of my need to surrender everything and person to His control.

4. The older I get the more I need Him. The longer I walk with God the more inadequate I feel and the more dependent I am on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. For me, daily fellowship with God is the key to keeping the fire of God burning in my soul. For many years my daily devotional time was driven by a need to feel accepted by God. I felt as if I had to do my daily ritual because I wanted God to be pleased with me. Then one day I discovered that God loved and accepted me because I was in Christ, not because I was a good performer. There was nothing I could do that would make Him love me more or accept me more. Now my daily fellowship with God is not just a mechanical event that occurs in the morning, but an all-day acknowledgment of God’s presence and acceptance. That creates a deep longing in me to bask in God’s love and fellowship and to enjoy Him as He enjoys me. Regular, deliberate fellowship with God is one of my essentials to maintaining an ongoing love relationship with my heavenly Father.

What’s the bottom line? I think the lyrics to this old gospel song best reflects what I am trying to convey.

“I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee oh I need thee, every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.”
(I Need Thee Every Hour by Hawks and Lowry)

“There is no more miserable human being than the one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” — William James