About Me


Master in Ministry (Otago) Bachelor in Applied Theology (Carey) Diploma in Mission (Carey) Pastoring Eastside Baptist since 2002

Trust in God

August 19, 2018

Trust in the Lord

 

We have been talking about the attributes of a growing and maturing Christian and we now turn to a pivotal attribute:  Trusting in God.

 

Charles Spurgeon tells us that faith is made up of three things- knowledge, belief, and trust. [1]  It is the third of those things that I want to focus on today. (although through that, we will touch on the other 2 too)

 

Amy Carmichael, famous missionary to China described the word “Trust” as meaning to lean on

 

Psalm 13:5  But I have trusted in thy mercy; My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. – I have leaned on thy mercy;

 

Psalm 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; For in thee do I trust: - on thee do I lean

 

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, - my heart leaned on him, and I am helped[2]

 

To lean on means to put our whole weight on, trusting that what we lean on will support us.

 

In the physical, we trust that the chair we are about to sit on will hold us; we trust that the handle on our hot cup of coffee will not fall off; for those with walkers, that when we lean our weight on it, it will hold us.

 

As Amy says, it is so comforting when we translate the word trust as lean on, when we think of God.

 

It is as though God was singing the Bill Withers song to us:

Lean on me When you're not strong And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on...

Trust, then, is confident dependence on God to provide what we cannot[3]

 

 Isaiah 26:4           Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.

 

It is trusting that God will honour his promises;[4]  

 

It is confidence in the character of God.  Firmly and deliberately we say ‘I do not understand what God is doing or even when God is, but I know that he is out to do me good.’[5]

 

But it is all very well saying this but how can we trust God when all that we know in this world is untrustworthy?

 

If you get to any age and stage in life, you will learn that people will let you down. It is a fact of life that humans let other humans down.  

 

So how do we grow this trust in God who is so unlike our friends?

 

And secondly, how do we put aside our agenda and our timetable to enable us to trust in God’s agenda and his timetable?

 

We are told continually to wait on the Lord and to trust in him, but how often, when faced with problems, do we rush out and try to solve the whole thing in our own strength, forgetting to wait for God?[6]

 

And even when we see evidence of God’s trustworthiness, do we act on it?

 

Often, we are not different to the Israelites did not trust God. Listen to Moses:

 

Deuteronomy 1:30 The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. 32 But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God, 33 who goes before you on the way to seek out a place for you to camp, in fire by night, and in the cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.”

 

Their actions prove the axiom that “faithfulness to God is impossible unless it springs from a trusting, believing heart![7]

 

If we really trust God, then we won’t fear anything. If we really trust God, then we can meet the challenges of life head-on, knowing that in the end, God’s side wins[8]

           

Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

 

How can we grow our trust in God?

 

First, read of God’s promises and their fulfilment in the Bible.

 

When we know God, when we know his character by studying his word, we can trust him. We don’t resent his sovereignty, his authority, his plan. We can embrace it. We can rest in it.[9]

As I reminded someone this week, we need to look back on God’s favour that we have received in the past, and remember that God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.

 

And secondly, we need to rely less on our abilities and discernment and more on his.

 

It is not until we refuse to trust ourselves that we will begin to trust God [10]

 

Trusting and building on the power of God which is at work in Jesus means letting God act, letting God go into action, letting God be God, giving him glory, recognising his rule[11]

 

As an illustration of these points, think of biblical figures who trusted in God despite the outcome not appearing sensible in their rational thought.

 

Think of Noah

Genesis 6:13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark,

 

And it says in Genesis 6:22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Some suggest that before this flood, there had not been rain, there had never been a flood before. I don’t know the truth of that, but I know that he would have been ridiculed by the people around him whilst he was building it, yet he persisted because he heard from God and he trusted him.

 

Think of Nehemiah going back to the ruins of Jerusalem from the captivity in Babylon.  Think of the opposition he faced as he set up rebuilding the holy city.

 

Nehemiah 2:18 I told [the inhabitants] that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they mocked and ridiculed us, saying, “What is this that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we his servants are going to start building; but you have no share or claim or historic right in Jerusalem.”

 

He trusted God and the word that God had given him and despite the serious opposition, persevered to achieve what God had called him to do.

 

Think of Daniel. Daniel was a man whose integrity and prayer life helped him to see incredible miracles and prophetic mysteries.

 

“He went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done.” Daniel 6:10

 

Even though that was forbidden by royal decree and even though it could have cost him his life, he trusted God and did not fear man, even to the point of being thrown in the lion’s den.

 

And finally, think of Elijah. Elijah was empowered by God to do miraculous things. He spoke judgement over the corrupt kings of the nation, despite those same kings many times sending squads of soldiers to kill him

 

2 Kings 1:15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he set out and went down with him to the king, 16 and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron,—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.”

 

He had such trust in God that he did what God called him to do, despite it being likely he would die for telling the king off.

 

And I could recount many others in the Bible record that similarly trusted in God.

 

Not all of them were mighty men of God from the start.

Charles Spurgeon makes the statement that to trust God in the light is nothing but to trust him in the dark – that is faith.

 

There was Gideon who wanted God to prove himself trustworthy in 3 tests concerning fleece.  I can relate to Gideon and often ask God to say what he told me again, so I know it is him. 

 

There was Barak who did not trust that he could do what God had told him, so he demanded Deborah go with him to do it.

 

There was even Moses who argued with God that he was not the man to go back to Egypt to set his people free. He claimed he was not a good orator and hoped God would choose someone else.

 

But all of these people proved that God was trustworthy.

 

All had to trust God and not their own abilities, because God would be the one who gave them extra ability to do what he had called them to do.

 

They trusted the integrity of the God they knew. They did not trust in their own ability but trusted that God would empower them to do what he asked them to do.

 

We are in a period of trust in God as we transition pastors and with Karlene and I as we follow what God has said to us.

 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

 



[1] Charles Spurgeon “Faith: what is it?” Messages to the Multitude 59

[2] Amy Carmichael Thou Givest…they Gather 7-8

[4]Charles Stanley The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life 76

[5] Richard Foster Prayer: finding the heart’s true home 25

[6]John E Hunter Limiting God 99

[7] David Wilkerson The cross and the switchblade

[8] Barbara Johnson Fresh Elastic for Stretched Out Moms 167

[9] Nancy Guthrie Holding on to Hope: a pathway through suffering to the heart of God, 91

[10]Michael Wells Side-tracked in the wilderness 15

[11]Walter Kasper Jesus the Christ 82

 


 

You are light of the world

August 5, 2018

Light of the world

At our Leadership Retreat at the start of this year, which resulted in our focus on spiritual growth and spiritual maturity, we identified some attributes of what a mature Christian would have.

 

2 weeks ago I spoke about being Salt and today I want to talk about being light.

 

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light ...


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Attributes of a Christian - saltiness

July 30, 2018

Attributes of a mature Christian - saltiness

 

At our Leadership Retreat at the start of this year, which resulted in our focus on spiritual growth and spiritual maturity, we identified some attributes of what a mature Christian would have.

 

I want to talk about one of those today. And next week about the one that we often run together with this one.

 

Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is n...


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Which direction are they heading?

July 16, 2018

Which way are we heading?

Last week, we touched on the idea of judging people by the criteria that we decide are important.

I want to talk about today the danger of judging people concerning their spiritual growth or spiritual maturity or apparent lack of it.

What this judgement is effectively determining in our minds whether someone is in or out – have they jumped through all the hoops of orthodox Christianity or not.  Are they in or out?

But the problem with this view is this:  by w...


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Galatians 3:28

July 9, 2018

Galatians 3:28

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

These passages are core passages of Paul’s message to the church as it grew out of being a sect of Judaism to the worldwide church of today, but I wonder if we have ever really sat down ...


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Philippians 4:8

July 2, 2018

Right thinking, right behaviour

I want to follow up on an aspect of last week’s sermon that I did not into depth with when I talked about Elijah’s depression and God’s restoration of him.  That aspect is the role of our thinking in the formation of our view of the world and our actions.

David Riddell, NZ Christian counsellor, noted that ‘stink’ thinking will be followed by ‘stink’ feelings, which in turn will be followed by ‘stink’ actions.[1]

What people think will hav...


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Elijah Restored

June 24, 2018

Elijah restored

Christian life is a roller coaster.  There are great times when we see miracles and life is good, then we fall into a pit of despair and cannot see a way out, and then we meet God again, and we are restored and revitalised.

After a mountain top experience there is often a shadowy trip through the valley.

Think the story of Elijah, the prophet

In 1 Kings 18:20-40.  There is a confrontation between Elijah (God’s man of the moment) and 400 priests of the god Baal, in whi...


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Be united to one another

June 4, 2018

Be united to one another

Last week we started looking at the ‘one another’ statements of the New Testament as part of our focus on spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. 

Last week we looked at the ‘Love one another’ verses which made up a third of those statements. Today we look at the second third of the “one another” commands and these deal with the church getting along, in other word Unity among believers.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist, addresse...


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Love One Another

May 27, 2018

Love One Another

I want to discuss over the next few weeks a 2-word concept that runs throughout the New Testament.  It is such an important concept that it is used 100 times in 94 verses in the NT; 47 times as instructions to Christians. 

The word can be grouped into 4 categories:  30% are related to love 30% are related to unity, 15% are related to humility and a 4th category picking up the ones which don’t fit the other categories[1]

“One another” is the concept. In English it ...


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Unclean No More - self denial 3

May 20, 2018

Unclean No More (Self Denial 3)

This week’s theme for Prayer and Self-Denial focuses on an army of new believers that God is calling to himself, and the need for us to be open minded in the way that God can use and change us, as we move forward in his plan.

Today’s Scripture relates to the expanding Kingdom of God in Acts 10

Acts 10

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.  He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; ...


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