How Trust And Obey Belong Together

trust, obey, relationshipTrust and Obey is a favorite hymn of the Christian church.  The song itself was a collaboration between John Sammis and Daniel Towner but was actually inspired by an unnamed young man giving his testimony after a service given by Dwight L Moody.  The young man’s closing remarks were “I’m not quite sure (about the specifics). But I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.”

Although this new convert had very little Bible knowledge beyond what he had just heard preached, he made the declaration to all who could hear him that he was going to place his trust in Jesus and then obey His commandments.  This powerful statement of faith so moved Daniel Towner that he immediately sought out his friend John Sammis who then went on to write the lyrics for Trust and Obey.

I believe the Holy Spirit spoke powerfully that night through that young man.  While we can obey someone up to a point without trusting them we will never have the type of relationship that God desires with us unless we also trust him intimately.

As new believers and young Christians we obey because we are told to do so and taught that to obey God is to please Him.  Obedience is encouraged and we are taught to do certain things and to not do other things.  Altogether these things give us the appearance of being good and upright, at least outwardly.  There is real human effort involved and insofar as we have the strength to do so, we will remain on the path.  But until we actively seek God and His presence with our whole heart and desire to know Him better, we will not have the strength to continue to obey once times get tough.

Only God’s presence in the heart of a man or woman can give that person the fortitude to continue on the path of righteousness once the storm comes.  Human effort must meet God’s divine resources if we are to grow and make progress in our faith and God’s greatest resource is only available to those who intimately trust Him; namely, His presence in a real and powerful way.

Many times I have asked God why I did something that I knew was wrong or didn’t do something that I knew He wanted me to do.  For a very long time I internalized that failure as weakness on my part and took it to mean that I was fairly bad at this Christianity thing.  But what God has shown me since then is that He loves me unconditionally and accepts me as His precious child.  And along with that He has made me realize that what I need most is just to know Him better and to increase my trust in Him, step by step and day by day.  When we trust God with our whole heart, obeying Him becomes a joyful outward reflection of that inward trust.  Trust and obey belong together in the life of every believer and the absolute best thing you can do for yourself, your family and everyone around you is to get to know your Savior.

Attainable Perfection: A Heart At Peace

Isaiah 26:3, peace, trustIn my weekly Bible study and devotional time God often causes a verse or group of verses to jump out at me and really stick in my memory.  Often times, this verse will be very relevant to whatever circumstances are going on at the time.  Here is a recent example that the Holy Spirit has really been working on me in regards to living it and practicing it daily.

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you but sometimes I fret.  Sometimes I am anxious and instead of living in perfect peace I am actually experiencing inner turmoil.  Outwardly I may appear fine but in my heart and mind, trouble abides.  Does this ever happen to you?

If we’ve spent much time at all in church and Bible study then we should know that God’s Word tells us not to worry and to cast our cares upon Him.  We know what to do and yet we struggle to follow these instructions despite the good that it would do us.  There are many reasons for this but I believe there is really only one root cause.  Let’s look at Isaiah 26:3 again, paying particular attention to the middle clause, “whose mind is stayed on You“.

According to Isaiah 26:3, how do we defeat worry and anxiety and gain perfect peace?  We do this by keeping our mind focused on God.  This is good news, as we now have a solution to our problem of worry and anxiety but it also raises another sort of problem.  How good are we at staying focused on God for long periods of time (or anything else, for that matter)?  If you are like me, then your mind is prone to wander and you might find yourself distracted when you can least afford to be.

Here is where God’s grace and our ability to choose comes in to play.  In our human weakness and sinful state we are prone to drifting.  We live in a world that is constantly changing and we ourselves are also always changing.  We need a fixed reference point and an anchor to cling to if we are ever going to have peace and stability in our lives.  This is what God offers us and is part of His salvation gift.  God Himself is unchanging and un-moving and so by choosing to cling to Him we can gain that perfect peace that Isaiah 26:3 talks about.

This is not a “one and done” sort of thing.  It has to be a daily choice and sometimes an hourly choice.  Choose to trust in God’s goodness and character, choose to place hope and trust in The Lord and choose to believe that He alone is able.  This is the key to perfect rest.  As we learn to cling to Jesus and to abide with Him in all situations and circumstances He will provide to us perfect, unmovable, unshakable peace.

Worth The Trouble

trust, Holy Spirit, James 1Trust in God.  When everything seems to be going wrong and you feel despair, choose to trust in God.  When nothing’s working and you have no strength left simply tell Him, “I trust you”.  Calm yourself in His presence and remember that He holds your “right now” and all of your moments to come.  Come back to that place where you can be still and know that He is God.

How is trust formed?  Not easily.  It takes time and it takes trouble.  And the greater the trouble that He brings you through the more your trust grows.

For most of us, we resist trouble.  We look for ways around it instead of trusting that God will bring us through it.  We stress and agonize over it.  We worry ourselves to sickness trying to find solutions for it.  But it is only in the midst of trouble that we can learn to fully depend on His strength and His grace to make it through the day.

James says that we should embrace trouble.  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)  To James, the outcome was worth the trouble.  The outcome was so worth it that he considered trouble to be an occasion for joy!  James looked forward to becoming perfect and complete in his faith, worthy of the one who called him.  And to get there he was able to face trouble with a positive outlook.

Being joyful in the midst of trouble is not natural.  In fact, it is distinctly unnatural.  It requires a conscious choice to focus on God and the goal rather than our circumstances and the moment.  And once again, it comes back to trust.  Can we trust that God is really here with us?  Can we trust that He is big enough to carry us when we can’t seem to take another step?  Can we trust that on the other side of this present trouble is an eternal reward and an end to all suffering?

It’s not easy.  Without the Holy Spirit’s help it is in fact impossible.  But Jesus knows our weaknesses and he has suffered all things so that we can be sure that we have a heavenly father who really understands us and knows our grief and sorrow intimately.  Trust in Him.  Only trust in Him.

The Steps I Must Take

Psalm 63, trust, learnParts of Psalm 63 have been adapted to a song called “Step by Step”.  Written by David Strasser the song has been made popular by artists such as Rich Mullins and Michael W. Smith.  If you’ve ever spent time in a church or youth camp that featured more contemporary praise and worship music, you have probably heard this song.

The second part of “Step by Step” has been on my mind a lot lately.  It says “I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways.  And step by step You’ll lead me, and I will follow You all of my days.”

It seems to me there is much wisdom in these four phrases and if I could just commit myself to carrying them out then everything else would take care of itself.

Breaking it down, it looks like this: “I will seek you in the morning” is a declaration of intent.  David, who wrote the Psalm, is saying that he will, by an act of his own choosing, seek after God early in the day.  Wonderful things happen when we humans bend our wills towards seeking God.  Even better when this happens early in the day and early in our lives!

And then what happens?  “I will learn to walk in your ways”.  We don’t just seek in vain.  We seek Him for a specific purpose.  We seek him so that we may know Him and know His ways.  As His children and His creation we want to be just like Him because His spirit resides in us.

This is a learning process.  We must be patient with it.  Saints are not formed in a day or even a year.  Salvation may be instant but sanctification and holiness is a life long process that must be worked at continuously.

“And step by step you’ll lead me” means we do not walk or work alone.  God has placed His spirit in our hearts and Jesus said He would never leave us or forsake us.  The Lord will guide us every step of the way if only we will place our complete trust in Him.  Even when we can’t see Him or feel His presence He is there and He wants us to continue to trust Him.

“and I will follow you all of my days” must be our decision as well.  Times may be hard.  Circumstances may not be favorable.  Trouble may surround us on all sides as it did David when he wrote Psalm 63.  But we must stand firm on the promises that have been made to us by our Almighty Father in whom there is no shadow of turning.

God is truly good.  He alone knows what tomorrow holds and is able to guide us through in perfect peace.  My prayer is that we would trust His goodness completely and desire to seek Him and to learn to walk in His way, every single day of our lives.

 

 

2014: The Year of I Just Don’t Know

trust, obey, faith

I have questions..

The way God works never ceases to surprise me.  Just when I think that perhaps I am on a certain path and heading in a certain direction, something comes along and everything changes.

Looking back at 2013, it was a year of intense spiritual and personal growth.  The Lord booted me out of complacency and into action and this blog was one of the most visible results of that upheaval.  And if you had asked me last Fall what I thought 2014 was going to look like I would have told you “more time writing, more blogging and an expansion of Matthew515.com”.

And up until around Thanksgiving I would have stuck with that answer.  But then, the new job came along at the end of September and I started working 6 days every other week.  I also lost my weekdays off and those were the days that I used to get the majority of my writing done.  Work got busier and busier and although I tried to stick with the same posting schedule, I just couldn’t keep up.  I was soon exhausted and worn out.  Something was going to have to give.

So in the month of December I made the decision to take a few weeks off from writing and to rest my mind and body a little bit.  It seems to have worked because I’m excited about writing again and I feel a spurt of mental and creative energy that I haven’t felt in several months.  I’ve got several topics lined up to write about and I’m also working on another guest poster for later this month that I think will genuinely benefit anyone who reads his work.

That being said, my job really hasn’t slowed down any and the powers that be have told us that everyone in my department is on six day workweeks until further notice.  And I’m still a Sunday School teacher, AWANA Club worker, Choir member, Church Secretary and Husband.  My responsibilities have not lessened and my time to write has not increased.

For now, the answer seems to be for me to write as I have time and energy to do so and to not try and keep a set schedule of three posts a week.  This is a big change from where I thought I would be at this point and I admit I’m having a hard time with it.  I’m praying that the Lord would give me wisdom in this area and for me not to be discouraged because things aren’t as I thought they would be.  I don’t know how many times the Lord has to show me that His timetable is not the same as mine but it’s a lesson that I am still learning.

As per the title for today, I really don’t know how 2014 is going to turn out for Matthew515 or for anything else.  And as far as that goes, I guess you could insert any future date in the title and it would still work.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring and only in hindsight do we gain a sense of perspective on what the Lord has been doing.  I know that He is working for my good and that is enough.  I will keep going and  keep trusting His unseen hand.

Apologies all around, then, if my posts aren’t regular and updates don’t happen as often as I would like them to.  I hope and pray that I will be able to get back to three posts a week at some point in the future but as to when that might be, only the Lord knows.  And I’m okay with that.