Category Archives: Trusting God

A Tangled Path, or a Straight One?

tangled path

straight path

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 3:5-6                                                      

To trust God is to believe in His reliability, truth, ability or strength. It means that you rely, depend, bank, or count on, and be sure of all that God is and what He promises.  Many times when there is some big rescue or feat, the newscasters will talk about “the indomitable human spirit” that made the people overcome.  When we put our trust in ourselves and our strength individually or collectively, we are missing the real source of our strength.  If we name the name of Jesus, the source of our strength is to be God and God alone.

In Genesis 11 we find the account of the Tower of Babel.  Everyone gathered together with the same language and said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, found in verse 4.  When God saw what they were doing He said, This is only the beginning of what they will do.  And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. God stepped in and confused their language and scattered them to the faces of the earth.

That is what happens when we decide to build or do anything in rebellion of the King of the Universe.  Sometimes we don’t plan to do things without God in rebellion, it’s just because we’re used to figuring things out on our own, counting on our own wisdom and desires.  But God calls us to consult and trust Him, not others and not ourselves.  To trust Him with all of our hearts means that we don’t have a backup plan.  God is our only plan.  And He will take care of the details of our obedience.

There is a promise in these two verses: God will make our paths straight.  Have you ever tried to accomplish something or get somewhere in life, but you keep getting twisted around?  Your dream or your desired goal might always end up just beyond your grasp. You take one step forward and end up three steps back.  Sometimes you don’t go backwards, you just go sideways.  Or you stall out.  Your route isn’t a straight line, but a tangled path.  If this is you, ask yourself this question: Are you acknowledging God in all your ways?  Are you doing things His way or your way?  

When you do things God’s way, things have a way of working out.  And your path will be straight, not a mess.  Step by step in the right direction leads to a habit and a routine and then a lifestyle of obeying God, trusting Him, and  consulting with Him before you make choices.  You can’t beat it.


Grumbling: Rebelling with our attitudes and our words

Therefore, when the Lord heard (their grumbling) He was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; His anger rose against Israel, because they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.  Psalm 78:21-22

The verses just before this explain, “God made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.  Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.  They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.  They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?’”

This took place in the wilderness, when the children of Israel were in between Egypt and the Promised Land.  They grumbled and rebelled against God.  They tested God in their heart by demanding things of Him that they thought they were entitled to.  They sinned by speaking words of unbelief and complaining.  no grumbling 10 complaining.jpg

Have you ever complained about your circumstances?  We think we’re just venting, but really, we’re saying “God, You’re not good.”  And we can pray demanding prayers that are really complaints to God, saying what He is giving us isn’t enough.  And we tell ourselves and others that we really can’t trust God.  It is rebellion and it angers God.  Really–have you listened to yourself when you grumble?  Stop it.  

In response to Israel’s attitude, God was not only full of wrath, but a fire was kindled against Jacob.  That means that it was the start of God working against the Israelites, not for them.  That is never good.  But verse 23 has a merciful tone, in spite of God’s wrath being kindled: Yet He command the skies above and opened the doors of Heaven, and He rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of Heaven.

In other words, in spite of their lack of trust, reflected by their venting–God was still good to them!  Even when they didn’t deserve it, God gave them bread from Heaven to eat.  That is grace, giving us good gifts that we don’t deserve and didn’t earn.  It was also mercy, not giving them what they did deserve.  In Psalm 103:9-10 there are beautiful words of God’s character, “He will not always chide (accuse), nor will He keep His anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

We can anger God with our testing Him, saying that the weather stinks, our job is rotten, and we wish we had more of just about everything–money, vacation, or friends.  It’s not just run of the mill complaining, it is a lack of trust in the goodness of God.  But in the middle of it, God is still good to us, giving us our daily bread and not giving us what we deserve.  

Praise God for this!  We’re just like the Israelites, rebelling and grumbling.  God does something big and then we forget and whine for something bigger.  When we deserve to get wiped out, He opens the skies and rains down goodness upon us.  He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.

*Image from Howard Carter, Google Images


Our GPS

GPS.jpgI will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  Psalm 32:8

This is one of my favorite promises in all of the Bible.  God promises to tell us where to go, and to counsel us with His eye upon us.  There are two parts to this.  The first is to teach us the right principles to make good choices on our own.  The second is to counsel us when the choices are between several things that all look good.  Or maybe they all look bad, like being between a rock and a hard place.  The promise part is that God has His eye on us, just like He has His eye on the sparrow.  Isn’t that comforting?

Our GPS voice on Google Maps, or whatever device you use, is a computer generated voice.  It doesn’t really care for us.  It doesn’t make value judgments.  It merely tells us the shortest route.  Some programs can take into account heavy traffic, but other than that, you don’t have an omniscient, provident God looking down in love telling us which way to turn.

There are times when I think I know better than my GPS voice and I have quite the argument with her.  I don’t have a name for her.  But if I did, I think it would be the name of my least favorite high school teacher.  One time I couldn’t figure out how to shut her off when I first got a Garmin, so I shut her in the compartment between the driver and passenger seat and her muffled directives rang out the whole trip.  So I turned up the music.

We can do the same thing to God.  There are times when we think we know better than Him, trying to shut off our GPS with Him.  “Stop it Holy Spirit!  Stop it.”  His voice rings in our heart the whole while.  He tells us to knock it off and we barrel on, suffering the consequences. And we turn up the music so we can’t hear His voice.  God gives us commands which are really for our provision and protection to guide us.  He also gives us the Holy Spirit who is with Christians always.  

On the positive side, when I don’t know what to do and I humbly ask for help, God is there to counsel me with His eye upon me.  I don’t always know that His leading hand is upon me, but I can look back and tell that it was.  One time my husband and I were travelling to my family’s side for Christmas, about a five hour trip.  We prayed before we left that we would have safe travels.  A snow storm blew up along the way, making travel treacherous.  

I was driving, and as we went through one town, my husband said as we were passing a gas station, “stop there for the restroom.”  I said we could go to the one a few blocks down the road since I was already past it.  He said he didn’t want to go then.  He’s a bathroom snob, which I was later to find out why (another story).  As I pulled into the other gas station to get gas, I locked the car door to go in and pay, with our coats inside the vehicle.  We got back outside and the fob wouldn’t work.  Apparently the battery was dead.  We went back into the station to call for some assistance, explaining what had happened, complete with cell phones inside car.  The person behind the counter asked what kind of vehicle we had, we said “Ford.”  She said, “Why don’t you go to the Ford dealership across the street then?”

Now there is an example of God taking care of us with His eye upon us.  In the midst of a snowstorm, with our coats in the car, we were locked out right across from a Ford dealership.  They gave us a new battery for free, installed it, and on we went!

Take God at His word today, following His instructions and trusting in His promises.  He will counsel you with His eye upon you.

 


Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and are heavy laden

Jesus- the invitation

 

This was my jail study this last week, with seven women.  This is Jesus.  Really, to know Him is to love Him.  Some have heard this in different shapes and forms, but need to hear it again and again until it sinks in.  Others haven’t heard it before.  One gal was getting sentenced this last week to a possible 20 years (she got 25).  Jesus changed her in front of our eyes over these last three years of her being in and out, especially in the last six months.  God still works miracles, the biggest being in changing lives!

 John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, Jesus, that whoever would believe Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  God loves us and Jesus gave His life for us so that we won’t have to spend eternity in Hell because of our sin.

John 11:5 and Luke 19:5.  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus…Jesus looked up at the tree and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I must stay at your house today.’  Jesus knows us by name, and He loves us.  He doesn’t just love the world generically, but specifically.  He knows us by name, even the number of hairs on our head.  Psalm 139:4 says that before a word is on our tongues He knows it completely.

John 8:1-8.  That’s the account of the woman caught in adultery.  When Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone,” and they left oldest to youngest, she looked up and saw just Jesus.  He asked, “Where are the ones who condemn you?  Who’s left?”  “No one,” was her response.  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Jesus doesn’t condemn them when they come to Him; He wants them to be set free from their bondages.

  •  One gal was caught up in an interesting thought about how Jesus was a part of       making the law, but yet let her break the law.  Jesus really was the fulfillment of the law.   He was the law.  He was loving, kind, merciful and just, which was what the law was really aimed at.  The Pharisees kept the law, but weren’t any of those things.  So they really didn’t keep the law.  Maybe that’s why Jesus kept healing on the Sabbath, to poke holes in their broken system.  In Romans 8:3-4 it says that God sent Jesus to do what the law couldn’t do in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.  Bottom line: Meet Jesus, look into His loving eyes and turn from your sin.

John 4.  The woman at the well.  Here’s the outcast of the outcasts at the well at noon.  And Jesus talks with her, asking for water and telling her about living water so she wouldn’t have to thirst anymore.  “I want that water!”  “Okay, go get your husband.”  “I don’t have one.”  “I know.  You’ve had five, and the guy you’re with now isn’t one of them.”  Jesus knows our backstory and He still likes us.  He knows what it is that we’re trying to fill the hole in our heart with.  Everyone has a hole in their heart that God put there so we would long for Him.  It has to filled with Him, otherwise it’s still a hole that needs to be filled.  Some people try to fill it with guys, others with drugs, others with shopping, others with food…

  • The other interesting discussion...What are you trying to fill your hole with?  Why don’t you fill it with Jesus?  We all have holes.  Andy Warhol is the guy that said “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.”  That’s why people will go on ‘American Idol’ even when they’re really bad, or do whatever do get noticed.  There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says ‘that God has set eternity in our hearts.’  The Oscar Meyer Wiener song illustrates it: “Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, everyone would be in love with me…”  Why would it matter for everyone would be in love with them?  Because God put that hole there for it to be filled by Him.

Final verses: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

 


God, my shield and the lifter of my head

shieldBut You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy hill.  Psalm 3:3-4

Have you ever been so depressed or overcome that you can’t even lift your head?   Or have you felt so attacked by troubles, people and problems that you need a shield to protect you so you can stand?  Then this is good news for you to grab a hold of and to live by!

God is our shield.  In Genesis 15:1 God appeared to Abraham and told him, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  So fear not–don’t be afraid or anxious.  In Psalm 5:12 David declared, “For You bless the righteous, O Lord; You cover him with favor as with a shield.”   Just like Joseph, David and Daniel had God’s hand of favor on them, we can be covered with God’s favor shield as we walk obediently with Him.  There are many verses that tell of the shielding benefit of God to rest on.

God is our glory.  If you are absorbed in weight lifting and stare at your muscles in the mirror while you’re working out, you might say that your glory is in your strength.  You take pride in how much you can lift, or in how trim or muscular that you are.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 commands, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understand and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.”  We do not glory in our smarts, our strength or our money.  We glory in the love, justice and righteousness of God.  In God we trust.

God is the lifter of our heads.  There are those days when you can’t lift your head out of shame, depression, tiredness, or even an injury of some sort.  On those days, call out to the lifter of your head to do for you what you simply cannot do.  He will hear and He will act through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Ask for His strength and His grace when you need it.

I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me.  That’s what He does.  Jeremiah 33:3 promises, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Don’t wait until you’re in trouble to pray to God, pray early and pray often!

 


God’s prospering hand on you

tree plantedHe is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the ways of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.  Psalm 1:3-6

There is a contrast between the one who daily seeks the Lord, meditating on His word.  It is the difference between a sturdy and strong tree vs. chaff that is blown away by the wind.  The strong and mighty tree yields fruit.  It doesn’t just eek by.   These verses tell us that whatever we undertake, we will prosper.  That’s another way of saying that we’re blessed.  

The wicked might prosper short term.  They might have a lot of money, nice houses and things look like they’re on the top of the world.  But this is not a prosperity that will continue beyond this life.  In eternity they will be condemned and they will perish.  It is easy to envy those people who seem to have it all, thinking that somehow we went wrong.  Oh no.  Filter it through the eyes of God, with His eternal lenses, and we see their end.  It’s not good.

Joseph, David and Daniel are guys who God had His hand on to prosper them.  In Genesis 39:2-4 tells us, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and because his attendant.”  NIV  

When you flee wickedness and make faithful people your friends, get to know the Bible as your best friend, and then put its principles into practice, you will prosper.  No, you might not get rich or suddenly become a star of some sort.  But you will have God’s hand on you and your paths will be straight.  You will make decisions that turn out to be the right ones, avoid trouble, and doors will open up as people see that you are a good worker.  They might not even want to hire or advance you, but God makes it happen.

And in the end, you will have eternal life in Heaven.  That’s where our rewards come, our true blessings, our time to be with Jesus face to face forever.  But the end of the wicked is not good.  They will spend eternity in hell.  

 


Finding God in the Middle of the ‘Why’

Job

I know that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.  Job 42:2

This is Job’s declaration at the end of not just a very bad day, but a bad stretch of years.  Job was God’s showcase to Satan that Job didn’t just serve God because of his riches and bountifully blessed life.  God wanted to prove to Satan that Job served and worshiped Him because of His character.  In a short stretch of time Job  his kids and his cattle all died.  Then he was afflicted with boils, and lots of them.

In the midst of this time of affliction, Job’s friends and wife accused Job of having some hidden sin to cause this.  God didn’t make sense to Job, but Job hung in there.  But he wanted answers to the questions of “why.”  God never told Job, but in the closing chapters of the book we see that God gave Job a view of God’s majesty in creation.

This verse was a part of Job’s response, saying in effect: “You are so big and I am so small.  Who am I to question such a magnificent and all-knowing God?”  There are times when God is silent in our lives and we may ask the same questions found in the book of Job.  Job never gave up on God or on searching for answers.  But in the middle of that quest, he didn’t get answers–He got God.

At a “Women of Faith” conference, Thelma Wells told of her daughter who was in her 30’s and single.  Her daughter told Thelma of her questioning of God and her distress over still being single.  She asked her mother to pray for her.  Thelma told her, “I’ll pray for you, but not for you to get married.  I will pray that you would fall madly in love with Jesus.”

Her daughter went away offended, thinking she already was in love with Jesus.  But her mother’s words spurred her on to spending large chunks of time with God over a period of months.  About a year later she came back to her mother and told her how God had totally changed her through that process and said, “Now I am madly in love with Jesus and it has changed me.”  She did get married not long after that.

Are you madly in love with Jesus?  Are you searching for the answer to something that has interrupted your life?  How can you find God in the middle of this quest, so that you can say with Job, “You’re God and I’m not.  Have Your way with me.  I trust You.”

*Photo from commons.wikimedia.org