Most of you have probably heard of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It is a catechism based on the Westminster Confession that was adopted by the English Parliament in 1648. Its purpose was to provide instruction to children in the essentials of the faith. The first question in that catechism is:
Question 1. What is the chief end of man?
Do you know the answer? The protestant church deemed this so important that they made it the very first question in the catechism, something all children should know. What is the foremost purpose of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
The Scripture teaches us that God created us for His glory:
Isaiah 43:6-7 (NKJV) I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him."
Because we are created for His glory, it is the duty of every believer to live for the glory of God:
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
What does it mean to glorify God? It does not mean: "to make Him more glorious." It means to acknowledge His glory, and to value it above all things, and to make it known. One of the ways in which we glorify God is by trusting Him.
Speaking of Abraham the Scriptures say:
Romans 4:19-21 (NKJV) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
We see here that Abraham's faith brought glory to God. God had promised Abraham a son and Abraham believed Him. Abraham had nothing to go on when he believed this except the word of God. Everything in the natural, physical sense was against it. Look at verse 19, it says, "He did not consider his own body." The four oldest manuscripts of the New Testament do not have the negative. God's Word Translation puts it this way:
Romans 4:19-20 (GWT) Abraham didn't weaken. Through faith he regarded the facts: His body was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was unable to have children. 20 He didn't doubt God's promise out of a lack of faith. Instead, giving honor to God <for the promise>, he became strong because of faith
So, what this is telling us is that Abraham did consider his body, he was reproductively dead. Sarah was also reproductively dead, she always had been. Abraham considered these facts, we see this in:
Genesis 17:17 (NKJV) Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"
Abraham faced the facts. He looked at the facts as they were, at their worst, but having looked at them, he held on to the promise of God. He believed God even though all the circumstances were against it. Abraham was 100 years old and unable to father a child and Sarah his wife was 90 and had never been able to have children and was now past the age of childbearing. Abraham had strong faith, he believed God's promise against all the physical evidence. And because his faith was strong, he brought glory to God. God was glorified because Abraham trusted Him. Believers, God is also glorified when we trust Him.
I have been trying to emphasize the importance of faith in our Christian lives for the past nine weeks. By faith, we please God and we glorify Him. And apart from faith, it is impossible to please Him or bring Him glory. So, let me ask you a very important question; "Do you trust Him?"
Every time you are faced with a trial you have a choice, will you trust God or not. We must choose to trust Him!
About a year and a half ago I under went the most severe trial of my Christian life. I had resigned from the church that I had been pastoring for the past seven years. I found myself on my forty-third birthday starting over. I was experiencing anxiety over the future of my ministry and my financial future. One day while working under my house ( I was doing moisture repairs, not hiding) I was overcome with anxiety about my future. Would the new church make it? Would I be able to provide for my family? I had to stop and ask myself if I really believed what I have been teaching for so many years about the sovereignty of God. So I went over in my mind what I believed about God and my countenance was refreshed, my perspective changed. As I reviewed my Theology, I asked myself the same question that David asked himself in the Psalms, "Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God." After reviewing my theology, particularly the doctrine of God's sovereignty, I made the choice to trust God. I believed that God was sovereign over the circumstances of my life, including my resignation. I believed that God was wise and what ever he had planned for me was for my good. I believed that God is good and that whatever he had chosen for my life was done out of his goodness. I believed that God loved me and because of His great love, I knew that I could trust Him whatever happened. So, right there and then, while laying under my house, I chose to trust Him, no matter what happened. Well I want to tell you that I crawled out from under that house with a new perspective and a peace that has never left me. What I want you to understand today is that trusting God is a CHOICE!
David, in his times of distress, chose to trust God.
Psalms 56:3-4 (NKJV) Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?
David admitted that he was afraid. This great man of God, who fearlessly killed Goliath, still had times when he was afraid. The historical setting of this psalm, David's feigning madness before King Achish of Gath, is recorded in 1 Sam. 21:10-15.
1 Samuel 21:10-12 (NKJV) Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: 'Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands'?" 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
David was afraid but in the midst of his fear he chose to trust in God. David said, "In God I have put my trust; I will not fear." David's declaration in the 23 Psalm, "I will fear no evil," is equivalent to "I will trust the Lord in the face of evil."
Psalms 16:8 (NKJV) I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
To set the Lord before me is to recognize His presence and His constant help, but this is something I must choose to do.
God is always with us. He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." There is no question of His presence with us. But we must recognize His presence; we must set Him always before us. We must choose whether or not we will believe His promises of constant protection and care.
This past week, seven teenagers in a pickup truck crashed into a tree in Chesapeake, killing two of them and sending the rest to the hospital. One of the girls in the truck was Laura Maness's niece. The mother of one of the girls that was in the crash said this, "I believe God is in complete control of this. He is the giver and taker of life. We don't always understand. We just have to trust that something really good is going to come from this." She chose to trust God in the midst of tragedy.
Trusting God is a matter of the will, you must choose to trust Him. But if we are going to choose to trust Him, we must first have a knowledge of who He is. We must know that God is sovereign, wise, good and loving. Once we have the knowledge of God, we must then choose whether to believe it, and trust Him, or follow our feelings. In the midst of adversity, we must make a choice, will I trust God or allow my feelings to cause me anxiety and grief?
John Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace," watched cancer slowly and painfully kill his wife over a period of many months. In recounting those days, Newton said, "I believe it was about two or three months before her death, when I was walking up and down the room, offering disjointed prayers from a heart torn with distress, that a thought suddenly struck me, with unusual force, to this effect-- 'The promise of God must be true; surely the Lord will help me, if I am willing to be helped!' (emphasis mine DBC) It occurred to me, that we are often led....[from an undue regard of our feelings], to indulge that unprofitable grief which both our duty and our peace require us to resist to the utmost of our power. I instantly said aloud, 'Lord, I am helpless indeed, in myself, but I hope I am willing, without reserve, that thou shuldest help me.'"
John Newton was helped in a remarkable way. During those remaining months he tended to his usual duties as an Anglican minister and was able to say, "Through the whole of my painful trial, I attended all my stated and occasional services, as usual; and a stranger would scarcely have discovered, either by my words or looks, that I was in trouble. [The long affliction] did not prevent me from preaching a single sermon, and I preached on the day of her death....I likewise preached three times while she lay dead in the house... And after she was deposited in the vault, I preached her funeral sermon."
John Newton was helped by God because he chose to be helped. He realized it was his duty to resist "to the utmost of our power" an inordinate amount of grief and distraction. He realized it was sinful to wallow in self-pity. Then he turned to the Lord, not even asking, but only indicating his willingness to be helped. Then he said, "I was not supported by lively sensible consolations, but by being enabled to realize to my mind some great and leading truths of the word of God." The Spirit of God helped him by making needed truths of Scripture alive to him. He chose to trust God, he turned to God in an attitude of dependence, and he was enabled to realize certain great truths of Scripture.
David put it this way:
Psalms 34:4 (NKJV) I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
David realized that it was his responsibility to choose to trust God, but also that he was dependant upon the Lord for the ability to do it. We are responsible to trust Him in times of adversity but we are dependant upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to do so. We see this in the story in:
Mark 9:17-25 (NKJV) Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 "And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not." 19 He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me." 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 "And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"
We are to be just like this father. Our attitude should be, "Lord, I am looking to you for the strength to trust in you." We are responsible to be dependant upon God.
The whole idea of trusting God is based upon the fact that God is absolutely trustworthy. To understand this, we must be grounded in the truths of Scripture that God is sovereign, wise, good, and loving. As we learn these great truths, we will be able to lay hold of His great promises for us. One promise we need to know is:
Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
The writer of Hebrews is exhorting the Hebrew Christians to be content and the reason he gives for them to be content is "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" It is almost impossible to reproduce in the English the emphasis of the original, in which no less than five negatives are used to increase the strength of the negation, according to the Greek idiom. Perhaps the nearest approximation is to render it, "I will never, no, never leave thee, nor ever forsake thee"
Calvin, commenting on this verse, said, "It is quite certain that lack of faith is the source of greed. Anyone who has the firm conviction that he will never be forsaken by the Lord will not be unduly anxious because he will depend on His providence."
Hebrews 13:6 (NKJV) So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
There are two quotations in this verse , one from Duet. 31:6 and the other from Psalm 118:6-7, they reveal that the answer to any kind of fear, including the fear of poverty, is found in the promise of God to ever be with us. Paul had this assurance of God's presence when (2 Cor. 6:10) he described himself " as having nothing yet possessing all things"
We may at times lose the sense of God's presence and help but we never lose them. Because God will never leave you nor forsake you, you are exhorted:
1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
He is not just there with you, He cares for you. His care is constant -- not occasional or sporadic. His care is total -- even the very hairs of your head are numbered. His care is sovereign -- nothing can touch you that He does not allow. His care is infinitely wise and good so that again in the words of John Newton, "If it were possible for me to alter any part of his plan, I could only spoil it."
We must by an act of the will in dependance upon the Spirit of God choose to trust God in every circumstance.
Trusting God is much more than just looking to Him in times of great distress and fear. As God's children we are to trust Him every moment of our lives. We don't just need God for the big things of life, we need Him for every breath we take.
We are just as dependant upon God to feed us as the Israelites were. God rained down manna for them each day. For us He provides a regular pay check and a supermarket full of every kind of food. He provided for Israel's food through a miracle. He provides our food through a long and complex chain of natural events in which His hand is visible only to the eye of faith. But it is still His provision just as much as was the manna from Heaven. We need to make sure that we are trusting in God for our daily provision and not in our pay check or bank account.
Proverbs 18:10-11 (GWT) The name of the LORD is a strong tower. A righteous person runs to it and is safe. 11 A rich person's wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination.
Here we see an interesting contrast drawn between those who trust in God and those who trust in money. The contrast is to show us the two primary objects of man's trust; God and money. Those who trust in the Lord are safe; while those who trust in their money only imagine they are safe. We must realize that anything, other than God Himself, that we tend to trust in becomes our "strong city" with its imagined high walls.
We must be on guard against letting anything other than God Himself become the object of our trust. It is very easy in the prosperity in which we live to think we don't need to trust in God. Believer, please understand that we need to trust in God for every detail of our lives. We need to trust Him to provide for us and our families through our jobs. We must trust Him to give us the power to love our spouse. We must trust Him to give us wisdom in raising our children. We need to trust Him every day with each and every decision that we make.
Do you trust God for guidance? Do you trust Him to lead you and guide you in the paths of life? David did:
Psalms 23:2-3 (NKJV) He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
The imagery is that of a shepherd leading his sheep. The initiative is with the shepherd. He is the one who determines the watering places and guides the flock as he thinks best. As our shepherd, God has committed Himself to guiding us in the ways that He knows to be best for us. God is sovereignly guiding our lives, do you trust Him?
God's means of guidance are infinite. As I look back over the years of my Christian life, I am amazed at the many and diverse ways by which God has guided me. God is at work guiding all the details of our lives-- trust Him! J. I. Packer has said, "God made us thinking beings, and he guides our minds as we think things out in his presence." We can trust God to guide us every step of our lives.
Do you realize that a thankful heart is a trusting heart? The extent to which we genuinely thank God for the blessing He provides is an indicator of our trust in Him. We should be as earnest and frequent in our prayers of thanksgiving when we are being blessed as we would be in our prayers of supplication when we are in trials. We show our trust in times of prosperity by being thankful for all God has given us.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Giving thanks in all circumstances is part of God's moral will for us. Thanksgiving in all circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable, then, is another response to the trustworthiness of God. If we trust Him to work in all our circumstances for our good, then we should give Him thanks in all those circumstances.
I hope that you have seen that God is trustworthy. He is absolutely sovereign over every event in the universe, and He exercises that sovereignty in an infinitely wise and loving way for our good. Your can trust God. He will never fail you or forsake you.
To grow in your ability to trust God in times of adversity, you must first lay a solid foundation of a daily personal relationship with Him. Only as you know Him intimately and seek to obey Him completely, will you be able to establish a trust relationship with God. May we learn to trust Him that we might fulfill the purpose for which we were created-- to glorify God. God is glorified when we trust Him.
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