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Trust: The Trust Test - Part 1

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The Trust Test - Part 1

Proverbs 3:1-3:10

May 22, 2005

Sermon

INTRODUCTION:

Today I want to talk to you about managing the resources that God has given to us. Last Sundays we asked the question: Can I trust God? Today I just want to share with you what I call the Trust Test. This is a two-part sermon. I’ll share half this morning, and half next Sunday. We’re really going to work through this whole issue of trust, and how we, as God’s children, do when we take the Trust Test. Let me read as an introduction of this message an article that recently came across my desk.

"At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things that I did wrong so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t know Him.

"But later on, when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike. And Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has never been the same since.

"When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but it was predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains and through rocky places at break neck speeds. It was all that I could do to hang on. And even though it looked like madness, He said, ’Pedal.’ I worried and was anxious, and I asked, ’Where are you taking me?’ He laughed and didn’t answer. And that’s when I learned that I was going to have to trust Him.

"I forgot my boring life and entered into every adventure. And when I’d say, ’I’m scared,’ He’d lean back and just touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed. Gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. He gave me gifts to take on my journey and off we went again. And he would say, ’Give the gifts away. They’re extra baggage, too much weight.’ So I did, to people we met, and I found that in giving, I received. The journey continued and our burden was light. I did not trust Him at first to take control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets. He knows how to make those sharp corners and how to jump clear off high rocks and do things I could’ve never done if I were in control.

"And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful Companion, Jesus Christ. And when I’m not sure I can do it anyway more, He smiles and, says, ’Just pedal.’"

I think every one of us comes to a place where we ask a very simple question: Can I really trust God? Can I trust God with my life? Can I trust God with my future, with my family? With my job? With my health? Can I trust God with my possessions? I think every one of us comes to the place where we have to cross a line of either saying, "Yes, I do trust Him," or staying back and saying, "No."

I want to say this. It’s at that Trust Test line that we either grow spiritually by crossing it and saying," Yes, I’m going to trust God," or we back away from that line and begin to shrivel in our soul and never reach our potential as a child of God. All because we were unwilling to let God take control of our life.

I’m trying to give you handles, ways that you and I could learn to trust God more completely. I did a little acrostic, and let me just share with you what each letter stands for. We’re going to talk about a couple of them this morning.

Proverbs 3:5-10

T Take an inventory.

We need to be asking ourselves the bottom line question: Do I really trust God?

R Recognize God as your source.

We need to realize as we take inventory of our life, that everything that you and I have right now is a gift from God.

U Understand God’s principles.

Until we understand them, we’re always going to hold back in our trust toward God.

S Surrender everything to God.

The moment that we understand the principles that God has for us; then it’s just an act of surrender.

T Test God’s promises.

We need to look at God’s Word and test his promises, because it’s in that testing that God proves Himself to us. Then all of the sudden our faith begins to build.

T Take an inventory.

We need to be asking ourselves the bottom line question: Do I really trust God?

Take An Inventory

Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

    24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139. The psalmist said it better than I could. He says to God,

Three observations about the psalmist’s prayer of inventory.

Observations:

1.  Only God knows everything about us.

It’s obvious to me because the psalmist said, "Look deep into my heart and find out everything I’m thinking." In other words, the psalmist said, "I don’t even know what’s down there. I don’t even know what I’m thinking. Look deep in my heart." He’s asking God to help him take inventory.

2.  Only God can lead me correctly.

The psalmist recognized that our tendency is to want to follow evil ways.

3.  Taking inventory and trusting God begins with me.

This whole issue begins with me. I have to do personal inventory. Look at myself and ask myself, "How am I doing in this area of trust? "

Lets look at  Proverbs 3, and let me just show you how personal this inventory has to be.

When you go to Proverbs Chapter 3:5-10, you’ll see that the Proverb writer understood that trust began with him.

In fact, take your pen out with me. I’m going to read it, and I want you to underline or circle all the personal pronouns. Are you ready? 3:5. "With all your heart you must trust the Lord, and not your own judgment." Three already. "Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. Don’t ever think that you are wise enough, but respect the Lord and stay away from evil. This will make you healthy, and you will feel strong. Honor the Lord by giving Him your money and the first part of all your crops. Then you will have more grain and grapes than you will ever need." Powerful.

Proverbs 3:5-10

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

    6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight. [a]

    7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
       fear the LORD and shun evil.

    8 This will bring health to your body
       and nourishment to your bones.

    9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
       with the firstfruits of all your crops;

    10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
       and your vats will brim over with new wine.

The Proverb writer said that all trust starts with personal inventory. I need to take responsibility for doing my part. What happens? I do my part, and ?? you know the rest -- God does His part.

R Recognize God as your source.

We need to realize as we take inventory of our life, that everything that you and I have right now is a gift from God.

Recognize God As Your Source Deuteronomy 8:18

 

Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

We need to come to a place where we recognize God as the source of our life.

Recognize that He knows everything.

There’s nothing hidden from Him; He’s sovereign.

There is a funny story of a mother telling her daughter a little bit about the facts of life, as she came to the age to understand some of those things. The little girl was really shocked. And when the mother finished, the little girl said, "Mom, does God know these things?”

God knows them all. He’s the source.

Colossians 1:15-20 tells us:

Col. 1:15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

It’s a great passage that talks about God being the source.

As I was going through the Word of God this week, I realized that there are so many places in the Bible that tell us without God it’s impossible.

 Matthew 5:36

tells us, that we cannot change our hair, add hair to our head, without God being the source.

Matthew 6:27

tells us that we cannot add a single moment to our life without God being the source.

 James 4:14 reminds us that we cannot even say with certainty what’s going to happen tomorrow without God as the source.

Act 27:20 tells us that we cannot save ourselves from disaster without God being our source.

It’s very humbling when we to recognize where we are.

Story:

They tell us that William Beavy, the naturalist and a very close friend to Teddy Roosevelt, spent many evenings with Roosevelt. After their meal, they would go outside and look at the stars in the heavens, and he would say, "That is a galaxy as large as the Milky Way. It consists of a 100 billion suns. It is one of a 100 billion galaxies. " And then Roosevelt would grin, and, say, "Now I think we’re small enough. Let’s go to bed."

God’s the source.

U Understand God’s principles.

Until we understand them, we’re always going to hold back in our trust toward God.

Understand God’s Principles

Three reasons why Christians don’t give more to God:

1. They don’t think they can give and meet their own needs.

Most of the time when we start talking about resources and finances, these people say,

 "Well I’m not sure that I can give and still take care of family, still meet the budget, and meet my own needs." And so it alarms them.

2. They don’t know how to give.

3. They don’t plan to give.

 

Because they lack planning, they are always in an emergency. I would encourage you to attend a personal financial seminar. It will be a great help to many of you.

Stewardship principles that make a difference:

1. The Who’s in Charge Principle

God’s the Owner - I’m the Manager

And that basically is, "Who’s going to run my life?"

Psalm 24:1NIV

1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,
       the world, and all who live in it;

2. The Give and Grow Principle.

Practicing Stewardship Produces Growth.

I have a quote here by Timothy Johnson that’s outstanding.

"Some say dedicate the heart and the money will follow; but our Lord put it the other way around. ’Where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also.’ If your treasure is dedicated, your heart will be dedicated. If it is not, it simply won’t. It is as simple as that." Stewardship, Timothy Johnson

I sat down and began to write all the ways that practicing good stewardship

enables us to grow:

We find our spiritual gifts.

It increases our faith.

We become spiritually sensitive.

We become fruitful for God’s kingdom.

We receive a blessing from God.

We are a blessing to others.

We make a lasting contribution.

3. The Do it Now Principle.

 

Stewardship Deals with our Present Resources.

"The person who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything." Samuel Johnson

A cute poem I heard recently: "Procrastination is my greatest sin. It brings me endless sorrow. I’m going stop doing it. Perhaps I’ll start tomorrow." Can I ask a question? How long are you going to wait before you find out what your spiritual gift is? How long are you going to wait before you use it? How long are you going to wait with all the resources God has given you before you do something about what you’ve got right now?

You see, there’s tendency for us to say, "Well sometime, next year, I think, I’m going to find out what my spiritual gift is. You know, down the road I’m going to start using it." What are we doing with these gifts right now? It’s our present resources that God is concerned about.

Can’t imagine Christians who just sit in pews on Sunday somehow thinking they deserve a purple heart for showing up. What are your gifts? Do you know them? Are you using them? You see, we’re going to be held accountable for those things. There’s going to be a day when I stand before God, and I’m going to either have gold and silver and things precious; or I’m going have a bunch of wood. Some of you are going to have a bonfire with it.

And what are you doing with your present resources now? I know, I know, you’re saying, "If I had just won that lottery last week, man, I’d given all that money to the church." No you wouldn’t. You don’t tithe now. What are you talking about giving everything to God. If you can’t give Him 10% now, you’re not going to give Him a 100% later.

Story:

Love the story about the real rich guy who was on this prosperity gospel kick. And he went from town to town talking about how he once only had $20 in his pocket, and when the offering plate came by, he put all $20 in. Then he became a multimillionaire. And, boy, they loved this story. He’d go everywhere. People would just clap and he’d encourage them to do the same thing. He was in Toledo and shared this great story. And everybody clapped.

But one lady raised her hand. He looked at her and said "Yes ma’am, do you have a question?" She said, "Yes. Now let me make sure I understand. You only had $20. You gave all $20 to God, and He made you rich and famous." "Yeah, that’s exactly the way it works." "And now you’re a multimillionaire." "Yeah, that’s exactly right." "Just one question:", she said, "would you like to do it again?"

I get so sick and tired of Christians with all these spiritual clichés talking about how God will provide. Let me tell you something. God’s already provided. The issue is not God’s provision. The issue is for you and I to learn to manage the resources He’s given, be a good steward of them and pass them on. Amen?

4.  The I’m in Debt Principle.

Romans 1:14-15

  14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

The Moment We’re Born ... We’re in Debt.

"Well, praise God! There’s one I’m really following right now." I’m not quite talking about that.

"Whatever you have received more than others -- in health, in talents, in ability, in success, in a pleasant childhood, in harmonious conditions of home life -- all this you must not take yourself as a matter of course. In gratitude for your good fortune, you must render some sacrifice of your own life for another life." Albert Schweitzer

How true. Paul said to the church of Rome, in Romans 1:14-15, "For I owe a great debt to you and everyone else." Paul understood that he was a debtor.

Our indebtedness is two-fold...

A.   To God.

All the blessings that God has given to you health, life, everything. "Every good and perfect gift comes from Him." I’m indebted to God, you’re indebted to God. It’s a process that we all need to understand.

B.   To the previous generation.

But there’s another indebtedness that we have. And that indebtedness is to the previous generation. The one that has gone on before us, that has given many of the blessings that we have in America. Many of the blessings that we have had just basically been handed down.

5. The Fountain of Youth Principle.

We Live Forever Through Our Giving.

"We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give." Douglas M. Lawson

Jesus said that what we keep we lose, and what we lose we keep. We know that. You all heard the expression, "You can’t take it with you." There’s a new one I read the other day: "You never see a hearse with a luggage rack." Amen? Can’t take it with you. You always like the deep stuff I give you, don’t you?

"No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others; or failing therein it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist." Calvin Coolidge

CONCLUSION

Timothy Johnson

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