Trusting Isn’t Easy by Brandon Hochstetler

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I was sixteen years old when I wrote my very first song.  I remember my mom often quoting the verse Proverbs 3:5-6 on trusting in the Lord, so I decided to write a song on trust. I have to admit, it was a cheesy song.  The chorus was simple:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean on Him in every way.
Through life’s trials and life’s pain
He will help and He will save,
And when your soul is feeling down,
You can talk to Him in prayer.
You can always trust in the Lord,
Always trust.

As I have grown in my faith, one area that continues to be a struggle for me is fully trusting in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord “with all your heart” and “in every way” is definitely not easy, but it is also a command in Scripture, and in doing so, the Lord promises to direct your paths. So, why is it so hard to fully trust in the Lord? I want to give you a couple reasons in hopes that it helps us recognize how to gain a deeper dependence on the Savior.

1. We don’t really believe who God says He is.

Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” What does it mean to acknowledge God? The Hebrew word for acknowledge is yada’ which means, to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing). This first means we must have a proper and broad understanding of who God is. We need to recognize His many attributes such as that He is holy, just, and sovereign just to name a few. The way we do this is by meditating and studying Scripture. The more we meditate and study the Scriptures, the deeper understanding we have of who God is. But, it is not just enough to know about God. A true understanding of God’s character leads us to truly seeing Him. This is what the Psalmist gets at when he says in Psalm 34:8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” This type of relationship with God goes beyond facts, but reaches into a heart that longs for God. If we truly believe who God says He is, our relationship with Him will be transformed and we will begin to fully trust in Him.

2. We rely too much on our own strength

My two-year-old daughter is at the stage where she wants to do everything herself. Just the other day we were making her dinner and she insisted that she wanted to carry her plate and cup filled with milk all by herself to her highchair. While we offered to help her, she was very set on doing it herself and you can guess what happened; it didn’t quite go as she planned. That is a perfect picture of how we often treat God. We try to handle our own problems in our own way, thinking we can do it ourselves. Proverbs 3:5 clearly warns against this when it says “lean not into your own understanding.” This does not mean that we never use any wisdom and discernment in making decisions, but it does recognize that any wisdom and discernment we have is from God, and ultimately His ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9; James 1:17) The best posture we can have in trusting the Lord is one of humility. It is in this posture we can begin to rely less on our own understanding and more on God’s.

3. We Have a Lack of Obedience

Trusting in the Lord is active. What I mean by that is, trust involves much more than just knowing about God and believing Him, it involves obeying Him. One of the clearest examples of this is Abraham when he offered up his son Isaac. When you begin to study the context of that story, you realize what a big deal it was that Abraham was willing to give up his Son. This son was the way God was going to continue to bless his family, this son was the miracle Abraham had been waiting and praying to God for so long. We see that Abraham trusted that God would keep His promises in blessing him and his family so much that he obeyed God even when that obedience could potentially cost him his son. Maybe the reason we don’t fully trust the Lord is we are too scared to step out in faith, too scared to do something? Is there something God has laid on your heart that you have put off due to fear and lack of trust? The amazing thing is, once you take that step of obedience, that’s when God strengthens your faith and you begin to trust Him more.

I wish I could write back to my sixteen-year old self and say thank you for writing a lyric that emphasized trusting the Lord with all my heart and leaning on Him in every way. While I didn’t fully understand trust then, and I am certainly far from it now, I am thankful for how God is teaching me to trust in Him and showing me the barriers that keep me from doing that fully. This is a daily struggle, but the stakes our too high to not trust in Him. May we all recognize these barriers and desire to grow in our dependence on the Lord in this new year!

The Scarlet Thread - Pt. 6 The Promised Land

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The Scarlet Thread/Luminescent
Pt. 6 “The Promised Land”

Let’s do a quick recap of how we can see the Scarlet Thread of the Gospel running through the stories of the Old Testament. God Rules in Genesis 1. We sinned in Genesis 3. God provides a way in Genesis 40. Jesus saves in the story of Exodus. But we still wander.

In last month’s article, the Israelites were just about to enter the Promised Land. They had wandered for 40 years, representing the Christian life lived apart from God. It’s like trying flip a light switch a million times when your power is out. Living without the power source is infuriating. And that’s where we enter the next stage of the Exodus story. 

The Isrealites were going after the Promised Land. It’s why they packed what they could carry, and got out of Egypt. They believed there was something better waiting for them. But what is this Promised Land for us? I’ll tell you right up front, it’s not Heaven.  There were giants in the land that prohibited them from entering. In their story, there were obstacles (people) that had to be removed from the Land of Promise, and I’m pretty there are no giants in Heaven.

The Promised Land is not heaven for us later, it is the indwelling of Christ now. And there are giants in your life that are prohibiting this.

Before we talk about how to get into that Promised Land, let’s talk about the indwelling of Christ. Truthfully, if you’ve put your trust in Him and His work on the cross, you already have Jesus indwelling you. But there’s something incredible that happens when a Christian believes this and trusts this.

If I told you that I had a magic glove at my house that move around, point at things, and pick stuff up you would say, “Sure you do. But only when your hand is in it.” You got me! But listen to this: everything that is possible for my hand is now possible for my glove. As long as my hand is working, the glove is working too. That’s the idea of Jesus Christ dwelling in us! We have His very power and deity living in us!

This is the “newness” of the Gospel. The Promised Land is meant to be enjoyed today! You have only to enter this Promised Land and enjoy the power and presence of Jesus in your life.

But how do I get to the Promised Land? How do I enjoy the power and presence of Jesus in my life? Because, truth be told, there’s a lot of times when I don’t feel either of those things. Take a look at what Joshua, the new leader of the Jews after Moses, says to the people before entering the Promised Land.

Joshua 3:9-13 9 “And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth[a] is passing over before you into the Jordan.”

How do we know that God will wipe out the giants blocking the Promised Land? Because He’s the same God who delivered you from the slave masters of Egypt. God, who saved you from slavery to sin, will also be with you to defeat the remaining giants in your life.

Did you catch the symbolism with the ark and the Jordan River? You get in to the Promise Land of Jesus’ indwelling the same way you got out Egypt, your slavery to sin. The Red Sea split for them to get out of Egypt and Jordan River split for them to get into the Land of Promise. This symbolic crossing of these two bodies of water represent your faith in the Gospel.

Colossians 2:6 says “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,” You were freed from your slavery of sin by your faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ. And the only way you can live in that freedom is with continued faith in the very same.

As it turns out, Joshua sent two spies into Canaan who met with Rahab. She told them that Jericho had been terrified of the Israelites all along and were dreading the day Israel came for them. The victory had already been won! But they were living as if the enemy was undefeatable. They believed the fortress was impenetrable for 40 years all the while the enemy was shaking in their boots, hoping Israel never realized it!

The final question that remains is; how do I stay in the Promised Land? The story of Moses ended with him dying before entering the Promised Land. And as soon as he dies, God appoints Joshua as the new leader. And within 3 days of Joshua leading the people, they crossed the Jordan. But as they were crossing it, God gave Joshua some instruction.

Joshua 4:1-3 “When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”

Joshua 4:21-22 “And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’”

This really is a beautiful thing. This stone altar that they erect, built from stones gathered from the middle of the Jordan River, stood as a reminder for generations to come. And every time they looked at this altar they would remember and be thankful for God’s deliverance of them. Those stones were gathered from an impossible place. They couldn’t have built that altar if they had never crossed the Jordan River.

I think in 21st Century America we have become so logical that we scoff at any sort of emotional or spiritual ritual or tradition. But I think God feels very deeply about things, and I think He can appreciate rituals or traditions that point to Him. Not every tradition or ritual is good, and not every one of the are bad. But if it is used to remind yourself of what He has done for you then it is a very good thing.

So build your own stone altar. I think it would be a very good thing for you. It can remind you of the grace you experience then. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo that says, “Imago Dei”. It means “The Image of God” and it would be a reminder to me that I am invaluable because I am God’s child. I love to see people wear Christian t-shirts, because it can be a reminder every time someone asks about it. Wearing a cross necklace or bracelet might be that thing for you.

The point is to remind yourself, while you’re living in the Promised Land of Christ’s power and presence, that He is the one that brought you there and keeps you there. What’s left for you is the work of believing that. Leave behind your unbelief. You don’t need to wander in the wilderness. You’re slave masters are dead. You belong in the Promised Land. Enter in. Enjoy Christ. Trust in His power in you. Surrender to Him.

"We're Far Too Easily Pleased" Brian Loveless Sermon

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Brian Loveless brought in the new year with a fresh outlook on our faith and our walk with Jesus Christ.  Take a look back at the first sermon of 2018 with "We're Far Too Easily Pleased" Brian Loveless Sermon on January 7, 2018 at Calvary Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas.