As 2016 approaches, are you excited to see how God might work or are you more filled with anxiety just thinking about all of the unknowns? When we allow challenges to get in the way of us trusting the Lord, it’s impossible to have the joy and peace we all desire. How do we learn to better trust God in the New Year? How can our lives be characterized more by faith than by fear? In the sermon this past weekend, we discussed three keys to trusting God.
1) The Past: Commemorate His Character
To commemorate is to recall and show respect for. It is to celebrate an event or person. In the Bible, we see an example in Joshua chapter four where the Israelites stacked stones as a memorial to remind them of how God had faithfully brought them into the Promised Land. As we look back, it’s important for us to ask the question, how has God been faithful in the past? What reminders do you have that point you to who He is? How has God revealed Himself to you this past year?
Maybe when you look at the past, all you see is pain. You can’t see God’s faithfulness because all you’ve experienced is hardship. In those times, we must remember the cross. God loved us SO much that He sent Jesus to die for us.
Randy Alcorn said, “One look at Jesus—at His incarnation and the redemption He provided us—should silence the argument that God has withdrawn to some far corner of the universe where He keeps His hands clean and maintains His distance from human suffering.”
There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that remind us of how great God’s love is for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If we are ever having a hard time seeing His faithfulness in our lives, we must look to His Word to be reminded of who He is.
2) The Future: Take God at His Word.
We should ask ourselves “What has God promised in the future?” When we look to the Bible, we not only see His faithfulness in the past, but we also see the promises He has given us for the future. Corrie ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Since He is a God who never changes, His past faithfulness reassures us of fulfilled promises in the future.
One of the most beautiful pictures in all of Scripture is found in Revelation 21:3-5 that gives the believer a glimpse of the future. Heaven will be a place where there will be no more pain or suffering. As we meditate on God’s promises, this should motivate us to have an eternal perspective, seeing now in the light of then.
When we fix our eyes on the eternal, we can better trust God today and better endure what we are facing. Charles Spurgeon once said, “One short glimpse, one transitory vision of His glory, one brief glance at His marred, but now exalted and beaming countenance, would repay almost a world of trouble.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 helps us to have this eternal mindset. “…do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
3) The Present: we need to have the Proper Perspective
What is God doing right now? We don’t live in the past and we shouldn’t be distracted by the future. We must be present in the present! And when we are, we experience more of His presence.
Have you ever noticed how distracting technology can be? It has a way of taking us out of the present into some other world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, the list goes on and on! In the middle of my sermon, I got out the selfie stick to get a quick pic so I could update my Facebook status. A bit unconventional, but I think this illustration proved a point that it’s easy to be distracted from more important things.
Worry is one way that we can be distracted by the future, failing to trust God in the present. “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” This was a great reminder from Corrie ten Boom who, through many trials, learned to better trust God.
Another way in which we must have the proper perspective in order to better trust God is to see that He always has a plan in the pain. James 1:2-4 says, “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.” When we see pain as purposeful, we can better trust Him in the present. Believing this to be true can be very challenging! Fortunately, God gave us other believers to help us. Hebrews 10:24-25 talks about how we should spur or stimulate and encourage other. This passage says how we need to meet with other believers, exhorting each other… warning each other. We can’t battle sin on our own, God didn’t intend for us to do so.
Not only has God given us other Christians, He has given us Himself! To have the proper perspective, we must rely on the power of the Spirit. When God calls us to trust and follow Him, He also enables us to do so. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Battling sin and striving to see good in challenging circumstances is hard, but praise be to God that He gives us strength to have the right perspective!
So, as we head into the New Year, let’s remember that God gives us remembrances of the past and glimpses of the future so that we might better trust Him in the present!
If you missed the sermon on Sunday, listen here: