(February 20, 2022) Robert McQuillan challenges:
Seems that our main theme this month is on trusting God… and how vital that is as further disasters hit our already troubled world and people, including Christians, have many concerns, such as –
- Storm Eunice hitting the UK, Ireland, and parts of Europe, following its predecessor Storm Dudley.
- variants of viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and can/ may change over time.
- Strange times, as some have put it, with strange things happening.
- Possible war between Russian and Ukraine.
- Hospital staff shortage and other medical concerns.
- Matthew 24:8’s ‘All these are the beginning of birth pains’ mentioned by Jesus?
- Possibility, maybe probability of really being close to that hour (known only by Father God – Matthew 24:36) when Jesus Christ returns as THE GREATEST KING OF ALL AND THE MOST POWERFUL LORD OF ALL (to quote capitalised Revelation 19:16NIrV).But prior to this, a one-world-government and currency, and the revealing of the anti-Christ (Read Daniel’s prophecies).
Worried? Well… remember how Jesus encouraged His troubled, worried disciples.
John 14:1GNB tells us: ‘Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me.’
That’s what faith and hope are really all about! Trusting God! No wonder the Message Bible puts it even more pointedly: ‘Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me.’
So let’s treat ‘this’ as ‘anything’ and not be ‘thrown’ as Jesus encourages. Why? Because it’s easy to think that Christians can’t be thrown by life’s curves – but it happens! Indeed, in life there are many things that throw us… if we let them.
Yes, even for Christians, one never knows what’s around the corner. Life can produce some real nasty curves! The above concerns as unexpected illnesses; job losses; marriage and family problems; losses of property and finance; damaged vehicles, bad deals… no doubt you can easily add to my list.
Remember that famous quote by a previous prime minister, Malcolm Fraser: ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy.’ Today with so many health concerns, increasing crime, child abductions, worldwide dangers, terrorism, and more, we can definitely say life is full of troubles, even for Christians, let alone those who don’t as yet know God!
In respect of Christians, I recall another old saying… ‘Jesus never promised that following Him be easy, a bed of roses.’ Matthew 16:24 (NLT) says, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower… take up your cross, and follow me’ and it’s often remarked that ‘What I’m going through is my cross that I must bear.’
But what is not often is the wording between ‘wants to be my follower’ and ‘take up your cross’ – ‘you must turn from your selfish ways.’ Other translations speak of ‘denying oneself.’ Could there be there something deeper here?
Needed: a centre-stage Jesus
Churches may be getting back to normal, but many are merely regurgitating messages such as that Christians must have a vision, be committed, accept challenge, go further, move on… and other things that we must do. Now, such sermons are, of course, needed… but if trust in Jesus Christ is not centralised fully on him the focus is on us!
Good as they are, such encouragements mainly zero in on us, relying on where we’re at and our financial contributions. They must not be merely hopeful maybes alone of any one church and some speaker’s expectations.
Jesus needs to be centre, and we must be willing to fully trust Him and to move in the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit, fulfilling what God wants!
What’s denying oneself then? Probably easier understood as dropping anything that blocks Jesus from being Lord, such as personal ‘gimme’ greeds, not genuine kingdom needs.
Following Jesus means to fully commit to taking onboard John 14:1 and fully trusting Him in all of life’s circumstances, all that is thrown at us as we follow Him. Taking courage and trusting Him in all of life, believing that God’s Jeremiah 29.11 promise of a good plan for our life can be relied on.
What we often forget is the fact that in declaring that trusting Jesus in every difficult circumstance is a type of denying ourselves – denying our fears, inadequacies, past failings, and all we may lack. That we are unafraid to take on life’s difficult challenges because we’re acknowledging Jesus as our source, our equipper, provider, and leader.
Our heavenly Father is then so pleased and delights to move supernaturally on our behalf – in His timing and His way of course.
Another revelation here… that word ‘trust’ means to ‘rely on, to roll over.’ Trusting God in everything is like having a huge boulder roll over, away from our little shoulders!
A bit like that famous scene of Indiana Jones getting free from that huge threatening rolling away boulder!
Isaac Watts’ classic hymn At the Cross comes to mind:
‘At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!’
Trust Jesus! Put Him first in every circumstance! He will help us! Matthew 16:24Mge is great encouragement: ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.’
The Old Testament too has encouragements on trusting God fully and ‘rolling things over’ to Him. Such as ‘Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own’ (Proverbs 3:5 Mge). And Psalm 37:5 NLT, ‘Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.’
Trust is another aspect of ‘faith’
But I know, oh, I know! Exercising faith is sometimes difficult in the storms of life.
For example, Jesus was once begged by a desperate bystander to set his demonised boy free: ‘If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!’ was the distressed father’s plea. (Mark 9:17ff Mge).
Our Lord came back with a challenge – ‘If? There are no “ifs” among believers. Anything can happen.’ The penny dropped and the father was able to say: ‘Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!’
With that new confession, Jesus knew this dad was courageously overcoming doubts and trusting Him and He set the boy free!
Even when we’re shaken in life and some doubts are sneaking in, God by His grace sees our heart and reaches out to encourage us to move to a stronger level of believing.
So then… even if you think your faith is not what it should be, it’s helpful to think of ‘faith required’ as ‘trust required.’ It’s a bit like when I ask Matthew Hoseini, my grandson-in-law and top plumber, to correct a fault. I’ll trust him completely, I won’t be overlooking his shoulder and telling him what to do! I’ll be ‘denying myself’ as it were.
Trusting God has often strengthened me and enabled me to break through in many matters. Some of the darkest times and most difficult challenges in my life have led to incredible blessings from God as I’ve simply agreed with Jesus and quietly declared, ‘Yes, I trust you, Lord.’
Corrie Ten Boom challenged, ‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’
Christians not reading their Bible daily and still not trusting Jesus need to ask themselves: ‘How well do I know my God?’ Isaiah Trujillo certainly did! (True Love Won During Pastor’s Brutal Battle With Cancer).
One time I found a pebble inscribed: Trust. I still has it, knowing there is no power in it, that it’s a reminder that I’m a believer in the one whose name is above every name, ie everything (Philippians 2:9).