Good Morning and welcome to Sunday School.
In my devotions this week I was led to a couple verses in Jeremiah that challenged me to reevaluate the way we in the church turn words and concepts into church-speak. They get so used to reciting a verse that the words become a pat answer, something you say, rather than something you believe.
The verses I read mention the word “trust”.
When you think of the word trust, what comes to mind? What does trust mean?
Is it something you give or something you receive?
Both, you can put your trust in someone or something.
· We trust our employers to pay us for our labors.
· We trust our doctors when they prescribe medicine.
· We ask creditors to trust us when we make purchases with a credit card.
· We tell our children to trust us, when they ask for advice.
We “trust” everyday.
But trust doesn’t come easy.
· We don’t trust people we don’t know.
· We lock our doors at night and put alarms in our vehicles.
· You can’t get a car loan or a mortgage without going through a credit check.
· Employers don’t hire everyone who applies.
We tell our children that they have to earn our trust.
· We don’t let them stay out until midnight until after they have been faithful to an 11 PM curfew.
· We don’t let them borrow our cars until they have proven to us they are responsible drivers.
We trust some people more than others. You might even say there are degrees of trust.
This morning I want to do something different. Instead of looking at one or two passages, I want to look at a number of verses that illustrate what the Bible says about trust.
Let’s start in Exodus 14:31, the Israelites have just crossed the Red Sea and seen Pharaoh’s army drowned.
31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
Now jump down to Chapter 19:9
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.”
In both of these verses God is using the senses of seeing and hearing to build first hand knowledge so that the people will put their trust in Moses. And they do.
Now flip over a few pages to Numbers 20:9. Moses had been instructed by God to speak to a rock in order to provide water for Israel in the dessert. But when he got out in front of the people…
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we [Moses & Aaron] bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff.
Now God honored him and water did gush forth from the rock but because Moses and Aaron abused that trust by making themselves Israel’s provider instead of God, there was a judgment attached.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
You have all heard the saying, “as the head goes, so goes the body”. People follow the leader. When Moses wavered in his trust in God, that gave the enemy a foothold in the people’s trust in God.
We’ve studied passages in Deuteronomy referring to the spies in Canaan in depth. We know 10 spies wavered in their trust that God could give them the Promised Land. And because of that those adults who left Egypt would not enter the Promised Land.
We also know that Caleb & Joshua, the 2 spies who did trust that God would do what He said he would do, did inherit the Promised Land.
If we fast-forward a few hundred years we encounter men and women of God who vary in their levels of trust in God. I’ve got a list of people, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being no trust and 5 being complete trust how would you rate these people?
· Deborah (Judge who led Israel into battle) 5
· Gideon (fleece) 3
· David (Goliath) 4-5
· Solomon 2-3
· Ahab (& Jezebel) 1
· Elijah (ran from Jezebel following Mt. Carmel) 4-5
Turn to 2 Kings 18:5
5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.
Hezekiah would be a 5. He might even be a 6 if we compare him to the others on the list we looked at. Hezekiah set a new standard for trusting God. And just like there was a judgment for not trusting God, there is a reward associated with trusting God. Remember Caleb & Joshua received their inheritance. What did Hezekiah receive?
7 And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.
Did you ever wonder what would cause men like Hezekiah trust God whole heartedly and not faint like the rest of Israel? Well, it takes work. Hezekiah learned about trust in God through study of His Word. As king, Hezekiah would have access to the writings of David & Solomon. What did they say about trust?
Turn to the book of Psalms. In Psalms 5:9 David is talking about his enemies. Not that you would put your trust in your enemies -- but the point I want to make here is that not everyone is worthy of your trust.
9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.
What about God, is He worthy of trust? Psalms 9:9-10
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Boy that was a big hint. In order to trust God you have to know Him. Those who knew God by name, trust in Him. By name refers to how they know Him: Jehovah Jireh, their provider; Jehovah Nissi, their banner; Jehovah Rapha, their healer.
For David, God fought his battles.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
6 I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; 7 but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.
What are the benefits of trusting the Lord?
12 O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
What about Solomon? What did he say about trusting God?
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.
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Okay, you get the drift here.
· Trusting God is good.
· Trusting God gives one strength and soundness.
· Not trusting God leads to trouble and even judgment.
You know that, I know that, Israel knew that. So why don’t we fully trust God?
Turn with me to Isaiah 8:17
17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
· Does God hide his face from us?
· Does it sometimes feel like God is far away?
· When does that happen?
· What do we do then?
· Where do we put our trust at those times?
What does God say about putting your trust in man?
Turn to Jeremiah 2:36
36 Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria. 37 You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the Lord has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped by them.
Jump down to 5:17
17 They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust.
Why would God be angry when we put our trust in governments? God is a jealous God.
What about putting our trust in friends or family?
Turn to Jeremiah 9:4-5
4 “Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. 5 Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth.
Sure He causes people to help us. We pray for favor all the time. BUT it’s when we look to man to supply our needs, or rely in our own strength and ability that we place someone or something above God.
This is serious stuff people. We have to make sure that trusting God becomes more than something we talk about or something we say we do. It has to become something we actually do.
We’ve looked at a lot of verses this morning. And if you look at your Bible you’ll see we’ve only come about ½ way through the Bible. There are 109 verses in the NIV alone that contain the word trust.
I want to look at one more passage that emphasizes the importance of trusting God. We know that the Kingdom of Israel splint into 2 Kingdoms: Israel & Judah. There were 10 tribes in Israel & 2 in Judah (Judah & Benjamin). Judah was notorious for making alliances. They got very comfortable trusting their political allies and relying on their own strength. In the process they began adopting the false gods of their allies.
We pick up history at the point where Assyria is at the door ready to carry Judah off into exile. Judah is attempting to negotiate an alliance with Egypt for protection. But God has other plans.
Turn to Jeremiah 17
But first we need to define some terms
What does “cursed” mean?
· A curse is a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one
So to be cursed is to be
· Cut off from protection
· Ruined as in reputation or wealth
What did we say “trust means”
Who does man refer to if I say “trust in man”?
What about “flesh”?
· Physical strength
One more “man’s heart”
· Spirit man
5 This is what the Lord [God] says:
“Cursed [cut off, unprotected, doomed]
is the one who trusts [who relies on, who puts his confidence in]
in man [in his friends, in his family, in the government, in his connections]
who depends on flesh [knowledge, education, physical strength, intimidation]
for his strength [power, leverage, influence]
and whose heart [spirit, soul]
turns away from the Lord.
6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
Picture a tumbleweed. What are tumbleweeds good for? Fuel, they burn. Here today and gone tomorrow
6b he will not see prosperity when it comes.
Ouch! A man who does not put his trust in the Lord will not see prosperity when it comes to him.
Proverbs 8:12 says,
12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
God gives us the ability to get wealth. He gives us dreams and visions and plans that will succeed because they are His. But He’s not going to give them to us, if we’re serving another god.
Jeremiah 17:6c He [the one who does not place his trust in God] will dwell in the parched places of the desert, [destitute, places of poverty] in a salt land [a barren land] where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
The one who trusts God knows where to find sustenance. We might say, that knows how to tap into the anointing. That has access to the thrown room of God.
8b It does not fear when heat comes; [when trials come, when persecution comes] its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
If you put your trust in God, you will produce fruit. Conversely then, If you are not producing fruit, you have not put your complete trust in God
Did you hear me? If you are not producing fruit, you have not put your complete trust in God.
Is that harsh? You bet ‘cha. Take a look at the next verse,
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Why would God say that after giving us a choice so clear: trust God and prosper or don’t trust him and end up in a barren land?
Uh…I think I’ll trust God.
But if my heart is deceitful, then I can choose to trust God and not follow through.
10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
We might say, “I know my own heart,” but we don’t know our own hearts. Only God does. He searches our hearts and minds and rewards us accordingly.
If we want to know what our hearts are like, we must pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our true selves. Then we need to repent for the times we put our trust in ourselves or our solutions, instead of trusting God.
And finally, knowing there is forgiveness in the atonement – Jesus paid the price already for our sins, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, by spending time in the Word of God.
109 times the Bible tells us to trust God. We didn’t look at them all. Let me encourage you to seek the rest out. Trust God to reveal himself to you and He will bless you.