by Pastor Bob Miller
Let me ask you a question: How many of you enjoy taking tests?
Tests are important. They measure where we stand and give a means by which we can evaluate the progress that we are making. They show us where we need to improve and they are an indicator of how much we have grown.
Over the next several posts, we are going to take a test, but this test is going to be different. You don't have to show anyone else your answers, and you get to grade the test yourself. This test is not to be viewed as a final exam, but since we are taking it at the beginning of a new year, it is to a tool which will help you to determine where it is that you stand in relation to your TRUST FACTOR in God.
Now in this test, we are not grading on a curve. This is not a comparison as to how we are doing next to others. It is how we each are doing in relation to God. We tend to compare ourselves to others. In that way, we can say, "I'm doing better than so-and-so…" But the one we stand next to is Christ, and next to Him our garments are filthy rags.
So as we take this test, my prayer is that you will discover some handles that will enable you to grow in the area of your TRUST IN GOD. Because as you do, you open the doors to God's blessings to flow in and through you.
As we begin, I want to share an email I received from a person who started to describe his Christian life uniquely:
"At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things that I did wrong 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 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 anymore…He smiles and says, 'Just pedal.'
I think every one of us come to a place where we ask an elementary question, "Can I trust God? Can I trust God with my future? Can I trust God 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 in our journey, where we have to cross a line of either saying, "Yes, I do trust Him," or staying back and saying, "NO." It's like the guy on the bicycle – who after getting on, came to the point where he was faced with the decision of letting God steer the bike or not.
It is this point of decision that's the TRUST TEST. It's almost like there is a line drawn in the san and we are invited to step over that line saying, "Yes, I'm going to trust God." It's at that Trust Test line that we either grow spiritually by crossing it or we back away from that line and begin to wither in our soul, and we never realize our potential as a child of God. And it is because we were unwilling to let God take control of our life.
In trying to give you some handles about how we can learn to trust God more thoroughly, I want to share with you an acrostic that I found to be very helpful. The points come from one of my Pastor-Hero's and favorite Christian mentors, named John Maxwell. The acrostic is made from the letters that spell out the word TRUST. Let me first share what each letter stands for:
T - Take an inventory. Ask myself the bottom-line question, “Do I really trust God?”
R - Recognize God as your source. I need to realize as I take an inventory of my life, everything that I have right now is a gift from God.
U - Understand God's principles. Until I understand them, I’m always going to hold back in out in my trust toward God.
S - Surrender everything to God. The moment that I understand the principles that God has for me; then it's just an act of surrender.
T - Test God's promises. Look at God's Word and test His promises because it's in that testing that God proves Himself to me. As I step out in faith on His promises, I begin to grow, and my faith begins to build.
Let's go back and look at the first two letters, the T and R.
The first is T- Take an Inventory.
The Proverbs writer says in 3:5,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
David, in Psalm 139 prays,
"Search me, O God and know my heart; try me and now my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me. And lead me in the everlasting way."
Three observations from these Scriptures
The first is that only God knows everything about us! David pours out his heart to God and says, "Look deep into my heart and see if there is anything in me that needs fixing?" Solomon says, "Don't' trust in your own understanding, but trust in the Lord!' God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Secondly, only God can lead me correctly. We tend to want to go our own way. Isaiah said we are all like sheep that have gone astray. We've each gone our own way. We need to let God lead us. We have an incredible capacity to "justify ourselves." We need the Lord's perspective! He can see into our motives. We can INVITE HIM to show us our heart!
Thirdly, taking inventory and trusting God begins with me. This whole issue starts with me. We each are called to test ourselves. I have to make a personal list and look at myself and ask, "How am I doing in this area of trust?"
I don't know if you caught it or not, but did you notice how many personal pronouns there are in Proverbs 3:5-7? Pick out the personal pronouns as we read these verses. "With all your heart, you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow." We each are called to take responsibility for doing my part. That in turn, opens the door for God to do his part.
R- Recognize God as your source.
The Proverbs writer tells us in 3:9 that we are to, "honor the Lord from our wealth. And from the first of all your produce." Why is that?
It is simple. God is the source of all our blessings. Read Deuteronomy 8. The setting of this passage is that the children of Israel have been in the wilderness for 40 years and the time has come for them to move into the land of promise. Moses has gathered them together and is giving them final instructions. In chapter 8, he is reminding them that it was God who delivered them, and fed them with manna, and protected them, and led them all these years. And he says you must be especially careful that when God brings you into the land he promised to give you, a land filled with riches and good crops and wonderful blessings. He says it is then you must be very careful not to forget that God is the one who gave it to you.
Notice verse 11,
“Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them and when your herds and your flocks multiply and your silver and gold multiply and all that you have multiplies then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery."
"But you shall remember the Lord your God for it is He who is giving you the power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers as it is this day."
We must come to a place where we recognize God as the source of our life, recognize that He knows everything. There is nothing hidden from Him. He is sovereign.
William Beavy, a well-known naturalist in the last century, was a good friend of President Teddy Roosevelt. On occasion, they would step out together under the stars on a clear night. Pointing to the sky, Beavy would say, "That is a galaxy as large as the Milky Way. It consists of 100 billion suns. It is one of 100 billion galaxies.” And Roosevelt would grin and say, "Now I think we're small enough. Let's call it a night!"
God is the source and supply of all that we have and all that we are. Don't forget that He is the giver and source of every blessing! You can be sure that the LORD, out of His love for us and out of His desire to live His life through us, will draw a line in the sand. More often than not, it will be at the point of a BLESSING which he has bestowed upon us. He will ask, "Can I have it back? Will you let me steer? Will you trust me?" And we've got to respond.
There was a little song that Earl Lee taught us, "I'll say yes, Lord, yes, to your will and to your way… When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree, and my answer will be "YES, LORD, YES!" Are you willing to say yes? ...even before you step up to the line?