The Educational Support Organization, Inc.
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The Nourishing Place
Sermon, September 20, 2020
Our ancient beliefs seem to say to us: “If you do not trust God you live in a mental and spiritual prison of self doubt, angst, and fear. So, let’s talk about trusting God.”
The scripture today is from the Old Testament book of Exodus. Approximately 80 percent of the New Testament is a re-telling of Old Testament stories and lessons. Therefore, it is important to realize that the Book of Exodus has had much influence over the faith of Israel, as well as Christian theology...that is the study and knowledge of God. Several themes in Exodus can also be found in the life and ministry of Jesus.
For example, Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus delivered the new law of love. Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to give life to the people; Jesus was lifted up on the cross to bring eternal life to all who trust him. The Jewish Passover served as the base on which Jesus developed the Last Supper as a spiritual memorial for his followers.
Thus in the very beginning of our Judaeo-Christian belief, trust in God is named as an essential element in living an abundant life. Trust.
Many people seem to feel faith and trust are the same thing. Both are needed, but they are different. Faith needs no evidence for belief or practice. The nature of faith itself suggests tangible evidence does not exist. On the other hand, trust is based largely on evidence that is real according to our senses, human history, and human reason. That is why stories of real life are essential to gain knowledge and wisdom. They teach us to trust. One of the earliest stories in the Bible comes from Exodus. It is about the Israelites living in Egypt who were reduced to the status of slavery and forced to work on Pharaoh’s building projects. The were beaten, starved, and held as prisoners. When the Israelites finally turned to God for deliverance from their bondage, God quickly responded by saving them. Other stories of deliverance followed, such as God’s call to Moses through the burning bush to lead His people out of Egypt into the promised land. Many plagues were sent to the Egyptians to encourage Pharaoh to free the people. The miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea (Red Sea) followed by the destruction of the Pharaoh’s army is another story of trusting God for deliverance. And then there was the provision of food and sustenance for the Israelites in the wilderness. These stories have continued for 4000 years to reassure us that God is still available and still is asking us to trust Him. But we must do our part and surrender to his superior will and way.
How do we learn to trust God and trust him with all things including our lives? We recognize trust may take a little time to develop. That is true because doubt seems to fly around inside our minds. To defeat doubt we need to be aware of doubt, then follow through with a plan to trust God more.
There are four practical steps that may help us learn to trust God.
1. Make a decision not to worry! Oh my, that is a biggie. We all worry and the more we worry the more we worry. To consciously decide you do not want to worry you train your mind to stop worry when it starts and begin to trust God’s desire to care for you. If you have trouble accomplishing this step, keep this verse close by and read it as often as you need to. It is from Philippians 4: 6-7 “Do not be anxious about any thing, but in everything by prayer and requests let your needs be made known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ.” That is trust!
2. Develop a habit to monitor your thoughts and feelings. Begin training yourself to notice when you are falling into negative thought patterns, stop them, and give them to God. He can handle any and everything about you. Be brave and wise enough to try this monitoring...it is essential that you control yourself and your emotions do not control you!
3. How do we stop these negatives? You find something to replace them, like staying mentally in touch with God. Every time you bring up a negative, stop yourself and tell God you need his help. He is ever ready to monitor your thoughts with you, not for you. Read scripture, read the stories in the Bible about what happened to people once they learned to trust God completely. That is evidence! Amazing stories will give you positive ways to respond to your destructive thoughts. It may not seem easy, but the more you practice changing your thoughts the easier it will be. Ephesians 6: 13 tells us to persevere. Know the word of God. It helps keep you alert. The only thing we really have that successfully overcomes the wrong and the negative in us is the reassuring word of God. That is theological truth, that is psychological truth, and that is wisdom.
4. Replace negative thoughts and feelings with the promises of God. Here are some of His promises for you to memorize, think about, and live by: God promises: I will be with you always; I will protect you; I will be your strength; I will answer you; I will provide for you; I will give you peace; I will always love you.
If you live by these assurances, you will be trusting God. Then the relief and freedom you feel will be well worth the effort to arrive at this place of serenity.
Remember this verse too: “Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge God and he will direct your paths and your actions.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
May we encourage one another to love and trust God which helps us gain wisdom, peace, patience, and a more thorough understanding of God’s abundant grace which is for us….his people.