Sunday, January 04, 2009

Matt's Messages "Trust, Obey, and Pray"

“Trust, Obey, and Pray”

January 4, 2009
Proverbs 3:5-6

Most of you probably don’t even need to open your Bibles today because you’ve got this one memorized. It’s Proverbs 3:5&6. Back when I graduated from High School, my Mom and Dad asked that people not give me graduation gifts, but instead send words of wisdom for the graduating young man. And I would bet that at least 25 people mailed these 2 verses to me for my graduation present.

Lots of people have this one memorized in either the King James or the NIV.

I’m going to read it in the NIV. Proverbs 3, verses 5 and 6.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

If our little Mitchell family had a theme song, it would be “Trust and Obey.”

Every night around bedtime, we read a Bible story, maybe a chapter or two of a missionary biography, and then we pray together as a family, normally going around the room with each family member praying. Isaac, Peter, Andrew, Robin, Heather, ...and I normally bat last.

And when we are all done praying, we all sing together:

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

That’s our theme song. I want it burned into the hard-drives of our hearts.

And this week, while we were away on vacation, as I was trying to figure out what to say to you this morning on the first Sunday of 2009, that song kept floating through my head.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

And I thought to myself, that is good counsel for 2009.

That is good counsel for setting our minds and hearts on wise priorities for 2009!

If I could boil down my pastoral counsel for our church for the next whole year into just 3 words, they would be: “Trust, Obey, and Pray.”

Lanse Free Church, in 2009, we need to Trust, Obey, and Pray.

And I think that’s Solomon’s message for us in Proverbs 3:5&6.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

#1. TRUST.

Solomon says that we need to trust in the LORD with all of our hearts.

To trust Him means to place our confidence in Him.

It means to bank on Him, believe in Him, have faith in Him, rest in His promises, count on Him, depend on Him, reckon on Him, hope in in Him.

And Solomon says to do it with how much of our hearts?


That’s the whole thing.

What is our heart? Remember, the heart is the real you, the inside you. The heart is the you inside of you. It is the authentic you.

The heart is the vital worshiping center of our lives–we live out of our hearts.

And this proverb’s wisdom is to call us to trust in the LORD with ALL of our hearts–holding nothing back.

Sound good?

There is only one problem with this plan. ...

It doesn’t always seem like the right thing to do!

Often, trusting the LORD seems like a foolish thing to do, given the circumstances.

As you and I often eyeball a situation, it seems like trusting the LORD in this situation might be the pious, religious, righteous thing to do, but not the thing that would (v.6) make our paths straight! Anything but.

Some of you, right now, might be in a situation where it doesn’t seem prudent to trust in the LORD. You know that that’s the right answer, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Do you know what I mean?

Solomon did. That’s why he wrote the second half of verse 5.

“...lean not on your own understanding...”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...”

Do you know what an “artificial horizon” is? I’ll bet Wally and Blair do. Any other pilots here?

An artificial horizon is the gizmo in an airplane that tells the pilot when their wings are level with the ground. As I understand it, the problem is one of inertia. Inertia makes things a little hard to figure out when you’re flying.

Did you ever notice that a full cup of coffee doesn’t spill when the plane turns, even if the wings are perpendicular to the ground? Coffee won’t spill, a magazine will drop straight to the floor, and flight attendants will walk upright down the aisle as if the plane were level. All because of inertia.

Pilots are subject to inertia, too. When flying through clouds or fog, which prevent them from seeing the horizon, pilots cannot feel the plane’s wings beginning to bank to the left or right. In fact, in the early days of flight, pilots followed the myth of instinct: they believed they could feel the turn, and when their planes were accidently engulfed in fog or clouds, many banked unknowingly into a spiral dive that ended in a crash. Pilots quickly came up the statement: “Instinct is worse than useless in the clouds.”

To fly through clouds, pilots must use the “Artificial Horizon.” The artificial horizon is an instrument with a gyroscopically steadied line that stays level with the earth’s surface and unerringly indicates when the wings are banking left or right.

The artificial horizon revolutionized flying, but when it was first invented, pilots resisted using it. The biggest problem flyers had was self-trust. They trusted their feelings more than their instruments.

We all have that problem. We all want to judge our own path, to be self-reliant, self-trusting. But Solomon says, to have a straight path, you must learn to trust the artificial horizon (actually, in our case, it’s the authentic horizon) of the LORD Himself.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...”

You see, everyone is trusting in something. Whether it is in ourselves, or our families, or our government, or our bank-accounts, or our education, or our wits, or our charm–everyone is trusting in something. But God says, in Proverbs 3:5 that if you want a straight path to God’s best destination for you–it will require faith in HIM.

That’s faith in a personal God. This is not just a generic faith in faith itself. Or faith in some idea of God, some impersonal creator force.

Notice that it says, “LORD” with all capital letters. Remember that that stands for the Hebrew word “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” is hiding there in the original Hebrew text. This is not just any god. This is the God of the Bible. This is the personal God who revealed Himself to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David.

This is the God who supremely revealed himself in Jesus Christ. The New Testament calls Jesus “Lord” because He is this God in v.5 of Proverbs 3. On this side of Jesus’ coming, we could read this verse, “Trust in the Lord Jesus with all your heart.”


That’s the heart response that brings salvation.

If you are not yet a Christ-follower yourself, “Trust in the Lord Jesus” is what we say to you on the first Sunday of 2009.

The Lord Jesus is imminently, preeminently trustworthy.

His death and resurrection make Him the way to God for all who put their faith in Him.

On the night Jesus died, He told His followers: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

If you are not yet a Christ-follower, I challenge you, I invite you, I plead with you to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Now, before, we move to #2, I want to talk to you about the big bull’s-eye looking thing on the back of your bulletin.

You’re probably wondering where you are supposed to be putting your notes for this message!

This bull’s-eye represents almost everything important to you in 2009.

This is your life in 2009.

And there are two main things in your life in 2009 that these two concentric circles represent.

Let’s let this outside circle represent “Things I’m Concerned About in 2009.”

And let’s let this inside circle represent “Things I’m Responsible For in 2009.”

This is the circles of Concern. This is the circle of Responsibility.

You may have seen a similar drawing. I’ve sometimes called this “The Circle of Concern” and this “The Circle of Control” or “The Circle of Choice.”

Now, what might go into these different circles?

Lots of stuff. In fact, most everything that you will encounter in 2009 (except for maybe those things that are a part of your life but you don’t know about them!).

But let’s not worry about those. Let’s talk about what we do know about.

Let’s the put “the economy” in the Circle of Concern.

How many are concerned about the economy?

Now, let’s put in the middle circle (which, really, should be a lot smaller, if we were trying to be perfectly accurate), let’s put–“Spending of Personal Finances.”

Okay? Do you see how this goes?

These are the things that we are concerned about–and they truly affect us.

But we can’t do much about those things.

These things, are things we can do something about, and should.

Does that make sense?

Now, what do you think is supposed to be our response to the circle of concern?

[Hint: It’s point #1 today.]


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...”

The economy.
Your health.
The relationship between our nation and others.
The other side from you in any of your relationships.
The other cars on the road.
What someone else thinks about you.
Whether your job will still exist in 2010.
The choices your kids make.

All kinds of stuff will come at you in 2009.

And the heart-response that God wants from you is Trust.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...”

Now, do we always just leave those things to God?

No, we don’t. At least, I don’t! I like to try to take over God’s job.

I help Him out[!] by either trying to manipulate things or people [never a wise choice!] or by a simple little thing I do to help God that I call “worrying.”

Neither is His preferred choice for me.

Sometimes (often), trusting requires repentance.


Now, this smaller, inner circle. The circle of responsibility. What do you think is our response supposed to be to the things in this circle?

Remember, this circle is the circle of things in my life that I can and should do something about. The circle of responsibility.

#2: OBEY.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

These are the things that God is asking us to do in 2009.

Now, strangely enough, I often try to downsize this circle! I try to take God’s job in the big circle, but I shirk my responsibilities in the inner circle! I try to make those God’s job, and not mine.

For example, I’ll say, “I’m not going to reign in my personal spending. I’ll just trust the Lord to supply.”

Do you see how subtle that can be?

We want to take over God’s job, but we don’t want to do our own.

But God says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Me, but to trust and obey.”

Now, I don’t know all of what that obedience will look like for you in 2009.

God has a plan tailor-made for each of us.

But the Bible is His Word to all of us, and it applies to all of us. And so I want to suggest some areas where I think obedience may be the new path that some of us need to take.

Let me very briefly suggest areas to consider:

#1. Get Baptized.

Some of you are adult faith-followers of Jesus Christ who have never been baptized as faith-followers of Jesus Christ.

I think that’s disobedient.

The Lord Jesus Himself was baptized, and He Himself asks us to be baptized.

I think it’s a matter of obedience or not whether we follow Him in the waters of baptism.

Now, I’m suggesting that you rush into it. But I am suggesting that you look into it, if have not yet been baptized as a faith-follower of the Lord Jesus.

It’s a matter of obedience.

Don’t wait for a voice to whisper in your ear. Read your Bible. And follow.

We’re going to be holding some more baptism classes. I’d love to see many of you make a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ in the way that He called us to.

It’s a matter of obedience.

#2. Get Into the Bible.

God is calling us to read and study and ingest and digest His Holy Word.

The Bible says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Get Into the Bible.

It’s a matter of obedience.

I’ve been encouraged to see that a number of you have taken purple reading plans for 2009. I, have chosen one, as well, and am reading along with you to try to get the whole thing read in 2009.

If you do, I’ll feed you a pancake breakfast.

But the important thing isn’t ingesting pancakes! It’s ingesting God’s Word. Remember Jeremiah 15:16?

“Your words came, and I ate them. They were my joy and my heart’s delight. For I bear your name O Lord God Almighty!”

It’s a matter of obedience.

#3. Get to Church.

Church is not optional for Christians.

It doesn’t save you. Neither do baptism or Bible reading!

But it’s mandatory.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

It’s a matter of obedience whether or not you are in church and worshiping and learning and fellowshipping.

Some of us need to repent of our take-it-or-leave it approach to the Body of Christ.

Get Involved In Church.

It’s a matter of obedience.

#4. Get to Giving.

So many of you are wonderful givers, you don’t need to hear a sermon on giving.

But I can’t assume that everyone here has come to know the blessings of giving or has been encouraged to give as a matter of obedience to the Lord’s command.

The Bible says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

Get to Giving.

The amount is not near as important as the act of the heart in freeing your grip around the gift.

It’s a matter of obedience. Trust and Obey.

#5. Get to Serving.

Some of us love to give of our funds, but not of our time.

But the Body of Christ and our Community need both.

Peter says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Using your gifts in ministry is not optional. It’s a matter of obedience.

What are you going to do in ministry in 2009?

And #6. Get to Sharing Jesus.

Get busy with evangelism.

Get to witnessing.

There is a lost world out there that needs to hear the Gospel.

It’s our job to take to the gospel to our friends, neighbors, family, co-workers, and everyone else.

Get to sharing Jesus.

It’s a matter of obedience.

Jesus Himself said that we should share Gospel with the whole world.

And He’s expecting us to do it.

It’s a matter of obedience.

Who have you shared the Gospel with recently?

Who are you praying for to share the Gospel?

Men, who have you invited to the Wild Game Dinner?

I think sometimes, we ask ourselves, do I want to go to the Wild Game Dinner?

And we need to ask a bigger question. Does God want me to invite someone to the Wild Game Dinner? And if so, Whom?

Men, who are you going to invite?

Get to sharing Jesus.

It’s a matter of obedience.

Trust and Obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

You might have a different list of biblical commands that God is laying on your heart to fulfill. Maybe yours is forgive someone, or start discipling someone, or something else.

Regardless, it’s a matter of obedience.

Trust and Obey.

Now, I want to point something out.

Notice where the Circle of Responsibility lies!

Is it outside or inside the circle of concern?

Inside. That means that these things that we are called to do in 2009 are things that we are not just supposed to do in obedience, but also things that we are supposed to be trusting God for!

The obedience that God requires from us is a faith-based obedience.

It’s a trusting obedience.

It’s trust and obey. Not just one or the other.

In fact, all true obedience requires trust.

Now, where is obedience in this proverb? V.6

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

In all your ways acknowledge him.

Now, that doesn’t mean to just say, “Hi.”

That’s what we sometimes mean when we say, “acknowledge.”

“Hey, Jesus! How’ya doing? Props to Jesus! I acknowledge Him!”

No, this means in everything we do, to do it His way. To do it to His honor and glory.

It means to obey.

And more than that, it means to obey in a trusting way. And a personally trusting way.

The work acknowledge here means “to know.”

It means to know in a personal way.

We talk about a personal relationship with Jesus. This is a walking, talking, personal trusting and knowing of the Lord–in all of our ways in 2009.

And that’s why I add the word “Pray.”

And #3. PRAY.

In 2009, God is calling us to prayer.

Praying about everything.
Praying about the lost.
Praying about our concerns.
Praying about our responsibilities.

Notice this.

Everything in this bull’s-eye can be prayed for!

Those things that concern us but we can’t do anything about?

Actually, we can. We can pray about them.

Those things that God wants us to do but we’re not sure if we want to?

We can pray about those, too!

James says “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? [Pray for him, too! ...] The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

In other words, Pray about everything!

Do you have a time every day that you set aside to talk to Almighty God?

Do you have a list of things and people to pray for?

The New Year is a great time to develop a new habit of praying.

Trust, Obey, and Pray.

And what happens?


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

You will get to your destination.

Does that mean no Bumps?


But does mean straight paths.

You will get where God wants to be in 2009.

And you’ll be “Happy in Jesus!”

Trust, Obey, and Pray.

Let’s do that together.

In the middle of the night in a small Midwest farming community, the two-story house of a young family caught fire. Quickly, everyone made their way through the smoke-filled house out into the front yard. Everyone, except a five-year-old boy. The Father looked up to the boy’s room and saw his son crying at the window, rubbing his eyes.

The father knew better than to reenter the house to rescue his son, so he yelled, “Son, jump! I’ll catch you.” Between sobs, the boy responded to the voice he knew so well. “But I can’t see you.”

The father answered with great assurance. “No, Son, you can’t, but I can see you!” The boy jumped and was safe in his father’s arms.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”