Sunday, June 01, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Happy in Jesus"

“Happy in Jesus”
Graduation Sunday
June 1, 2014 :: Proverbs 3:5-6

Many 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 with Fred and Barney, my Mom and Dad asked that people not give me graduation gifts, but instead send words of wisdom for the graduating young man. And they were all put in this little book.

And I would bet that at least 25 people mailed me these 2 verses for my graduation present.

You may have it memorized in the King James; 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 have prayer together, and right after “Amen,” comes that song.

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

Sometimes we sing it funny. Sometimes we sing it regular.

But we almost always sing it. By my estimation, we have sung it together at least 4000 times.

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

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

And as I was thinking about our graduates, especially our High School graduates today, I was thinking how much I want that for them, to be happy in Jesus.

Meili, Jacob, Hunter, Nathan, Taylor, Drew, it is my desire that you be happy in Jesus.

That’s the point of our church. We exist to glorify God by bringing people like you into a life-changing love relationship with Jesus Christ.

We want help people to become happy in Jesus.

So, if I could give you some pastoral counsel as you graduate from high school and head into adulthood and independence and life, I’d boil it down to these three words.

“Trust, Obey, and Pray.”

Those are going to be the three points of application as we think together about Proverbs 3:5&6.

Meili, Jacob, Hunter, Nathan, Taylor, Drew...and the rest of Lanse Free Church we need to Trust, Obey, and Pray.

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 control center.

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.

Meili, Jacob, Hunter, Nathan, Taylor, Drew, 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.

While 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, I read this week that 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 with the statement: “Instinct is worse than useless in the clouds.”

So 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. Why?  The biggest problem flyers had was self-trust.  They trusted their feelings more than their instruments.
Do you see where this is going?

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, trust in the “LORD” with all capital letters.  Remember that that stands for the Hebrew word “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” that’s 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 of 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 how to be happy in Jesus.


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 this graduation Sunday.

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 as you graduate from school in 2014 or for the rest of us as you live your life in 2014 and beyond.

This is your life in 2014.

And there are two main things in your life in 2014 that these two concentric circles represent.

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

And let’s let this inside circle represent “Things I’m Responsible For in 2014.”

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

You may have seen this drawing before. I like to use it often. Sometimes this circle is called “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 after graduation (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?

How many graduates today are concerned about how many jobs there are out there?

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–“Managing of Personal Finances.”  Saving, Spending, Giving.

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, our relationship, 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 there will be jobs out there when you graduate.

All kinds of stuff will come at you.

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 like 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.”

It’s my super power.

But God has never been impressed by my worry.

Sometimes (often), trusting requires repentance.


Now, this smaller, inner circle. The circle of responsibility.  What do you think  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.”

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.”

But that’s presumption, not faith.

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 Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Now, I don’t know all of what that obedience will look like for each of you graduates as you head off into life.

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

I know that some of our graduates are doing just that.

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, not just these graduates, make a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ in the way that He called us to.

#2.  Get Into the Bible.

You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

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

You’re never done with that school!

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.

What do you need to do to get into the Word and get the Word into you?

#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.”

I think that a lot of high school graduates make a BIG mistake by not finding a church to get involved in during their college experience.

And don’t just go on Sundays! Get into a small group, a study group, a fellowship group. Get truly connected!

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

W can’t have a take-it-or-leave it approach to the Body of Christ.

Get Involved In Church.

#4.  Get to Giving. 

If you haven’t already, you’re going to start making money. It won’t feel like much money if you have to spend it on books and tuition and travel to and from school. But I would urge you to start now in giving away a portion of every paycheck.

But it never gets easy to start. It gets easier to do as you do it, but it’s never easy to start.

And that’s a matter of obedience.

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 Communities need both.

The apostle 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.”

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

Don’t just go to church somewhere. Serve that church. Be a blessing to that church.

Whether you go away to college or you’re here.

What are you going to do in ministry right now?

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.

Whether away at college or in a Summer job or with your family or wherever God has planted you.

It’s a matter of obedience.

Who have you shared the Gospel with recently?

Who are you praying for to share the Gospel?

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.

Now, you might have a different list of biblical commands that God is laying on your heart to fulfill. Maybe yours is to forgive someone, or to 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 of the circle of concern?

Inside.  That means that these things that we are called to do 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 our proverb? It’s verse 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.”  “Hi, Jesus!”

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, we do it His way. To do it to His honor and His glory.

It means to obey.

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

And that’s why I add the word “Pray.”

And #3.  PRAY.

Meili, Jacob, Hunter, Nathan, Taylor, Drew, 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!

Meili, Jacob, Hunter, Nathan, Taylor, Drew, 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?

If you don’t now is a good time to start.

Trust, Obey, and Pray.

And what happens?

Blessing. V.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.”

You will get to your destination.

Does that mean no bumps?


But it does mean straight paths.

You will get where God wants to be.

And you’ll be “Happy in Jesus!”

Trust, Obey, and Pray.


[Ultra-observant readers will recognize this as an adaptation of a sermon from January 2009. That sermon was actually an adaptation of a sermon from August of 2000.  Look for it again in another 5-10 years!]