Sabbath and Trust

People typically think of the Sabbath as a command not to work. It really went deeper than that. The point was, if they weren’t working and things were provided for they realized that God was still at work in their lives. That requires trust. No matter how talented or amazing we think we are there is nothing in this life we can claim as our own personal 100% accomplishment. The reality is, all things really do depend on God whether we realize it or not. The question is, will we reflect that in our life, actions and attitudes or not? God gave the Israelites two reasons for the Sabbath in Exodus 20:2. The first was that God was the one who brought them out of Egypt. They had to rely on God in the past. Will they rely on God in the future? The second was that even God rested after 6 days of creating the universe.

Do you trust God enough to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of life and just rest at peace in His presence? Trust is a big word. Trust is learned by experience, that is why God brought up His past saving actions in Exodus 20 in order to motivate them to trust God with more things in the future. Trust is learned by repeated, successful, events and is typically formed over a lengthy period of time. But trust can be broken in an instant. God has never given us a reason to break trust with us and yet we have given Him plenty.

As we ready ourselves for spending more time with God, making Him more of a priority in our lives it is important that we realize God can be trusted. We also have to realize that God really is at work in the world and that no matter how hard we pull ourselves by our own bootstraps in the end it all really does depend on Him. If you trust God, spend time with Him and rest in His presence. If you rarely or never find rest in God and time alone with Him then maybe you should reevaluate how much you really trust God so you can find places in your life to let God in more and more.

Gospel of John 14:1-4 – Trusting God in Difficult Times

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

At the end of John 13 Jesus told them he was going to go away and that they would not yet be able to follow. This led to the discussion of where Jesus is going and what he is going to do. So Jesus gives them further explanation regarding the nature of his departure and what his leaving is going to accomplish.

First he tells them not to let their hearts be troubled (14:1). That would make sense consider he just told them Peter would deny him three times (13:38), that Judas would betray him (13:21ff), and that he was going away (13:36). That is a lot of hard hitting information for people who have made it their life’s calling to follow Jesus. The worst piece of news a disciple can hear is that they will no longer be able to go where their teacher is going. But, Jesus says, a time will come when they can follow him later (13:36).

John 14:1-4 is all about trust. Trust and faith go hand in hand. If Jesus had wanted to he could have given them a play by play account of the next 24 hours…arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion, and death. He could have laid it out in so much detail that they would have not had so much fear and doubt. But he didn’t. He gave them just enough clues to hold on through all the turmoil but not so many clues to keep Peter from his denials and all eleven from fleeing the garden. He could have told them when and where to run and all the rest but he didn’t. He let them wrestle with all that was to come and either their faith would make or it would break.

I think that is how God deals with us as well. He doesn’t give us the play by play of all the difficult moments that are coming in our lives. We don’t know what sickness, death, or disaster will come the next day or the next decade. But we rest in the fact that Jesus has told us enough to sustain us through the difficult times in life. And like Peter it doesn’t mean we will never make a mistake or that our faith will never waiver but it does mean that in the end everything will get worked out, our faith will grow and God will make good on his promises.What a blessing to know that God has prepared and in a sense continues to prepare a place for his people. So while we may not get all the answers we want we know the answer to the most important question of all – God is working behind the scenes to prepare our lives to be lived with him, for him, and in line with his will. Second, he has not left us alone. Even though Jesus has left this earth  he doesn’t call us orphans. He calls us brothers and friends. God calls us his children and so we can expect good things from our Father in heaven.

I don’t know what you are going through in your life today. But I do know God is going to make everything alright in his perfect timing. It won’t all make sense. It won’t always be comfortable or enjoyable. But God is working something good in us if we will humbly submit and be alright with not having all the answers all the time. Hear the words of Jesus we started with again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

F.R.O.G. – Fully Rely on God (Acts 9)

In Acts 9 we find the Commission/Conversion of Saul of Tarsus. On his way to Damascus, the light flashes, the voice booms, and Saul falls to the ground. He asks, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus answers, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” As Saul got to his feet he realized he was blind. Notice the difference in Saul between 9:1-2 (confident and able) and 9:8-9 (blind, led by the hand, and totally dependent). We often have to be completely humbled and helpless before we are ready to fully rely on God. Even though Saul does not yet realize it he is relying for direction and healing on the very one he persecutes. [I think it is interesting to note that Jesus asks Saul, “why do you persecute me?” when Saul had never met Jesus or harmed him. To harm the church is to harm Christ. If more people treated the church and their brothers and sisters that way we would have far fewer problems in the church].

In Damascus Jesus speaks to another man, a disciple named Ananias. He is told to go and restore the sight of this well known persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus. Ananias’ response is understandably hesitant. But Jesus reassures him, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (9:15-16). Ananias found himself in a position of comfort and security. He could have stayed home and avoided Saul and potential persecution but that would not have involved relying on God. The next verse, “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.” He relied on God even if it meant he had to risk something, even if it meant he had to stick his neck out or potentially “take one for the team.”

The problem today is we don’t define “fully relying on God” the same way they did. We like the last three words but often leave out the first. We might rely on God when it comes to our prayer life but not when it comes to out business ethics. We might rely on God when it comes to our entertainment choices but not when it comes to our sexuality. We might rely on God when it comes to studying our Bibles but not when it comes to putting into practice what we have read. We might rely on God when it comes to our job but not when it comes to our retirement. Hands on when I am sick but hands off when I am well. What does it take to fully rely on God? It takes risking it all. It takes giving up on your own ability and trusting his. It takes removing all obstacles or barriers that keep God out of different areas of our life and letting him mold and shape everything. We don’t have to understand it all first. Saul certainly didn’t understand the fullness of who this voice was and yet he had to trust him. Ananias trusted God because he did know who Christ was and he trusted the call.

Reliance requires trust. Before you can fully rely on God you have to fully trust him. If you don’t trust God be careful or else you may find yourself blind, humbled and your life torn apart. If that happens to you don’t think it a bad thing, like Saul it might just be the best thing that ever happens to you. What is keeping you from fully relying on God?