Karyn & Ezra’s Sermon: “Trust in the Lord”

Audio and Video also shared here:

Do you ever struggle with trust – maybe with finances? Children? Education? Relationships? Physical health and/or safety? Future plans?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
-Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV 2011)

When Ezra and I first got married, I handled the finances.
-I was more of a saver, Ezra tended to be a spender. Neither of us were extreme, but that was our tendency.
-Year after we were married, Ezra told me that he wanted experience in managing the finances for a while. We went over all the bills together. The amount, timing, etc.
-I would check in with him every day. I’d make sure things were being handled, and bills were being paid. Everything was going pretty smooth.
-As I saw him taking care of things and keeping everything in order, I went from asking daily to weekly…monthly… quarterly budget meetings. Those quarterly meetings turned into scheduling them “as-needed.”
-Having a sense of control in our lives gives us stability and safety. In our finances, I was able to feel stability when I knew things were under control, it didn’t have to be my control.
Think about areas of your life that you might feel fear, worry, insecurity, or lack of understanding- do you withhold those areas from God? The God who created you loves you, and wants the very best for you in life. He is worthy of our trust – but maybe that’s hard for you.

God tells us to:
1. Trust
* In His Promises
* Trust wholly, not partly

Sometimes in life the actions of others- how they use their free choice -can leave us feeling lost, hurt, or abandoned. Life experiences may be shaping our understanding of trust, of security or of love. We can be honest with God about your fears and hesitations.

Matthew 11:28-30  says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

At every age and stage in life, this is appealing. God’s promise that he is trustworthy, that he will teach us, and that he is our faithful resting place is an encouragement.

God tells us to:
2. Lean
* On his ways, not ours

We have someone bigger than ourselves to lean on. Sometimes we lean on someone and they step away, leaving us to fall. We can’t control everything, and that can be scary. But when life doesn’t make sense- we aren’t called to figure everything out. We can lean on the promise that God is God.

God tells us to:
3. Submit

Submission is such a tough word for a lot of us. We think of it as oppressive. But when we consider who God is- all loving, merciful, generous – wanting the very thing we would want for ourselves if we knew everything – that is not oppression, that is freedom. It would be oppressive for us to hold ourselves back from this big love.

We are challenged to submit to the Lord in all of our ways. For many of us, It seems so challenging to submit in even just one way at first, until we try it out and start to build trust. When we start to lean on The Holy Spirit rather than our own understanding, we can discover new and possibly unexpected results. When we start to lean on the word of God and his promises and plan for this world and our lives, there are certain temptations and challenges that simply won’t show up for us. I am not saying that life will be easy, certainly not. But it will have less confusion and few regrets.

There are a few times in this life I have been challenged to do something a certain way and it seemed like I was giving up something, but later in life I eventually looked back and thanked God that all I really missed out on was regret, disappointment and pain.

Ezra’s Story:
I was taught in my teen years to protect my sexual purity, to wait to have sex until after i was married. I was taught about what God thought about sex, and that He had a plan for its boundaries. It made sense to me, and so I made a commitment to God about it, and later realized how much pain and regret I was able to avoid by keeping that commitment, even though I was more challenged once I knew who it was I would eventually marry. I thank God for making my path straight through into a great marriage. Many people have shared with me their regrets that could have been avoided if they knew and embraced God’s plan for purity before they acted on what felt right at the time.

What God does:
1. Make your paths straight

In Proverbs 3:6 it states that He will make your paths straight if you submit to him. What do you think that means? I imagine fewer tight turns are up ahead for those who submit to him. Are there a lot of dramatic switchbacks on the road you are on? Do you find yourself experiencing a hard bump, looking in the rear view mirror asking yourself, what did I just hit? I didn’t see that coming! God sees everything. He sees what we do not see, and can let us know where to turn. Learn to trust God, you might start out trying this our almost like a test, just to see if God’s promises really can be leaned on.

Now there are a couple of verses that come to mind when I bring up the concept of a test. Didn’t Jesus say not to test God? Yes, when he was asked by Satan to throw himself off a building just to prove that God would rescue him…

“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
-Matthew 4:7 (NIV)

But God also directly invites our testing through the prophet Malachi on at least one topic:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
-Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

And when God spoke to Gideon, who was afraid and unsure that he could be used for such a mission, he asked for a sign, as a test, and God just went with it.

“Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.”
-Judges 6:36-40 (NIV)

After you try out leaning on God’s promises and learn that they are able to be trusted, you can take new decisions and just go with God’s plan first, and later on you will be glad that you avoided the bumps and slowdowns of going through life the hard way. Maybe you already went through a significant portion of life the hard way, and feel like you can offer guidance and encouragement to others to do things better, and avoid the setbacks you experienced.

Karyn’s Story:
(praying for Zion’s name)

I don’t think God really wants us all attempting to manipulate Him to do mini miracles every day just to bolster our faith,

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.”
-Matthew 16:1 NIV

Jesus did not perform a miracle to answer the proud demands of the Pharisees and Sadducees, he knew their hearts, and He also knows our hearts, and just like He did with Gideon, sometimes he helps us out when we hear his message to us, believe he can do it, but still have some doubt, and we are earnestly seeking the truth about His will.

We made that shift in how our finances were managed over 20 years ago. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. Ezra and I learned something very important through that. While I was really good at money management, Ezra is truly gifted. Had I let my worries and concerns be the driving force in who was handling our account balances, we would not be in the financial situation we are now.
Had I stayed in charge all of these years, I believe we would be in a good place, but with God’s gifting, Ezra has placed us in a position to thrive. We’ve chosen to make some decisions that have kept things financially tight over the years, but we kept our eyes on the common goal. Early on, this shift challenged my trust- I wanted to operate based on my own understanding. But Ezra was wise, faithful, and communicated well with me, answering any questions I had along the way. My worry and concern turned into security and trust.
When we trust our own understanding above God’s, we are limiting ourselves. It is not God and all his “rules” that are oppressive. It is us! Maybe your thoughts and feelings will keep you in a good place- but is it the BEST place? We also need to consider who else we may be limiting when we don’t trust in God with ALL our hearts. Who’s gifting are we stifling? Are we robbing someone else of growth opportunities?

Think about these three questions:
1- Where do I struggle with trust?
2- Who, aside from myself, is impacted by my difficulty with trust?
3- Who can I talk to about my struggle that can offer wisdom, insight and prayer?

Karyn has really used me as an example to illustrate her challenge to let go of something she was handling and trust me to be able to do it and not mess it up. At the time, I wasn’t sure how well I would do with the tasks she was already doing, but I felt God was challenging me to get more involved in the area of personal finances. God honored us both as we submitted to His specific will for us. You might have something you feel you are handling on your own just fine, but God may have a different plan, which includes giving up some level of control in an area. Maybe you are afraid to do something in a way that God wants. Let’s review one of my favorite passages in scripture…

Read Proverbs 3:5-6 again

Let’s pray together. I want you to ask God to reveal that area of control in prayerful silence, and then if you get a sense of confirmation or a particular word comes to your mind, write it down.
(25 seconds)
Prayer: Ezra