The Apostle Paul said that the first step in a relationship with God is to believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Trusting God, then, is a fundamental aspect of the Great Commandment – to love God wholeheartedly. Trust God explores how to love God in this way.
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We’re talking about the first and great commandment, which is loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. And the sub-topic is trusting God and how love and trust fit together. That would be important, wouldn’t it? More important than what kind of car we drive, or what color our nail polish is going to be after our next manicure. Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind is the first and great commandment. So how do we do that?
Well, I’m going to tell you a little story. Then I’m going to tell you why I’m telling it to you later. Some time ago, in my counseling practice, I had, within a two week span, five young teen girls all start therapy. Because there were so many of them, their experience made an impression on me that it probably wouldn’t have made if there hadn’t been so many all at the same time. All of them had daddy problems. Some of them didn’t have daddies and others couldn’t get along with the ones they had. And that’s always about trust, or lack of it. It was funny to watch, in a way, because all of them – the first time – when they came into the room, kind of perched on the edge of the couch, like birds ready to fly at the first sign of danger. But as the weeks went by, they all, at about the same rate, began to settle deeper into the couch and began to feel a little bit more comfortable. The reason they began to feel more comfortable was that they began to get more of a read on me and find out that I was safe. I wasn’t going to make them do anything in there that they didn’t want. I wasn’t going to tell their parents what they said. I didn’t know anybody they knew. They only had to come for forty-five minutes a week. After that, they wouldn’t see me again. So they began to figure it out – that I was a safe person. And they also learned that my main objective was to help them feel better and to take care of them. They also began to understand, gradually, that I cared about them.
With kids that are having problems, the therapy usually is about them practicing to trust me – learning how to do that. I was doing EMDR with one of them, because of anxiety, and we tried the lights and we tried the buzzers, and she didn’t seemed to be able to tolerate either of those too well. So I started tapping on her. And the way I do that is, I put a pillow on their lap, and I make them put their hands on it, and I just tap on the backs of their hands while I watch a clock. I make them look at my hands go up and down, so their eyes are going back and forth while I’m tapping. Immediately that started working for her. After several weeks of that, I asked her if she had any ideas about why the tapping worked better than the lights. I thought she might have had eye problems. Here’s what she said. She said. “It feels like you’re taking care of me more.” And then she paused a little bit, and then said, “Like closer.” And I said, “It feels like that to me, too. I can even feel your anxiety more when I’m closer to you.” She looked a little bit alarmed at that point, and she said, “Do you not want to tap on me then?” She was trying to take care of me now. See? I said, “No, I want to feel it. I want to be with you.” You could see her kind of go inside herself at that point and think about what that meant. And as she did, this little smile began to creep up onto her face. She’s understanding that I’m going to take care of her, and that I want to be involved in her life in that way.
That all begins to translate into a relationship with God – at least that’s what the good psychologists tell us. We don’t trust people until we know they’re safe. And we don’t trust God until we know a couple of things about Him either. One of them is that He is safe. What else?
Well, let’s go to Hebrews 11:6. We might call this the core scripture for this presentation. Paul says:
Heb. 11:6 – And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God – so we’re talking about loving God and having a relationship with Him – so that’s where the “drawing near” part comes in – must believe that He exists – that He really is there. Do you know that? When was the first time you really understood that God really was there? As a parent, what can you do to help your child understand that God really is there?
With people, we know they exist, because we can look at them. But with God, we have to learn that. The way we learn that mostly, I think, is that we learn that He’s taking care of us – that He cares about us. We also have to know that He is strong. If you go to Psalms 9:9, it says:
Psa. 9:9 – The LORD is the stronghold for the oppressed – a stronghold in times of trouble – and those who know Your name put their trust in You. For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. So He’s a Rock. He’s a stronghold. He can be counted on. He has power. That kind of goes back to what we talked about in the beatitude series, doesn’t it – to know that God is great and, by comparison, we’re not. We are vulnerable. We are weak.
I went to a presentation a few weeks ago with The Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico. They had a guest speaker there named Paula Darcy. This lady, when she was twenty-seven, was several months pregnant with her second child, and she and her husband and her three-year-old child were in an automobile accident, and her husband and her three-year-old daughter were killed – leaving her and the unborn child alive. She was talking about her experience from that. She said that one of the lessons she learned was that we own nothing, and that everything that we have is a gift, and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. So enjoy what we have while we have it – you know, the time of our life, our health, our family, our money – that can come and go.
We need God. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. And we need God, because we’re weak and He is strong. So it all folds together, doesn’t it? The beatitudes and the great commandment. It’s all part of the same thing.
There’s another thing that we need to know about God, too, if we’re going to love Him and have a relationship with Him. And that also is in Hebrews 11:6.
Heb. 11:6 – Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Continuing on with Psalm 9…we read verse 10 – and those who know Your name put their trust in You. For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Verse 11:
Psa. 9:11 – Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion. Tell among the people His deeds. For He who avenges blood is mindful of them. He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. Be gracious to me, O LORD, and see my affliction from those who hate me, O You who lift me up from the gates of death.
So God is a protector. He is a healer. He is an avenger. He is a life-giver. And He is a sustainer. So that’s a little bit about the things we need to know about God. He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We have to believe that He exists. We need to know that He’s strong and He loves and takes care of us. He’s safe. We can go to Him. We’re not going to get the third degree if we fall on His mercy.
Okay, we’re talking about loving God with the whole being. I want to talk to you today about what that looks like in everyday life. But first I want to talk to you a little bit about what it doesn’t look like.
Let’s go to Psalm 52:7 through 9.
Psa. 52:7 – Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold, but instead, trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others.
Did you know that our nation is the only nation on earth that can systematically destroy the air force and the air defenses of another nation? Did you know that? In the last few weeks, we shot a 120+ tomahawk missiles into Libya, and when we were done, they had no air force and no air defenses left. So the Allied planes could go into that country at will. Isn’t that impressive? Of course, they cost $600,000 each, not to mention the money it costs to put them in range. And, of course, if our economy doesn’t hold up, we won’t be able to do that much longer. All the figures show that if we continue to spend the money at the current rate, our economy is going to tank by 2032. On our money, it says, “In God we trust.” Do we trust in God or do we trust in the US economy? If you listen to the news, it sounds like we trust in our military and our economy. It doesn’t sound like we trust in God.
So that’s one of the things that “loving God with our whole being” does not look like. It does not look like we put trust in our wealth and what we have. Having a lot of stuff doesn’t mean that we love God.
Proverbs 3, verse 5 – let’s look at something else.
Prov. 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart – verse 5 – and do not lean on your own understanding. We have a way of looking at things and it seems like reality to us, but most of the time, it’s an illusion. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path. Be not wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
We live in a world of illusion. Look at my hand. It looks to me like that’s pretty solid. And yet, really, what that is is energy. And energy is only one small step away from being nothing. And that small step is the mindfulness of God. He is the One that holds all of the energy in the form of matter. And all of that, too, is just one small step from spirit – on the other end of that. So, it’s only by God’s mindfulness that we continue to exist.
I was boiling some oatmeal one morning this week – keeping my eye on the clock, because it had to boil for four minutes – simmer, actually. So I was keeping my eye on the clock. I was being mindful. But then the phone rang. Shhooo. My mind went off the oatmeal and on to the phone. You know what happened, right? No, you’re wrong. I actually caught it before it burned, but only by accident. Now, it says in the Bible that God is the sustainer of the universe. What if the phone rang? We need God.
Here’s a good one for you. Job 8:13….
Job 8:13 – Such is the destiny of all who forget God. So perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile. What he relies on is a spider’s web.
A spider’s web is an amazing feat of engineering, but it’s also very fragile, isn’t it? You can take that broom and sweep that thing out of the corner by the door – or out of the corner of the room by the ceiling. Money, tomahawk missiles, shock and awe, PhDs, the Food and Drug Administration, the federal government, the nightly news, our own wisdom – all those things seem like powerful stuff, but, in actuality, they are spider webs. It’s all illusion. It’s all a field for us to navigate in order to get to God. And God is the reality. He is the Rock. Those things are not the love of God. Church organization, federal government, the university system, the Web – that’s all stuff that can go away in the blink of an eye.
What does trust in God look like in reality? Let’s go to Matthew 9:27. I’m going to read you a series of scriptures. And I want you to just listen to what Jesus says.
Mt. 9:27 – As Jesus passed on from there, two blind men – this is in Matthew 9:27 – followed Him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” And when He entered the house, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” That was the criteria. Right there – that was the criteria. And they said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” And He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith, be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. This is funny. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went and spread His fame throughout all the district – just like He knew they would.
It says that we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. The first question He asked is, “Do you believe? Do you believe that I am a rewarder?”
Mt. 8:13 – To the centurion Jesus said, “Go let it be done to you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. “Let it done to you as you have believed.” Is there trust there? That’s what that’s about, isn’t it?
Mt. 9:20 – Behold, a woman, who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment. For she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I’ll be made well.” Jesus turned and seeing her, said, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” And instantly, the woman was made well. She believed so much, she fought her way through the crowd, and thought, “If I can just touch it.”
Mk. 5:35 – While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house someone who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear. Only believe.”
Are we getting the picture here? Is this creating a pattern?
Lk. 17:6 – And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed….
Mk. 9:22 – “It has often cast him into the fire and into water” – this is the man with his son that was afflicted – “to destroy him. But, if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can? All things are possible for one who believes.” And immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you to come out of him and never enter him again.”
Mk. 11:22 – Jesus answered them, and said, “Have faith in God. For truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”
Let’s take a look at that scripture a little bit. “Whoever says to the mountain….” Whoever. Whoever. Not the ministry, not just the deacons, not just the people that set out the coffee urn at church and who come to church every week. Whoever! Does that sound like a universal law? It does to me. “…‘Be taken up and thrown in the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” It sounds like a universal law to me. Based on that, then, He said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you” – talking to people He’s working with – “ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”
Have you ever heard the story of Jack Canfield – the guy that wrote the Chicken Soup for the Soul? He was making $8,000 when he wrote that book. He had learned about what they call the law of attraction, which I really believe. I think the stuff they’ve put out about that is really hokey, but I think there is essence to it. He took a one dollar bill and he wrote two zeros, a comma and two more zeroes after it and pasted it on his ceiling, so that he would see that every morning when he woke up. Because he believed he had it already, it would come to him. And I don’t know if he’s religious or not. When I heard him explain this, he didn’t use the terms faith or God or anything. He and his wife had set a goal to make a $100,000, because that was the biggest thing they could think of, realistically – making $8,000. All of a sudden, two or three months later, things started happening, and that year they made 93,000 and some dollars. So then they put a million dollars on the ceiling. Wasn’t it a year later? His publisher wrote him a check for a million dollars and put a happy face by it, because he’d never written a check that big.
They talk in the movie, called The Secret, about how it is just about money. But I think there is a universal principle there. They even had some physicists talking about how the nature of the universe is – things alike tend to draw each other together – and I think Jesus applies this to our relationship with God, as well, and to faith and belief and prayer.
So, if we want to fulfill the great commandment of the law, which is to love God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength, and all our mind, we have, as a part of that, to believe that God is going to take care of us before He does it. Trust. Faith.
What are some of the things that we can expect?
1 Pt. 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that, at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Because He cares for you. Remember, we said one of the things you had to know, is that God loves us – that He’s going to take care of us.
Mt. 6:31 – Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” Don’t be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear. …for the Gentiles seek after these things. But our heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God – we sang a song about this today, didn’t we? – and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. What does that mean – sufficient for the day is its own trouble?
Most of us are so into long-range thinking that we’re worried about stuff happening years down the road. What does that mean? Well, if you were in an arena at Ephesus with Paul, and you were staring at a starving, angry, wild boar, you wouldn’t be worried about tomorrow, would you? Do you remember what Paul said about that? He said that he had been pressed out of measure – stretched way beyond his physical capacities – so much so that he despaired even of life. And then in Corinthians, I think it is, he talks about facing wild beasts at Ephesus, which is what they called Asia. You wouldn’t be worried about tomorrow. You wouldn’t even be worried about the next thirty minutes. You would be worried about what that boar is going to do next. You would be in the moment. The more in the moment we can stay, the less anxious we are.
Anxiety is about anticipating losses in the future. If we’re not in the future in our minds, we won’t be anxious. I teach my clients who are anxious to think about their breathing – just think about it. You ought to try that. Try it and see how long you can think about your breathing before you start worrying about something else. The more you try it, the better you get at it. You don’t have to change your breathing, you just have to think about it. Don’t think about anything else. Of course, you can’t do that very well, so when you find yourself with your mind wandering, don’t beat yourself up. Just come back to your breath. Think about your breathing. You can’t be anxious while you’re doing that. If you are, you’ll calm right down. It’s also hard to be anxious while thanking God for His blessings and His lovingkindness.
So God promises to do a lot of things for us, including the physical needs and safety that so many of us worry so much about. But there is something else that He does for us, and that’s in Psalm 52:7. We read part of this already.
Psa. 52:7- Now here is the man who did not make God his stronghold, but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others. But I am like an olive tree, flourishing in the house of God. Can you imagine how much good care an olive tree would get if it were in the house of God? I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise You forever for what You have done. In Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of all Your saints.
How would David be able to praise God in the presence of God’s saints? Well, you know, there’s only one place that can happen. And it wasn’t back in Jerusalem when he lived. How is going to be able to praise God forever? He’s dead. Because he’s going to be resurrected and entered into the Kingdom of God. There’s only one place that can happen. So what he is telling us is, that if we really trust in God’s unfailing love – His lovingkindness – we’re going to be able to trust in it forever in the courts of God’s eternal Kingdom.
So loving God with our whole heart, and our whole soul, and our whole mind, and all our strength – that’s what we’re studying about today. Trusting that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him is a big part of that kind of love of God. That’s so much more important than who gets to set up the coffee at church, or who has the E-class Mercedes sitting out in the parking lot, or whose kids are on the honor roll at Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School.