“Just trust me on this.” Has anyone ever said these words to you? If you are a normal person, you have every right to ask a lot of questions to such a request: “Can I trust the person asking this? Does this person know what he’s talking about? What is his reputation and credibility? Has he let others down? Do I really know this person?” Trusting someone puts you in a vulnerable position…sometimes even a life-or-death situation. As I am reading Psalms, I discover so many of them are filled with the drama of great trials…and the need for great faith. Of the 140 times trust is mentioned in the Old Testament, 60 of these references are in Psalms. In essence, the Book of Psalms is a commentary on the Lord saying, “Just trust Me on this.” In my personal life, I discover that trust is not always my first response. It’s so natural for my human nature to give in to anxiety and fretting…to stress and strain, wondering if the Lord will come through for me again “this time.” However, the more I walk with God and experience His presence and character, the less I give in to negativity and doubt. David, who wrote more psalms than anyone, declared, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7). Trusting God has a wholesome effect on my heart. Joy wells up deep within me as I know the Lord wants me to succeed in life and know His deep abiding peace. The reason I can trust Him is not just because He commands me but also because I know Him…and better yet, He knows me! I know His character is, and always will be, pure and holy. His faithfulness reaches above the skies (Psalm 36:5), and His love endures forever! When I consider His constant faithfulness throughout my life, the more I treat doubt and complaining as a sin. The Lord commands us to trust Him…and for good reason. He alone is sovereign and knows the way I should take. Just trust Him on this!
Have you ever talked to a child who thinks that food comes from supermarkets? In our urban environment, it’s easy to forget the importance of the fields and harvest. During the time the Word of God came (by the Holy Spirit through God’s anointed servants), most people lived by growing crops. The Word of God is filled with references to agriculture and the process of sowing and reaping. This morning I was blessed as I thought about the truths from Psalm 85:10-13: “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.” These verses remind me of two important truths. First, I need the righteousness that comes from above. Just as the fields and crops cannot grow fruit without the blessings of the sun and rain, I must receive God’s righteousness. His righteousness “looks down from the sky” (verse 11b). I am dependent on God and His blessing coming from above. The second truth from these verses is the importance of faithfulness. The one growing the crops expects a harvest. God does His part by providing the blessings from above. We do our part by being faithful. “Faithfulness springs up from the ground” (verse 11a). The fruit of our faithfulness blesses the heart of God and reveals to the world around us the glory of God. So, we can’t be righteous without the provision of God…and we need to respond to the gift of righteousness (which comes through faith in Jesus) by producing the fruit of righteousness in our daily life. What a beautiful way of life the Lord provides for us!
“Privately healthy and publicly fruitful.” I came across this church vision motto from Pastor Al Toledo of the Chicago Tabernacle church. I love the essence of this statement because it resonates with the teaching of Jesus and the principles of the Bible. Here is what Jesus said about our inner life and the outgrowth of fruitfulness. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Jesus did not come into the world to give us a list of things to do or to avoid. He came to give us life through His Spirit! This living relationship between us and the Lord is pictured as fruit growing on a vine. In order to have fruit, there must first be “abiding.” We are taught by Christ that He is in us…and we are in Him. The first priority of life, therefore, is the cultivation of the inner person of our heart. For us to experience “privately healthy” we first must admit our sin and sickness of heart without Christ and cry out to Him for salvation. The power of the Holy Spirit, then, keeps us in fellowship with Him. Our part of remaining in Him is to love Him back by exercising faith. We pray, read the Word, manage our thoughts, and participate in the life of Christ through the spiritual disciplines. As we live in Christ, we are promised, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…” (verse 5a). “Public fruitfulness” is the natural outgrowth of abiding in Him. We don’t have to “stress and strain” to bear fruit, because, if we love Him, we will obey Him and manifest His life and deeds to the world. The Lord gives us all gifts and talents and a unique personality. As people see Christ in us, they will be influenced to consider the claims of Christ and whether or not they too will follow. Privately healthy and publicly fruitful…is a great way to express the purpose of our life and church!
Someone from the community called me the other day asking for prayer concerning some major tests and trials. This person is a believer, although not part of Highway. As I prayed for this person, I asked the Lord for a Scripture I could share. I remembered back to a difficult trial I had gone through, and the Scripture that God gave me at that time. “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (Psalm 112:6-8). What an amazing passage of Scripture! Let me share a few thoughts that stand out to me. First, there is a hidden strength for the godly. This “root system,” although invisible to others, keeps us standing when the winds shake our world. The Lord himself is our steadfast rock, immovable and firm! Second, I see in this Scripture that sometimes life brings “bad news.” We can’t escape the trials of life, but we don’t have to be defeated by them. The bad news has a way of entwining itself around our heart, creating obsessive worry. But the Lord is greater than our heart and knows how to enable us to live above crippling fear. “In the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (verse 8). Our foes of fear and anxiety are no match for the One who proclaims in the midst of the storm, “Peace, be still.” My prayer is that all of us, as God’s people, will learn to reach out to God in faith…sharing with Him all the worry that wants to come along with bad news. Commit yourself to the One who’s got you in His hands! And remember, the Good News of Jesus is always greater than the bad news of the world.