Post Title: Three Trust-Building Activities
We need to distinguish between trust and belief because belief can just be something of the head. Trust is always something of the heart. You can believe in and give mental assent to doctrinal propositions, but that alone will leave you unchanged.
If you trust, have absolute confidence in the character of God—because you've seen God's human face in the person of Jesus—you will be forever changed. Jesus reveals the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to us. He assures us of his presence, power, and promises. Yahweh alone is worthy of trust.
For most of us, the sequence is this. We come into an experience with God and we learn how to love him. Then, gradually, we come to a place where we learn how to trust him. It is not something that happens magically, it is part of a walk. As one writer observed, we can trust God not because he has offered proof, but because he has shown his face.
You may find as I did on one painful occasion, in the midst of suffering, that every sense of faith, right down to the bedrock had been stripped away. I was no longer quite sure what God was going to do, and why he did what he did. But I did find a bedrock. Do you know what that bedrock was? It was the character of God. Do you know how I could have such confidence, such trust in the character of God? Because I could lift my eyes to the cross of Christ.
This is why we must never yield on the cross.
This is why we must never take the cross and push it to the margins of our faith. When you look at the cross, it is the basis for trust in God. You see his character, you see his goodness, you see his steadfast love, and you see him redeeming suffering. He will bear our suffering and we can trust him to redeem it.
Let me wrap up this teaching with some observations that can help you develop and nurture biblical trust in your life.
We must abound in gratitude and thanksgiving if we are to cultivate trust.
We must recognize that trust is not self-willed or self-generated, it is a work of the Spirit with which we cooperate.
We must understand that this radical act of trusting in God must be renewed daily. It is not a one-time decision. We need to set the Lord before us continually so that he will deliver us from worry, self-centeredness, and self-condemnation.
1. We must abound in gratitude and thanksgiving if we are to be trusting.
One commentator said that the first sin of Adam and Eve was ingratitude. An interesting idea, isn't it? Think of all that God had done for them. Not only did he make them in his image, but he also revealed to them they were made in his image. Not only did he give them everything they needed along with the promise of blessing and life, he came and walked with them—gave them the fullness of his fellowship!
In spite of all of that, they permitted a false idea and a wrong image to come into their hearts. (In our series on biblical meditation we talked about how important it is to hold to right ideas and proper images.)
Just knowing who you are, and who God is, should be the basis for perpetual praise!
If it is not, then it suggests that we are thinking too much about ourselves. We are not setting the Lord before us. One psychoanalyst said, "In life, we have basically, two choices, either gratitude or despair." We can give in to the dark, dreary dungeon of distrust, or yield ourselves up to the gratitude and praise of trust.
The highest form of giving is thanksgiving. If you need some help, read the Psalms of thanksgiving: 21, 28, 30, 65, 66, 136, and 139.
2. We must recognize that trust is not self-willed or self-generated, it is a work of the Spirit with which we cooperate.
Don't get in a big funk thinking, "Oh, I just can't do it." Of course, you cannot do it because trust is not self-generated, it has to be in and of the Spirit. It is not a matter of gritting your teeth and saying, "I'm going to trust. I'm going to trust." Ironically, that is trusting in the power of your mind or your will. True trust is born of the Spirit in a relationship of love. It is found in radical dependence on God. It is a work of the Spirit with whom we cooperate—not of our own strength.
Beware also of self-reproach. If you are condemning yourself, your mind is on you, not on God. Walking around, preoccupied with yourself even your failings, is an obstacle to trust. One of the greatest deceptions of the adversary is to trick us into thinking we become spiritual when we continually introspect on ourselves. If the Spirit of God sees something in your heart, he will bring conviction that is specific and clear, not vague and accusatory.
The truth is our Father has accepted you in his Son. Have you accepted yourself in Messiah Jesus? If not, you struggle trusting because all you really know is yourself. Let's be honest, I would not trust in you either [laughter]. I do not trust in myself, and you should not put your trust in me. Here is the good news, I can trust in God, and so can you because biblical trust is radically God-centered!
3. We must understand that this radical act of trusting in God must be renewed daily.
It is not a one-time decision. We need to set the Lord before us continually so that he will deliver us from worry, self-centeredness, and self-condemnation. When I say it is not the product of self-will or self-generation, I am not making a case for being passive.
Here are three trust-building activities within your power to do, with the help of the Spirit.
It is within your power to meditate on God's Word: his character, his promises, and his deeds. Proverbs 16:20 says, "Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD."
It is within your power to remember. We must resist the tendencies to forget God's faithfulness in our lives. It is frightening how soon and how easily we forget. Those who forget God, Job 8:14 reminds us, have a confidence that is fragile, like a spider’s web.
It is within your power, as I said earlier, to give thanks and rejoice.
Do we really believe what God says about his new covenant in Jesus? Do you trust that he has put his Spirit in you? Has he given you a new heart? Has he made himself known to you? Dear friend, trust in God. He says what he means and means what he says. Trust like that facilitates his work in and through your life.
Brennan Manning wrote a stirring prayer in his book Ruthless Trust. May it serve to renew you in the understanding that God's relentless faithfulness joined to our radical trust is the greatest joy of our souls.
"Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today without reservation, and with humble confidence. For you are my loving father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others that I may find joy and delight simply, and solely in pleasing you."
"May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, your love. And let your plan for my life, and the lives of all your children, gracefully unfold one day at a time. Abba, I love you with my whole heart, and I place all my confidence in you."
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
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