Craig Groeschel - Can You Trust God?
Hey I'm wondering if you guys could handle a very honest confession today? You think you'd handle it, like really handle it? I'll be just real transparent with you and make this confession. I am a pastor, and sometimes, I find it difficult to put all my trust in God. Can I be that real? Yeah. Do any of you ever feel that way? I wanna trust in God, but sometimes, I find it a little bit more difficult to trust in him. It's easier to say trust in God, than it is to often to do this. You might be able to relate. You might feel like I love God and I believe in God, but, I still feel so uneasy about the future.
When you look around, there's a lot to feel uneasy about, isn't there? There's the tension all over our country. There's the racial and political division that's very, very real, and important that we navigate through and do well. So often you may look around and you ask yourself like, what if? And start playing the what if game. What if so-and-so happens as life goes on? And it's really easy to ask a lot of what if's in the current climate and environment. Like, what if the wrong person gets elected into office? Whoever the wrong person is for you, right? What if I lose my job? What if I get sick, or someone that I love gets sick? What if we have to homeschool our kids for the rest of our lives? Any of you know what I'm talking about?
It's easy to play the what if game. I know some people that are not married and because of COVID, it's really difficult to meet people. And you might say, well, what if I'm single for the rest of my life? Or, what if I do get married but I marry the wrong person? Doesn't that mean we'd have the wrong kids? It's complicated. Or, what if I do get married, I marry the right person, I have the right kids but I have the wrong job? But I can't quit my job because my kids need braces. And if my kids don't get braces, then they will marry the wrong person. And that means they'll have the wrong kids, which means I might have the wrong grandkids, and that would be an awkward conversation with my grandkids, "You aren't the kids that I was expecting".
You know how easy it is to run down all the what if's. I don't know about you but I wanna trust God, but sometimes I just wanna say God, it's difficult to trust in a God I can't see. There's a lot that I can see, right? I can see the COVID craziness everywhere. Some of you, I can see it in you. I can see whenever my bank account goes down. I can see all the tension every time I read or watch anything in the news. God, I wanna trust in you, but it's hard when I don't really see you. Or, some of you might say, how can I trust in God when I did trust in God, but he didn't do what I asked him to do?
I prayed, I had faith. I believed and I trusted him, and he could've, but he didn't. I really want to trust in God but sometimes it's just not easy to do. And so, that's why today we're gonna start a new message series in a very complicated season in our world called In God We Trust. And the title of today's message is this, it's a question, can you trust God? And the answer I believe is absolutely, unequivocally, yes, you can. But we're gonna need his word and his spirit to help us do so. So, let's pray as we dive into this message series.
Father, I thank you for every person at every Life.Church location, streaming on YouTube, watching at Church Online, God, even listing months from now in the archive. I pray God that your living word and the power of your spirit would do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. God, would you build our faith to put our trust in you, even if we don't see you, even if we don't feel you God, help us to trust you, your goodness, your character, your nature. We pray this in Jesus name, and everybody said. Amen. Amen.
What I wanna do today is I wanna show you a story from Luke's gospel, Luke chapter five, and I'm gonna give you two prayers that I believe will help build your trust. Let me give you the context, and then we'll look at two prayers to help build your trust. The kind of, the story behind the story is Jesus was at a lake, by the Lake of Gennesaret and he was teaching. It was kind of like a Bible study or what we might call a life group. And it was the end of a very frustrating day for some fishermen, who had been out and did what they normally did, but they didn't have the success they normally had. They didn't catch anything and so they were cleaning up their boats and putting away their nets.
And Jesus walked up into one of the boats belonging to Simon Peter. And he said, "Hey bro, would you take us out on the water"? And so, sure enough, Simon took him out on the water and Jesus gave a... little lesson, a teaching. And here's what happened in Luke 5:4, scripture says "When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, put out into deep water" Somebody say deep water. Deep water. Sometimes you have to go out of the shallow, into the deep, to learn what you need to learn. He said, "Put into the deep water" and Jesus said, "Let down the nets for a catch".
Say let down the nets. Let down the nets... Type that in the chat, if you will. Let down the nets, just type it in, let down the nets. He said, "Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. And Simon answered", let me pause before I tell you what Simon said, because to me this is Simon doing his best to be polite. He's got Jesus, rabbi, this very important person who just taught a really great message, asking him, an experienced fishermen to do something that makes no sense whatsoever. As we watch as Simon tries to be polite, but I can guarantee what he's thinking is, Teacher, you teach. I'm a fishermen, I'll fish. You're a rabbi, you rabbi. I'll do what I do. Who are you to tell me? There generations and generations of fishermen in my family, and you're getting on my boat, taking up my time, giving me your stupid advice.
And Simon says, "Master, we worked hard all day and all night, and we haven't caught anything". What you're asking me to do feels really, really, really stupid. Doesn't make any sense. How many of you know that oftentimes what God asks you to do, doesn't make any sense? So often, when God will invite you to put your trust in him, it can make you feel really, really stupid. This doesn't make any sense. And you might read in scripture, well, Jesus says, "Don't worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself".
And it's really easy to quote that to somebody else but sometimes when you read it, you think, well, you have you seen what's going on in our country? Somebody's got to worry about it. Somebody's got to do something about it. That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me right now. "Don't worry about tomorrow", well, somebody better worry about tomorrow. You might read in scripture, "Bless those who persecute you". And it's real easy to quote to someone else, but you don't know the people that I work with. Scripture says "Don't lean on your own understanding". Well, fine. But if I don't lean on my own understanding, sometimes my bills aren't gonna get paid. What you're asking me to do, sometimes, just feels unreasonable. It feels completely stupid. I wanna trust in you, but you got to give me a little something. I can't see you, I can't always feel you. Our first prayer that we're gonna see from scripture is this, a very powerful prayer. "Lord, help me to obey you, even what I don't understand. Lord, help me to obey you, even what I don't understand".
And what's so powerful to me is that we see this prayer lived out when Simon, by faith, did what Jesus asked him to do, and he let down his nets. Look again at our scripture, Simon answered, "Hey, master Jesus. We worked hard all night and we haven't caught anything. But... because you say so, I'll let down the nets". Say it again, let down your net. Let down your net. Type it the chat, let down your net. This doesn't make any sense to me, "but because you say so. Lord, help me to obey, even when I don't understand". This doesn't make any sense to me, but because you're asking me to do it, and because of who you are, God, I'm choosing to put my trust in you.
And this action leads us to the conclusion that you don't have to understand completely to obey immediately. You don't have to know the end of the story to turn the first page of a story, and be obedient to the one who asked you to do this. A lot of times, when we think of like trusting God, we tend to think about the big things like okay, God, you know, you're gonna ask me to obey and, move to a new city or start a new career. And that may be the case. But what I've found is to really grow in our trust and our faith in God, it often starts by trusting him in the smallest ways. And sometimes, the smallest acts of obedience and trust lead to the biggest results, the biggest blessings, and the biggest miracles.
In fact, I'll give you just a real personal example that blessed me in the middle of a very difficult grieving situation. How many of you were here for At the Movies, a couple of weeks ago, or you watched online? Excellent. In the final week, we talked about being the light into the world. And what I do is I'll actually script out a draft. Sometimes I'll follow it word for word, other times, I'll kind of, edit it along. And, I was prompted in the writing of this draft to add just a couple of words. The strangest, most unusual thing. And I'm gonna read you what I said, and you may remember it from then. But what I said was, I was talking about people who might not know Christ and in my notes, exactly word for word I said, "You might have a family member, a mom, or a dad, a sister or brother, maybe even a child, your own child who doesn't know Christ. Maybe it's someone that you work with, maybe it's a friend at the gym. Maybe it's a classmate, or it's a next door neighbor".
When I was writing this, I felt unusually prompted. Can't explain it, no big deal, but out of an act of obedience, I just added the words, sorority sister. Which is not something I would normally add. If you're just playing the odds, like, how many, 18 to 24 year olds do we have in our church? Who happened to be female, who are also enrolled in college, who are going to college in this crazy time? Who also said yes, to be in a sorority. It's a very small group. Honestly, I don't wake up thinking about sororities or fraternities very much, at this point in my life. But I felt prompted and I wrote it down and said, "Maybe it's someone you work with a friend at the gym, a classmate, maybe a sorority sister, or a next door neighbor".
Well, I had no idea that on that very weekend, there would be a young lady who was a part of a sorority who was tragically killed by a drunk driver. And I had no idea that on that weekend, there would be 30 of her sorority sisters that would gather together grieving at our campus. And I had no idea that there would be a time where my campus pastor would gather together with them and pray. And the report I heard on the other end was that the moment that I said, "Maybe it was a sorority sister", all 30 of those grieving young girls felt like God acknowledged them in the middle of their pain. The smallest... smallest, most minute act of obedience. "But because you say so", I'll do this. "Lord, help me obey, even when I don't understand".
You don't have to understand completely, to obey immediately. How do we grow in that trust? How do we learn to trust in a God that we wanna trust in, but sometimes it's hard because we just can't see him. What I wanna do is, I wanna give you some advice and it's only in this area. What you gotta do is you just gotta get clingy. Get clingy. Now, I promise you if you're dating, you don't wanna get clingy. That's just like weird.
Now, I am married to Amy, and honestly I cant be clingy to her. She'll tell you sometimes I just like, I like, touch her, she's like "Get off of me, get off me" Don't don't do that with the person you're dating. But when it comes to God, sometimes you just need to get clingy. There's a great Bible verse, if you've been a Christian for a long time and you have a coffee mug with a Bible verse on it, it's probably this one. Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge him". The word acknowledge comes from the Hebrew word, which means to know. "In all your ways know him, and he'll make your paths straight". In all your ways you know him.
You know him on the mountain tops, and you know him in the valleys. When you know him in the good times, you learn to trust him in the bad times. How do you know God? How do you know him? How do you know him intimately? How do you know him, trust him, walk in him? The only way that you can know him is to be close to him. And the way to be close to him is to cling to him. The word trust, at the very beginning of this verse, "Trust in the Lord". How do you do that? The Hebrew word translated as trust is the word. Everybody say... Sounds like you're hacking a loogie on, or whatever, right? But what this word means is, is it means to cling to. Not just to be close in proximity, but to hold on to and to not let go.
Here's the key. In order to hold on to God, you have to let go of whatever else you were previously clinging to. In order to trust in him, you lean not on your own understanding. Can I say for a moment? That's just hard. That's almost not fair. To tell me not to lean, I'm wired to lean on my own understanding. Some would say it's a strength that I can figure this out. But when you get to the place where you let go of your own understanding, your own plans, your own desire, your own will, your own strategy, your own place of comfort. And when you cling to one who is a rock, who will never fail you. You cling to the faithfulness and the goodness of the only one who really is good. Then, anything else that brought you the illusion of security before, fades away in the presence, and the strength of the goodness and the grace in the presence of God.
Somebody here needs to get clingy. Look at the person next to you and tell them, get clingy. Type it in the chat, I'm a clinger, I'm a clinger, I'm clingy. Type it in, I'm clingy, I'm clingy, I'm clingy, I'm clinging. What do you need to do? Somebody here, it's time to cling to the promises of God. Don't let go, cling to the promises of God. God, I thank you that I can cast my cares upon you because you faithfully care for me. God, I'm clinging to your truth, that you will provide of all my needs, according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. God, I thank you and praise you that you are working in all things, to bring about good. God, to those who love you, who are called according to your purpose. God, I cling to your truth that you will never leave me, God. You will never forsake me, God. That when I draw near to you, God, you will always draw near to me. God, thank you, you are close to the broken hearted. God, you save those who are crushed in spirit. God, you are my refuge. You are my strength. You are my help... in time of trouble.
In order to cling to the goodness of God, you have to release that what you were clinging to before. Lord, help me to trust you, to cling to you. Even what I don't... understand. God, help me to trust you and obey even the smallest of promptings, even if they don't make sense to me. Because... I trust you, I'll let down the net. I don't know the outcome. He had no clue of the outcome. And the good news is, outcome is God's responsibility. Obedience is yours. Lord help me to trust you, even when I don't understand. What I promise you is God will prompt you. In some way, he'll invite you to trust him. And what you'll discover is that big miracles, often follow simple acts of obedience.
And we see this in our story. Jesus says, "Hey, put down the nets. Let down the nets for a catch". And Simon says, "We'll trust you". And scripture says this, "When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish, that their nets began to break. So, they signaled their partners and the other boat to come and to help them. And they came and filled the boats so full that they began to sink. Lord, helped me obey you, even when I don't understand". And our second prayer we can pray is this, Lord help me surrender what I cannot control. Lord, help me surrender what I cannot control.
I love this, Simon obeys and he lets down the nets, and he's surprised, catches so many fish that the nets can't even contain them. And suddenly he realizes, Oh my gosh, Jesus is not just a rabbi, he is a holy one. And Peter falls down and he says, "Get away from me, rabbi. I'm a sinful person, I'm not even worthy to be in your presence". And here's what Jesus did, if you imagine his love. Jesus says to Simon, "Hey Simon, don't be afraid, bro. From now on, you'll fish for people". From now on, what you've done your whole life, I'm gonna use those same skills, but give you even a higher calling. So what happens? "They pulled up their boats on shore".
I want you to watch this, what'd they do? Let's say it aloud. "They pulled up their boats on shore" and what'd they do? "They left everything, and they followed Jesus". They left everything. What did everything include? Everything included their nets. The very thing that represented provision, represented security, represented the future. They left everything, including the nets. When it comes to your nets, whatever that is, that which that which provides safety. Your understanding, your hope, your bucket list. Your, if only this, and God, here's what I need. When it comes to your nets, first thing you do is you let them down when he invites you to.
And then at some point, you lay them down. I surrender this completely. I let go of my plans. I'm trusting this to you. I'll say, this is not easy. There's nothing easy about this. This can be one of the biggest steps of faith ever, when you say I'm not just letting down that which makes me feel secure, but I'm laying it down. And I'll tell you about the nets that my family has been laying down. For those of you who've been a part of our church for a while, I told you about Mandy, my second daughter's health struggles. Well, I wanna introduce you to three of my daughters and I'm glad it's not four. I do have another daughter, Katie, and she's not in this story, thankfully.
On the left is Mandy, who's married to James. In the middle is Joy, the youngest who is my favorite. Just ask her, she'll tell you. That's what she tells everybody, "I'm daddy's favorite". And then I've got Anna, who's married to Luke. We've told you about Mandy's health issues. I haven't told you publicly about Joy's and Anna's. And part of the reason is because when I do then a lot of people know, and sometimes our kids like privacy. But they're at the place right now where, because the challenges have been real enough to impact their lives, and people don't understand, they said, "Dad, you can go ahead and tell the church".
Three of my four daughters have a genetic issue, and because of some complications of how they grew up, some things that we did not know have brought real significant challenges to them. And so for example, Mandy was unable to function for quite some time. Like literally, could not even come and sit in church, and she's doing better, thank God. Doing a little bit better. Joy, who was vivacious and wild will come to church and serve all weekend long, and then often cries herself to sleep because of the pain on the backend. It impacts her a little differently. Anna, who's now married. She was a sophomore in college when the doctors told her to drop out of school because it was too much for her body.
And so if you can imagine, just as a dad looking at these three girls who love Jesus with all their hearts and just are full of faith. Sometimes we ask God like "Why? We've been to the best doctors and had the best advice". And many of you will say, "Have you tried whatever"? And I would just respectfully say, "Yes, we have". We have the best advice, and we thank you for caring and praying. And we have an army of people praying for them. And, while they have made some improvement, there's still a long way to go. And so, as a dad who loves God and wants to trust God, there are times when I just say "God, what about it? Why don't you just do something? Come on. Come on! God. You can... and you haven't. And I don't understand why".
And so we let go... of our understanding, and we choose to cling to him. And trust in his goodness, and his plan and his purposes that are higher than what we have the ability to understand. And in his presence, clinging to him somehow he comforts us, with a peace that goes beyond our human ability to even understand. So that I can say, honestly, truthfully, as I cling to him, though my heart is hurting, my hope is not shaken. Though my heart aches, I still trust in him. I don't know who this is for, but you may need to, not just let down the nets, but lay down the nets. Because, you don't always have the power to control, but you do always have the power to surrender.
I wanna show you the words from Psalm 20:7, the words of David when he said this, and I hope you'll feel it and find yourself in the middle of this verse. David said this, he said "Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses". In our world we might say it this way, that some trust in the economy, right? Some trust in whoever holds office. Which, you wanna vote, but I thank God that our hopes not in just who's in office, but our hope is in who sits on the throne. Some would put their hope in their bank accounts or in the medical report, and David said it this way, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses. But we, as the people of God, where do we put our hope? But we trust in the name of the Lord, our God".
While it's easy to trust in just what you see, we're gonna trust God even when we don't understand, God, help us to obey you. God, help us to surrender that which we cannot control and to put our trust in a loving God who is in total control. Who one day will wipe out every form of sickness, disease, sin, and discomfort. God, will restore and right every wrong. God, in your presence there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more heartbreak and no more pain. "While some trust in chariots, we trust in the name of the Lord, our God".
If you find yourself today, you wanna trust, but it's so difficult to trust in a God you cannot see. You feel like you're on the edge. You feel like you might be ready to give up. I want you to think for just a moment and answer the question, when did this miracle take place? When was it... that the disciples who had given up hope see the miraculous provision of the goodness of God in a miracle catch a fish? The answer is, at the end of a very frustrating day. When did the miracle take place? It happened... when those had given up hope. If you find yourself about to give up, about to surrender the dream of God answering your prayer. It could be your marriage. You're fighting for it, but your spouse doesn't even seem to care, and you feel like you can't even hang on for a moment longer. It could be the dream of getting out of debt, or of God healing one of your daughters, or your sons. It could be God hearing the cries of your heart and providing someone for you to share his goodness with and do life together.
If you find yourself about to give up hope, remember, when did the miracle take place? It happened at the end of a very frustrating day. If you find yourself in the middle of a frustrating season, let me remind you, it's not over, it's not over. Our God is still good, our God is still here. Our God is still in control. If you're not dead, somebody, you're not done. God has more for you. God is still with you, he is still faithful and he hears the cries of your heart. Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up. Whatever you've been clinging to, have the courage of faith to let go of your own plans, your own dreams, and cling to the everlasting goodness and the grace of our God. While some trust in what they can see, we put our faith and our trust in the goodness of God.
So father today, we pray by the power of your Holy Spirit, that you would do a work in the hearts of your church at all of our different locations.
Those of you, you've got a burden, you've got a pain. There's an overwhelming sense of disappointment. It might be a marriage, it might be a relationship. You might have a health issue. There might be a fear that you can't seem to kick. There might be an addiction that won't seem to go away. It feels like the end of the day, and all hope is fading. But you're gonna put your hope in God. If you're choosing to continue to believe today, holding out, holding on, believing for a miracle, would you lift up your hands, and I wanna agree with you right now.
All of our churches, you might be praying for a loved one to come to Christ. You might be praying for a miracle in your body. It might be a financial provision. It might even be that your faith continues, just lift up your hands. You can type even in the chat, here's what I'm praying for. I'm praying for healing. I'm praying for provision. I'm praying that God would help me heal a hurt in my heart, whatever it is, you can type it in the chat.
Father, help us to put our trust in you. To cling to you. To let go of whatever we've been holding onto, and hold onto you and not let go. We thank you God, that when we draw near to you, you draw near to us. And what we may discover God, is that we're not really just holding onto you. But God, we thank you that you're holding on to us. We put our trust in you, God. We continue to believe. And God by faith, I believe for Mandy, for Joy, and for Anna, that the mighty name of Jesus would bring healing. For every hurt, for every sickness. God, for every crushing disappointment, we lift these up before you and thank you that there is a name above every name. His name is Jesus. We put our hope in you.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, there are those of you that you may recognize, I don't really have an ongoing hope and trust in God. You may kinda, believe in God, you may even wanna trust in God, but you just, you haven't put your whole hope and trust in there. If we sat down and had a conversation, and I just asked you where you were spiritually, you might kinda, hem haw around, you might not really know. And let me just be as clear as I can be who Jesus is. He is the son of God. He was perfect in every way. He never, ever sinned. He invited people like Simon Peter, a very lost and rough rebellious fisherman to leave everything and to follow him. He came for those who are hurting. He came for those who are broken and Jesus, as the perfect sacrifice because he never sinned. He gave his life as a sacrifice on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
On the third day, God raised him from the dead. So that anyone, and this includes you, who calls out on his name, you'd be saved, you'd be forgiven. All of your sins washed away. Today, at all of our different churches, or watching online, there are those of you, you recognize I don't have that peace, I don't have that joy. I don't have a sense of security that my sins have been forgiven. Maybe you're watching today, not by coincidence, but you're here because God loves you and wants to reveal himself to you. What do you do? Just cling to him today. Just believe that Jesus is enough.
At all of our churches, those who say Yes, I wanna let go of my sin. My life, my past, even my own security. And I want to cling to Jesus, I wanna follow him. I'm wanna surrender my life, I need him, I trust you. Jesus today by faith, I give you my whole life. That's your prayer at all of our churches. You're ready, now's the moment. You need his forgiveness, you need his grace. That's why you're here, this is your moment. You say yes, Jesus today, I give my life to you. That's your prayer, lift your hands high. Now, all over the place and say yes. As we have hands going up at all of our churches, those of you at Church Online, you can click, or you can just type it in the chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus. Would you pray with those around you as we celebrate new life in Christ? Just pray:
Heavenly father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me, and make me new. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could follow you, put my trust in you in all that I do. I give my life to you, in Jesus name, I pray.