Robert Jeffress - Developing a Trusting Heart - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. As one of God's children, we're expected to obey him, but it's impossible to obey him if we don't trust him. So how do we cultivate our confidence in God? Today, we're going to talk about how to trust God with our future, regardless of our present circumstances. My message is titled, "Developing a Trusting Heart", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Last time we talked about one of the Marks of a Disciple was an Robert Jeffress - Developing An Obedient Heart]Obedient Heart[/url]. Being willing to do everything God asked us to do, not picking and choosing like a Buffet what we're going to obey, but obeying all things. But ladies and gentlemen, we will never be that obedient disciple. We will never obey God immediately, completely, and joyfully until we learn to trust God. And that's what I want to talk about today. How to develop that trusting heart that allows us to obey God in all things whatsoever he has commanded us. Until you know all is right between you and your Creator, you will never experience peace. How can you have that peace?
Paul says, "We have that peace by being justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ". Now, that word translated, by, in your English Bible. The preposition is better translated, through. We have been justified through faith through our Lord Jesus Christ. It's the same thought that you find in Ephesians 2:8-10. If you saw the funeral service Friday, you heard Franklin say that his father had one scripture verse that he wanted read at his funeral service, and it was the passage from Ephesians 2 that climaxes in verses 8 to 10. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast".
How are we saved? We're not saved by faith. There's no amount of faith we could conjure up that could ever wipe away our sins. People say, "I'm saved by faith". No, you're not. You don't have enough faith to save yourself. We are saved by God's grace that we receive through faith. It's God's grace that saves us. It was God sending his only son, Jesus, the perfect Son of God, to die on a cross, to take the penalty for sin that we deserve. It was that time when God made him, Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. That is what saves us. It is the grace of God, what he did on the cross for us, that wipes away our sin. But we access that grace through our faith.
Let me see if I can explain that to you in a very simple way. The difference by, by grace and through grace and through faith. Let's imagine, parents, that on Thursday, you say to your teenage son now, son, I know you're going to want to go out tomorrow night with your friends, that's great, but you have one job around the house tomorrow, and that is to empty the dishwasher before you go out with your friends. Friday rolls around. Your son has a dental appointment that runs later than expected. Realizing he's not going to be able to do that, you empty the dishwasher for him. Seven o'clock rolls around. Somebody is honking the horn out in front of your house. Your son bounds down the stairs. He's on the way out when he says, oh, mom, the dishwasher. I forgot. I really wanted to do that. I am so sorry. And you say, son, I knew that. I knew you couldn't do it. I emptied it for you. Now go out and have a good time.
Now, how did that happen? I mean, you had laid down the law. No empty dishwasher, no night out with your friends. That was the law. But you also knew your child was incapable of keeping that requirement, and so you did the work he was unable to do for himself. And you allowed his apology. All you needed to see was that, mom, I'm sorry. That's all it took. That's all it took for him to become the beneficiary of what you did on his behalf. His apology didn't empty the dishwasher, no amount of apology would do that. It was your work that emptied the dishwasher, but his apology, you allowed him to count that as the work you did for him.
Now, it's the same with what God does for us. We are saved not by our faith, we are saved by God's grace, but we receive it through faith. Romans 4:5 says, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness". The moment you confess your sins to God and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. God takes your faith no matter how little it is and he counts that for righteousness. And the Bible says, "Trusting in God's love for us frees us from guilt over past sins". The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us".
The Bible says, the prophet says he takes our sins and he casts them into the depths of the sea. Somebody added, and he puts a sign there that says, no fishing. That is so true. You never have to worry that your sin is going to be dredged up again one day. When God forgives, he forgives your sin, it's forgotten forever. That's what trusting in God's character does for us, it frees from guilt about past sins. But secondly, trusting God's power provides freedom from panic about our present circumstances. Not only does it free us from guilt over past sins, but trusting in God's power free us from panic about our present circumstances.
Let me ask you a question today: what is the biggest concern you're facing in your life right now? Perhaps it's about a mate whose love has grown cold towards you. Maybe it's about a child or a grandchild who's living far away from the Lord. Maybe it's about a health concern that is threatening to you or somebody you care about very much. Maybe it's a financial need, a very real pressing need. Does everybody have in mind something that you're concerned about? I want to ask you this question. Do you believe God has the capability of removing that difficult circumstance you're experiencing? How many of you believe in God's power to change whatever difficulty you're facing? Well, if you believe that and if he hasn't removed that difficulty, then he must have a reason for it. And when you trust in God's power, it gives you freedom from panic about this present circumstance, it gives you the assurance that God has a purpose for this difficulty in your life.
If you have your Bibles, turn over to Luke 8 for just a moment. We looked at this story in depth in our study of Luke's gospel more than a year ago, so we're not going to look at it for very long, but let's just look at it briefly, 'cause this is a great encouragement, will be to so many of you. Verse 22. "Now it came about on one of these days, that Jesus and his disciples got into a boat and he said to them, 'let us go over to the other side of the lake'". Underline that. "The other side of the lake. And so they launched out, but as they were sailing along, Jesus fell asleep and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger".
A couple of weeks ago, we were flying in a helicopter over the mountain surrounding the Sea of Galilee. It's really the lake of Gennesaret. It's a lake about 13 miles long and eight miles wide. And as you fly over those mountains, you understand exactly what Luke is talking about here. These mountains surround the lake. The lake is in a basin, and what happens is the cool air from the mountains descend and they collide, the cool air with the warm air, arising from the lake, and there are these sudden storms that take place. That's what happened here. The wind descended upon the lake and the boat begins to rock back and forth. And the disciples begin to yell, "Lord, Lord! Help us! Help us"!
Did you see those photographs yesterday, the news footage of those planes trying to land in Washington, DC? And because of the wind, the plane was rocking back and forth and couldn't land. One pilot, finally, who landed the plane said, "Everybody on our flight threw up before we landed". Well, I imagine that was going on here. The boat was rocking back and forth. The disciples are leaning over and losing their lunch over the side of the boat and they cry out, "Lord, save us"! And where's the Lord? Sound asleep. They said, "Lord, don't you care what is happening to us"? The Lord awakens and he said, "Wind and waves, be quiet". Literally, wind and waves, be muzzled, put a lid on it, stop that. "And immediately," the Bible says, "The wind died down and it became perfectly calm". And then he turns to his disciples and said, "Where is your faith"? The disciple said, we lost it with our lunch over the side of the boat. They didn't say that, but that's exactly what happened.
Now, we look at that. We shake our heads. We click our tongues. Oh, they should have known better. They should have known better. They said to one another, "Who is this that even the wind and the waves should obey him"? Oh, they should have known better. Look at all the miracles they had seen from the Lord. Where was their faith? Where was it? Before you click your tongues and shake your head, where is your faith right now? Those of you who know the Lord, look at all he's done for you in the past. Think about all the ways he's taken care of you. Don't you know who he is? He's the one whom the wind and the waves obey. He's in control of what is happening in your life right now.
The great Alan Redpath writes about the storms that come into our life. He says, "There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ right through to me. And if it's come that far, it has come with a great purpose". God has a purpose for what you're going through right now. And trusting in God's power is the key from panicking about your present circumstances. When these adversities come into our life, remember, they're not good or bad automatically, they're good or bad according to our response to them. When we have difficulties that come into our life, God is rooting for us that we will allow it to strengthen our faith in him. But Satan is on the other side, rooting that that difficulty will destroy our faith.
Nowhere is that more clearly seen than in Luke 22:31-32. Remember in the upper room at the Lord's supper, the last few hours before the Lord was betrayed in Gethsemane and crucified, remember this prediction he made to Simon and Peter. Verse 31. "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I've prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers". He was predicting what was going to happen to Simon. He said, "Simon, in the next few hours, you're going to go through the biggest test of your life. You're going to be tested to deny me. And you're going to deny me not once or twice, but you're going to deny me three times".
And that's exactly what happened a few hours later. In Caiaphas's courtyard, Simon denounced the Lord that he said he loved. It was the greatest failure in his life. But, but he repented of that failure, he found God's forgiveness, and he became the courageous leader of the apostles in Jerusalem. That's what Jesus was predicting. He says, this difficulty that's come into your life, I'm praying that it will strengthen you. Satan is using it to destroy you. And the same thing is true of you right now. Whatever challenge you're facing, God is rooting for you. God is on your side. I think about the words in James 1:2-4. "Consider it all joy, my brethren. When you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing".
With every storm that comes into your life, there comes a promise, and that promise is not that God will take you out of the storm, but he will lead you through the storm to the other side. Remember what Jesus had said to his disciples, "Get in the boat and we will go to the," what? "Other side". He said, I'm going to get you to the other side. Doesn't mean there's not going to be difficulty along the way, but I'll get you to the other side. He makes the same promise to us. In Isaiah 43:2 he says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched nor will the flame burn you". Notice the word, through. He doesn't take us out of the river, out of the floods, out of the fire, but he will walk with us through them.
I had a friend one time who was going through a massive reorganization of this company that he worked for. He didn't know if he was going to have a job or not in six weeks. And he said, "Pastor, if I just knew that I was going through this tunnel and there would be five monsters I would have to fight, but at least there was light at the end of the tunnel, I think I could make it through this experience". Well, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That light is the presence of God. God says, I will walk with you through the tunnel and I'll be with you at the other side. And that's what trust means. Trusting in God's power frees us from panic about our present circumstances. Thirdly, trusting God's wisdom provides freedom from worry about future possibilities. Trusting God's wisdom provides freedom from worry about future possibilities.
Can you recall something that happened in your life, perhaps years ago, a difficulty you were going through and you were so worried about what might happen, what might happen, and the thing you dreaded most never ended up happening at all. And as you look back on that experience, you smiled almost thinking about all the needless anxiety you went through. And you think, you know, if only back then I'd had a fast-forward button that I could have pressed, that I would see how everything worked out, I could have saved some sleepless nights. Well, you know what? Life doesn't have a fast-forward button on it. But what life does have is the promise that we can trust God with our future.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "'for I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope'". That's what God has planned for you. His ultimate future for you, not immediate future necessarily, but the ultimate future is good. God knows your future, because he has planned your future, and it's a good future to those who know Christ. Trusting in God's wisdom gives us freedom from worry about future possibilities.
The gifted writer, Henri Nouwen, writes about the special relationship in a trapeze act. The relationship between the flyer and the catcher. On a trapeze act, if you've ever been to the circus, the flyer is that poor soul who has to let go of the trapeze. The catcher is the one who is supposed to catch him, but there has to be a special relationship for everything to work out right.
Nouwen writes, "There comes that moment in the performance when the flyer, swinging high above the crowd, must let go of the trapeze. In that instant, the flyer is suspended in mid-air. He cannot reach back for the trapeze and it's too early to reach for the catcher. Instead, he must wait. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. He must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him, but he must wait. His job is not to flail about in anxiety. In fact, if he does, it could kill him. His job is to be still, to wait, and to wait is the hardest work of all".
Some of you right now are waiting. You feel like your life is hanging in the balance. What does God say? Don't flail about. Don't try to reach toward the future. Psalm 46:10. "Be still and know that I am God". Trusting in God's love means God doesn't want you to fall. God's power means he has the ability to keep you from falling. And God's wisdom means he knows exactly where you are right now and he will be there at the very instant you need him most. You really can trust him.