Trust is difficult thing for a lot of people. And yet we trust people all the time, whether we realize it or not.
Trusting God is difficult thing for a lot of us to do. And yet trust is so vital to our relationship with God. We all probably struggle with trusting God on different levels and to varying degrees.
That's why I think it is important to learn about how to trust God from a man who really trusted God: the Old Testament character Abraham.
The Christian Group, Hillsong United, sings the song Oceans. There is a phrase in that song that is so challenging- "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders". We will see that there were no borders for Abraham when it came to trusting God. He trusted God implicitly.
Abraham was a man of great faith. All 3 of the world's major religions- Christianity, Judaism and Islam claim a connetion with Abraham.
Abraham lived at the end of the Bronze Age, approximately 2,000 BC. He was from a town called Ur in Chaldea. Chaldea was the country also known as Ancient Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization. Mesopotamia was called the land between the rivers. Those rivers are the Tigris and the Euphrates. Mesopotamia is modern day Iraq.
This is where Abraham grew up and where he lived for the first 75 years of his life. The people of Ancient Mesopotamia were pagan idol worshippers. They worshipped many false gods. And according to the book of Joshua, Abraham's father, Terah worshipped false gods.
It was out of this background that God called Abraham to follow Him. God intended for Abraham to become the forefather of the nation of Israel so that Jesus Christ could come into the world to be the Savior of mankind.
The reasons why God chose Abraham are known only to God. But we do know, from studying the life of Abraham, that he worshipped the Lord God wholeheartedly and trusted God completely.
Abraham would answer God's call and move away from his homeland of Mesopotamia to the Promised Land of Canaan. Canaan would eventually become home to Abraham's descendants, the nation of Israel.
Abraham became a nomad who took an amazing journey of faith. His example can both teach us and inspire us to trust God more.
I see 4 lessons about trusting God when Abraham answered God's call. The first one is this:
Before we look at the passage from Hebrews 11, I want us to go to first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, chapter 12, verses 1-4. This is the first of 2 references to God calling Abraham that we will look at today. This one tells us of the promises that God made to Abraham, whose name, at this point is Abram. God would later change his name to Abraham.
READ GENESIS 12:1-4
God made 3 great promises to bless Abraham. First, there was a national blessing. Abraham would become the forefather of a great nation, which would be the nation of Israel.
Secondly, God promised Abraham a personal blessing. God told Abraham that He would bless him personally. God would make Abraham's name great. And God’s blessing extended to how people treated Abraham. God would bless those who blessed Abraham. Conversely, God would curse anyone who cursed Abraham. You wanted to be good to Abraham!
The third promised blessing would be an international blessing. All the nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham. It was through the descendants of Abraham that Jesus Christ would come to be the Savior of mankind.
Abraham demonstrated trust in God, in that he believed God's promises wholeheartedly. How else would you explain Abraham doing what he did, leaving his homeland to go to a place he had never been before?
Abraham had lived his entire life in Mesopotamia. He was born there. He was raised there. He probably thought he would die there. And yet, God said to pack up and move.
And so, Abraham pulled up stakes and moved away from his homeland at the tender age of 75. I think that is significant. At that age, most people are ready to settle down. They want to downsize into their retirement home or move into a retirement community.
The age of 75 is not the age that you usually start all over, charting a new course and blazing a new trail in life. It's not the time to move 500 miles to an undisclosed location.
But move Abraham did. And the only reasonable explanation for moving away from his homeland at the age of 75 is because he trusted God. He believed God wholeheartedly. James wrote:
"Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. And he was called God's friend." -James 2:23
That is the starting point when it comes to trusting God. You believe God with all your heart. Let's read, out loud, together, these 2 great verses about trust from the book of Proverbs:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart". Believe, 100%, that God is in control of your life.
Even though Abraham didn't know where he was going when he set out from Haran, God knew where He was leading Abraham. God had Abraham's new homeland all picked out for him, the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey, the land we know today as Israel.
And even though you may not what direction your life will take, God does. Trust God for it. He'll lead you; He'll care for you; He'll provide for you. Believe with all your heart that God is in control of your life.
Here is the 2nd lesson about trust that we learn from this first episode in Abraham's life:
2. TRUSTING GOD INVOLVES TAKING A STEP OF FAITH
Turn with me to our passage from Hebrews, which is another time when Scripture records this episode in Abraham's life- HEBREWS 11:8-10
READ HEBREWS 11:8
Abraham took off and moved, even though he did not know where he was going. God did not give Abraham the location at the outset of his journey. God said to Abraham, "you go and when you get there, I'll let you know."
When I go on a trip, I'm a planner. You ask Dawn. I know exactly where I am going, what route I am taking, where we'll stay, how long it will take and how much it will cost. I've got it all planned out. Going without knowing doesn't work for me.
For Abraham it was going without knowing. He had no map. The destination wasn't known to him. He couldn't plan out his trip. God just said "go" and Abraham went, even though he didn't have a clue where he would wind up at.
Abraham took a step of faith.
Pastor & author Mark Batterson defines faith this way- "Faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second step." That's what Abraham did.
That's what Noah did. He built the ark even though he had never seen a drop of rain, let alone a flood. Noah took a step of faith.
That's what the Israelites did when it came time to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land following 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Over 1 million people are going to cross the Jordan River.
Now, at any other time of the year, this wouldn't be a problem. The people could easily have waded through the Jordan River. But when they came to the banks of the Jordan, it was harvest season and the Jordan River would be at flood stage.
Can you imagine a mother with a 3-year-old holding her hand trying to cross this river? How difficult would this be for the elderly and the disabled? But God stepped in and performed a miracle, as we read about it from the book of Joshua:
"Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge,
the water from upstream stopped flowing. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.” – Joshua 3:15-16
God worked a miracle & the people passed through on dry land. But, the water parted when the priests took a step into the water. They took a step of faith even though they didn’t know how they would get through the flooded Jordan River.
Could you do that? Can you take a step of faith before the next step is revealed? Most of us, as Charles Swindoll wrote, need to see where we're jumping before committing to a leap. But it's not faith if we have everything laid out for us and all the details worked out for us. Trust is when we take the first step of faith before God reveals the second step.
Taking a step of faith is so vital. It allows God to work in our lives. Abraham’s step of faith allowed God to lead him tor the Promised Land. Noah’s step of faith allowed God to save him and his family. The Israelite priests’ step of faith led to God stopping up the Jordan River.
Mark Batterson also wrote- "The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!”
We need to take a step of faith when we sense God leading us. It is only after we take a step of faith that God reveals the next step. Let me ask you. Where, in your life, do you need to trust God and take a step of faith?
When you take a step of faith, when you take the first step before God reveals the 2nd step, it demonstrates that you are trusting God.
3. Trusting God involves being patient
Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham went to a place he would LATER RECEIVE. God promised Abraham a new home, but he didn't get there overnight. The trip from Haran to Canaan would be 500 miles. And when the Scripture says Abraham went, it is understood, that he walked because that is how people traveled back then.
I began to wonder how long it would take for Abraham to walk 500 miles? According to about health.com, a person who is a fit, well-trained walker can walk 20 miles in an 8-hour period. At that pace, such a person could travel 500 miles in 25 days. 25 days for a person, in shape, who had trained for such a trip.
What about Abraham? He was 75 years old. Abraham would get out-of-breath playing a game of checkers. Plus, he would have with him a caravan of people and animals. And he would be traveling through some mountainous terrain. There's no way he made that trip in 25 days. It had to take him months. Perhaps a year or more. It would require patience on Abraham's part.
Waiting. None of us like to do it and yet we have to wait all the time. Before your life is over, you will spend 6 months waiting at stoplights and 5 years standing in various lines.
Likewise, none of us really like waiting on God. We are a people of today and many times, God is a God of tomorrow when it comes to answering our prayers. But, as the Scripture says, God makes all things beautiful in His time. And His timing is perfect.
So, the key to God's blessing, is to wait on the Lord. We are often told in the Bible to wait on the Lord. Isaiah 30:18 says:
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" -Isaiah 30:18
God’s blessings come to those who wait on the Lord. The prayer will be answered. The way will be made clear. But it will be in God's time and in God's way. Not in your time and your way. So being patient and waiting on God demonstrates that we are trusting God.
How do you wait on God? You do so one day at a time. Abraham made his long trek to the Promised Land one day at a time. And I can imagine Abraham saying a prayer each night, thanking God for getting him that much closer each day.
As you wait on God to answer your prayer, to guide you, to make His will knownto you, you wait one day at a time. You look at how God is working in your life today. What God is doing in your life today will help you get to where you need to be tomorrow.
Here's the final lesson about trust:
4. TRUSTING GOD MEANS THAT WE ULTIMATELY FOCUS ON HEAVEN
READ HEBREWS 11:9 & 10
Even when he reached the Promised Land, Abraham didn't completely settle in and get comfortable. He considered himself a stranger in a foreign land and it wasn't because he was homesick for his homeland.
It was because Abraham was growing homesick for heaven. He was looking forward to the City with foundations whose architect and builder is God. Abraham was dwelling in the Promised Land of Canaan but he was looking forward to the Promised Land of heaven.
No matter what your future here on earth may or may not hold; your ultimate future, as a Christian, is heaven. Therefore, like Abraham, we should be trusting God for heaven and that's where our focus needs to be. The apostle Paul wrote:
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." -Colossians 3:1-2
Why should we do so? Because, like Abraham, we're strangers here on earth. Paul told us where our real citizenship is:
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." -Philippians 3:20
It's like the song says:
This world is not my home
my treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world any more
And so, like Peter, wrote:
"But in keeping with His promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." - 2 Peter 3:13
By keeping our sights on heaven, it will keep us going on our pilgrimage of faithdown here on earth, until we reach our eternal destination.
Like Abraham, we may not always know what God has in store for our lives here on earth. God doesn’t map out our lives for us ahead of time. Life is a journey of faith.
But it is a journey that has an ultimate destination. Like Abraham, we can know that we are going to heaven. God has given us a road map that tells us exactly how to get to heaven. Jesus is the Way to heaven. We are assured of going to heaven when we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.