As I was flying to the country of Romania, the small plane bounced several hundred feet in the air. Food was flying off the stewardess’ cart and she had to be held up from falling over. My heart almost stopped, and I was thinking, “this is it, I was right this time… I’m gonna die!” I literally shook in my bed the night before I went as I planned my funeral arrangements in my head. The pastor next to me was praying in tongues and I figured he knew too that it was over. But the most amazing thing happened. The Lord just calmed my spirit down telling me, “the reason you’re fearful is that you are not in control…trust in Me with all your heart. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll come home to ME!” Suddenly when I directed my total trust, my confidence, and my reliance upon God, I sensed His peace, the peace that the world cannot give. I simply recognized God’s hand in the situation, and trusted His will for my life, then He made the way possible for me to have a more peaceful trip.
“Trust in the Lord with all of 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)
These verses have literally redirected my life, as God has totally used these verses to guide me into a deeper trust and walk with Him. These verses have challenged me to go to Mexico, Romania, Russia, and Cuba. But more importantly, when I’m frustrated with a problem, when I’m in a major dilemma, when there seems to be no answer, God gently reminds me, “Trust in Me Joe… with all your heart, stop leaning on your own thinking, in EVERYTHING that you do, realize that I am in control and I will work out the details… not you, but Me.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of the most popular verses in the Bible that we all love to claim. We take this verse and put it on bumper stickers, we put it on plaques on the walls, and we even make songs of it. We do everything but obey it! Yet, this “popular” verse is not just a nice saying, but rather a commandment, a commandment that needs to be heeded as we enter into the new millennium. We are more than entering into a new age; we are approaching a time when the Scriptures say there will be “terrible times in the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1). So let us see how God wants us to handle our problems, our trials, and our impossible situations.
We have to start off by realizing what this passage is NOT telling us to put our trust in! Too many times we look in the wrong areas for directing our trust, and when they fail, we start to lose control. The Scriptures do NOT start off by saying to put your trust in:
1] The government – Psalms 146:3 tells us, “Put not your trust in princes..,” which means to not put your trust in the governing authorities for the answer to your problems. Pray for our government, pray for the leaders and obey the government as long as it does not go against God’s written Word, but don’t put your trust in it for the solutions to your problems. The ONLY government I put my trust in is the government of God!
2] Riches – This passage does not start off by saying put your trust in riches. To the contrary,I Timothy 6:17 tells us, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope [trust] in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” While on a missionary trip in Romania, we went to someone’s house for a Sunday dinner. It was now mid-afternoon after a long five hour service, and I was starving. We went into a humble abode, and the family fed us like we were kings. We had soup, pork, potato, and incredible desserts. Yet, I found out that the family had killed their last pig so that they could feed our group of eight. To make matters worse, they had taken two weeks of their food supplies to feed us, and now they had none left. When I asked how they were going to eat for the next few days, they said that they would rely upon God for their needs! These precious Romanian brothers and sister gave out of their poverty that they might feed us, not putting their trust in riches, but rather in God’s provision.
Luke 16: 10-13 tells us, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? If you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property (God’s money!), who will give you property of your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” God is showing us that in order for Him to bless us, we have to be faithful with His money and use it for His purposes, not to build our own kingdom down here on earth. If the economy goes sour, or our taxes go up, no big deal. It’s all God’s money anyway, let Him handle it! This poem still is one of my favorites:
Money can buy medicine, but not health Money can buy a house, but not a home. Money can by companionship, but not friends. Money can buy entertainment, but not happiness. Money can buy food, but not an appetite. Money can buy a bed, but not sleep. Money can buy a crucifix, but not a Savior. Money can buy the good life, but not the eternal life.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 tells us, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me.” So God tells us that our trust is not to be in our riches, but rather in His riches!
3] The World – The Scriptures do not start off by saying to put our trust in the world and its way of thinking and philosophies. Instead of always concentrating on how he could get more and more possessions, power, positions and pleasure, let us begin to focus on what we could give, on laying up treasures in heaven. Let’s stop trying to conform to the world and its ways of doing things. (Romans 12:2). We are not part of this world, so stop trying to be its friend (James 4:4). 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that we are “strangers and aliens” on this planet, and this is not our home, so let us focus on setting our priorities heavenward.
That old adage “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last,” says it all. Remember, “the world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17)
4] In man – The Scriptures do not start off by saying to put our trust in people. People will let us down all the time, whether they are fellow employees, friends, or even family. Many times our own families can be our biggest hindrance to serving God! Jesus experienced this in Mark 3:21, “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Even Jesus had problems with his family, so I guess we can now use the term dysfunctional to describe His family. Yet, Jesus tells us in Luke 14:26 that He must come before our families. As Psalm 118:8 declares, “it is better to trust in the Lord then to put confidence in man.”
5] Our religion – God is not looking for us to put our trust in religion. Religion is merely man’s search for God. The focus of the Pharisees’ spirituality was on the external. Jesus told a group of religious people in Mark 7:13, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” So, we see that you can have external visible morality, intellectual knowledge, and religious involvement, and it may not indicate genuine faith. God tells us where to place our trust, when He says, TRUST IN THE LORD.
Putting your Trust in the Lord
Put your trust, your hope, your faith, and your confidence in the Creator of the heavens and the earth: the One who flung the planets and stars into space; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lord God Almighty, who has the power over life and death; the One who rose again from the dead that we may share in His eternal Glory. Put your trust in the One who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me! (John 14:6).
To put our trust in the Lord, we have to have a personal, living relationship with Jesus, not just external traditions. Jesus said to worship Him, – “we must worship in spirit and intruth.” To worship in spirit and in truth, you must be “born again,” (John 3:3) or as the original language implies, “born from the spirit above.” In other words, it’s not just a head knowledge of Jesus, but rather receiving of Him. You’re asking the living God to indwell you with His Holy Spirit, to come into you and make you a new person. II Corinthians 5:17says, “If any man is in Christ, they are a new person, old things pass away, behold, all things become new.” When you become born again, you are starting fresh in God’s eyes. He is now giving you the Holy Spirit to transform you and to make you a new person. He is the One who will “clean” you up and remove any bondages that you may have. He is the truth that sets you free from your sins of drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and problems. He will set you free if only you would let Him! He is the only One who will give rest to a weary soul when He says, “your soul finds rest in Me alone.” Jesus is calling out to you, saying, “come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He is the One who promised us eternal life in heaven as well as the abundant life. This is the One who says, “TRUST IN ME.”
Truly Trusting God
The root of this Hebrew term for “trust” is the idea of throwing oneself down and lying extended on the ground, casting all hopes for the present and the future upon another, finding shelter and security there. When you put your trust in the Lord, you’re putting your confidence, your hope and your refuge in Him. Psalm 27:3 says, “Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.” The word “confident” in this verse is the same word “trust” in Proverbs 3:5. So even when an army is against me, or if a war should rise up against me, in God will I trust. Isaiah 12:2 says, “Behold, God is my salvation, I will TRUST and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.”
We not only trust God for our salvation, but for plans and directions of our lives. The old adage, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds the future,” should help us trust the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. When you seek first God’s kingdom, His will, His Lordship, His trust in your life, then you realize that He is in control of every aspect. Psalm 28:1 says “the righteous are as bold as a lion.” The word for “bold” here is the same word as trust. When we trust God, we are bold because we know that He is in charge of our lives.
Trusting God IN Y2K
When we are bold as a lion, suddenly events like Y2K no longer put fear into us, because our trust is in the Lord. Instead of foolishly hoarding food, or purchasing guns to “protect our supplies,” or even selling all we have and running for the hills, we simply trust that God has His hand upon our lives. It truly saddens me that the American church has been leading the way putting the Y2K fear into people. Instead of showing people that God is in control of our lives, we are teaching people to hoard, to fear, to cry out that the sky is falling, even to the point that ministers are purchasing guns. All Y2K will do is show us how self-reliant we have become, and how much we have forgotten to put our trust in the One who said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
With All Your Heart
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” – The Hebrew word for the heart has a three-part meaning, representing the feelings, the will and the intellect. Just like Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love Him with all of our heart, might and all our strength. So God is telling us to trust Him with all of our hearts, our feelings, our intellect, and our will.
Feelings – Like the old song says, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings..” Our feelings are our emotions, sensitivities and our attitudes. Our attitude is based on our feelings. If you feel angry, you usually are testy when people are around. I once had a Christian tell me he felt like almost killing someone over a near car accident. Imagine if he had carried out his feelings! I have many people tell me they fell in love with someone and sometimes that “someone” is a person already married! We can’t put our trust in our feelings alone because they may be contrary to God’s Word. You may feel unworthy, yet God sees you as His child, a child of the King. You may feel guilty all the time, yet if you have a relationship with Jesus, you have been cleansed. God wants us to give Him our feelings, our attitudes, our passions, our tenderness. He wants this part of our heart! Instead of trusting our feelings alone, let us trust God with all our feelings. Let Him direct our hearts in this area.
Intellect – Your intellect is your mind, the faculty of knowing, understanding or moral reflection. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing or your minds.” God is telling us that He will transform our thinking when we “renew” our minds. There is a term in computer language – garbage in, garbage out. The same is true of our minds. When we feed it garbage, garbage comes out. If I watch racy television shows all the time, I will have impure thoughts, garbage in, garbage out. God wants us to have our minds cleansed and transformed by the living Word of God. (Romans 12:2) Most of our “battles” actually begin with the mind first. That is why the Scriptures tell us to “make every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” Also, the Scriptures tell us to “set our minds on the things above, not on the things down here on earth.” So God want us to trust Him with our minds, and to keep our thoughts heavenward.
Will – The third part of the heart is your will, or your decision, desire, choice, determination, and purpose. The first time I sensed God calling me to do a missions trip, I said, “NO.” It took several months of God prodding my heart before I consented. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I would be going all over the world sharing the Word of God with people in different nations. Yet, I consider it a true privilege and joy to serve God in that capacity. It basically boiled down to my making Jesus the Lord of my will! The only will of ours that God accepts is one that is put to death daily. So when God is telling us to trust Him with all our hearts, He is saying that He wants to become Lord of our decisions. God is commanding us to cast our total trust in Him, holding nothing back in any area of our mind or feelings or will. ALL TO HIM, I SURRENDER!
Lean Not On Your Own Understanding
“Lean not on your own understanding..” – For years I was a master of trying to work out the problems. I would search out all the possibilities, the angles, anything that needed to get done. I was, (probably still am!) a master schemer who would try to kill two problems with one stone. Yet, the Hebrew word for lean is “to support oneself as though leaning for assistance.” The word lean is basically saying not to lean on your own ingenuity. We are to quit chasing down all the possibilities of the problem, stay out of the way, stop scheming and manipulating. God does not want us to lean, nor to rely upon our own human understanding. Our understanding and viewpoint is miniscule compared to the vastness of God’s wisdom. On one of my trips to Mexico, I noticed a little boy named Juan whose eye was protruding out of it’s socket. His eye was covered with blood and pus and I could barely look at him. I brought him to a doctor from another team and the doctor shrugged off the problem by saying, “he is going to lose his eye. You can try some medicine, but it’s too late.” I then proceeded to go purchase the medicine. After I purchased the medicine, I gave it to the boy’s grandmother and told her to put water over the eye, and then to put the medicine in. She told me that she had no water at all, and that Juan would not let anything near his eye, including medicine. I was totally frustrated. I started pacing like a squirrel in a cage thinking of every possible thing that I could do. I couldn’t get Juan across the border. I couldn’t get him to a decent hospital. As I paced around I soon came to the conclusion that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that I could do. As soon as I came to that conclusion, God spoke to me in my spirit telling me that I was right!! There was nothing I could do in my power, but to simply give Juan over to God. So we prayed over Juan in English and Spanish, and gave him over to God. The next day the grandmother came running over to me, pinching my arm and pointing out her grandson to me. God had totally healed Juan! How can we lean on our own understanding when we only understand in the natural, and God works in the supernatural? So don’t try to figure out how God is going to get you out of your problems. Simply trust Him with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In All Your Ways Acknowledge Him
“In all your ways acknowledge Him..” – God is telling us here that in all our ways, in every aspect of our lives, whether we are at home, at work, in every situation, to acknowledge Him.
The word “acknowledge” means to “recognize.” We need to recognize, in the midst of the whole scene, that God is present and in control. Too many times we are not aware of God’s hand in our situations. Remember Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 14:22-36. Here is a perfect example of Jesus testing the disciples. Jesus starts off by telling the disciples to go ahead of Him in the boat. It is important to note here that the disciples knew they were in God’s will, because Jesus told them what to do. The disciples got caught in a major storm, with waves tossing the boat around. Now they were fighting off the waves and they saw Jesus, thinking He was a ghost! Why didn’t they simply recognize it was Jesus? Perhaps because they weren’t looking for Him! All they could see was their problems. All they could see was the storm. If they had been looking for Him, they would have recognized Him. We are the same way. Sometimes we fail to recognize what Jesus is trying to tell us in times of trial. Often it’s because we’re overwhelmed with other things. It doesn’t matter how much Bible knowledge you have, or how many years you are in Christ. If you don’t recognize that Jesus is in control, you will start to sink as Peter did, shortly after he stepped out onto the water. But, Jesus was there with His hand reaching out for Peter, and Jesus caught him.
You may feel like you are in a storm, and that you’re sinking; but Jesus is there, right next to you, with His out stretched hand waiting to catch you! He is in every storm with us, holding us, taking care of us, and watching over us. But, we have to do our part. We have to reach out and grab His hand as well, remembering to keep our eyes on Jesus and not on the rocking boat.
Then all the allurements, the temptations, and the problems of this world become dim and blurred. We need to recognize our position in Christ, that we are servants of the Most High, who promises to take care of us.
He Will Make Your Paths Straight
God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, tells us that we are to cast ourselves with everything that we have completely unto Him. Because our understanding is so limited compared to His supernatural wisdom, we are to acknowledge Him in every aspect of our life. Then He will guide us and lead us in a straight pathway to our appointed goal, smoothing out and straightening out our paths, removing each mountain, problem, hindrance, stumbling block, obstacle along the way.
God tells us in Isaiah 40:29-31 the hope, the strength, and the power that He gives to those who wait upon, or trust in the Lord: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” AMEN
I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.