You Can Trust the Lord

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

Trusting the Lord has been the best investment of my life.

You can trust him in your darkest hour. You can trust Him when you’re filled with fear. You can trust Him when you’re full of anxiety.

The most frequent teaching in the New Testament by Jesus was not to be holy, or to love one another, it was to not worry. It was to not be afraid. It was to not be anxious.

This is mentioned 365 times in Scripture, one for each day of the year, because He wants us to Trust Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

Isaiah, was a prophet and an evangelist. Isaiah believed the only hope for mankind was centered in trusting God.

“YOU KEEP HIM” is a powerful statement as it expresses confidence in God. The Hebrew wording states that God is acting like a watchman at night. Isaiah was declaring that our God is not passive, distant or ignoring his children. Rather, God is proactively keeping those in perfect peace.

Do you want perfect peace? People who have a perfect peace have what is translated as “a frame of mind, a perspective.” That is, “undeviating commitment to a purpose,” or “undeviating commitment to a conviction or person.” So, the big idea here is that someone who has perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on God, is someone whose thought processes and perspectives are totally dependent, totally trusting, totally leaning on the King of the Universe. The person who does this feels safe, secure, even confident. They feel this way not because they are trusting in themselves but because they are trusting in the Lord.

I know many people who want to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. Did you catch that? Everyone wants to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. It is impossible, however, to have the Peace of God without the God of Peace.

You can have perfect peace if you trust in the Lord. Verse 4 more accurately translates “Trust in Jehovah.” Jehovah is a name for God meaning, “The Existing One.” Trust in the Lord God, because He is an Everlasting Rock! He is not shaky. He is stable. He is full of protection. He is a firm foundation.

Today and everyday, I want you to know that you can trust the Lord because:

1) He is on His Throne- Isaiah 6:1-3
2) He is in Control- Isaiah 40:12,26
3) He Won’t Forget You- Isaiah 49:15

No seduction this world has to offer will ever come close to Him. Only He is BIG enough to give you true peace. Trust in God is like a tender seed. It can be nurtured or neglected. When we nurture our trust in God, through prayer, through worship, through studying God’s word, He blesses our lives and lifts our spirits. When we neglect intimacy with the Lord, we do ourselves and our loved ones a profound disservice. What are you going to do today? Who are you going to trust today?

The Lord is greater than your greatest fear, worry or anxiety. Trusting Him will be the best investment of your life.

Changing Your Perspective

Guest Blogger: Daniel Ethridge

Growing up Pastor Grant’s son was quite the adventure. I remember when I was five years old I packed a suitcase, full of all my essential toys, and walked out the front door. After a few minutes of walking down the road I heard a car behind me. When I turned around I saw my dad, hanging out the window, with our family video camera. He was filming me run away. Once I got tired, he put me back in the car, drove me home, and the minute we walked inside he sat me in front of the TV and made me watch the video. It was impactful enough that I still remember it. He gave me something extremely effective that day: a new perspective to see who I truly was.

This past Sunday, in Luke chapter 5, we saw a story of multiple types of people who encountered Jesus. Which one of them would you have been?

The Bystanders
The report about Jesus was beginning to grow and Luke tells us in verse 15 that “great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.” The sad thing in this story is that only one man leaves healed. Why was it that out of all the people there, only one man would leave having been changed? The scripture explicitly says that the “power of the Lord was present with Jesus to heal.” Yet for some reason, they would leave the same. Every week we have people who sit in our congregation and leave the same. Many individuals want to get close enough to Jesus to experience the work of God, but not close enough to be changed by it. We want all the benefits without any commitment. How committed are you to the things of God? Are you a bystander? At Liberty we say, “It’s not just church, It’s life!” Does that adequately describe your life?

The Pharisees
The Pharisees are a part of the same crowd as the bystanders, but they are a very different group. Luke tells us in verse 17 and 21 that they were sitting and questioning the things of God. This is a great picture of religious people today. They come to be a part of the church activities but they aren’t active in the mission that Jesus was on. This crowd claimed to know the things of God but they couldn’t see Him when He stood in front of them. What was it that kept them from seeing and believing Jesus? When you look at the gospels, it can be summed up in two things: status and tradition. Have we become a people so set on our preferences that we are keeping others from getting to Jesus? My fear is that we’ve become a social club for the saved, rather than a home for the lost or a hospital for the sick. In Matthew 23:13-15 Jesus called out the Pharisees. “You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” That is exactly what Luke 5:18-20 shows us they did.

The Friends
Not everyone in the story responded incorrectly. The friends completely reoriented their lives in order to get this man to Jesus. They believed that Jesus was what the crippled man needed and they were willing to do anything to remove the hindrances! Are you doing everything possible to see your coworkers, family, neighbors, and friends come to Jesus? Verse 20 says, “And when [Jesus] saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Does your faith in Jesus lead others to Him? James tells us that faith without works is dead.

The Healed Man
This character was the one who left completely changed. Can you imagine when they lowered him at Jesus’ feet? He had to know something incredible was about to happen, and then Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven you.” It couldn’t have been what the crowd expected. This man was unable to walk! Yet Jesus sees our greatest need. His legs were what brought him to Jesus but his soul was what was really in need of transformation from God. What is bringing you to Jesus? It might be a failing marriage, an economic struggle, a wayward child, a physical illness, or even a death in the family. All those things are just a symptom of a greater issue. Ask God to forgive your sins and begin to walk daily with Him. The story ends with the man’s legs being completely restored. I cannot promise that walking with Jesus is going to be easy, but I can promise that it will be worth it. If He is able to save you and give you an eternity with Him, you can rest assured, knowing that He can guide you through whatever you are facing.

If you had been in this story, who would you have been? I am praying that God would personally touch you today, so that you will know the power of God and live a life bringing others to Him.

Comfort One Another

What a great day of worship we had on Sunday! Our son Daniel, Worship Pastor at the Greenbrier Campus, did his CD release concert. If you missed it, you can purchase a CD Sunday at your campus at the Media Center. He did a great job on this project and we could not be more proud of him and the worship team! Our services Sunday morning were so full of the Lord’s presence; it was one of those days where you don’t want to leave! The message was on comforting one another. Everyone is hurting. “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18) is so practical and personal. Paul unpacks this idea further in 2 Corinthians 1, where he uses the word “comfort” nine times. In this passage, we see four reasons why we can comfort one another.

The Presence of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we read that the “God of all comfort… comforts us in all our tribulation….” Tribulation can be physical, emotional, financial, or relational. It is a one-size-fits-all kind of word. Fill in the blank with whatever you are going through! In John 14:26, the Holy Spirt is called the Comforter. God said, “When you go through the fire I will be with you” (Is. 43:2), and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). We have a God who stands beside us to take up our cause, encourage us, strengthen us, and comfort us. In order to experience comfort, you must first experience tribulation, hurt, pain, and know what it means to mourn. God is the only source of comfort. When you complain, feel sorry for yourself, wallow in self-pity, or grow bitter, you cut yourself off from the only source of comfort.

The Purposes of God
The second half of verse 4 says, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble….” God lets you go through some things knowing somebody will travel that same road. In 1992 when we buried our little boy, a lady said, “Pastor you cannot see it now but God is going to use this in your life to help so many couples who have lost a child.” God sent us to the school of suffering so we would learn comfort. God does the comforting, but He uses people. God’s comfort will fill your cup till it runs over! God gives us enough to meet our needs and the needs of others. Another purpose is that we might be emptied of all self-reliance. Verse 9 says, “that we should not trust in ourselves but in God.” Dr. Ron Dunn used to say, “You learn to trust God by trusting God. You only trust God when you have to. God will see to it that you have to.”

The Promises of God
Verse 20 references the promises of God. The difference between happy and unhappy people is not the absence of trouble, it is the way they respond to their trouble. There are two ways you can deal with problems: God’s way or the world’s way. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” God’s way changes your heart. The world’s way produces death, anger, bitterness, and resentment. There is no comfort in unbelief. There is a God and we have the promises of His word to hold on to! Think about the 23rd Psalm, Isaiah 42:1-3, Romans 15:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Romans 8:28, and more.

The People of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul talks about Timothy. In 2 Corinthians 7:6, he says God “comforted us by the coming of Titus….” There are people all around us ready to give up on life, give up on their marriage, kids, job, church, etc., but God is going to send YOU to comfort them and spur them to keep going.

Sometimes, God allows things He hates to accomplish what He loves. Do you have a broken heart today? We throw broken things away but God never uses someone until they are broken. If you have a broken heart, broken hopes, a broken home, bring it to Jesus. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. You can know Him, in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Forgive One Another

This Sunday, we celebrated 11 years together as Pastor and church. We have seen the Lord do some amazing things over this time! Tammy and I are so grateful the Lord brought us to Liberty! She and I also celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last week. The only way to stay married 32 years or to pastor one church for 11 years is to prefer one another (last week’s post) and to forgive one another. When you look at the context of Colossians 3:13, there are three things we learn about forgiving others.

The Signs of Not Forgiving One Another
In Colossians 3:8-9, the Holy Spirit gives us several signs of unforgiveness. As you read through these, look in the mirror of God’s word to see if any of these symptoms indicate that you have not forgiven someone. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another….” Who have you been angry towards, talked about, or lied to or about? In verse 11 Paul says, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Here, he is dealing with racism. Prejudice is a sign of unforgiveness. Are you holding something against a certain race of people?

The Steps to Forgiving One Another
Paul tells us that we are to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” (Col. 3:12-13). Mercy, humility, and longsuffering are inward, and kindness, meekness, and forbearing are outward. Forgiveness is a choice to release a person from a wrong done against you, inwardly and outwardly. We all need to forgive and need to be forgiven.

Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. You can forgive people that you are not yet reconciled to. We choose to forgive whether the other person apologizes or not. When Jesus died on the cross he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They did not ask to be forgiven. Dr. Charles Stanley, in his book Forgiveness, says, “Understand forgiveness is not justifying, understanding, or explaining why the person acted toward you the way they did. It is not forgetting about it or trusting time will take care of it.” Get alone with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the people you need to forgive. Don’t hold back the tears or emotion as you remember the offense. Choose, as an act of the will, to forgive them once and for all, even if you don’t feel like it. The feelings will follow. Release that person from the debt they owe you by saying, “You are forgiven.” If the person is a part of your life, accept them without trying to change them. Pray, “Because I am forgiven by Christ, I now forgive you.” Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of Christ on the cross, not on anything we do.

The Story About Forgiving One Another
“…Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:13). Christ had a great deal to say about forgiveness. In Matthew 6, He told us how to pray. Verse 12 says, “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In verse 14, He gives further explanation saying that if we forgive, we will be forgiven, but if we don’t, we will not be forgiven. In Matthew 18, we read a story on forgiveness in which a man had a debt he could not pay. In today’s time, it would have been millions or billions of dollars! The man cried out for mercy and the King released and forgave the debt. The forgiven man went out and found a man who owed him just a few hundred dollars, a tiny fraction compared to the debt he once owed, and put the man in prison. When Christians do not forgive one another, we do the same.

God remembers our sins no more. It does not mean he forgets, but He holds them against us no more. Let it go! Put off anger, wrath, harsh language, and prejudice, and put on kindness and humility. “The moment you experienced the love of Jesus Christ, you forfeit the right to choose whom you will love.” Is there someone you need to forgive? Have you received God’s forgiveness?

Prefer One Another

Last week, we talked about bearing one another’s burdens. You will receive a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up! Our “One Another” series has also taught us to love, pray for, encourage, serve, and to show hospitality to each other. Today, we are going to look at the command to prefer one another. In marriage, Tammy and I never have a problem as long as I get my way! The same is true in the body of Christ. In order to have healthy, biblical community and relationships, we are to put others before ourselves. In Romans 12, Paul gives three ways we can do this.

In Our Thinking
First, we read that we are to renew our minds (v. 2). The word “think” is used repeatedly (v. 3). It all starts in the mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). Paul warns that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. This doesn’t mean to belittle yourself, but to recognize that you and others are made in the image of God. If we want to do right, we have to think right.

There are times I have to admit that others are better than I am in certain areas. I have to step aside and let them do their jobs. Don’t have too much pride to ask for help! There are other times, where I may be better than someone else at something, but still need to step aside. Are you willing to step aside in areas where you are gifted? That is the real test! We must let others with the same gifts go ahead of us. We need to be raising up the next generation. How will they learn if we don’t let them? When you think you are the only one that can do something, or you think you can do it better, or you think you are always right, you are motivated by self and it causes division in the family. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

In Our Serving
In Romans 12:4-8, Paul compares the church, the body of Christ, to the human body. There are many individual members, but we are all interrelated. God wants every member to work together using our personality and spiritual gifts to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ. God has given us each specific gifts for a specific purpose. Don’t consider yourself more useful or less useful than others. Don’t evaluate people on the basis of your own gift. Don’t get proud of your gift and think it is better than someone else’s. Don’t underestimate the value of another believer’s gift. Don’t use your particular gift as an excuse not to manifest the other gifts. Put others ahead of yourself. Open the door for others. Offer them your seat. God is the One who gifted us, let Him put us where He wants us. Don’t toot your own horn or promote yourself. God’s promotion is always better than self-promotion!

In Our Loving
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:10-11). Be loyal to others. Don’t be lazy in loving them, but be excited about looking for ways to meet their needs. Paul goes on to say, “Bless those who persecute you,” and “Repay no one evil for evil” (v. 14, 17). Those can be hard to swallow! When you do this though, God will fight for you!

A classic example in the Bible is Abraham and Lot. In Genesis 13, Abram lets Lot take his pick of the land. He could have said, “I am the oldest, I get the first choice.” Instead, he preferred the other person. In letting Lot have first choice, Abram let God make the choice for him. You can prefer the other person when you trust God to make the choice for you. Let people take what they want and let God make the choice for you. God will give you far more than you ever dreamed! It does not matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory. Pray like John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase.”