I frequently have talks with myself. In those talks, I often make an important statement to me. I find it quite necessary to repeat this statement to me often. It helps me with my perspective. It challenges me to be careful when choosing my focus. It reminds me that I must see and identify pride when it raises its head in my life. It tells me to listen carefully. It reminds me that my knowledge is truly limited. It reminds me that the temptation to be self-centered is a powerful temptation.

"That must be some statement! What statement does all that?" It is quite simple, but profoundly true. The statement: "It is about God; it is not about me."

  1. As God's children, we are powerful tempted to make Christianity about us instead of about God.
    1. All of us fall to that temptation more often than we admit, even more often than we realize.
      1. When we are so impassioned about being right, often our passions are about us, not about God.
      2. When we are so definite about what should be done, often our inflexibility is about us, not about God.
      3. When we are so judgmental, often our condemning spirit is about us, not about God.
      4. When we are so severe in our evaluations, often our severity is about us, not about God.
      5. When we have no conviction, our lack of conviction is about us, not about God.
      6. When we are uncertain about what should be done, our uncertainty is about us, not about God.
      7. When we approve of anything, our generous approval is about us, not about God.
      8. When we refuse to make evaluations, our refusal to measure anything or anyone is about us, not about God.
    2. Humor me for a moment. I accept as fact that every person who is here by choice this morning has faith; I do not question that.
      1. May I ask you a question about your faith?
        1. In whom do you place your faith?
        2. Is your faith in God, or is it in yourself?
      2. Each of us has an instinctive spoken answer and an unspoken reality answer.
        1. Our instinctive spoken answer is, "Without doubt, my faith is in God."
        2. Our unspoken reality answer is not that definite because too often we see ourselves as taking care of God instead of God taking care of us.
        3. After all, what would God do if we did not take care of Him?

  2. Having faith in God basically means trusting God.
    1. But what is involved in trusting God?
      1. There are different levels of trust, and those levels reflect the level of our personal spiritual maturity.
      2. Level # 1: We trust the facts.
        1. At this level trust is fact centered.
        2. We believe that God exists, that God sent Jesus, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus lived as a man, that Jesus was crucified, that Jesus was raised from the death, and that Jesus ascended back into heaven to be with God, and that Jesus is Lord and Christ.
        3. We trust those facts to be true, and that is what we mean when we say that we have faith.
      3. Level # 2: Our faith is crisis centered.
        1. When there is a crisis in our lives, we ask God for help.
        2. We believe that He can help.
        3. We believe that He will help.
        4. We believe that we should trust God when we have a crisis.
        5. When we find ourselves in a crisis, we trust God.
      4. Level # 3: Our faith is decision centered.
        1. When we must make a decision, we ask God to help us make the right decision.
        2. God understands the consequences of the decision better than we do.
        3. God understands the significance of the decision better than better than we do.
        4. It would be foolish and arrogant to make an important decision without involving God in the decision process.
        5. We should trust God to help us with our decisions.
      5. Level # 4: Our faith is "will of God" centered.
        1. We accept as fact that God has a will.
        2. We accept as fact that God's will directly involves us.
        3. We want God's will to be done in our lives.
        4. We invest time and prayer in trying to determine God's will in specific matters.
        5. We want to know specifically what God wants us to do.
        6. We believe we should entrust our lives to the will of God.
      6. Level # 5: Our faith is centered in spiritual existence.
        1. If things go well in our lives, we trust God and thank Him.
        2. If things go poorly in our lives, we trust God and thank Him.
        3. If we are in good health or in sickness, we trust God.
        4. No matter how confusing, uncertain, frustrating, or traumatic things are, we trust God.
        5. No matter how good, opportune, blessed, fulfilling, or rewarding things are, we trust God.
        6. Trusting God defines who we are in all circumstances.
    2. How is the depth of our faith revealed?
      1. I question that the depth of a person's faith is revealed when everything is going wonderfully in his or her life. I do not deny that some Christians use great blessings as devout stewards, and it takes exceptional faith to do that.
      2. I think that the depth of our faith is revealed in the worst of circumstances when it appears that Satan is in complete control. Being in control of nothing has a unique way of revealing who and what we trust.
      3. The depth of our faith is more likely to be revealed by our struggles and doubts than by our blessings and good times.
      4. Why? The depth of our faith is revealed by our dependence on God, not by merely by the strength of our convictions.

  3. Please allow me to come inside your head and your heart.
    1. I want you to have a conversation with yourself; I assure you that I have conversations with myself all the time.
      1. I do not want to oppress you or put you on a guilt trip.
      2. I just want you to think, to think seriously, and to look at what is happening in your life from a different perspective.
      3. One of Satan's favorite tactics is to fill and stress our every day lives to the point that we spend our lives reacting instead of thinking.
    2. First, let me talk to those of us who are single.
      1. What holds your life together?
        1. Your job? Fulfillment in what you do?
        2. Your accomplishments? The fulfillment of being successful?
        3. Money? Do you measure personal significance in what you earn?
        4. Possessions? Does what you own make you feel good about yourself?
        5. Pleasure? Is having fun what makes your life worth living?
      2. If something happens within the next year that:
        1. Causes you to lose your job and accept work that does not fulfill you.
        2. Ends your accomplishments and your feelings of success.
        3. Reduces your income so low that you cannot pay your bills.
        4. Places you in such deep debt that you own nothing.
        5. Ends having fun.
        6. What will hold your life together?
    3. Let me talk to those of us with a family.
      1. What holds your family together?
        1. Convenience? Is it more convenient to stay together than to separate?
        2. Economic necessity? Do you stay together because financially it would be very hard to make it alone?
        3. Reality? Do you have good friends who have divorced and you see the horror and pain they lived through?
        4. The kids? You refuse to subject your children to the pain and anxiety of separation, so you make personal sacrifices to "hang in there?"
      2. If something happens within the next year that:
        1. Makes it very inconvenient to keep the family together.
        2. Makes economic sacrifice acceptable.
        3. Makes life in the family worse than the reality of separation or divorce.
        4. Awakens you to the pain and anxiety your children have right now.
        5. What will hold your family together?
    4. Let me talk to all of the members of this congregation.
      1. What holds us together as a congregation?
        1. Doctrine? The assumption that everyone believes doctrinally what you believe?
        2. The focus that you desire or prefer? Members see things like you see them?
        3. The priorities that you desire or prefer? Your top ten most important things are everyone's top ten desires?
        4. Facilities and programs? We own and build what you want, and we do what you want done?
      2. What if something happens within the next year:
        1. That magnifies our doctrinal differences? Will you stop loving and respecting people here because they do not believe what you believe?
        2. To change our focus? You see many members looking at things differently than you look at them.
        3. To change our priorities? Your top ten things are not the congregation's top ten things.
        4. To radically change our facilities and our programs? We cannot have what you want us to have and we cannot do what you want us to do.
        5. What would hold this congregation together?
    5. One more set of questions.
      1. If God were the glue that held your life together every day, how would your life be different?
      2. If God were the glue that held your family together every day, how would your family be different?
      3. If God were the glue that held this congregation together every day, how would this congregation be different?
      4. How can God be the glue if we don't trust Him? How can God change our lives, change our families, change our congregation if we don't trust him?
      5. What God is allowed to do in our lives, our families, and our congregation is determined by us, not by God.
        1. He exceeds our imaginations if we trust him.
        2. He can do nothing within us if we don't.

Psalm 62:1-8 My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. How long will you assail a man, That you may murder him, all of you, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence? They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position; They delight in falsehood; They bless with their mouth, But inwardly they curse. My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

[Song of Reflection: 71, As The Deer]

How does God know that you trust Him? How does Christ's place in your life reveal that you trust God? In what matters do you trust God?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 February 1999

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