Preaching About Trusting God in the New Year
Trusting God in the New Year
In the last post ,we considered that one of the priorities of the new year should be the filling of the Holy Spirit. Trusting God in the new year is another great theme for your preaching at this time of year.
There’s an old story about a man who was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He slipped on some loose rock, and plunged over the edge Frantically, he grabbed for something to save himself, and fortunately, he was able to grab the branch of a scrub tree that stuck out from the side of the canyon. As he hung there, swaying out into space, he called up in desperation, “Is anybody up there?”
To his delight, a voice responded, “Yes, I am here.”
The man explained his predicament to the faceless voice, and said, “Can you help me?”
The voice responded, “Yes, I’m God. I can help you.”
The man said, “God? Can you throw down a rope or something?”
God responded, “Do you believe that I can rescue you?”
The man said, “Yes! I believe!”
God responded, “Then let go of the branch.”
“What?” the man said in amazement.
“Let go of the branch if you believe I can save you, and everything will be fine.”
After a few moments of silence the man said, “Is there anyone else up there?”
It’s Hard to Trust God Sometimes
One of my favorite books in the Old Testament is in the book of Habakkuk. His name means, “wrestling”. I suspect it’s because he asks big questions of God, and wrestles with God’s answers.
He begins with a complaint that God seems to tolerate wickedness and injustice, and the wicked seem to thrive at the expense of the righteous. God answers by saying that God is going to punish the nation of Judah for its sinfulness by sending the Babylonians to conquer the nation. He will not let the present time of evil continue.
Habakkuk wrestles with this answer, asking why God would punish the covenant people with a more evil people.
And God responds by saying that he will not let Babylon be unpunished.
The last chapter is titled, “Habakkuk’s Prayer”, and it contains one of the most glorious statements of trust that exists in Scripture. He says,
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
In other words, I’m going to trust God no matter what happens.
Learning to Trust God with Your Year
It’s been a tough year, and the predictions where I live is that it is going to be tougher still at the beginning of the new year. Will we trust God’s promise to care for us? Will we trust God’s promise to provide what we need?
Trusting God in the new year means that we will need to adopt a new idea about what it means to trust. One of the people who challenged me greatly in this was a man named Brennan Manning. His book, Ruthless Trust, challenged me at a time when things definitely weren’t right in my
world. Manning said that most people think that to trust God means that I believe everything is going to turn out just the way I want it to. But that’s not the Bible’s view of trust. The Bible indicates that trust means that whatever happens, I believe that God will provide what I need in the midst of the ongoing challenges of life.
The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5). Preach this, and your people will be better equipped to live in this challenging new year.
Here’s a brief video in which Charles Swindoll encourages the graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary to trust in God. It’s a good, thought-provoking reminder, presenting in an inspiring way.