Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little Man With Bigger Visions

A little man with bigger visions

Key text: Luke 19:1-10
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
It happened about ten days before He was crucified. It amazes me that, even to the very end, Jesus was still attending to people’s needs as if nothing was going to happen to him. What a loving savior He is!
Hours earlier, Jesus had healed a blind man called Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, and the news of this great miracle had broken and spread shock waves around the city. Zacchaeus, one of the most hated tax collectors in town, got the rumours. He probably was in familiar journey to the court house or to the bank. Something beautiful was happening to in Jericho. The most gracious, wonderful and merciful man ever lived was in town, and Zacchaias had once in a life time opportunity to have a glimpse of this famous visitor.
But Zacchaias was faced with huge obstacles. What makes this ordinary story extraordinary is Zaccheaus’ extraordinarily bold and visionary attitude. As a successful entrepreneur, I can visualize him utilizing his skills of spotting and using opportunities swiftly and tactfully. As my friend Doug would put it, “where everyone else sees a wall, he would see a display board for a business advert”. Let us see some of the obstacles Zacchaeaus faced:
1.     Interpersonal obstacles: These were self-made and if anything Zaccheaus had only himself to blame for them. As the owner of Jericho Revenue Authority, Zaccheaus was busy. Busy people have no time for breaking news down the road.They can watch these in the evening news at the comfort of their homes or read it in the morning paper. He was also rich. Zaccheaus was famous  educated and full of connections, especially among Roman officials.He could very easily have been a proud man because of well documented power and corrupt attitude that tax officials had at the time. I am not sure if this is different today.
And so the religious right as well as the common man quite rightly regarded him as a traitor and a great sinner (Luke 5:30, 15:1, 19:7), making him very infamous among the Jews. According to historical accounts, the tax system was franchised and Zaccheaus’ company would be contracted by the Romans to set up a tax system and collect tax for the Romans. Zaccheaus would firstly collect the head tax, then the ground tax, then income tax and finally everything else that was not taxed. Tax collectors were so infamous such that rabbis grouped them among dogs, prostitutes, rapists, robbers and murderers. In a predominately Jewish city, Zaccheaus would be ridiculed and called names as he walked along the narrow city lanes from day to day going about his daily routine. He probably depended on the protection of paid minders for safety.What a lonely life to live! I am sure even in the crowd Zaccheaus would still be lonely.
Sadly, some of us are choosing a lonely life. Life without God is a sad dead life. Before we can start filling the void with addictions, let us fill it with Jesus.
I recently read a story of Josh Marks, of season 3 "Master Chef," that he was found dead Friday night in Chicago. Update from 14/10/13 states that it was suicide. Even though Mark was rich and famous, he was a lonely man. "I don't think people realize the toll the reality show put on him," Marks' stepfather, Gabriel Mitchell, told the Tribune. People might be rich and famous, but very lonely and tired.
Are you lonely and tired? The Lord says come unto me (Matthew 11:28).
As the songwriter asks:
Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down
And so Jesus says come! There is joy in being in a relationship with the Lord.
2.     External obstacles: But Zaccheaus had even harder obstacles, the ones beyond his own making. Tall trees, mean human beings and his own short physical stature.
I remember many years ago when I was at secondary school, a known witch stood suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of PrMashigani’s sermon and shouted in Kisukuma ‘OnenenanzunjagaYesu’ meaning that I accept the Lord Jesus. Very graciously, the preacher invited her forward and a prayer of dedication was offered.  Those who chose to gossip that she was publicly surrendering her heart to Jesus for fear of SunguSungumilitia went ahead with their gossip. But this lady lived beyond the gossips. She lived beyond her fear of bad rejection and stinking mouths of gossiping worshipers. Two weeks later this poor woman died on a road accident.She is now waiting for that resurrection morning.
Like Zaccheaus she saw beyond physical obstacles and personal limitations. Beyond the crowd, beyond shame and mockery, beyond the trees and used some of these obstacles as her ladder to see Christ. What obstacle stops you from seeing Jesus? We need to live beyond our circumstances, those of our own making as well as those beyond our control.
Most worryingly, Zacchaeus’ obstacles describe many of my own obstacles. These are stuff that stops me from seeing Jesus day after day after day. What are these obstacles?
1.     It is my obstacle of pride. When I think about my high school education my head blows. I have one or two good connection in my hometown, and perhaps a good job. I think I am healthy and both my business and my family are doing well. My conclusion, I don’t need God that much. I can do without prayers, witnessing or personal devotion. Pride and arrogance have blinded me.James 4:6 warns me that: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."What a profound warning? That God walks away from proud people!
I still remember this man in my village when I was still a child. He sold his cotton. He got good money that year. He bought a bicycle; swapped his grass thatched roof with copper; left the church and married a second wife. He started drinking heavily and sang church hymns tunes with profane words. His mother was a deaconess in our church. She would cry for days. What made this former Christian an infidel? Arrogance, I suppose. I may have not gone that far, but where am I going?
And so I am reminded. The sin of Sodom in Ezekiel 16:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogantoverfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”The verdict: God does not stand arrogance.
2.     It is my obstacle of materialism. I own one or two cars; I worship the Internet and cannot live without my mobile phone. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on and on and on. I ask myself, is my worship of stuff idolatry?Certainly yes. If things of this world have become my friends, I must be concerned. Rather than being means for the end, I have made material things ends in themselves. James 4:4 warns me: that “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” See, the key word in the text is choosing. God gives me a choice each day I am alive.
Last summer I saw pictures of about 26 whales that had left their safe habitat and beached themselves to death at the coast of Scotland. Am I making a similar fateful journey? I must ask myself.
3.     It is my obstacle of secularism. I live like the world, as if this was my destined home.
A good friend told me a story, which I will never forget. He had been out on a courier assignment at a five star hotel. A wealthy sheikh from Dubai had come to London for a six weeks shopping holiday and had booked over 90 rooms for his entourage. Some of these rooms cost up to £5000 a night. On the day of their departure back to Dubai, these little Middle Eastern girls were giving my friend orders as he picked their suitcases one by one to load into his van, as if he was a small boy. He was so angry and decided to ask God, “What have I done to deserve all this humiliation while others eat and drink and travel the world and give orders?” He remembered to call his friend and shared the experience of the day. What his friend told him is what strikes me: that ‘eating and drinking and shopping, travelling the world and giving orders is all that they have got. You have got Jesus and that is more than anything that this world can give’. And so I remind myself:“What shall a man gain in exchange of his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
4.     It is my obstacle of darkness. Like Zaccheaus I have been taught that the Torah commands me to love my neighbour. Like any child of God I know the difference between light and darkness, but I often choose darkness. And I ask myself. Is there anything that I do and would not want my wife to know anything about? Things that I say but would not want my friends or my pastor to know?The answer is yes. And so I know, I have made darkness my obstacle of choice.But it is a fatal choice as Jesus says in John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
5.     It is my obstacle of self-righteousness. Each time I see you, I see a sinner. I think that I am better than you. I remember the messes you caused years ago. Some of these were discussed in the Church board in which I am still a chair. I have heard about your current struggles in your marriage. I do not eat chicken or fish, and I fast every Friday afternoon. I know that you eat meat and you never fast. I also know that you study your SS Lesson on your way to church on Sabbath morning. I just remember that I have banned warming food in my house on Sabbath. Yet I have seen you making breakfast on Sabbath morning. I have passed my verdict on you: I am holier than thou.
But I am reminded that I am a Pharisees and you are a Zaccheaus the chief tax collector. Ironically, Zacchaeaus the chief sinner is having a party in his house and I am not invited in. The chief forgiver has paid him a visit and He has declared: “Salvation has come to this house!”
What did Zaccheaus do?
He took the matter in his own hands and overcame his obstacles. He overcame his pride and started running ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree. What a visionary man! As I picture in my mind a mean short man running I can hear people shouting and calling name. No, he did not stop to answer back. The shouting made him even run faster. And before they knew it, poor old Zach had disappeared. Where was Zach? He was on top of an old tree along the road that he figured out would be used by Jesus that day. What a forward thinking man and a risk taker he was! I can hear his minders telling him, “You can’t do this boss, what if you fall from the tree?” Did Zaccheaus listen? No, he only had one mission in mind: to see the most gracious visitor in town.
What do I need to do?
I need to overcome my pride. I need to be visionary. I need to turn my obstacles to miracles. I need to use the obstruction from the crowd to come even closer; the trouble caused by my height should make me think beyond my stature. I need to use the tall trees as my ladder. My prayers need to always be: “I want to see Jesus.” It was until Zaccheaus made this mission a priority, obstacles became stepping stones and a miracle happened.
I need to ask myself and you these important questions: What is it that separates me from seeing Christ? Is seeing Jesus my number one priority?
Jesus calls Zaccheaus by name. So Zaccheaus is a person? I ask. The most sinful man in town is known! The sinner meets the saviour and the work of salvation is complete. Zaccheaus becomes a changed man because his priorities changed. A thief becomes a giver. His greed is gone; his pride is gone; his arrogance is gone. When we meet Jesus and surrender ourselves wholeheartedly, we never will be the same again (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Perhaps you live like me wondering around wall of obstacles. May be your issue is anger or lust. Perhaps it is forgiveness or selfishness, but the message is the same. We may come to church and go about our daily routines but are still separated from our saviour, and we know that. Like runaway whales we are beaching ourselves to our own death. Why don’t I, why don’t you, surrender your heart today!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Do You Do When You Do Not Know What To Do

 Happy Sabbath dear brothers and sisters….Allow me to divert your mind as we focus for few minutes on our individual spiritual journey, one full of temptations and uncertainty. 
Let me begin this morning by asking you the question that you probably have asked yourself before. “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”  As we consider this question and its implications to our daily spiritual life, let me recommend to you a passage from Proverbs 3:5-6.
Before we read the passage together, let me say few things about the book itself (thoughts from NKJ Bible study notes & Proverbs historical background notes).

An Introduction to the Book of Proverbs
The sayings in this book of wisdom were chiefly written or collected by King Solomon and were composed either from his own experiences or observations of Hebrew life. They contain concrete, verifiable incidents of Jewish existence in the land of Palestine in the 10th century BC. Granted to Him by God as a result of his request, Solomon’s wisdom was unsurpassed, acclaimed by men of all nations (1 Ki. 3:2-15; 4:29-34).
I. Definition of a proverb
Content -The proverb was designed to teach truth in a concentrated form. Proverbs are idioms, distinctive in style, that uniquely reflect the heart and life of the Jewish people. Proverbs (comparisons) are written in units (usually of two), the second segment either clarifying or contrasting (the first. They are self-explanatory and self-illustrative.
Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land (25:25).
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding (3:5).
Author Objective- Behind each proverb lay a philosophy of life, steeped in pragmatism, giving it powerful influence in the life of a believer. The proverbs were designed to:
1. Arrest the reader’s attention [listen]
2. Awaken responsive thought [think]
3. Adhere to the memory [remember]
4. Apply to life [practice]
II. Purpose of the Book of Proverbs
Overall objective- The book of Proverbs is a textbook for the classroom of life. While Psalms stresses a walk before God, the emphasis of Proverbs is on a walk before others. The book of James is the Proverbs of the New Testament. The proverbs were maxims of wisdom, concise and easily memorized containing both moral and ethical teaching. Proverbs is charged with action; warnings and advice are widespread.
Antithetical topics: The dynamics of the book are manifest by the author’s selection of oppositional subjects such as life/death, wisdom/foolishness, defining the ideal by decrying its opposite. Key words are “path” or “way.”
Behavioral consequences: The correlation of specific behavior to its consequences is a vital teaching technique in the Book of Proverbs. By this cause and effect portrayal, the reader is spurred to action by either the promise of blessing or the warning of imminent peril. The book was written to provide guidance for leading wise, godly lives and avoiding the pitfalls of unwise, ungodly conduct.
Together lets read again Proverbs 3:5-6 as we attempt to find -What do you do when you simply do not know what to do about any situation and/or decision.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[
a] your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,[
And strength[
c] to your bones.

How many here have ever seen the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”? George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) wonders if his life really matters. He feels like a failure. In his sacrifice for others he has not attained his dreams. At his point of crisis he meets up with an angel named Francis. In the end, George Bailey gets a delightful revelation of how God has been working all along and used his life in a marvelous way.

The lesson George Bailey learned is found in our text this morning: Prov. 3:5-6 “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.” NIV

I have found those verses particularly helpful in two kinds of life experiences. Sometimes life becomes so daily (so predictable and routine) that it gets hard to see the point of it all. In those times of extended boredom I am reminded of the old movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and of Prov. 3:5-6. Maybe more is happening than I think. Maybe it all matters more than it seems.

And then at the other end of the spectrum are those times of crisis when there seems to be no right answer for the situation. “If I do this, that will go wrong. If I do that, then this will go wrong.” And I don’t know what to do. 
That’s why I have given this message the extended title, “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do”. The truths taught here apply to every day of our lives. Solomon is setting before us a good way to live every day. But for those times when I simply don’t know what to do, the simplicity of this passage is the bedrock advice I need. If I can’t do anything else I can do this. Here are some steps to take when you do not know what to do. These steps can help you to do something about the tough situation of your life.  
I. Trust in the LORD with all your heart.
Self-sufficiency and self-dependence have been the ruin of mankind ever since the fall of Adam.  The grand sin of the human race is their continual endeavor to live independently of God.
Repeat after me “If I trust in myself I am a fool”.
In 1981 the Ladies Home Journal asked the question, “In whom do you trust?” The sad answer that came back was this: 40% Walter Cronkite, 26% Pope John Paul, 6% Billy Graham, and only 3% God.[1] 

The text is very specific about where our trust must lie. “Trust in the LORD”. 
Try calling out on Walter Cronkite when you get into trouble and see how much help you get. 
Those who trust in the Lord acknowledge that:
1.     God is the fountain of all good
2.     He has made all intelligent creatures depend on upon himself
3.     He requires them to be conscious of that dependence
4.     He has promised to communicate what they need
5.     He commands them to believe his promises, and look for its fulfillment
6.     And to do this without doubt, fear or distrust: “with their whole heart”
Is God trustworthy? Is God reliable? Is it a reasonable, prudent risk to trust a God you cannot see with your natural eyes? For those of us here this morning our immediate response would be, “Of course.” There is a knowing that is even more reliable than the five natural senses. The evidence of God is overwhelming. All of creation shouts His existence and the Holy Spirit has revealed Him to our hearts. We can say God is indeed trustworthy. 

But there is the possibility that our answer is only theoretical, only theological, only intellectual. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” That speaks to our innermost being. From the core of who I am, do I trust Him—do I rely upon Him?

The measurement of my trust in God is not found in my theological answers but in the way I live each day of my life, in the way I relate to other people, in every decision I make and every action I take [2]—decisions to tell the truth when I am tempted to lie, decisions to give money when I am tempted to keep it for myself, decisions to forgive offenses when something in me would like to retaliate.
(1) The Person behind those promises.
Examples---I have a friend here in town that fell into hard times several years ago. He lost everything because of a sudden change in the economy. By all legal standards he had every right to declare bankruptcy and not pay a number of his debts. He did not feel that was the right thing to do so he and his wife worked out the money and paid the debts. That man is a doing well today. His promise to pay is valuable and trustworthy because of the kind of person he is. I can trust a person like that with finances.

The foundational basis for my trust in the Lord is knowing what kind of person He is. The more I know Him the more I know I can indeed trust Him.[3] Is He a fair weather friend? Is He one that is there when it’s to his advantage but gone when the going gets rough. No, I have found Him to be One who will never, no never leave me nor forsake me. 
To trust the Lord means I lean upon Him; I rely upon Him; I commit the whole weight of all I am and all I need to His care. “Casting all your care on Him”, as Peter says,” for He cares for you.”[4] 

When life get real, real crazy—when nothing makes sense, that’s when I most need to trust the Person—His character, His integrity, His divine attributes. 

There are times in life when God seems so near—times when everything we believe seems to work. We pray for the sick and they get healed. We ask God to save Grandpa and Grandpa gets saved. We pull into the Wal Mart parking lot praying for a good parking space and low and behold there it is. Those are fun times. 

But has anyone discovered that this is one experience in your walk with God and there are some others?

There are also times when nothing seems to work. It feels like God is a million miles away busy with something or someone else. You pray for the sick and they seem to get sicker. You pray for Grandpa and there’s no doubt about it, he got meaner. Nothing is making sense. You are stripped down to one thing—trust—trust in God’s character. When you’re in that kind of trial, remember the basics that: God is just. God is good. God is merciful. God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him[5]. The bedrock of a faith walk is God—just God, just relying upon who He is. He will not change on you. He is the same yesterday (when everything seemed to be working) and today (when maybe everything doesn’t seem to be working) and tomorrow (when the circumstances will be different again). There are a variety of season in a journey with God. Sometimes its Springtime, sometimes its Summer, sometimes it Fall, Sometimes it Winter. But God is over it all and reliable through it all.

(2) Trust His Purposes for you.
He has set His love on You. His thoughts toward you are good and not evil to give you a hope and a future. Romans 8:28 (And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose) must be read with Rom 8:29 (For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.) NKJV God is at work in your life fulfilling His good purpose. What is that purpose? To conform you to the image of His Son, to make you and me like Jesus. He is always working. He is working all things (all these experiences) together for our good. What good? To conform us to the image of His Son. You can trust His purpose for you. It is nobler, more worthwhile than anything we could imagine.
(3) Trust His Plan as well.
The fulfillment of the purpose is already planned out. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.”[6] God has a plan for you. God has a great and glorious plan for you. God has great things to accomplish through you. 

Eph 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” NIV

If we will just get up every day and obey God for that day, His plan will get accomplished. We don’t have to know the whole plan. If fact, sometimes if we know even some of it we start taking it into our own hands and trying to fulfill it in our own strength. Usually we are better off just knowing what we need to know now in order to obey. We don’t need to evaluate His plan. We just need to walk in it each day, one day at a time. There are many things about life and ministry I’m really glad I did not know 30 years ago. It was best to just take it as it came.

Trusting God is like skydiving. I will either trust the parachute enough to jump out of the plane or I won’t. If I stand on the edge of the plane talking about various theories of gravity and aerodynamics but never jump, I’m not a skydiver.[7] My faith is shown by my action. Am I willing to relinquish control and obey God and trust Him to make it all work? There is a decision required in our text—a decision to rely upon God enough to do what He says to do. Trust is a commitment to the One being trusted. 

II. Lean not in your own understanding.
Repeat after me-“God always has the best plan”
When we trust God we will begin, continue every work, purpose, and device with God”.
The command to trust the Lord is reinforced by the command to not trust our own understanding. The choice between one or the other is a common one—common because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.[8] The principles we learn in the world are often the exact opposite of those in God’s kingdom. Someone slaps me on the cheek. My understanding tells me—if I slap him back harder my problem will be solved. But what does Jesus say to do?—turn the other cheek, trust God to defend you. As one commercial says, “That ain’t natural.” I have to have enough faith in God to do it His way, trusting Him to defend me if I indeed need defending.

The world has its way of achieving greatness. The disciples were fussing and fighting with one another, trying to be greater than the other. Jesus’ way to greatness was the exact opposite of what their understanding was telling them. They thought you raced for the upper seat and climbed the ladder to success. But Jesus said, if you really want to be great become the servant of others. Now we have a life decision. How will I pursue greatness? Will I lean upon my own understanding and pursue it the way the world does? Or will I trust the wisdom of the Lord and pursue it His way.

And when I find that His way takes longer than the world’s way will I keep doing it His way. And when it doesn’t seem to be working will I keep doing it His way anyway.

Abraham is a great example of one who trusted God. In fact, he is known as the father of faith. When God told him to leave Ur of Chaldees he obeyed not knowing where that obedience would take him.[9] His finest hour was when God told him to do something that was radically contrary to his own understanding. All the promises God had given Abraham were to be fulfilled through Isaac. Yet God told Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. What did Abraham do? He obeyed knowing God was able to resurrect Isaac and fulfill His promises. If Abraham had leaned on his own understanding he would have never passed that test.[10]

But there were some test Abraham failed along the way. When a famine came his understanding told him to solve the problem by going to Egypt. That just got him into another situation where his own understanding told him to lie about Sarah being his wife. Were it not for God’s grace in that situation Abraham would not be called the father of faith today.[11] Abraham and Sarah leaned upon their own understanding in the conception of Ishmael and there have been problems ever since.[12] Do not think that you and I are above such failures. We have to remember this exhortation, especially when our faith is being tested.  Yes…Lean not in your own understanding.

Events will come into our lives that naturally cause us to ask why? Why is this happening? Why is it happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why isn’t this working the way it worked for so and so? Why, Why, Why? God is not nervous about such questions. Neither is He offended. But often His answer is simple, “Lean not upon your own understanding.” As strange as it may sound, often the answer to why is “trust.” “The just shall live by faith.”[13]. We’re not smart enough to live any other way. The only time we’re outsmarting the devil is when we simply trust and obey. 

A Wycliff Bible Translator named Bernie May shares the following experience, "As an airplane pilot, from the first time I sat in the beginner’s seat beside my instructor I was taught to ’trust’ my instruments. ’Your instincts will fool you,’ my instructor rightly told me. ’You must learn that even though you may feel you are flying south, if your compass says you are flying east, you’d better believe it.’ 

Often when a plane is surrounded by swirling mist and being buffeted by strong winds, you may feel you are in a dive and be tempted to pull back on the controls. But if your instruments say you are flying level - or even climbing - you’d better believe them. To pull back on the controls might put you into a steep climb, which would cause the plane to stall, drop off in a spin, and leave you out of control."[14] 

That’s a good illustration of what it feels like to trust God. Sometimes circumstance or our own emotions are telling us we must do this or that. But those are the times to trust God just as the pilot trusts his instruments. Is there anything going on in your life that requires that kind of trust right now. Is there anything you would in the natural panic over but deep in your innermost being you hear the Lord say, “Fear not”?

When we rely upon the Lord we don’t always know what He will do about the situation. I remember how many times God has intervened in my life…one time the Spirit of God persuaded me to go for job interview that I didn’t think I needed, and didn’t apply for.  The woman who had called me insisted that I go to their office and feel an application and discuss with them possible future opportunities. Finally I yielded, went to the office, filled an application, and discussed areas of interest. In a week I was called for interview, made excuses not to go and finally ended up having phone interview. Three days later I had job offer that surprised me!  The same week my current employer handed termination letters to everyone in the office…something that no one saw it coming. The Lord knew! He had a solution before I knew that there was a problem.
Trust means, “God you can handle situation we know and those unknown to us anyway You wants to”.

III. In all your ways acknowledge Him.
This trust thing is not just apathy or passivity. We stand ready to do His bidding. We live in constant recognition of His presence and His involvement.
Repeat after me… “I am aware of God’s involvement in my life”
The three Hebrew children were brought before Nebuchadnezzar and ordered to worship the golden image. They were not expecting to deliver themselves but they also knew they were not ultimately at the mercy of Nebuchadnezzar. They acknowledged and counted on God’s involvement.
Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." NIV 

Live with an awareness of God’s involvement in your life. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, He leads me...” What an awesome comfort it is to know God is with me. He’s with me when things are going my way but He is also with me when things are not going my way. He is with me when I feel Him and He is with me when I don’t feel Him. I can bear rejection or persecution in a loving spirit because One greater than all has loved me and accepted me.

“In all your ways” means in everything you do[15]. If you can’t acknowledge God in it don’t do it. If it’s in a crowd where you can’t acknowledge God either get more boldness or get another crowd.
Listen to Prov. 3:5-7 from The Message, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!”

In I Samuel 30 we find David doing exactly what our text is instructing us to do. Listen as I read from 1 Sam 30:1-8 

0:1David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 

3When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5David’s two wives had been captured-Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 7Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the ephod." Abiathar brought it to him, 8and David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?" "Pursue them," he answered. "You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue." NIV

Imagine with me for a moment the shock that David and his men must have felt as they first caught sight of their plundered camp. They have traveling for three days. They are tired, weary from the journey, looking forward to seeing their families and getting some

much needed rest. With great anticipation they approach the camp expecting to see their children running out to greet them and their wives welcome them home.

Instead they see smoke from the smoldering fire left by the Amelakites. Can you imagine how you might feel, guys, if you came home from work and found your neighborhood burned to the ground by your enemy’s or terrorists and your wife and children kidnapped. It was that kind of thing these men were experiencing. For David, he had the added sorrow of all his most trusted friends turning on him and wanting to stone him. It was a bad day.

What is so outstanding is the way David inquires of the Lord. He doesn’t just rush off to do what he would naturally think needs to be done. He doesn’t get bitter at God. He doesn’t spend a lot of time asking God the why questions. He simple acknowledges the Lord by asking Him what He wants him to do about it. Prayer is an important part of acknowledging the Lord—prayers of petitions, prayers of intercession, prayers of thanksgiving. Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NIV

Live a life recognizing that no matter what it may look like—God sits in the heavens. He rules it all and nothing gets by Him. There’s nothing He can’t do and there’s nothing He can’t fix. There is no problem too big or too little for Him to solve. There is a confidence available to us if we will acknowledge Him in all we do.
God makes a promise at the close of our text. If we will trust Him rather than relying upon our own understanding, if we will acknowledge Him in all our ways He promises to make our paths straight. What does that mean? It means He will go before you and prepare the way[16]. When I drive down an interstate highway someone has gone before me and prepared that road. I can travel down it safely because of the hard work someone has done in my behalf. Young people, adults and elders, God is busy everyday preparing and making our path straight.  “The way of the transgressor is hard[17].” It is full of obstacles and crooked turns. But for the person who puts his trust in the Lord there is a highway of grace to travel upon. God will make for you and me a way where there seemed to be no way. 

Do not underestimate what God is doing for you today. 

“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.”
Note: This sermon was preached on December 22, 2012 by Pr Caleb Migombo on youth day at Umoja S.D.A Church, Raleigh NC USA.