Trusting God Alone

Proverbs 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 shall direct your paths.

The above passage is quoted many times by Christians and also non-Christians in the times of encouragement. But is it followed? The command here is to “trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart”. This means all, not some of it, not most of it, but all of your heart. The abandonment of trust in any other thing or person is needed in order to trust in God and God alone.

The next exhortation is a building on the trust in God. The command is not to lean on your own understanding. This would mean rationalizing God’s ways to make sense in your ways which are fallen and sinful by nature. Your understanding is flawed in other words, so don’t trust in this, trust in God’s understanding which is perfect. This is another call to surrender the idea that you are in control and God is a bystander.

The next command is to acknowledge God in all your ways. Again the word “all” is used, not some of your ways, or most of your ways, but all of your ways. Are you thanking God for waking up this morning for example? It is easy to take God for granted, but He is doing a million things in your life that you are most likely unaware of. Some are traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving, but don’t realize that God is protecting them on the road from disaster. So upon the journey’s end, they fail to acknowledge this.

Growing in trust in God is also growing in faith. Those with little faith will have little trust in God. Jesus was always quick to point this out to His disciples. One example was when He was sleeping peacefully in a boat with them and a huge storm came up. The disciples panicked and were frightened, even with God Himself physically in the boat, and Jesus pointed out their little faith.

Jesus applauded the greatest faith He witnessed on earth up to that point when the Roman centurion asked Him to heal His servant. The centurion trusted Jesus completely with all of his heart. He didn’t demand evidence, didn’t question Jesus’ method of healing, didn’t doubt for a second Jesus was who He said He was. And as the story goes, Jesus healed his servant right then and there.

Trust and faith go hand in hand. You can test your faith by the trust you place in God and you can discern others by this especially in times of trouble. Some will claim they are of great faith, but when an unfortunate circumstance comes, their trust in God alone vanquishes like a fire being doused with water. They trust in their own understanding, in other fallen humans, never in God, thus their faith is discerned.

Lastly, trust in God with all of your heart, does not mean you are also reckless in your understanding. It doesn’t mean going out on a busy highway and claiming a car won’t hit you because you trust in God. It doesn’t mean you won’t take a certain medicine or go through a medical procedure which would cure you because “you trust in God”. That is testing God and is NOT trusting that He is guiding your steps. You are not to put God to a test! Your little faith in Him is actually shown. You are saying “if You do exist God, You must do this for me now”.

Meditate on these words “I trust in You God, alone”. Say the words slowly, define each word, until you actually believe what you are saying. This is a good exercise to build your trust and thus your faith in Him. Humbly ask Him to build your trust if you struggle, He will always help you in this! It might be something He shows you that He alone is the One you should always trust.

Trust in God alone, do not lean on your own understanding!

He Ate His Meal For Me

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

In the depths of his fight against lymphoma, Leo, my beautiful 7 year old Gordon Setter ate a meal for me. Now you might be thinking, what is so great about this? Well, if you ever had a loved one who was really sick, losing weight by the day, and refused to eat, you will understand the enormity of this.

Who could ever say a dog does not really love their owner? Because looking back on the events in November of 2019, I found myself recalling the depths of Leo’s illness and the simple thing he did for me out of love, he ate a meal for me. Leo started to lose weight in early November when I discovered there was something really wrong going on with him. He was always a picky eater, but this was different. He would turn his nose up at about everything I offered him. After a couple of days of trying about everything, I rushed off to the vet where my worries were confirmed. Leo had lymphoma, a deadly cancer.

I took the diagnosis much worse than Leo as he seemed like his normal self. As we waited the next appointment for tests which would not be for a couple of weeks, my anxiety and worry grew by the day. Leo still was not eating. I was hand feeding and basically forcing food on him. His bones were starting to show and I worried if he would even make it to the next appointment.

Over a few days of this, Leo could sense my anguish and one day during this, as I put the plate of food in front of him and walked away thinking he would never eat it, I listened as Leo gobbled it up. As he finished, he looked at me as if to say “I did this for you”. Periodically through this depth of his illness, he would eat, not often, but as I look back he was doing it all for me. He could see the sadness on my face turn to joy and relief when he would do this. If you own or owned a dog, they know exactly what you are feeling. You don’t need to tell them how we feel, unlike humans, they are much more in tune with our expressions and body language.

A couple of months into his treatment, the Vet inadvertently sent me his whole test analysis complete with many doctors evaluations. As I read through notes, I knew why he was not eating. With lymphoma, fluid starts to build up around organs such as the liver and stomach. As the pressure builds it will basically feel like very hard stomach ache. And with this fluid build up it will just send signals of feeling absolutely awful to the rest of the body. This is what Leo was actually going through, extreme pain, so food was the last thing on his mind.

Although he couldn’t tell me about this pain, I could realize it by seeing those notes. So the enormity of eating a meal for me was something now I realize was his love for me. He didn’t eat it for any other reason. It must have been painful as he swallowed each morsel, but he was going to quell my worries if for a day or two.

By the grace of God and by sheer diligence I managed to stave off Leo’s wasting away by supplements and his cooperation of eating when he could. He survived this horror long enough for us to travel a 1000 miles to Colorado State University where he started chemotherapy treatments.

A day after we started the treatment, Leo ate ALL his meals. He looked at me and signaled “the stomach pains are gone”. What a relief that was! He was back to a puppy almost, as he was not his picky self either, he ate with gusto. To me this was a MIRACLE, one of many I experienced with him. No other explanation because it was an overnight change. As Leo, God knew of my anguish and He sent this blessing.

Through the next months, Leo had many ups and downs and the lymphoma at the end was much too much for him to overcome. His love for me was to hang on as long as he could and the simple things such as eating a meal when the room was spinning and the pain was out of this world.

You may have been or may go through a similar experience with a loved one. Look back on it, because although they weren’t able to tell you, they showed you that they loved you! It might be as simple as what Leo did for me, eating a meal, or it could be something else personal for you that they did for you and you did not realize it at the time.

This type of love comes from one source! It is the great Almighty God! God loves perfectly, we love imperfectly. So when you get a glimpse of perfect love as I did, treasure it, hold onto it, and speak of it! I have many fond memories of Leo, and while the end of his life was a hard one for both of us to go through, he showed me always a glimpse of God’s perfect love.

The Three Words of Murder

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

“I hate you!” are the three words of murder. Hate or Hatred is defined as “To dislike greatly; to have a great aversion to. It expresses less than abhor, detest, and abominate, unless pronounced with a peculiar emphasis.”

When I was 4 years old, although I do not remember, I told my Dad that “I hated” him. Being a disobedient fallen sinful child, it was probably because he scolded me or disciplined me. It was 20 years later that while in an argument with my Dad, he emotionally brought this up. He said “do you know Jeff, when you were 4 years old, you said you hated me?”. It was seared into him, and I had no idea that I had said this, but it was equally striking how it affected him for all those years.

Hatred for another is a special kind of murder. No, you actually didn’t kill the person physically, but your intent was to kill them spiritually by saying “I hate you!”. And if you were told by another “I hate you”, you probably remember that ONE instant more so than a thousand “I love you’s”. You remember the time, the place, the smell in the air, the circumstance and those searing words “I hate you”. You remember it because it was a murder.
This is why Jesus commands “love your enemies, do not hate them, bless those who persecute you, do not hate them”. Because hatred is a searing murder, it will never be forgot by your enemy, and thus you can forget about they being open from you ever again to listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hatred will consume and blind even the best people out there. It causes irrational and dangerous decisions which will leave the hater in a place of regret. When my Dad told me what I had said as a 4 year old, I instantly regretted it. Just that instant of hate as a child, was enough to invoke a spiritual murder on my Dad.
In the current U.S. political climate, we see all sorts of hatred. A searing hatred for the President has caused deafness and blindness on the good he produced. I have never witnessed so much hatred for one man in my whole lifetime. Hatred in today’s climate is looked at demonically as a strong virtue! A “virtue” from the pit of hell!

Ask yourself what good comes from hatred. Not a thing! Hate never produces joy, it produces evil. It will cause a seemingly well grounded person to do and say things they will later wish they never said and did. Do NOT let hatred become apart of your character as each day Satan and his minions will try to make hatred as a virtue.