When I was a teenager I attended a youth camp on Anglesey at Benllech Bay. The adjacent bay was known as Red Wharf Bay and it became a massive expanse of sand when the tide was out. Right out in the middle was an old wreck and we were repeatedly warned not to walk across to it, because when the tide turned the sand became sinking sand and you could potentially drown.
One day my mates and I ignored the warning and walked to the wreck which took some time. To be honest there wasn’t much to see! Thankfully we were rescued by an old sailor who appeared out of nowhere (an angel in disguise?) and led us to safety. What happened that day, which nearly cost us our lives, resulted from our refusal to trust that our leaders knew best and to obey the rules that they had made for our own safety.
Abraham & Isaac
I’ve often wondered what it must have felt like to be Isaac – the day he almost became Abraham’s sacrifice on the mountainside (Gen. 22).
So often our focus is on Abraham’s incredible willingness to sacrifice his precious son, but I’m pretty sure Isaac must have been wondering what the heck was going on at the time and where in fact, was the sacrifice?! Thankfully God, having seen Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, provided a ram. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, the child he had waited an entire century for. This is an incredible example of someone completely trusting God with all their heart and being willing to obey Him, no matter the cost.
Trust and obey
As a child at Sunday school, we used to sing a somewhat cheesy song:
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey” *
It was a simple song, yet it contained a powerful truth summed up by AW Tozer;
“It is not just trust; it is not just obey. It is trust and obey”
We need to do both. In fact:
1. We prove our overwhelming trust in God when we obey Him.
2. When we disobey Him, we are emphatically stating that we think we know better!
(Please read those two statements again. They are powerful).
Surely obedience is a fundamental aspect of trust.
We cannot claim to trust God if we repeatedly disobey Him and ignore His commands.
“All your commands are trustworthy…” (Psalm 119:86).
Trust is a recognition that:
- God knows best
- That His Word is truth
- That we’re going to listen to Him
- Be guided by Him
- And obey the commands and promptings that He gives us
Not only is He trustworthy, but the guidelines and commands He has provided in the Bible are life-giving. They bring freedom, joy and blessing! Jesus Himself emphasised the importance of loving, trusting and obeying God:
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me’” (John 14:23-24).
Do you trust BUT not obey?
The temptation for all of us as Christians today is to want to trust God for all the good stuff and the amazing promises in the Bible but fail to understand that we have a responsibility – to play our part and love Him, serve Him, honour Him and obey His commands. Tempting as it is, the commands of the Bible were not given on a kind of ‘pick n mix’ basis. They were placed there for the good of all mankind.
Living in responsive obedience
During the Welsh Revival, Evan Roberts regularly preached a simple four-point message. It followed this pattern:
1) Confess any known sin to God and put away any wrong done to others
2) Put away any doubtful habit
3) Obey the Holy Spirit promptly
4) Confess Christ openly
I’ve decided that, as best as I can, I will trust and obey God as quickly as possible, without debate.
That means that when He prompts me to to do something – I will obey as quickly as possible.
I will live in responsive obedience as Paul puts it;
“What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure”
(Philippians 2:12-13, MSG).
Don’t say NO to God!
When God commands us to do something, whether it be in His Word or prompted by His Spirit (that could be to ‘offer to serve on a team” or ‘meet that persons need”) then what can often occur is a battle between two competing voices.
In one ear: we have our enemy the devil shouting, ‘NO!’
In the other ear: we have the Holy Spirit gently encouraging us to say, ‘YES!’
Someone once said that: “Every time we say no to God we are saying yes to the enemy of our souls.”
That’s quite a sobering thought.
I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m able I want to respond quickly to the commands of God and the promptings of His Holy Spirit.
Say YES to God!
I suspect that some of us have become so used to saying no to God that we’ve forgotten how to say yes. In fact – When was the last time you said yes to God?
God blesses obedience!
Don’t forget that God loves, and blesses, obedience. He promises to bless us in all kinds of ways when we trust and obey (check out Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and Jeremiah 11:3-5, as examples).
God just wants us to say yes!
Trusting and obeying God doesn’t mean that our lives will be easy or perfect.
Trusting God will, on occasion, mean choosing the harder path, making sacrifices, denying ourselves, going without and paying the price.
However, I’ve discovered that God blesses us in all kinds of unexpected ways when we obey Him.
Remember, though, that obedience should flow from a deep love for God as our Father rather than from a desire for blessing.
Obedience is often a test
I’ve discovered that God often uses obedience to test us and to discover whether we will obey Him.
On occasions it will be a simple matter that God tests us in – perhaps something that almost appears unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
Rest assured – God is watching and is willing us on to obey.
The fact is – if we can be trusted with little then we can be trusted with much (didn’t Jesus say something about that?)
In a sense, God’s hands are tied by our disobedience.
“No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11).
When we say no to God:
- We are saying: “I don’t trust You!”
- We are resisting His will for our lives.
- We are choosing a lesser life; missing out on His best life for us!
- We are allowing the enemy of our souls to rob us of the rewards our obedience to God brings.
- We are undoubtedly missing out on blessings, new experiences, new levels of faith and deeper relationships.
We should never underestimate what our simple willingness to obey can initiate or the doors that might open.
It can be an incredible catalyst for God’s blessing in our lives.
I have a suspicion that one of the reasons God granted King David so much favour in his life was that he desired to do all that God wanted him to do, precisely as God wanted him to do it.
“I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22)
God really wants us to learn to trust Him fully and to prove this through responsive and prompt obedience.
At times this will involve sacrifice and cost.
Let’s make a decision to trust & obey and trust God with all our heart.
Let’s make a decision to say YES to God more often.
His plans and purposes are far more fulfilling that anything we could dream up or imagine, and they’re tailored precisely to our lives.
Two questions to consider:
1. Is there anything you should be saying NO to?
God has given us His Word – it contains lots of commandments and, in my opinion, they are there so that we enjoy and live life well – they are for our own good. Is there anything that you know you shouldn’t be doing – that you know God wants you to stop doing?
Is there something on your conscious that you need to deal with?
Obey the Holy Spirit promptly. No more discussions. God will honour you.
2. Is there anything/something that God is waiting for you to say YES to?
Perhaps there’s something He’s been asking you to do for sometime and you keep saying, ‘in a minute, one day, next month, next year…..’
It’s time to say YES! God will honour you!
“It’s not just trust; it’s not just obey. It is trust and obey” (AW Tozer)
This blog post was adapted from my book ‘Imagine’. If you’ve enjoyed it you might like to check out the book. It is all about trusting God based on the amazing promise in Proverbs 3:5-6. I’ve shared from my own experiences and personal journey the lessons that I’ve learned about trusting God. It has truly been an amazing journey of discovery of trusting God like never before and living like never before!
Imagine is available here
Recent Amazon reviewers said,
“This is an incredibly powerful book written as if the author is chatting to you about his own life, struggles and experiences during his ongoing walk with God. It is a very real and honest book with bible verses to back up what the author is sharing about. Personally this book is having a big impact on me and my faith in God. I would recommend to anyone to buy this book if you want to deepen your relationship with God at whatever stage you are in your walk. Imagine the impact this book could have on your life….”
“Imagine is a brilliant read and it is challenging too. Using Proverbs 3:5-6 as the central scripture and Simon Lawton’s personal journey, the important issues of trust and faith are discussed in depth. It’s easy to read, enjoyable and has really helped me think long and hard about God’s calling for my life and how I can trust Him with so much more. Well worth reading, whether you are exploring or are new to the Christian faith, or if you have been a Christian for years – there’s something in this book for everyone. Highly recommended.”
“I have bought this book both on kindle and paperback. It is definitely worth owning one. Apart from my bible, it’s my most read and re read book which is underpinned with the word of God. The authors shares personal experiences, which backs up what’s been said. It’s true to life, and is very simple to read but extremely powerful. It’s a reminder of God’s love for us, and His Fatherly promise to be with us through the storms of life.. we only need to trust in God no matter what life throws at us.. I highly recommend this book and the bible study which is in within the contents of the book. It’s going to be my home groups next study.. A word in season.”I found this to be a very easy read about trusting God in your everyday life. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating so they say. “I am a 60 year old man who has spent his entire life worrying. Free floating anxiety its been labelled. Over the last few weeks, each morning on awakening I have made a cup of tea then read a chapter of the New Testament (NIV) followed by a small section or two of this book (kindle version. I wish I’d bought the actual paper version). That’s easy to do as the book is written in lots of small sections. This book is a constant drip of Trust God, Trust God, Trust God…. After only a couple of weeks I said to my wife, “I’ve noticed I’ve stopped worrying. There is not a single worry in my head”. Which, if you knew me would probably astound you! So, I write this as the UK is coming out of Coronavirus lockdown, and last night’s news showed the Chancellor saying that Britain is about to enter the worst recession its ever faced. And the thought that entered my head, as that habitual worrywart’s bolt of adrenalin kicked in, was “That’s OK. God has got me”. And I didn’t give it another thought. I’m low income self-employed, so in these particular times, not worrying but trusting God instead is a big thing. If I was the chancellor (which thankfully I’m not) I would say something like “I recommend this book to the house!”