|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|CAN I DEPEND ON GOD?: Trust
Charles H. Dyer
I AM REVEALED
Jan 13 2013
FROM BEAVER CLEAVER TO BART SIMPSON
Western society has been rocked by a profound spiritual, social, and moral shift that began in the 1950s. Much of the
shift in the United States can be attributed to the post-World War II “baby boom” generation. In contrast to their parents,
baby boomers – and those who have followed them – came to adulthood:
The Beaver Cleavers of years gone by have become today’s Bart Simpsons. And along the way we lost our ability to
WHOM CAN YOU TRUST?
During the Great Depression President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” offered comfort and assurance to
Americans awash in a sea of uncertainty. The president cared. The president was doing something. The president
would eventually take care of our problems.
The scandal we came to call Watergate shattered that sense of trust for those who remember living through it. In
subsequent years a string of allegations and exposés have further eroded citizens’ trust in those who govern the nation.
Trust a politician? You’ve got to be kidding!
If we can’t trust politicians, whom can we trust? How about the police, our appointed guardians of law and order? Nearly
every week brings another story about an alleged police beating of a suspect while in custody. At one time people would
believe the police officer’s account over that of a suspect without question. After all it was the word of the police (whom
we were taught to trust) against the word of someone who had been arrested. But then individuals with cell phones
recorded some of those incidents, and we felt our trust had been violated. Trust the police? Now we aren’t so sure.
In our desperate search for trust we turn to the church. God’s servants ought to be the most trustworthy individuals
around, because they represent the One who “is called Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11). And those who claim to
know and speak for God anger us most when we read new allegations of sexual impropriety or gross financial
misconduct. Our sense of cynicism grows when someone who claims to be a “man of God” violates our trust.
I recently visited a church torn apart by a minister who violated the congregation’s trust. Though he had only been at
the church for a few years, his charm, confidence, and persuasive speech had mesmerized most members. He skillfully
led the church through a series of strategic moves that appeared to be very successful. The congregation was growing,
giving was increasing, and the pastor’s reputation was spreading. This was “the” church for the community.
Then someone just happened to show up at the pastor’s study unannounced, uninvited, and unanticipated…and caught
the pastor in the arms of a woman who as not his wife. The congregation was shocked, devastated, and angry. They
felt humiliated as word of the pastor’s sordid affair spread through the community.
Now the pastor is gone, his family is shattered. The church’s reputation in the town remains tarnished, and the
congregation is only a fraction of its former size. And those who chose to remain find it difficult to trust the new pastor.
It’s tragic for a local church to go through such an experience, but when a story of someone in a prominent place of
Christian leadership makes the national news, it only serves to fuel the nonbelievers’ sense that religious people are not
Politicians. Police. Pastors. Three specific groups of individuals given authority and responsibility. Three groups whom
we expected to be trustworthy…but who have experienced notable failures in recent years. No wonder we are so cynical
and untrusting! Can we trust anyone?
In God We Trust
My struggles with trust took a dramatic turn the year I graduated from college. I was graduating in May, getting married
in June, and moving to Texas in August to begin graduate studies. As spring approached I began questioning my
decision to move. How did I know this was what God wanted me to do? How could I be sure God would take care
of me? Was this a wise move for Kathy and me? One of my problems was that I knew no one in Texas.
We packed everything we owned in a 4 X 6 U-Haul – and most of that was books. As the time drew near for us to leave,
we scraped together all our resources. After paying off our college debts we had just enough money to drive to Texas,
rent a small apartment, buy a few weeks’ worth of groceries, and pay for our first semester of seminary tuition. Hardly a
How could we make such a move? Looking back at it today it still seems rather remarkable. And yet I remember very
specifically what gave me the peace, the faith, and the trust to make such a move at that time. Earlier that spring I had
started praying and asking God to be very specific in showing me what He wanted me to do. I applied to graduate
school, and I told Him that if He wanted me to go to Texas, He would need to make it very clear.
During the time I was praying I was also reading through the book of Hebrews in my time alone with God. A few weeks
after I asked God for a specific sense of direction I came to Hebrews 11. One verse jumped off the page. “By faith
Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did
not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
God used that verse in my life to teach me the meaning of faith and trust. Abraham was a man of faith who, when God
directed him to do something, obeyed even if he didn’t fully understand all the details of what God was asking. He
trusted God enough to know God could take care of the details. That was the lesson I had to master. Was my God big
enough to take care of Kathy and me when we moved to Texas? The answer, we discovered, was a resounding Yes!
God took us through that time and helped us grow very dramatically in our trust of Him.
Not that it was always easy…For years I saved the check register for that first year in seminary. There were times when
we had less than five dollars in our checking account with more than a week left till payday. (We ate a lot of macaroni
and cheese!) But in the midst of those difficult times God showed us repeatedly that He could – and would – meet our
needs. We learned to trust, because as we stepped out in faith we found God was dependable.
Hebrews 11 is often called God’s “Hall of Faith.” The chapter mentions “faith” twenty-two times and illustrates it from the
lives of at least sixteen specific individuals. The writer begins the chapter by defining the essence of faith. “Now faith is
being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (11:1). Faith is the ability to trust in God and His
promises before we see them come to pass.
In selecting Abraham, the writer chose an important example for his Jewish-Christian readers. Abraham was the physical
and spiritual father of all Jews. And he lived a life characterized by faith. The author of Hebrews used Abraham to teach
three specific lessons on faith.
Faith follows when God calls
Our first glimpse of Abraham gives no hint of his later greatness. Had Ur of the Chaldees had a high school, the senior
class would not have nominated Abraham as “Most Likely to Succeed.” Abram (Abraham’s original name) was one of
three sons born into a pagan family. His father “worshiped other gods” (Joshua 24:2). Ur, the city of his birth, was a
center for the worship of the moon-god. Abraham’s brother Haran died, and Abraham assumed responsibility for raising
his surviving son. Abram married Sarai (Sarah’s original name), but their inability to have children marred the marriage.
Nothing in his background set Abraham apart as a remarkable man of faith.
What transformed Abraham? The Bible recorded the answer three different times.
What set Abraham apart and made him such a remarkable example of faith? In each passage the answer is very
simple: he followed when God called. No excuses. No equivocating. No hesitation. When God said to move, Abraham
packed the tent! And this was no small undertaking. Abraham had servants as well as flocks and herds. They would
require provisions, grazing land, water. Abraham was responsible for the welfare of hundreds (Genesis 14:14). Some
would call Abraham’s response a “blind leap of faith.” But was it really? No, for two reasons.
First, Abraham was responding to a personal encounter with God. God first revealed Himself to Abraham, and Abraham’
s actions were in response to God’s revelation. Every time the Bible records this event, God’s summons precedes
Second, though Abraham may not have known his immediate destination, he had supreme confidence in his eternal
Guide. The writer of Hebrews puts Abraham’s faith in perspective. Though Abraham “did not know where he was going”
as he journeyed from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan, he saw this trip as a small part of his larger journey of faith.
He could live with uncertainty and impermanence in this life because “he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
I thought about the importance of a guide as our tour bus hurtled around a sharp bend on a little-used road in Israel. I
was leading twenty-five students on a study tour, but this day was unique. Normally I guide our group, but today we had
a local Israeli guide. Even the bus driver had not driven the roads we were now on! In fact, some of the “roads” were
nothing more than dirt tracks scraped from the rocky hillside. In the politically volatile Middle East one wrong turn could
send our bus with Israeli license plates into a West Bank Arab village where we would be uninvited…and unwelcomed.
The bus driver was an Israeli Arab who is both a skillful driver and a personal friend. He and I exchanged glances, and I
could tell he was nervous. Our lives were in the hands of the guide, a man we just met for the first time the previous
evening. We had to trust in his ability to lead us to the promised destination.
The dirt road wound its way up the side of a mountain. On top we scrambled off the bus for a spectacular view. Walking
around the top of the mountain we could see the Jordan Valley where Abraham first crossed into the land of
Canaan…the Wadi Faria he followed past Tirzah into the hill country…and the city of Shechem with its twin peaks of
Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim where he first settled. The guide then told us we were standing on Elon Moreh, the first
location in the land where God appeared to Abraham (Genesis 12:6-7). The reddish soil and white limestone rock
hinted at the richness of the land, though it was now largely covered in thorns and brush. But below, in the valley, we
could see rows of fruit trees and fields of ripening wheat that showed how productive the land could be when it was
properly nurtured and cultivated.
I had no idea what roads our bus was on or where they would lead. But I wasn’t worried because the guide leading us
had an excellent reputation…and he knew where he was going. In the same way Abraham started on a journey before
he knew the destination. But his faith was not some blind leap in the dark because he trusted the Guide who was
directing his steps.
Faith trusts when God promises
The writer of Hebrews provides a second example of Abraham’s faith. God not only asked Abraham to follow Him into
the unknown, He also asked him to believe the impossible. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he and Sarah
began their journey to the Promised Land. At a time of life when many men are content to reminisce about the old days,
Abraham pulled up stakes and headed west.
But one problem remained. God not only promised Abraham real estate, He also promised an heir. Not many seventy-
five-year-old men with sixty-five-year-old wives worry about the location of the nearest elementary school when they
move! Abraham must have struggled with the seeming absurdity of God’s promise because he later says to God, “You
have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir” (Genesis 15:3). Hey, God! It’s hard to see
how I will become a “great nation” when I won’t even have any children I can call my own.
God’s answer startled Abraham. “This man [Abraham’s servant] will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own
body will be your heir.” God then took Abraham outside for an astronomy lesson. “’Look up at the heavens and count
the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15:4-5). Stock up
on Pampers, Abraham, you’ll soon be changing a lot of diapers!
What do you do when God makes such an outlandish statement? If you’re Abraham, you trust in the truth of the
statement because it was spoken by God. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness”
(Genesis 15:6). Abraham accepted God’s promise, though he struggled to understand fully how it could happen.
Ten years later Abraham still struggled. He and Sarah tried to “help God” by fathering a son using Sarah’s Egyptian
servant girl as a surrogate mother (Genesis 16). Major mistake! The resulting friction and family fighting shattered
Abraham’s household. Conflicts developed that extend down to today through the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael.
If Abraham had doubts about having children at seventy-five and tried to “help God” at eighty-six, imagine how he felt
when he reached the ripe old age of ninety-nine. He and Sarah, for all practical purposes, had both passed the age
when they could ever hope to have children. God chose that time to announce that a new addition would be arriving at
Abraham’s house in time for his one hundredth birthday. “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her
name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her” (Genesis 17:15-16).
God’s announcement stunned Abraham. “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at
the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17). Abraham was amazed…but he immediately started calling his wife “Sarah”! He
also obeyed God’s command to practice circumcision. “On that very day Abraham took…every male in his household,
and circumcised them, as God told him” (Genesis 17:23). Abraham’s willingness to change his wife’s name to Sarah and
to circumcise everyone in his household demonstrated his trusting response to God’s promise.
The writer of Hebrews highlighted Abraham’s trust in God’s promises…and emphasized the results. “By faith Abraham,
even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he
considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11:11-12).
Faith obeys when God commands
Faith is our ability to follow when God calls and to trust when God promises. But one essential element still might be
lacking. Abraham’s supreme demonstration of faith was his ability to obey when God commanded.
Abraham’s life seemed to settle into a pattern of calm predictability. Isaac, his child of promise, was growing into a young
man. The struggles with Ishmael were past. The conflicts with Canaan’s kings had all been smoothed over. Life was
Then God threw Abraham a curve ball. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of
Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Genesis 22:2). What?
Sacrifice my son? Do you know what you’re asking? Abraham must have spent a sleepless night mulling over God’s all-
consuming command. God was asking him to give the supreme sacrifice: his only son, a son conceived by divine
promise, a son deeply loved by his father.
But however great the personal fear, anxiety, and pain, Abraham obeyed God’s command. “Early the next morning
Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac” (Genesis 22:3). By
dawn’s early light Abraham set out for the place selected by God as the mountain of sacrifice.
How could Abraham obey God’s command without hesitation? Some would say it was because he feared the anger of a
vengeful God more than he feared the loss of his son. But such a view underestimates God’s love and Abraham’s faith.
God designed His command to test the depth of Abraham’s trust and obedience. Once Abraham had demonstrated his
willingness to obey God, in spite of the consequences, God stopped Abraham from slaying his son. Instead, God
provided a ram as a substitute. “[Abraham] went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of
his son” (Genesis 22:13). Though animal sacrifices existed from the beginning of fallen human history (Genesis 4:3-5),
for the first time the Bible clearly speaks of one life being substituted for another. God provided a substitute so Abraham
would not need to sacrifice his son.
The writer of Hebrews adds one additional element that helps explain Abraham’s faith. “By faith Abraham, when God
tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice…Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he
did receive Isaac back from death” (Hebrews 11:17, 19). What faith! Though Abraham had never seen, heard, or read
of the resurrection of the dead, he reasoned that if God had predicted Isaac was the son of promise, then God would
keep His word. If God was asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God would need to restore Isaac’s life to fulfill His earlier
promises. Abraham could obey when God asked him to do the impossible because he had supreme confidence in God’
s willingness and ability to keep His word.
Are you willing to obey God? If God’s command seems reasonable, if it fits our plans and goals for life, and if it ultimately
benefits us, then we are usually willing to obey. But what if obedience to God runs counter to our plans, hopes, and
aspirations? In those times we can obey only if we have supreme trust in the power and goodness of God. Abraham
was a great example of faith because he could trust God in spite of circumstances…his eyes of faith could see beyond
But don’t put Abraham on a pedestal! His faith, remarkable though it was, is not beyond your grasp. He still struggled,
just as we do, with fears, frustrations, and failures. No sooner had he arrived in the “promised land” than he abandoned
it during a time of famine (Genesis 12:10). After arriving in Egypt he lied about Sarah being his wife because he was
afraid of being killed (Genesis 12:11-20). As many of us often do, Abraham actually told a half-truth to deceive. He
claimed Sarah was his “sister,” and in truth she was his half-sister. They were born to the same father but had different
mothers (Genesis 20:12). But in stressing the biological identity as siblings – he neglected to mention that she was also
his wife! Abraham tried to accomplish God’s will through his own human effort – and he created a long-lasting family
feud (Genesis 16:15; 21:8-21). In the midst of his family struggles he lied a second time about Sarah being his wife
(Genesis 20:2-18)! Abraham struggled in his walk with God – just as you and I do.
So what set Abraham apart? Ultimately, it was his faith in God. Though he often failed, he still knew he could trust God.
That sense of trust allowed Abraham to follow when God called him to a new land. It allowed Abraham to believe God’s
promises when they seemed so contrary to actual experience. And his faith allowed him to obey when God asked him to
give up that which he held most dear.
THE FATHER’S SACRIFICE
We have many tests today that seek to quantify an individual’s IQ (intelligence quotient). But have you ever taken a test
to determine your FQ (faith quotient)? How much do you trust God?
The supreme test of Abraham’s faith was his willingness to give up his only son. Though God’s request seemed strange
(and perhaps harsh), God was asking Abraham to do nothing more than God Himself had already decided to do. Before
asking Abraham to part with his son, God had already decided to sacrifice His Son, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the
world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The first – and most important – step of faith anyone can take is to place his trust for eternal life in Jesus Christ. The
Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone has violated God’s
perfect standards of righteous thought and action. The Bible also says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
God, in His perfect justice and holiness, must exclude from heaven all who fall short of his absolute standards of
perfection. Anyone not perfectly free of sin receives death…physical death in this life and eternal separation from God
in the lake of fire in eternity.
God’s justice demands payment for sin…but God’s love wants to provide pardon, peace, and eternal life. God’s solution
to the dilemma was to send His perfect Son to earth to die in our place. When Jesus was on the cross He received the
punishment for sin we deserved. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the
punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone
astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
Was God’s plan successful? Yes! The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was proof that His sacrifice was sufficient
payment for our sin. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But Christ has
indeed been raised from the dead” (I Corinthians 15:17, 20). When Jesus exploded from the tomb on the first Easter
morning, He shattered death’s hold on humanity and demonstrated His victory over sin and death.
Do you believe you have sinned against God? Do you believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He died on the cross
to pay the penalty for your sins? Do you believe He rose from the dead? If so, are you willing to accept His payment for
your sin and trust in Him for your eternal destiny? This is the starting place for your journey of faith. God does not
require you to accomplish great deeds, make great sacrifices, or experience great suffering to gain eternal life. Jesus
alone has done it all. You need to believe His actions are sufficient…and place your life in His hands. If you have never
done so, perhaps you could pray a prayer like the following:
Your Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I now want to place my trust in
Jesus Christ as the substitute for my sin. Please forgive me and give me eternal life. In Christ’s name I ask this.
If you just prayed this prayer in sincerity, congratulations! You are now part of the family of God. How can you be
sure? Because God said so in His Word. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his
Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you
who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:11-13).
If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, what’s next? Having trusted in Christ for our
eternal destiny, we must now learn to trust Him for our day-to-day needs. Abraham can be our example. His life of faith
involved following God’s directions, believing God’s words, and obeying God’s commands. You can do the same.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that
he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
CHARACTER COUNTS, by Charles H. Dyer, Copyright 2010, Moody Publishers.