Trust God, Even When You Don’t Know the Details

Trust God, Even When You Don’t Know the Details

You may have heard the phrase:

“Don’t abandon what you know,
For that which you don’t know.”

I can’t remember where I heard that quote first, but it came to mind during yesterday’s sermon at our church.

You see, our pastor was going through Mark 12:18-27 where Jesus is in the middle of multiple question “traps” from the religious leaders.

Their goal was to catch Him in His words so they could turn Him over to the Roman government, or so that the people who loved and supported Him would rebel against Him.

And, of course, they fail.

But their attacks reveal problems in their own beliefs and in their own hearts.

And their problems, are often ones we struggle with as well.

A Breakdown Of The Situation

In this quick story, the Sadducees approach Jesus and give Him a logical reason why the resurrection can’t happen – why there can’t be life after death.

Their reasoning is that according to the law of Moses, a man is suppose to take his brother’s widow as his wife, if his brother and sister-in-law had no children, in order to make sure she’s taken care of. The dilemma is, if she fails to have children with either brother, then whose wife would she be in the “life after death”?

It’s important to note that the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, and this was probably one of their strongest reasonings.

In response, Jesus tells them that they are in “error” because…
• They do not know the Scriptures 

• They do not know the power of God 


Pretty strong words.

Jesus then tells them that in the afterlife, people will no longer be married or become married and so their argument is useless.

He then goes on to remind them of scripture that clearly shows that there is an afterlife.

Did You See The Problem?

The Sadducees had the scripture that told them there was an afterlife…
But because they couldn’t reason in their minds how it could work out…
They abandoned that truth and claimed that there was no afterlife…

Which explains Jesus’ harsh rebuke.

They had the truth,
But they refused to acknowledge it,
Because they didn’t understand the details.

Jesus did give them more details in this passage: he answered how the who marriage thing would work out…
But they shouldn’t have needed that detail to trust God.

They should be able to trust that God,
The maker of the universe,
Could solve a simple “problem” with the resurrection
Even if He didn’t tell them about it.

And, here lies the problem that Jesus has with their question:

They ignored the scriptures that clearly said there was a resurrection,
And they ignored the power of God that He could work out what He said was true.

The Sadducees couldn’t simply trust God without knowing all the details,
And so they made up their own details,
And ended up not believing what God had clearly said.

They had created a system that “disproved” how the resurrection could even be possible, and ended up ignoring that God said it was so.

Contradiction Or Paradox

The problem with the Sadducees, and ourselves today, is that we tend to mix up contradictions and paradoxes.

A contradiction is where two things cannot be the true at the same time.

A paradox is where two things SEEM to not be able to be true at the same time, but it shows to be true after further examination and information.

Much of what God tells us seems to be a paradox.
It is things we can’t understand right now,
But we tend to understand with 20/20 hindsight vision.

But too often, like the Sadducees, we incorrectly take God’s paradoxes for contradictions and forget that we can trust God even when we don’t know the details.

Trust God, Even When You Don’t Know the Details

We have the opportunity to learn from the mistake of the Sadducees.

They knew God’s Word, but put their own logic above what God clearly said,
They read and heard of God’s power, but were quick to forget that the God Who created everything was also capable sorting it all out too.

We don’t have to fall into the same trap.

We can take God at His Word,
And when He cares to share the details: that’s great!

And when He chooses to keep the details hidden,
We can trust Him in that too.

There are many “details” in life we simply don’t have answers to.

Personal details,
National details,
Global details,
Even theological details…

There is simply so much we don’t know.
And there is much we still ought to seek out and try to learn,
But at the end of the day:

We need to trust God has said to be true, even when when don’t know the details just yet.

Waiting On God (And Thriving In The Transition)

Waiting On God (And Thriving In The Transition)

Have you ever felt like you closed a big chapter of your life,
And the next one hasn’t started?

Although some of us may experience this more than others,
I think most of us have had this feeling at some point.

Personally, I feel like I’ve had many of these “in-between” phases.

In fact, the past 15 months have felt like that.

A massive 15 month gap in my (and my family’s) life where it feels like we’re just… waiting.

Waiting to see what God wants next.
Waiting to push forward in and into whatever He has.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still doing everything God tells us to do:

Working hard at our jobs and business
Serving at church
Raising our kids
Taking every opportunity to use our giftings, treasures and talents that God has given us to serve Him and love others
And sharing Jesus’ Gospel whoever we go

But life still feels… stalled.

Like we’re in-between “missions” in a sense.

God has obviously given all of us plenty to do,
But sometimes it can feel like you’re not moving “forward.”

That you’re simply serving and obeying Him while patiently treading water.

If that’s you too, then I want to encourage you that it’s perfectly fine to be in that situation.

It can feel wasted and useless at times,
But if it’s where God wants you,
Then you shouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Again, for the people in the back

If you are in a season of feeling wasted and useless,
but it is where God wants you,
Then you shouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Waiting In Scripture

We see many examples throughout scripture of people who had to “wait” on God in their lives.

And, interestingly enough, we read that God’s purposes and plans often depended on these transition times for the purposes He had planned.

Joseph had to wait about 22 years to see his first dream come to reality (after becoming a slave, wrongfully thrown in prison, etc)

Abraham had to wait about 25 years from his first calling to actually seeing his “son of the promise” to be born

Moses waited 40 years in the wilderness before returning to Egypt to rescue the Children of Israel

David waited about 15-20 years after being anointed to become king before his actual coronation and finally becoming king (and dealt with a lot of grief from the ruling king Saul during that time)

Elijah had to wait through a 3 year drought with a widow in the middle of nowhere in the middle/end of his prophetic ministry

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to wait 9 months after the angel’s visit to see Jesus born… and then another 33 difficult years to then experience the most difficult day of her life, and then another 3 days to know that the last 34 years were all worth it

Jesus waited 30 years before beginning his public ministry. Can you imagine being God in the flesh and having to generally “keep quiet” and live a normal life when all you really want to do is share the good news and free everyone from their sin? Instead, Jesus waited for what The Father had deemed the precise time for Jesus to enter the public scene.

The Beauty Of Contentment In Waiting

One of the false assumptions we have is that if you’re not doing something big for God, or in direct process of doing something big, that you’re doing something wrong.

But as we see in all of the examples above, God has His plan and purpose (and it is often very different from the plans we make for ourselves).

In a book I recently read (and shared some quotes at this link: “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”), Jeremiah Burroughs shares an interesting idea:

If God wills for us to be “in the game” and doing “big things” for Him, that’s great.
And if He chooses to “bench” us for a time, for no apparent reason, that’s great too.

And, we can actually glorify God in our waiting just as much as in our doing.

To have contentment in God just doing the small things,
While being on the sidelines,
Shows where our priorities are.

Being content in the times of waiting shows that God, and our relationship with Him, is enough.

The times of “doing” and “moving forward” are great.
But they can also cloud our priorities and our heart.

And it’s in the times of waiting that our faith and relationship with God really has to be tried.

If God wants me, or you, to wait,
Then enjoy Him in the waiting.

If God wants me, or you, to move forward,
Then enjoy Him in the moving forward.

Thriving In The Transition

One of the best things you can do in the “waiting” is to simply enjoy God (as mentioned above) and to also prepare for what’s next.

I’ve known many people who felt called to lead different ministries, move to different places, or even pastor or start a church…

But not yet.

And you knew what they did in those times of quiet?

Prayed.
Fasted.
Studied.
Got out of financial debt.
Instilled good habits.
Built lasting friendships and support systems.

They prepared themselves for whatever God has next.

Because although waiting is good,
God always has something “next”.

And you need to be ready when He shows you what that is.

Preparing For God’s “Next”

The best example I have of people who properly prepared in their time of waiting is found in Daniel 1:8-21.

After Jerusalem fell and the king of Babylon brought many into his kingdom. Daniel and his friends were faced with eating food God had made clear for them not to eat.

In this time of “waiting,” they could have easily turned away from God, but they instead continued to prepare for what was next.

They sought to obey God fully and nurture their relationship with Him.

By the end of the chapter, we see that God had begun raising them up as leaders in the kingdom because of their steadfastness.

And we see throughout the book how they held onto God’s will for their lives even when nothing important seemed to happen for years on end.

And when God had something planned for them,
They were ready.

Daniel’s friends faced the fiery furnace in a godly way,
Daniel was rescued from the lion’s den,
Daniel was given interpretations of many dreams,
And God continued to be able to use them though-out many years.

Because they remained faithful and prepared during their times of waiting.

Good And Faithful Servant

I don’t know if you’re in a season of waiting.

I am.

I don’t know what’s next, but I know God does.

And in the meantime, I’m going to continue preparing and serving and drawing near to God in any way I can.

Because today I am waiting.
And I need to enjoy the stillness and the ability to prepare that waiting allows for.

But I don’t know what tomorrow brings.
Only God does.

I pray that when my life is over, that God would look at my times of “moving forward” and my times of “waiting” and would say: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

May we seek to receive that commendation from Him.

In our doing.
And in our waiting.

The Problem With “Thoughts And Prayers” (For The Christian)

The Problem With “Thoughts And Prayers” (For The Christian)

You’ve probably seen the memes that get passed around basically pointing and making fun of the “thoughts and prayers” posts that spring up whenever a tragedy happens.

And I get it.

We live in a culture dominated by “armchair warriors” who have rarely lifted a finger to accomplish anything worthwhile. And the “thoughts and prayers” memes are to show how important it is to take action.

And action is necessary.

On a personal level and a global scale:
Nothing changes without purposeful action

But I think there’s more that we need to remember.

Why Thoughts And Prayers Don’t Work

“Thoughts” in general aren’t very valuable. It’s important to plan, but sending “thoughts” after tragedy strikes really doesn’t help anyone.

But what about prayer?

Well, if you’re a Christian, than prayer is invaluable.

So, what’s wrong with the “prayers” in “thoughts and prayers”?

The bottom line:
We do a lot of thinking,
And not a lot of praying.

Too often, I see people sharing stories and situations online that are heartbreaking, and they have strong words for those involved and tell how “we need to do something”… but that’s it.

Think about all the posts you may have seen regarding:
• Shootings
• Abortion
• Homelessness
• Child Neglect
• Trafficking
• Racism

Most of the posts I see regarding these tragedies, and more, have a call to action: to get angry, maybe to even vote or donate money, and possibly to even pray.

But how much are we actually praying?

I see more talk about the importance of voting than the importance of prayer as of late, and that’s saddening.

Of course, if you don’t believe in God, then prayer shouldn’t matter to you, but if you do, and especially if you are a Christian, then prayer should be your first response to today’s problems, not sharing 10 articles to your Facebook page in order to “spread awareness”.

We see throughout the Bible and history that the most significant advances of God’s Kingdom and His goodness were done by people who took massive action from the depths of massive prayer.

Please don’t take what I’m saying as a call to stop doing things.

I just want to put out a clear reminder that all the action in the world will be of no use if it’s not completely backed by prayer and seeking God to do what only He can do.

Action is necessary, but action without prayer will be met with powerlessness.

Seek God First For The Change Only He Can Bring

To help realign our priorities and our hearts, here’s one of my favorite quotes on prayer, I hope it helps remind you that the war we face is not against flesh and blood.

Jesus is the only hope we have for the transformation of people’s hearts, which is the root of all the problems we see today.

So, please take action.
Please give.
Please vote.

But most importantly,
Please pray.
Actually pray.

Don’t talk about praying.
Don’t say that you’ll pray.
Stop, right then.
Right when you want to tell someone you’ll be praying for them.

Go before the throne of God,
Go to your Father in heaven,
As His loved, forgiven, and adopted child,
Go simply,
And fervently,
Pray.

“When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do.” – A.C. Dixon

Responding To The Fallout Of Christian Leaders (Specifically After Joshua Harris)

Responding To The Fallout Of Christian Leaders (Specifically After Joshua Harris)

You’ve probably heard the expression to “never meet your heroes” because you’ll find that they are just as flawed as everyone else.

This is never more clearly seen than in the wake of a prominent Christian leader or pastor who chooses to walk away from believing in Jesus, has a hidden sin come to light, or something similar.

In light of the popular Christian writer Josh Harris recently announcing his change of beliefs, many were unsure how to respond as he had left a big impact on their lives and their faith in Jesus.

This situation is unfortunately common, and it is important that we are ready to have a godly response.

Mercy, grace and kindness towards others

We live in a world where people are quick to judge and be critical of people and situations we know almost nothing about, and it’s no different for Christian leaders.

Even when the situation is fairly clear, we’re quick to say things and be more judgmental online than we would ever be in person (which is usually more than we should say or think anyway).

So, regarding Joshua Harris and any other well-known Christian person or pastor, we need to have even more grace towards them and their situation.

One of my favorite quotes from Chuck Smith is “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy… and I need a lot of mercy.”

He is clearly referring to Jesus’ sermon on the mount and then reminding ourselves where we fall into the equation:

We need mercy and God wants us to also extend mercy to others.

And so, we need to keep the posture described by John Bradford in his famous quote:

“But for the grace of God, there go I.”

John Bradford

Too many of us are quick to bring the torches and pitchforks, when that is the furthest thing from what Jesus would have us do.

Instead, let’s pray for the Christians in the public eye, the pastors and other leaders, who are going through extremely difficult times and know that if not for the grace of God, we would be in the same difficult position as them.

We are saved by, and follow, Jesus. Not other people

I think one of the reasons people can sometimes have such a massive knee-jerk reaction to a pastor or popularized Christian leader falling from the faith or into sin is because we have begun to put our beliefs, faith and trust in them and not Jesus.

This is especially common regarding pastors since they are teaching God’s Word week after week. But in cases like Joshua Harris, it’s easy to do the same since he rooted his messages on godly purity and lifestyle in the Bible.

And, although it’s very good to learn from others, after a while it’s tempting to put some of our faith and belief in the person teaching, rather than in Jesus, Who they are teaching about.

This problem is common, but also disastrous.

Although we are told to be thankful for our leaders, and even encouraged to imitate them so far as they imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), Jesus makes it clear that you need to have a personal connection to Him and His Spirit, and not merely one through another person.

We see this problem played out in the Bible through the life of King Joash.

He became king at a young age of 7, but it says that He held “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (2 Chronicles 24:1-2).

But do you know what happened after Jehoiada the priest died?

He turned away from God and set up idols (2 Chronicles 24:17-18).

Joash’s faith in God wasn’t personally his, just one he adopted as long as the priest he grew up with was still around.

And I’ve seen the same thing happen to people I know, and maybe it’s happened to you.

Maybe it was a grandparent or parent.
Or maybe a famous preacher or pastor.
Possibly a Christian author or actor.
Or maybe even a close friend or person you have trusted to guide you spiritually.

When these types of people turn away from Jesus, renounce their faith, or even fall into sin, it can be easy to doubt or write off everything they’ve told us.

But your faith in Jesus and your relationship with Him cannot be reliant on someone else.

Those people may have led you to Jesus, but they are not your Savior.

As important of a role as people can play in our lives, we must not let our relationship to Jesus stay channeled through them. We must embrace Jesus separately and wholly as our own.

Jesus the same. Yesterday. Today. And Forever.

People make mistakes.
People fail.
People will let us down.
But Jesus never will.

In light of any prominent Christian leader or pastor, it’s important to remember how Jesus is not like us flawed people.

He does not recant on His words.
He does not back down from Him promises.
He does not change His mind.
He is the same.

Yesterday.
Today.
And Forever.

We can put our hope and trust fully upon Jesus and He will not let us down.

So, whenever a public or personal Christian leader lets you down…

Pray for them.
Encourage them. (especially if they are close to you)
Give grace to them.

And, in everything you do,
Everything you say,
And everywhere you go:

Love others,
And stay close to Jesus.

Forgiven And Empowered To Forgive (Mark 11:25–26)

Forgiven And Empowered To Forgive (Mark 11:25–26)

Yesterday, I got to teach the kids class at church, and the section we were in was Mark 11:25–26 where Jesus teaches us the importance of forgiving others. Below are some of the main points and ideas from this passage.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25–26

The Context

It’s no surprise that this passage on forgiveness ends the story of Jesus calling people in the temple out on having the appearance of godliness, but having no fruit or substance of a relationship with God.

Jesus finishes this section with a reminder of what the fruit of godliness looks like. It’s not just outward actions, but inward heart change.

Specifically, Jesus tells us that a true disciple of His will forgive others.

Simply put, people who are forgiven by God will, in turn, forgive others.

The Importance (And Necessity Of) Forgiving Others

Jesus pulls no punches in this verse. He starts out by saying that forgiving others is so important that you should even pause your prayer to do so.

And then He goes as far to say that “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

But what does He mean by that?

We see throughout scripture that God was the first to act on our need for forgiveness and salvation, and that He did so in spite of all we did and who we once were…

God saved us when we were still enemies of God (Romans 5:10)
We only love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
None of us were even seeking God to begin with (Romans 3:11)

So, what does it mean that God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others?

To answer that, it’s best to look at another parable from Jesus in Matthew 18:21-35.

Here’s the general story…

A man owed a VERY great debt and his lender forgave him of that debt.

Shortly after, this man refuses to forgive someone else’s much smaller debt and threatens him with his life.

The previous lender finds out how cruelly this man treated the other and renounces his forgiven debt as a consequence for treating the other man so poorly.

Read the full story in Matthew 18:21-35

What we learn from this parable is that God takes our life change very seriously. We are not saved by our works, but God’s grace and forgiveness is purposed to bring about a heart change.

God’s plan is to save us from the punishment for our sins (Romans 6:23), to give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), to fill us with new motives (1 Corinthians 10:31), and new empowerment (2 Timothy 1:7) to live a new life that He has called us to (Titus 2:11–14).

And, this new life is not an option. It flows supernaturally from our forgiveness.

Which leads us back to the question:

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? Does God forgive us because we forgive others? Or do we forgive others because God forgives us?

What we can learn from Jesus’ parable and the rest of scripture, is that God forgives us and empowers us to forgive others.

But, if we are not actively trying and asking God to help us to forgive others… then, how can we possibly say we’ve been forgiven by God and love Him? (1 John 4:20)

Or, to put it another way:

Forgiving others is a sign that we’ve been forgiven by God.
And a lack of forgiveness towards others is a sign that we have not experienced God’s forgiveness.

(Also, check out Luke 7:36–50 for a real life version of the parable described above).

Forgiveness vs Reconciliation

Forgiveness is always possible,
But reconciliation is not.

It’s important to note that Jesus calls us to forgive others, but that doesn’t mean things will always work out.

Simply looking at Jesus’ life will tell us that we won’t be on good terms with everyone, but we can still forgive everyone.

Paul reminds us in Romans 12:18 that we are to “live peaceably with all” but only “so far as it depends on you” recognizing that sometimes the issues we have with others are simply on their end and there is nothing we can do about it.

This doesn’t give us freedom to ever write someone off as a lost cause, as we are called to love generously and especially those who hate us, but we also shouldn’t bear the weight of a two-way relationship all on ourselves.

We can forgive others and still not receive reconciliation between ourselves and the other person, if they refuse.

Empowered To Forgive

Although we talk about our empowerment coming from God, we often constrain ourselves to only self-help methods and motivational talks which is the exact opposite of “empowered by God”.

And, as a side note, not only does self-help and self motivation only last temporarily, but God also tells us that nothing we do can be pleasing to Him without our actions coming out of our of faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6). If our motivation is one of self attainment and simply doing better, we’ve completely missed the point.

In regards to forgiveness, I’ve heard people encouraged to think about how much God loves the person you ought to forgive and that if God can forgive them, then so should you.

But this is nothing more than hype and motivational talk (and also not found in scripture).

Of course God loves them, He’s perfect!
But how does that help me to love them?

Here’s what the Bible tells us to do:

Instead of focusing on the people you ought to forgive,
You need to focus on the God who has forgiven you.

Scripture tells us that our forgiveness doesn’t come from seeing God forgive others, but as an overflow of God forgiving us, as we talked about above.

But there’s one more piece.

And that’s God’s Spirit.

When God forgives us, He doesn’t simply wipe our slate clean and then tell us to try harder.

God gives us His Spirit to teach us (John 14:26), help us (John 14:26), encourage us (Acts9.31) and empower us to follow Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to all believers, when we are saved. And it is through Him that we become more like Jesus – including our growth in forgiving others (Acts 2:38).

Next Steps

There’s no better application than this:

Is there someone you need to forgive?
Do it now.

Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from?
Because Jesus said pretty much the same thing about that (Matthew 5:23–24)
Go ask for forgiveness.

Do your best to bring reconciliation, as much as it depends on you.

Forgive.
Repent.
Love others like Jesus.


If you’re interested in more on this topic, below are links to my series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

We Need God’s Spirit to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

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