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TRUST AND OBEY
By The Rt. Rev. Franklin H. Sellers, D.D.
(Reprinted from The Parish Register February, 1980)
Dwight L. Moody was in Brockton, Massachusetts conducting a series of evangelistic meetings when a young man, spiritually moved by the great preacher, rose in the congregation and said, I am going to trust, and I am going to obey. Attending that evening was a Professor of Music by the name of Daniel B. Towner. The young mans statement appealed to the professor so much that he wrote it on paper and sent it, together with the story, to a Presbyterian minister, Rev. John H. Sammis.
Thus, the stage was set for the composition of one of the most loved Sunday School gospel hymns. The Reverend Mr. Sammis wrote these words, Trust and obey, For theres no other way, To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey. This simple admonition to trust God rests upon sound biblical counsel and experience. The psalmist attributes a state of blessedness to the one who is able to overcome the anxieties of life and place his trust in God. Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust: (Psalm 40:4). He further suggests in Psalm 62:8 that there is no occasion when we cannot place our trust in him. The verse reads, Trust in him at all times, ye people. We can deduce a further truth in his writings. Trust is not just an attitude or a description of a state of mind. It is a pre-condition to beneficial activity, according to Psalm 37:3, Trust in the Lord, and do good.
Biblical experience points out a number of various circumstances where God has required his servants to Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Those who did, found the reward great. Let us share three of these examples with you in this issue.
FIRST, a time to trust and obey when it seems self-defeating. Genesis 22 tells us about a mountain-top experience of ancient Abraham that was certainly different. He was not on a mountain top of joy but of testing. Yet, his example of trust is so outstanding that it serves as an inspiration to us today. In faith Abraham had responded to Gods call with the words Here am I.
Attentive and obedient, he waited Gods instruction, which, when it came, must have startled him. God said, Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you. You must consider how long Abraham had waited for his promised son. How much a son and heir meant to him and how important it was to establish his line of descendents, which was promised by God in Genesis 15:5. All this was in jeopardy in the instruction to offer his only son, whom he loved unto the Lord. To do Gods will would certainly seem self-defeating, but thank God that Abraham never wavered, as he stretched out his son on the fire wood and raised his knife over him.
Verses 12 and 13 tell us what ensued. God provided the needed sacrifice as well as reinforced his covenant with a well-tested patriarch, adding the promise, In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. We rejoice in that blessing today, earned because Abraham proved he could "trust and obey.
Joshua is the SECOND biblical example of trusting God, even when it seems ridiculous. In the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, we read of his experience when God delivered this promise, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the King thereof, and the mighty men of valor. You will note there is no underestimating the defenders of this fortified city. Yet, for a military general to follow the procedure set forth in this chapter seems ridiculous. Consider this scene (1) Seven priests carrying trumpets made of rams horns, (2) men carrying the cabinet which contained the Law of God, (3) the armed men of Israel marching in silence in front, and (4) the people in the rear of the procession.
Can you imagine the ridicule that would be heaped upon a commander who put such a plan in practice today? But, Joshua believed Gods promise which was indispensible to the plan. He trusted, He obeyed. On the seventh circuit the people shouted and the walls fell. The city was his as promised.
From the New Testament we draw our THIRD example of trust and obey, even when you fear! All of us know the record of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Armed with warrants and breathing threats and murder for the arrest of any of the followers of the way, of any who openly profess faith in Jesus as the Christ, Saul made his way to Damascus, Syria. While enroute, filled with the zealots desire to bring terror into the hearts of those who blasphemed the God the Pharisees worshipped, Saul was granted a vision of Christ. Blinded, but submissive by this encounter with Jesus, Saul was led to the city to await his fate, to fast, and to pray.
A citizen of the city who was a disciple named Ananias, in the record of Acts 9, was granted a vision. Reminiscent of Abraham and Isaiah, Ananias responded with the words, Behold, here am I, Lord. The Lord instructed him to Arise, go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. What an impact that assignment had, because Ananias had heard terrible things about Saul, and the pain and havoc he inflicted on the brethren in Jerusalem. God, however, brooks no argument, because he had chosen Saul to bear his name before the Gentiles and Kings, and the sons of Israel.
Can you imagine the fear in the heart of an ordinary disciple in that far-off city as he made his way to be the one who was to admit, through the laying on of hands and baptism, one of the chief sinners of all time. However, before he knew of the task, Ananias answered, Here am I, Lord, so now was no time to turn back. Now was the hour of trust and obedience. Ananias completed his mission, fear or not. He addressed the feared persecutor in trust with these words, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
How fortunate for us that Ananias trusted and obeyed. How much poorer the world would be without the letters of Paul to the churches and the pastors. It was this same Paul who later wrote to the Roman Christians about Jesus Christ, quoting from the great prophet Isaiah, There shall come a root of Jesse, and he that shall reign over the gentiles, in him shall the gentiles trust. He was speaking of our generation, of our trust in Jesus, the heir of Davids throne, of our need to TRUST AND OBEY.
The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote paid us his annual episcopal visit on Sunday, September 14, 2003. It was good to see the Bishop, to hear his inspiring sermon, and to have him celebrate Holy Communion.
September 14th was also designated Homecoming Sunday. Following the service of Holy Communion we adjourned to the Parish Hall where we enjoyed a fine lunch and fellowship.
Bishop Grote also confirmed Mr. William Garrison while with us September 14th. We heartily welcome Will into the St. Andrews family.
Missionary of The Month
Sue Brodish, Christian Kindergarten. Schwalmstadt, Germany.
Remember to pray for the Rev. and Mrs. Paul Howden (Beth) and their children, Malachai, Mark, Timothy, and Charissa. St. Lukes Reformed Episcopal Church, Santa Ana, California.
Faith Christian Reformed Church, 8383 W. 171st St. The service begins at 7:30 p.m and is sponsored by the Tinley Park Ministerial Association.
Feast of St. Andrew
Sunday, November 30, 2003.
There will be a pot luck dinner in the Parish Hall following morning worship.
Nov. 3 Bishop Franklin H. Sellers
Nov. 10 John Horn
Nov. 17 Olive Denning
Nov. 17 Doris Sellers
Nov. 21 Bryan Reagan
November 30, 2003
During Advent there will be a basket in the Narthex for donations of non-perishable food items which will go to the Tinley Park Food Pantry. We appreciate your support of this annual effort to help those in need.
A Thanksgving Day Prayer
Create within us, our Father, that true gratitude that shall make this day of Thanksgiving one of rededication, when we shall think not of how much we can eat but of how thankful we ought to be.
So may we all across this land today act as recipients of Gods richest mercy and bountiful blessing, as we share with others. May we, in gratitude, get on with the job of creating not only a nation but a world in which all men shall have the right to seek happiness.
Help us to make that dream come true in our homes day by day, in street and office and school, and so to live that thou shalt be able to bless us and bless the nation for which we pray. In his name, who created us as a nation, we pray. Amen.
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