Sermon Manuscript . . .
How to be Trusted by Others
A look at living trustworthy from the life of Samuel
Trust has fallen on hard times. Leaders no longer pursue character, but image. The media destroys reputations with no repercussions–and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. In a world such as this, how can you trust anyone? With all of the scandal, lying and cheating today, how can you and I learn to trust anyone? And how can you and I grow to be trustworthy?
The answer is found through the life of a little boy who grew up to be the last judge and first prophet of the nation of Israel–his name is Samuel. He lived during a very dry time. God was silent and people were hateful, rebellious, doing whatever they wanted. Wickedness ruled the land. His mother gave him up to be raised by an overweight priest who had two evil sons (Samuel’s models and adopted brothers). In fact, the two people this boy was closest to thought God was a joke. They were both liars, cheaters and did whatever they wanted–sinking low enough to have sex with women (not their wives) in the place of worship.
Living in that situation, how could anyone grow up to be trustworthy? Turn to 1 Samuel 1 and let’s find out. Let’s get to know him, so we might become like him. If you do become like Samuel, draw as close to God as he was and as useful as he was, you too will become a man or woman who is trusted by others. All of us can identify with Samuel in some way.
Some of you students are right around the age of Samuel and you live in a bad environment just like Samuel did–and maybe you’ve given into the pressure. Maybe you’ve made friends with those who walk the edge. Maybe you’ve taken drugs, gone all the way sexually. Maybe you’re in secret rebellion to your parents. But no matter if you have weird hair, funny looks, or a strange body–no matter if you’re an, athlete, gamer, brain or nerd. No matter if you’re a liar, cheater or hypocrite. No matter what you are or what you’ve done, God can make you into a man or woman of God. Like Samuel, God can change you into a trustworthy person–a man or woman that others respect.
Others of you here are new to the faith. You have a lot of scars, hurts, pains, and you wonder what God is going to do with your life. God says to you through Samuel–if you’re willing, He will transform you into a truly godly person, an individual worthy of trust and respect.
Some of you here have walked with God for years, but have grown stale lately. Your heart’s grown cold–those early commitments are only a memory. And God will say to you through Samuel, He wants to relight the fire that has grown cold and recharge the batteries of your soul. If you do what Samuel did–what did Samuel do? When you study Samuel, you will see six qualities, six steps which will build trust, six biblical choices you can make–when empowered by the Holy Spirit, will transform you into a trustworthy person. Samuel built trust and so can you–how?
#1 Recognize your ROOTS
What is your background? Look at Samuel’s. First Samuel 1:20, “And it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord.’ “ Hannah named Samuel “heard of God”. All his life, Samuel knew he was the result of answered prayer. Do you think that impacted him?
Growing up, I knew I wasn’t a planned child–I was “the happy accident”, as my folks would say. But when Jesus saved me, I realized that being the “happy accident” meant I was planned and purposed by God alone. And even before my folks knew Christ, they named me Chris–meaning Christ-bearer. Then, being the last to respond to Jesus in my family, I also realize my parents prayed so hard for me in my rebellious state, they prayed me right into the ministry, which began immediately after I was born again.
“But,” you say, “Chris, my background isn’t that nice.” Well neither was Samuel’s. Think about the stress of living with a dad who had two wives who didn’t get along. How about the feeling of abandonment when you are given away to another at the age of 3 to 5. How about the frustration of living with an insensitive, weak-willed, substitute father, and two totally out-of-control lecherous brothers. Had Samuel lived today, He could have kept Nigel busy in counseling the rest of His life. But he wasn’t–why?
Because Samuel saw the hand of God in his roots–even with the injustice, even in the difficulty and possible abuse. Samuel recognized God was at work, even with his super difficult, rough background. Do you? The Bible teaches God designed your background–even when it’s rough. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” And what successful ministry did God plan for Jeremiah? To be rejected, laughed at, jailed and not responded to.
The Bible even teaches that God also designed your family background. That’s why God tells you children in Ephesians 6:1 to “obey your parents in the Lord”–why? Because God gave you your parents. And why God says to parents in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.” God gave you your children–even that 2-year-old, that teen, that third child who you’ve secretly nicknamed Beelzebub. And why God says to spouses in Matthew 19:6, “What therefore God has joined together let no man separate,” to remind us God alone gave you your spouse. We may have dated, courted, asked or said yes–but God says He is the one who puts spouses together. He is in control–it was His plan, amen?
If you’re to become a trusted godly man or woman, I believe you need to recognize your roots and see the intentional hand of God in your background. Now there will be a temptation for you to ask, “How come my background was so hard and theirs was so easy?” I remember in the Chronicles of Narnia, one character had a horrible childhood and suffered greatly while another lived in luxury. But when the hurting one made the comparison to Aslan, the Christ-figure, and said, “Why me?” Aslan says a phrase I love, “Everyone has their own story.”
Every one of us here has his own story as to what God has already done in our lives–don’t compare, but acknowledge God’s hand in allowing and directing your roots in order to bring about His glory and your good. When someone rests in the fact that everything in their life has had a purpose, they stop striving, focus on their Christ-given strengths, their Holy Spirit-given gifts, trust in God’s providential plan for their life and become trustworthy. And you should . . .
#2 Develop a SERVANT’S heart
Hannah called herself a servant in 1:18. Elkanah showed himself a faithful servant in 1:21. And as a result, look at what it says in 2:18, “Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord as a boy wearing a linen ephod.” And then look also at verse 26, “Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.” Samuel was ministering, and as he did, he grew in favor–serving others is the way to build trust.
Grandparents, you give your grandkids a gift that you worked hard to make certain it was perfect for them, but they give you that look that tells you they don’t like it. I got that look once and never want to see it again–the look of rejection. Imagine your father spending a year on a special gift designed just for you, which when you opened, you decided you didn’t want it–you rejected it. You do the same when you reject service, because it too is a very special gift. God calls us to serve each other and in doing so, we serve Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 20:26, “The greatest among us is the servant.” It is shocking to realize the only difference between the sheep and the goats at the end of the Tribulation, in Matthew 25:31ff, is their service. The sheep served, the goats did not. And Jesus said of Himself in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” That’s why every normal church must be big on service. When Christians live like Christ, they serve. When the Church understands love, they serve. Service is a way to show our love for Christ and show our compassion and love for people.
I love to preach God’s Word. I love doing everything necessary to cultivate a healthy church and I love training men. I can do other things, but God created me and gifted me to do those things–and I pursue them, not out of a sense of duty, but in order to know the love of Christ and to show the love of Christ. It is the same with all of you. You each get to know God’s love and show God’s love in service to others. First Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another.”
Each of you have a service to give to others. But you ask, “How do I know whether I have a servant’s heart or not?” The test is simple–how do you respond when you are treated like a servant/slave? This happens a lot to me, and I am usually okay with it. I’ve had to recognize lately, I have certain limitations and can’t work as much as I like, so now when I’m treated like a servant, I cannot always accommodate simply out of sheer exhaustion. It’s the same for the mother of four small children. or the man who has the job, that in order to keep it, must work 80 hours per week for now to provide for his family. They can’t serve as much, but they can serve in some way.
In everyday life, who will you trust? The one who only talks about His willingness to serve, or the one who shows a servant’s heart in action? To lower tensions in a marriage, learn to serve. To calm things down in a household, everyone serve others. To be trusted these days, develop a servant’s heart.
#3 Cultivate an OBEDIENT will
Look at 3:10, it’s here God shows you the readiness of Samuel to obey God, no matter what. “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel’. And Samuel said, ‘Speak for thy servant is listening.’ ” What God said, Samuel did. What about you and us? “ But,” you protest, “Samuel was young, he didn’t know any better! Yet if you check out his later life, you’ll find the same pliant will.
When King Saul showed his unrepentant heart by disobeying God’s clear directive, God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:11 of His decision to remove Saul. The Bible tells us Samuel was “distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.” Wow–what conflict, all night! Yet with no hesitation, Samuel confronted Saul and obediently communicated God’s Word to the rejected king, no matter how he (Samuel) felt.
So many are very selective about obedience. Some obey God like picking out candy at the supermarket. You say, “I like these Snickers, Reese’s, KitKat,100 Grand. But I hate these Smartees, Mounds, and Candy Corn.” Do you pick and choose what you want to obey, or do you have an obedient will–what God says, you do?
For you students, do you laugh with your friends, but at home you’re a grump? Selective obedience is a disobedient life. You will not be trustworthy to others or fully useful to God until you finally break under God’s hand and seek to have an obedient will. Have you learned how useless it is to fight God? I can remember long ago the Lord directing me (no audible voice, but a clear directive) to go to someone I had offended, and I said, “No Lord, I’m not going to do it, I’m not going.” And even though I would forget about it for a time, it never went away. Have you noticed it never goes away?
Every single time I would pray, “Lord, what would you have me do? What am I forgetting, what’s keeping me from You?” Every time, it would come back–not a voice, but as clear as day. Go make it right–now! Obey! I fought it, struggled, tried to forget it, kept trying to ignore it–but it wouldn’t go away until I finally did obey. I went and made things right, and the first thing I remember saying to the Lord was, “Why didn’t I go sooner?” (I think the Lord either laughed or cried.) Cultivate an obedient will.
At work, who do you trust–the employee who does what he wants or the employee who does what the boss wants? You’ll be trusted when you cultivate an obedient will.
#4 Pursue a TRUST relationship with your God
Who is the trustworthy person? It is anyone who knows how to trust others. The trustworthy person is the one who knows how to trust authority. When you see someone trust another person, you’ll be much more able to trust them. When Jean and I talk about our trust and respect for our police department, we find our children automatically trust them as well–they love em! And one of our boys became one!
But in the past, when we expressed doubts about certain elected officials, it has caused our boys to express a lack of trust for them as well. Have you seen that? The more you trust another, the more you’ll be trusted. And the one who trusts in God is one to be trusted. Look at chapter 3:7 and 19, for there you get the idea that Samuel sought a trust relationship with God. Look at verse 7, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him.” But we find in verse 19, “Thus Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail.”
Samuel grew–more than physically, for when you look toward the end of his life, he became known as the prophet of prayer. Samuel was so trusting in God, he brought everything to God, to the point where he says to the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 12:23, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.” As a result of his trust of God, the Bible says very early in the life of Samuel, the people trusted in his leadership as a prophet of God. All Israel from north to south knew Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord (3:20).
But how do you learn to trust in God? The Old Testament word trust means safety, confidence and security. How do we learn to have confidence in God and find our safety and security in God? Well apart from trust being a gift from God, the book of Proverbs tells us the answer. Turn to Proverbs 16:20–in this book of wisdom, the Bible tells us where trust in God comes from. “He who gives attention to the Word shall find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” These two phrases are connected–to trust the Lord is to trust in His Word, the Bible.
Proverbs goes on to remind you while you need to trust what the Bible says, we’re not to trust our own feelings. Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” Or fear how men might respond to us following God. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but He who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Or our own thinking and logic, Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
To build a trust relationship, you need to run your life by the truth–our instruction manual for living, the Bible. Not just reading it, but living it. Not just hearing it, but heeding it. Not beginning any day until God speaks to you through it. Hurt hearts need to stay in the book until God speaks to you–studying it until you have confidence in what God says. Responding to its commands as orders. Letting its promises calm your fears. Filling your heart with its truth so every thought, word and action are guided by its teaching. Trust comes when others know you follow the truth. But it also comes from . . .
#5 Work at ENDURING faithfully
Turn to chapter 3:15-19 of 1 Samuel. Here God has told young Samuel all about His coming judgment upon Eli and his family. Look at verses 15 to 18, “So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.16Then Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 17And he said, ‘What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.’ 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, ‘It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.’ “
God made it tough for Samuel. God made him proclaim some very bad news. What if you knew that your closest friend and mentor was going to die, his family disgraced, his children were to be killed, so that there would be no heritage to continue the family line? It was tough for Samuel–but it paid off. Samuel grew and God used him greatly. As verse 19 says, “Thus Samuel grew and the Lord was with him.”
Samuel hung in there. He was faithful in the little things as well as the big things. Samuel grew to confront the entire nation for rejecting God by wanting a king like everyone else. And he was the man who rejected Saul for God. What do you do when life gets tough? Most of us start looking for the escape pod. We mentally pull the covers over our head, and physically try to find a way to elude the pain.
We need to learn the secret of hard wood. When looking for wood that’s used for framing, burning or bulk projects, it’s easy to find, since it’s usually the coarse grain soft wood found in secure valleys, well hidden from the dangers of the elements. But to find wood used in fine furniture and special projects, the hard wood with fine grain, it’s tougher to find since its usually found on a mountain where the tree was constantly tested by the elements.
It is the same with God’s men and women. It is the tough parts of life–the trials, the pains that cause us to be able to be used for those special tasks God reserves only for His fine-grained saints. God’s men and women need to hang in there. To know God’s best, to be close to Him, to be trusted–we need to be faithful, to endure, to never give up. How to build an enduring lifestyle?
First Be willing to take RISKS
Live by faith . . . where you can be and do what God expects–reach the lost and build the saints. Share the Gospel and serve your gift.
Second Get into RELATIONSHIPS
Where you are supported and held accountable. We were not meant to live the Christian life alone–that is why Sunday morning attendance is not enough. Get into a community group or a ministry with others, where others can hold you up when you want to give up.
Third Stay with a ROUTINE
One that not only stretches you, but where you see God using you and stick with it. You trust a person when you see that they’re not quickly shaken when trouble hits. You trust a person when you see their character come to the surface in the midst of a trial. You can trust a person who lives an enduring lifestyle, like Samuel. But you can also trust a person when you know they don’t live for themselves, but for Christ.
#6 Seek to live for CHRIST
Samuel let others see God in him and through him. Look at 1 Samuel 3:20 to 21, “And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”
You can be trusted when it is obvious you don’t live for yourself, but for another. When your life is lived to please God and it shows by the way you live, you will be trusted. How do people know that God lives in you? When you’re willing to live differently–not weird. Just different, better–like Christ. When you’re willing to be a zebra in the midst of horses.
Test yourself–God is seen in you when you speak kindly when no one else does, smile when others are frowning, say hello first even though others don’t, serve when no one else will, sacrifice when no one asks. And people will see God in you and through you when you respond differently to trials–like being stuck at home during this virus.
There was a little boy who loved to visit others in his neighborhood. He would often make the rounds from house to house, but one particular day he didn’t leave the garage of a minister who happened to be building a bench for his children. The preacher thought he’d leave as he often did and didn’t understand why the boy wanted to stay. Finally the man of God asked if he was looking for pointers to build a bench, to which the little boy said, “Oh no–I am waiting around, cause I wanted to know what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer.”
Do we live any different when things go badly? Do we show off God in everything we do? “But,” you say, “how do we do that? What does it take?”
First It takes INITIATIVE
God never told us to wait until others see Him in us, but for us to take the initiative so others do. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Let your light shine with attractive works that point to Jesus. What else does it take to show off God?
Second It takes LOVE
John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” As you love, brothers and sisters–with service, words, comfort, and dedication (smile, joy, affection) they will know you live for another.
Third It takes TIME
Some of us are too busy to show off Jesus. We’re busy with our job, our fun, our binge watching, our family–we don’t take the time to love others around us, give them gifts on their porch, let our neighbors know we are praying for them. We need to take the time. As we do, we build trust and become trustworthy.
To be trusted, you will need to live not for yourself, nor your interests–but live for another and His interests. Isn’t that what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let Him deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” To be close to Christ, to know Him and to walk through life with Him, is the greatest joy anyone can experience. Do you know Him? For when you do, as you live for Him it will cause others to trust you.
But you will have to determine who you will trust–yourself, the media, politicians, leaders, government? Or will you trust Christ? Samuel trusted His God, will you? Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Think through what we learn from Samuel. The more you trust Christ with everything in life, the more His children will trust you. The more you obey God’s Word, serve and love others, the more you glorify God. The more you develop routines of service and giving, the greater you will be able to endure under trial. The more you initiate service to others, the brighter your witness will be to the lost around you.
So allow me to share with you this week’s 1 Samuel lockdown challenges for FBC families.
CHALLENGE ONE SHOCKING SERVICE
Each member of the family is to choose to serve, unasked, uncalled for, and unknown. Make a card, do a chore, make a song, clean the house, wash the dishes–do an act of service for one or more in your house this week that no one expects. Make it at least once this week–then move toward once a day.
CHALLENGE TWO NEIGHBOR NICENESS
You don’t want to bake cookies, but if you can find a gift for your neighbors that is sealed by the manufacturer–a Kind bar, a candy, a toilet paper roll, something safe . . . and add a card from you. Drop that on the porch of your immediate neighbors with the card we designed, inviting them to our church livestream. Put them together as a family.
CHALLENGE THREE LOVE LIGHT
Each person in the family think of 1 to 3 people they have not talked to since lockdown and call them on the phone, then text, then email, but call them first talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ who you have not talked to in awhile. Not the leadership (they are overwhelmed right now), but to the family of faith–and let’s build lives of trust.