This is the second week of our series called For The Win. It’s the last series that I’ll be preaching in our current facility. On April 7, we’ll begin meeting at the Eastgate Holiday Inn under the new name Connect Christian Church.
And as we think back on our history and as we look at what’s to come, one thing is clear…God has given us a lot of victories and He has a ton more in store for us.
Last week, we talked about asking for the win. Praying boldly and specifically for the victories that we need. If we do that, it will have a revolutionary impact on our lives. Audacious prayers lead to audacious faith. And audacious faith persuades God to audacious action.
Today, we’re going to trust for the win. After you ask for the win, then you move on to trust. You trust that God has heard you. You trust that He can deliver. You trust that He will deliver.
We’re in Psalm 20 for this series. Let’s pray for God to speak to us today.
Let’s get into our text for this series. In Psalm 20, David wrote, “Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!” (Psalm 20:6-9, NIV)
David probably wrote this before some big battle. He was very bold and specific in what he prayed for. He prayed for victory. Total, complete, absolute victory. He wasn’t afraid to ask for the win. But he also trusted for the win.
Look at verse 7 again. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7, NIV)
Chariots and horses were signs of military might. If you had enough skilled horsemen, enough warriors in your chariots, you could win the battle.
But David, right before the battle that was in front of him, said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Some trust in what they can see. We trust in the God that we can’t see.
Some trust in what they believe brings them power. We trust that real power comes from God.
Some trust in what they can do. We trust in what God can do.
The dichotomy between the two couldn’t be bigger.
Trust is the foundation of our relationship with God. And if you want to see God come through, if you want to see God bring about a victory, you have to trust Him for it.
For me, that is really hard to do. Because I try to manufacture my own victories. If there is something to overcome…an issue that needs resolved…a mountain that needs to be moved…it seems like I always try to do it on my own. I try to manufacture my own victory. Even if the victory will take a miracle. I’ll try to manufacture my own miracle.
And before you get too critical of me, stop and think about how often you do that yourself. How often do you rely on yourself…your intelligence…your power…your resolve…your strength…how often do you rely on you for a victory?
For me, my chariots and my horses…are me. I trust in me. The problem is, I’m not trustworthy. I am weak. I falter. I fail.
And I need to hear the words of David and drive them deep into my mind and my heart and my soul. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We don’t just trust God. We trust in the name of the Lord our God. God isn’t some distant, cosmic being. He is close. He is personal. We know His name.
The name that David referred to in this verse is Yahweh. This is the most common name for God in the Old Testament. The name Yahweh means, “I am who I am,” or simply, “I am.”
There is such a simple truth that this name teaches us, but it’s a truth that really changes everything. The name of our God is “I am.” It indicates that His presence has always been and will always be. Whatever is going on in the world, God is “I am.” Whatever is going on in your life, God is “I am.”
God is there even when it feels like He is not. God is with you even when it feels like He has abandoned you. At your best times and at your worst times, your God is “I am.”
That’s what David was talking about when he said “we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” We trust in Yahweh…the great I am.
But it doesn’t stop there. David’s family line would eventually lead to Jesus Christ. Jesus came as God in the flesh. He died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again to give us a new life. He is our Lord, our Savior, and our God. And we trust in His name.
The name Jesus means “The Lord Saves.” No matter how far you have fallen, He is The Lord Saves. No matter what is falling apart in your life, He is The Lord Saves. No matter how desperate or hopeless your situation seems to be, He is The Lord Saves.
When you look at these two names for God…Yahweh, I Am…Jesus, The Lord Saves…you see one overriding truth. God can be trusted.
He has always been, and will always be. God simply is. And He is your salvation. The Lord Saves.
God’s presence isn’t determined by your circumstances. And your situation doesn’t determine your salvation. God is present with you in circumstances, but His power supersedes your situation.
That’s why we can confidently say along with David, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7, NIV)
Now, in some ways, we could close up shop with that today. In some ways, that should be enough for us. But, if I can be honest with you, it’s not enough for me sometimes.
I have trust issues. Anybody else with me on that? I have trust issues sometimes. I know all the theology. I know that I’m supposed to trust in the name of my God, but sometimes things in my life make that trust really, really hard. Sometimes I go back to trusting in my chariots and my horses. I’ve got trust issues. And if you’re honest, you probably do, too.
If all the stuff we talked about is true, why do we still have such a hard time trusting God? Let’s talk about a few of the big reasons.
First of all, God’s timing is not our timing. A lot of times we want a victory from the microwave, but God is cooking it up on the crock pot. His timing is not our timing.
In Ecclesiastes 3, David’s son, Solomon, wrote, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV)
God has made everything beautiful in its time, not in our time. We want beautiful now, but things are still a mess. We want victory now, but we still seem to be losing. We want an answer now, but God has gone silent.
Look at the second part of this verse that Solomon wrote. “No one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Trying to figure out God’s timing…why He does something and when He does it…trying to figure that out can drive you crazy. Which is why, instead of trying to understand it, we’re a lot better off to say, “God, I trust you. I don’t get it. I don’t know why you’re moving so slowly. I don’t know why this hasn’t happened yet. But I choose to trust you.”
Has anybody been watching The Bible series on The History channel? I have been, and I’ve loved it. Yes, there have been some inaccuracies. But I honestly feel sorry for the people who get so caught up in the more minor inaccuracies that they miss what Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are trying to do in this series. This series is telling God’s story to millions of people who have never heard it. And it’s the highest rated show each week. Its ratings are higher than American Idol. And I completely get that. If I have to choose between watching Nicki Minaj and watching Moses, Moses wins!
One of my favorite scenes in the series so far as been Jericho. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Joshua was leading God’s people, the Israelites, to the land that God had promised to give them. But the powerful city of Jericho stood in the way.
But God told Joshua that He would give them victory over Jericho. The Israelites had to march around the city once a day for six days. And then on the seventh day, they had to march around it seven times, blow some horns, yell real loud, and the city walls would come crashing down.
Kind of crazy. But the Israelites trusted God. They did as He commanded, and God delivered on His promise.
But there’s a part of this story that Mark Burnett didn’t include in his series. I think I know why.
Right before God told Joshua what to do about Jericho, here’s the scene that unfolded in Joshua 5.
“At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.” (Joshua 5:2-3, NIV)
Can we all admit, this is more than a little weird? God had just dried up the Jordan River and allowed the Israelites to cross on dry ground. It was an amazing miracle. Absolutely awesome.
And now that they’ve crossed the river, what’s the first conversation that God has with Joshua?
“I need you to make some flint knives.”
“Okay, I think I remember how to do that. What are we going to do with the knives?”
“You’re going to circumcise all the men.”
“Say what? You want me to make knives and do THAT?”
“Yes. Make knives and do THAT.”
“Um, God…this isn’t exactly going to win me a lot of friends.”
“I know. Do it anyway. Trust me.”
I know this is awkward and weird and uncomfortable, but you’ve got to think about this in the ancient world. In modern times, circumcision isn’t a big deal. We’ve got hospitals. Educated doctors. And anesthesia. Plus, it’s almost always done to babies who won’t have any memory of it.
None of that is true in Joshua’s time. No hospitals. The people wielding the knives weren’t doctors. It wasn’t being done to babies, but to grown men. And as a final bonus, there was no anesthesia.
But even though this sounds bizarre to us, we have to understand it in context. Circumcision was one of the most important elements in the Jewish law. It was a physical sign of a spiritual covenant between God and His people.
The people in the previous generation had rebelled. But God was renewing His promise to this new generation. And circumcision was an integral part of that.
But there’s another part of this story that we can’t afford to miss…it delayed the Israelites progress. They were on their way to their new land. They had just miraculously crossed the Jordan River. And now, Jericho was in their sights…until God threw this whole circumcision thing into the equation.
Verse 8 sums it up. “And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.” (Joshua 5:8, NIV)
Everything was moving forward. A miracle that encouraged the Israelites, and scared all their enemies to death. Everything was clicking. You can just hear all the Israelites saying, “Let’s roll!”
And what does God do…He throws a delay into the mix. And not just a delay…a very painful delay.
Maybe that’s where you are. Instead of conquering Jericho, you’re stuck in the camp. Instead of moving forward, you’re spinning your wheels.
Delays test our trust. Painful delays can break our trust. But a lot of times, God delays us for the same reason that He delayed the Israelites.
God had to work in them before He could work through them. Before He gave them their victory over Jericho, He had to do a work in them. And circumcision was much more than a physical operation. It was a reminder of the grace and the love that God had for His people…and all the promises that He had made to them.
Maybe you’re tired of the delays. Maybe you’re ready to just cash in your chips and give up. God just isn’t coming through and you’re all prayed out.
Divine delays can be painful, but remember that after this circumcision delay, the Israelites went forward and took down one of the most powerful cities in the ancient world. And they won that victory because God gave it to them…in His time.
One of the reasons that we struggle to trust God is because His timing isn’t our timing.
Another similar reason is because His ways are not our ways.
Seriously, who chooses circumcision as a method that leads to victory? No guy will do that, I promise you. But God’s ways are not our ways.
One of my favorite passages in the entire Bible is from Isaiah 55, where Isaiah wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)
One of the reasons that I love these verses is because they remind me that I’m not crazy. When God doesn’t make sense to me, it’s okay. I haven’t lost my mind. God’s ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts. So when God tells me to do something that doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. I’m not crazy. It doesn’t have to make sense to me. I just need to trust Him.
These verses have been a huge comfort to me in our church’s move. Because, can I tell you a little secret? Not everybody has thought this move was an awesome idea. We’ve taken some shots about this. I’ve taken some hits that have been very personal about this. The interesting thing is that a lot of these shots have come from people who aren’t even part of our church, but they still hurt. And they can still cause me to question things.
I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, “Am I crazy? Is this really a stupid idea? What if this is the worst idea ever and things absolutely fall apart?”
Maybe you don’t allow critics and naysayers to take that kind of toll on you. If so, you can write a book and I’ll buy it. But if you’re like me, criticism and naysayers can really make you question things.
But these verses are a rock that I’ve hung onto. God’s ways are not my ways. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
Moving our church to a hotel sounds like a crazy idea. Moving our services from a building we own to a ballroom that we rent sounds kind of out there.
But if you’re really following God’s lead, then “crazy” and “out there” is exactly what you should expect. Because His ways are not your ways.
The deeper we got into this move, the more it became clear that this was God’s call for our church. The question became, are we going to trust Him enough to take the leap?
And the answer is yes. One of the reasons I am so in love with our church is because we are willing to trust God, even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t make sense.
In other words, we’re a church of ditch diggers. And I know that sounds pretty weird, but check out this obscure little story that is buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings. The story is about a promise that God gave His people through the prophet Elisha.
Elisha announced, “The Lord says, ‘Dig a lot of ditches in this valley.’ Do it because the Lord says, ‘You will not see wind or rain. But this valley will be filled with water. Then you, your cattle and your other animals will have water to drink.’ That’s an easy thing for the Lord to do.” (2 Kings 3:16-18a, NIRV)
There was a massive drought in the land, but God didn’t tell His people, “I will send rain.” Instead, He asked His people to do something crazy. Dig ditches. Go out and dig a bunch of trenches that would hold the water that He was going to send them.
It made absolutely no sense. And don’t you think that as they dug these ditches…baking in the scorching sun…in the middle of a drought…don’t you think that they might have wondered, “Are we crazy? This makes no sense.”
But they dug anyway. They went through the hot, back-breaking labor of ditch digging because they trusted that God could fill these trenches with water. In fact, they believe that it would be an easy thing for God to do.
Like I said earlier, I know somebody here is about ready to cash it in. You’re about ready to give up on God. You keep waiting on Him to come through and He just hasn’t.
God’s timing is not your timing. God’s ways are not your ways. But I’m going to challenge you to do something that you’re not going to want to hear…keep digging ditches.
The Israelites dug ditches in the middle of a drought, with no tangible evidence that it would be worth it. The only thing they had to go on was promise that God had made.
And that’s the only thing you have to go on, too. You have a God named Yahweh, I am. You have a God named Jesus, The Lord Saves. You have a God who gave His life for yours. Who rose again to give you a new life. Who gave everything He had for you. And who has promised that He will never give up you and that He’ll never leave you.
That promise is all you have. But that promise is also enough.
The Israelites dig ditches, not because they had evidence that they could see, but because they trusted the promise of God.
And here’s what happened. Look at verse 20. “The next day, the time came to offer the morning sacrifice. And then it happened! Water was flowing from the direction of Edom! In fact, the land was filled with water!” (2 Kings 3:20, NIRV)
They dug the ditches and God delivered on His promise. But if they hadn’t been willing to ignore the evidence…if they hadn’t made the choice to ignore the drought and dig the ditches anyway…they would have had no water. They would have died from thirst.
But they dug the ditches anyway. In spite of the drought…in spite of how crazy it seemed to be…in spite of all the evidence they could see…they dug the ditches anyway.
And that’s what trusting God looks like. It looks like people saying, “I will dig ditches anyway.”
It’s the parent who is ready to throw up their hands and give up. No amount of teaching and discipline seems to work. In fact, nothing seems to work. But they decide to trust God and say, “I will dig ditches anyway.”
It’s the person who desperately wants a job but just can’t find one. In a culture where everyone seems to want a handout, they actually want to work but no one is giving them the chance. They could just give up, but they trust that God will bring them the victory. They say, “I will dig ditches anyway.”
It’s the spouse that is ready to give up on their marriage. No matter what happens, nothing seems to get better. The same old fights. The same old issues. Day after day after day. But they trust that God can heal their marriage. They say, “I will dig ditches anyway.”
It’s the person who has been hurt so deeply. They didn’t ask for this. They can’t even believe what has happened. How could this happen to them? How could God allow this to happen to them? All the evidence seems to say, “Give up on God and walk away.” But instead, this person says, “No. I will dig ditches anyway.”
It’s a church that pursues a God-given vision that some people think is crazy. A church that is willing to lay it all on the line to connect more people to Jesus. A church that is willing to sacrifice the safe and the comfortable in order to make heaven more crowded. It’s a church that’s willing to dig ditches, believing that God will fill them. It’s a “I will dig ditches anyway” church.
That’s what trusting God looks like. It’s digging ditches in the middle of a drought, with the faith and trust that He is going to fill them up.
His timing is not our timing. I can’t tell you when God is going to fill your ditches.
And His ways are not our ways. I can’t tell you how God is going to fill your ditches.
But I can tell you this. Dig ditches anyway. Don’t let circumstances shape your faith. Don’t let your situation influence your trust.
God seems to be absent. Dig ditches anyway.
Your prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling. Dig ditches anyway.
People are criticizing you…or even abandoning you. Dig ditches anyway.
All the evidence is against you…but God has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Dig ditches anyway.
God never moves in power without first asking us to move in faith. Dig ditches anyway.
“That’s an easy thing for the Lord to do.” (2 Kings 3:18a, NIRV)
Filling those ditches was an easy thing for the Lord to do. And that’s why we keep right on digging.
The reason we dig ditches anyway is because Jesus loved us enough to dig a ditch anyway.
Jesus mission was to allow sinful people to kill Him. He didn’t have to do it. He had the power to stop it. Every bit of evidence said, “This is absolutely crazy. Don’t do it.”
But He submitted to the will of the Father and dug the ditch anyway. And through the death that He didn’t have to die, we are forgiven. We are free. And there can be no doubt that we are loved.
Your circumstances don’t determine if you are loved. The cross does.
The people who have hurt you don’t dictate your worth. The cross does.
Your life that was never supposed to turn out this way doesn’t control your ultimate destiny. The cross does.
Jesus dug a ditch anyway. And that ditch was filled with the life-giving water of forgiveness, grace, freedom, and life.
If you can trust Him to do that, you can trust Him to come through in whatever you’re facing right now.
If Jesus could die and then rise again for you, then you can look at the ditches you’re digging and have total faith and trust that God is going to fill them.
In fact, you can look at those ditches and actually smile, because you know that’s an easy thing for the Lord to do.