Sermon by Pastor Ron Thomas

"You Can Be Confident In God"
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Preached 2/24/2008

Christian Reality: "You Can Be Confident In God!"

Text: Psalm 27:1-3. "The LORD (Jehovah) is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD (Jehovah) is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident."

Proverbs 3:25-26. "Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26 For the LORD (Jehovah) shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken."

Acts 4:13. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

Introduction: During his gubernatorial campaign in southern Louisiana, Huey Long was advised to play to the Roman Catholic voters in the State. Accordingly, he opened his first speech with the following words: "When I was a boy, I would get up at six o'clock in the morning on Sunday, and I would hitch our old horse up to the buggy and I would take my Catholic grandparents to mass. I would bring them home, and at ten o'clock I would hitch the old horse up again, and I would take my Baptist grandparents to church." Hearing his speech, Long's political adviser later remarked, "Huey, you've been holding out on us. I didn't know you had any Catholic grandparents." Long responded, "Don't be a fool. We didn't even have a horse!"

We are in an election year, and everyone is evaluating the candidates, searching for someone in whom they can place their confidence. In our evaluation, we consider things like experience, temperament, values, education, character and core beliefs. We also tend to place our confidence in people who project confidence. No one is going to vote for someone who is insecure or uncertain about who they are, what they believe, or what they can do. (We love it when the Dallas Cowboys are facing a big game, and T.O. tells us to, "Get the popcorn ready." We love the player who in the clutch moments of the game says, "Give me the ball!) We like confident people, but we have little tolerance for egocentric people who are full of themselves. It is a critical balance candidates must maintain. They must be confident without being perceived as cocky.

The voice of our culture teaches us that we are to be self-confident, that is confident in ourselves. We are told that what matters the most is our self-actualization and self-esteem. Sometimes this self-confidence and self-esteem is linked to our physical appearance or physique. We are bombarded with images of men and women who have perfect bodies, and then led to believe that this is the key to confidence. Cultural confidence is based upon personal pride, performance, status and power.

What is confidence? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? What place does it have in the lives of Christians? Are Christians to be confident? If so, where does our confidence lie?

Confidence has been defined as a quality or state of being certain. It speaks of reliance and trust in someone or something. When we take individuals into our confidence, we are trusting him or her to keep our secrets, our intimate, private concerns. People who are confident, tend to be bold and assured. Confident people are not controlled by doubt and fear.

Are you a confident Christian? Where is your confidence? Biblical confidence and cultural confidence are opposed to each other. While everyone places confidence in someone or something, every Christian needs to face the reality that God wants us to have faith in Him, and confidence is a by-product of our faith. God cares for us and wants us to have great confidence in Him. In our text passages, David, Solomon, Peter and John exude boldness and confidence in the face of danger and difficulty. David said, "The LORD (Jehovah) is my light, my salvation or deliverance, my strength to live!" Solomon declared that the LORD (Jehovah) was his confidence! The Bible does not tell us to believe in ourselves. It teaches us to believe in Christ, to have faith and trust in God. Our confidence must be in God, and not ourselves. Why? Volumes have been written on the nature and character of God. We could talk about His omnipotence (God is all powerful); His omniscience (God is all knowing); His omnipresence (God is ever present); His immutability (God never changes), or His eternity (At the end of time, everyone will come face to face with God)! These are all good reasons to place our trust and confidence in God! God is all of these things and more, man is none of these things! Psalm 118:8 tells us, "It is better to trust in the LORD (Jehovah) than to put confidence in man." In the verses proceeding verse 8, the psalmist lets us know why it is better to trust in God.

It is better to trust in God than in man because:

God is good. Psalm 118:1a reads, "O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good." The very basic character of God is goodness. We can always count on God's goodness. God is love, and His love always has our best interest at heart! Men tend to watch out for themselves. God always watches out for us!

God is merciful. Psalm 118:1 continues, "...because His mercy endureth for ever." God's mercy endures forever! People are not always merciful. There is an end to their kindness, patience, and mercy. Sometimes people are heartless and cruel. Not God! The LORD's mercy endures forever! The psalmist gets excited about this truth and in Psalm 118:2-4, he encourages everyone to join in the refrain, "His mercy endureth forever." Let the father say it; let the mother say it, let the children say it!

God is on your side. Psalm 118:6 says, "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" God is for you, not against you! The people in our lives can disappoint us, abandon us, or even turn on us. Not God! God is faithful. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us!

Christians need to wake up to the reality of a powerful God in their lives! Like David, Solomon, Peter and John, we have the ability to live confidently in this present world as we place our confidence and trust in the LORD. How can we be more confident in our day to day lives? Here are:

Four Ways To Develop More Confidence In God

First: Discipline yourself to focus on God's protective, preserving, providential care. In I Samuel 7:12, after the Lord miraculously defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up a stone and named it Ebenezer, which means stone of help or victory. Samuel did this to help Israel remember what the Lord did for them! Deuteronomy 4:9 says, "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons."

The American painter, John Sargent, once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection. Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, "I painted that." Then his confidence and ability would come back to him. In the same way, when we consider God's work in our lives, it increases our confidence in His ability to provide in the future. Take the time, make the effort, to remember and reflect upon the great things God has already accomplished in your life and the lives of others. Acknowledge the providence of God by looking back over your life, and recognizing His care. As we do this, it increases our confidence that God will continue to provide, preserve, and protect us.

Often we hear the phrase, "God works in mysterious ways." Usually when we hear someone say that, they are shrugging their shoulders or scratching their heads. When we speak that phrase, it's as if we are saying, "God, I hope You know what You're doing!" Did you know that William Cowper first wrote those words in a hymn? He and John Newton produced a hymnal together, called the Olney Hymns, in 1779. William Cowper's hymn, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" was included in that collection. The hymn expresses confidence in God's ways, ....not doubt!

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread, are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face." William Cowper did not deny the reality of evil and suffering, but he did deny the victory of evil and suffering. We dare not doubt God's smiling face! Atlanta Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton said, "Life's setbacks are temporary, but God's love is permanent. He's always there to take us over the rough spots, to lead us out of our slumps and into our grooves."

Second: You must trust in God's determination to never stop loving you. Our confidence is in the fact that no matter what we do (including our worst sins), we still have the opportunity to find our worth in the love of God. Knowing, believing, that we are secure in Jesus Christ eternally, is key to confident living. What level of confidence could we have as the children of God, if we could not be sure of God's love from day to day? A performance based love produces paranoia, ...not confidence! Peter and John in Acts 4 possessed the assurance that they were secure in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ! They could face the ridicule and abuse of an unbelieving world with confidence, knowing that God loved and accepted them. In Romans 8:35-39 the question is asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" The confident reply comes in verse 37, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

You might ask, "But what if we are disobedient and sin? Does God still love us? Can a Christian who is necessarily aware of his or her own propensity to sin and fallibility as a person, ever have any level of confidence?" Sin and disobedience have no bearing on our secure relationship with God. When we are saved, we are placed "in Christ," covered with His blood, clothed in His righteousness. Sin and disobedience present a barrier to our fellowship with God, and thereby can erode our sense of confidence. This is why we must continually confess our sin and claim God's forgiveness. I John 3:20-21 says, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." When we confess our sin, God is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." A confessing Christian is a confident Christian.

Third, Discipline yourself to know and meditate upon God's Word. One day Lord Byron, an early 19th century poet and satirist, gave his publisher, John Murray, a handsomely bound Bible, its cover graced with a flattering inscription. Murray proudly displayed the book on a table, where it would be seen by his many guests. One day a visitor, admiring the Bible, noticed that at John 18:40, in the line "Now Barabbas was a robber," Byron had crossed out the word "robber," and substituted... "publisher." If Lord Byron had read more, he would have discovered that he was a rotten sinner, and in need of a Savior who saves both robbers and sinners! The Bible does not build confidence in human strength and self righteousness. Instead, it builds our confidence in God's strength and righteousness. The Bible tells us of a God who loved us so much, He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all!" When we admit that we are sinners before Him and accept Jesus Christ as His provided sacrifice for sin, we are born into His family; adopted as His own sons and daughters; heirs of God, co-heirs with Jesus Christ!

The Word of God is a confidence builder, but it is a different kind of confidence. It is the confidence of belonging and being. Once we are saved, the Bible continues to fuel our faith, to remind us of our standing "in Christ", and strengthen our confidence in God! For example, the last chapter and verses in the book of Acts, finds the apostle Paul incarcerated at Rome. It was just a matter of time before his life would be taken. What is Paul doing? How is he spending his time? Is he withering away, full of doubts and fears? Acts 28:30-31 reads, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Paul was in the Word! He was preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and His eternal kingdom! You cannot teach and preach those things and it not effect you for the better! It will "set your affections," your sights on things above, rather than things on the earth!

Someone said, "The Bible is a book that tells us who we are, where we came from, and where we are going." The Bible contains God's words, ways, wonders and works! There are promises to claim and review that strengthen us and build our confidence. The Bible is a record of kept promises and fulfilled prophecies that reminds us of God's faithfulness. Think about the promises contained in the Bible that God has made and kept in your life, and it will increase your confidence!

Fourth, Spend time alone with God in prayer. In Acts 4:13, the very ones who conspired together and crucified Jesus, took notice that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Annas, Caiaphas, and their fellow conspirators thought that Jesus was dead, but discovered that He was alive and well in His disciples. Peter and John were men of prayer. Earlier in Acts 3:1, we find them going up together "...into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."

Spending time in prayer is spending time with Jesus, in His presence. Prayer is the primary way we can strengthen our relationship with God. The more we pray and see God answer our prayers, it increases our confidence in God. I John 5:14-15 affirms this truth. It says, "And this is the confidence that we have in Him (in God), that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: 15 And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."

When you pray with confidence, ask to be filled, controlled by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives brings power, confidence, and boldness! Acts 4:31 says, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." It all began with prayer that connected them with Holy Spirit power!

Pray for more confidence. Determine to live confidently, Begin to act as if you were already confident! If our confidence is in God, then who needs to wait? We certainly need not wait on God to get His act together.

Sometimes it is as simple as making up your mind that you are going to live with confidence in the Lord. Stand up first on the inside, and determine to live and respond with faith and confidence! Use the faith you presently possess, no matter how little it may seem. As we act by faith, it will stimulate even more faith.

Antoine Walker, who "...never saw a three-pointer he didn't like," was once asked why he took so many three-point shots. Antoine replied, "Because there aren't any fours!" As Christians, since our confidence lies, not in the confidence of our ability, but rather in the reality of God's ability, anything is possible! Jesus said in Mark 9:23b, "...all things are possible to him that believeth." Paul echoed the same in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Do you really believe that God is with you? It is a reality in your life? If you could see God and see Him beside you, holding your hand, how would it change you? What would you do differently?

Confident Christians expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God. They are not dominated by fear and self-imposed limitations!

Confident Christians are bold to stand up and speak up for Jesus Christ. They courageously and confidently live out their core beliefs and values in the public arena.

Confident Christians do not shy away from commitment to a church or to baptism. They do not shy away from God's will for their lives.

Are you a Christian? Salvation is the beginning of a certain and secure life change. You can be saved today if you confess your sins and place your trust, your confidence in God's Son, Jesus Christ to save you!

Christian, the reality is, God is with you, and you can leave here confident of His presence and power in your life. You can be confident in God!

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