Trust in God


Psalms 111-113 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He shines His light on the godly. 

@Psalm 112
No doubt over the next few months our attention will be drawn to the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” and the transformation in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge who was the antithesis of Psalm 112.  Greedy and selfish, the old man held on to every cent he had for dear life and overlooked the needs of others in the process.  Then he had an encounter with the values in life that really matter and could not keep from sharing and giving and blessing.  Anything in this life we hold too tightly will prevent us from living the generous life of one who trusts in God.

Psalm 112 is a promise of success to those who fear only God, to those who revere and respect God and do not revere or respect calamity and to those whose respect for God is reflected in their behavior.  “Light shines in the darkness for the godly.  They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.” (4-5)  No Scrooges here.  Acts of generosity come from hearts that do not hold too tightly to the things they possess and from those with an eternal viewpoint.  Because of this, they live with an open hand to others.

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” (7-8)  Only with an eternal viewpoint can we live without fear of when the next shoe will drop, what news the mail will bring or what calamity lies ahead.  Those who fear the Lord do not hold too tightly to this life, knowing it is only a temporary dwelling, a stopping point on their way to eternity. They can live with full assurance that, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)  They do not fear bad news.

“They share freely and give generously to those in need.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.  They will have influence and honor.  The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.” (9-10)  Well, if we want to see our enemy slink away in defeat, we just need to be willing to let go of the things the enemy wants.  When we give our lives and our possessions to the Lord and His purposes, the enemy has nothing to take from us.

The joy and freedom that awakened in the heart of Scrooge on Christmas morning are just a brief vignette of the joy and freedom we experience every day when we live generous lives, unencumbered by the concerns of this world.  It is a life with promise, “How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.  Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.  They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.” (1-3)

Most of us have lived long enough to know that life is not without its challenges for the godly, but those who fear and respect the Lord and obey His commands walk in the promises and blessings of the Lord that have eternal value.  Does it get any better than that?  I don’t think so. 

Moving Forward:  Moving through this day with a generous heart and hand, unencumbered and loosening the grip on all that I am and all that I possess. 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 25

Numbers 17-20 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He provides direction through our challenges.

Many great men in history whose exploits affected the destiny of millions found themselves at one time or another in dismal circumstances – George Washington experienced his Valley Forge, Napoleon met his Waterloo and Custer faced his last stand.  Without a doubt, the decisions we make when faced with a challenging situation will affect our future.  Just assuredly, discouragement, pride or anger will alter our desired response to our challenges.  In today’s reading, we find Moses at his Meribah. 

@Numbers 20
Moses had led the Israelites for almost 38 years after the scouts returned with their faithless report from their venture into Canaan.  God had promised that those faithless Israelites would not enter the Canaan because of their doubt and only a few remained. Unfortunately, their offspring had inherited and mastered the art of grumbling and complaining.  Poised once again outside of Canaan in Kadesh at a place called Meribah, they complained to Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!” (5)  Moses met his Meribah.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water.’” So Moses responded, “‘Listen, you rebels!’ he shouted, ‘Must we bring you water from this rock?’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out.” (7-11)  Moses spoke to the people instead of to the rock and struck the rock instead of speaking to it! Oh, Moses.

After 40 years, I’m fairly certain that an angry, disgusted Moses wanted to strike the grumbling people, but instead he took it out on the rock.  God’s response was, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (12) So sad.

Why do we sometimes feel the need to help the Lord out or assist the Holy Spirit with our own input, going beyond what He has directed us to do?  As with Moses, it always ends badly for me too.   When a situation angers us, it’s easy to go running at the mouth about it, shouting at others, “Listen, you rebels!” but God wants us to speak His Word in faith to the problem.

Sometimes we are tempted to draw attention to the small part we play in a solution that really only God can solve, “Must we bring you water?”  Moses and Aaron were tools in the hand of God to bring about the miracle of water coming from a cold, hard rock. They, of course, didn’t bring water out of anything.  May we never be so bold to take credit for what God has done.

God’s punishment to such a faithful and humble servant as Moses seems harsh, but this simple act of disobedience was far-reaching, even to us today.  We read in I Corinthians 10:4 that Paul considered that rock to be a representation of Christ.  Moses had already struck the rock to bring forth water at Rephidim, so to strike the rock again would imply that Christ’s death at Calvary, once crucified, was not enough.  Not good.  Our responses to the challenges we face may influence others in ways we can’t imagine.

Paul challenges us in verses 12-13 in that same chapter with these words of caution, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  We would think Moses, of all people, would have been one with sure footing, standing strong.  If someone like Moses can fail, it’s possible for us to fail as well.

God has offered us a way out of our challenging situations if we turn to Him for guidance and follow both His example in the Word and His leading in our hearts.  And of course, He really doesn’t need our two cents worth. 

Moving Forward:  Lord, may I follow your dictates today through any challenges I face, always certain that You receive all the glory for the victory. 

Tomorrow @ I Chronicles 25-29

Proverbs 22 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He, the great Counselor, has provided counsel through His Word

When we’re going through a difficult season in life or find ourselves questioning things that have happened to us, we usually find a good friend or counselor to talk to about it.  They don’t always have the answers we need, but it helps to express our thoughts and feelings.  However, the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor, is our greatest listener and leads us into whatever truth we seek through His still small voice and through the pages of Scripture.  Our reading today expresses a way of counseling that is like preventive medicine.

“Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips.” (17-18)  Beginning with verse 17, Proverbs shares its wise sayings with a different approach.  Rather than single verses giving wisdom on different subjects, now several verses are combined to reveal wise instruction.  “I am teaching you today—yes you—so you will trust in the Lord.” (19)  And of course, Solomon was writing to us as well, yes us!

I like reading completely through Psalms and Proverbs every month.  Reading just five Psalms and one Proverb each day makes this possible.  Talk about keeping “these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips!” Taking just a few minutes each day to read these wonderful words of instruction and wisdom can result in life-changing benefits.  The counsel and example of David through praise and worship and the amazing wisdom of Solomon are at our fingertips every day.  They reveal to us in advance how we should respond to the challenges we may face on any given day and serve as preventive counseling.

We may save ourselves a lot of future pain by reading these treasures in God’s Word every day and keeping them in our hearts and on our lips, and I’m all for that!  “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:11-12) 

Moving Forward: So thankful today for the mighty and trustworthy counsel of His Word! 

Tomorrow @ Joel

I Chronicles 20-24 (NLT) 

Discover His Heart:  He desires our complete trust in Him

“He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young man on the flying trapeze…” (G. Leybourne)  When I was a young child the Shrine Circus came to the Minneapolis auditorium every year, and it was a really big deal for me.  Clowns and jugglers, elephants and tigers filled our eyes with excitement and courageous acts, but none of these were as death-defying as those daring young men and women on the flying trapeze.  The flyers that impressed me the most were those few who worked without a net, soaring high above the crowd and trusting only in skill and precision.  I’m fairly certain that I held my breath throughout the performance.  What trust!  In our reading today, David learned a painful lesson about trusting God and flying without a net. 

@ 1 Chronicles 21
“Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. So David said to Joab…‘Take a census of all the people of Israel…and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.’ But Joab replied…‘Why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants?  Why must you cause Israel to sin?’ But the king insisted that they take the census.” (1-4)

What was so evil about taking a census?  After all, Moses numbered the people.  The census in Numbers 1 was not offensive to God because its purpose was to inform Moses of the size of his army, but the purpose for the census that David requested was for him to take pride and put trust in the size of his army.  It seems to be human nature to trust God when He is all we have; but when His goodness produces armies, wealth and fame or just about anything meaningful to us, they often become the object of our trust.  Obviously, this doesn’t please the Lord.  “God was very displeased with the census, and He punished Israel for it.” (7)

One of the many problems with trusting in our nets is that when the net is taken away – the job is lost, the relationship ends or the home is gone – where, then, do we place our trust?  The army was not David’s assurance of victory, God was His victory.  For someone who took down a giant with a stone and a slingshot, this was definitely a detour.  David was a great warrior, but he was human just like us, always looking for that safety net.  Fortunately, David knew how to respond to God’s displeasure.

“Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing…I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong!’” (8,17)  It was a repentant heart that took David from his numerous failures and sins to soar as the leader that God loved most.  So sincere he was in his remorse that he would not offer his sacrifice of repentance on an altar that did not cost him something.

David replied to a generous offer from Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” (24)  When we give to God something that belongs to someone else, it’s really not a gift from us.  It’s a gift from someone else. There was a cost involved because of David’s disobedience, but God stopped the punishment from the angel’s sword when David repented. I don’t want anyone to suffer because of my lack of trust in God, but if I fail, I know how to respond.

When Satan comes around and tempts us to place our trust and security in a paycheck or a relationship or anything temporal, our best response is to put our trust in the Source rather than in the provision. In our trusting, like the daring young man with the greatest of ease, keep flying without a net. 

Moving Forward:  Trusting the One who keeps me soaring today. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 105-107

Numbers 9-12 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is with us even when our life is on hold

Waiting for the big move, waiting for the next step, waiting for the ship to come in … waiting, waiting, waiting.  When an airport gets backed up with planes ready to land, we find ourselves circling the airport in a holding pattern for what seems like an eternity.  The inconvenience of a late arrival is insignificant, however, compared to the possibility of running out of fuel while waiting for our opportunity to land.  In these moments, tempers often flare and the stress factor is huge.  Sometimes life hands us a similar scenario – waiting to get to our destination but concerned that we’ll run out of gas, so to speak, before we arrive. Stressful.

“Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded…Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.” (9:20-22)  I can’t cut the Israelites much slack concerning their constant grumbling about their nomadic lifestyle.  I mean really, a tangible cloud to follow and know exactly where to go and when to go?  But I guess that holding pattern got to them at times, and waiting can add significant stress in our lives as well.

A few years ago I had my finger on the Delete key, ready to delete this blog.  My life was in a holding pattern, I felt I had little to say of importance, and I was running out of gas.  The Lord stopped me mid-strike on the key and directed me to blog each day about my daily Bible reading.  Even during the holding patterns of life, God has purpose for us.  We can grumble and complain about our situation, but we are better served by focusing on Him and His purposes.  Perhaps the Israelites would not have spent the next 40 years on the road had they used their down time to worship their God who guided them so clearly and desired fellowship with them instead of whining about almost everything.

“While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He spoken through us, too?’ But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)” (12:1-3)  During one of their stops, the siblings of Moses got a little irritable and developed a critical spirit about their brother – not the right response to their holding pattern.  When we lose our focus on Him during these periods of waiting, it’s very easy to become self-absorbed, and what a price was paid by Miriam!

God was displeased by her critical spirit and Miriam was stricken with leprosy and forced to live alone outside of the camp.  “So Miriam was kept outside the camp for seven days, and the people waited until she was brought back before they traveled again.” (15)  Can you imagine Miriam’s humiliation?  As one of Israel’s leaders, she was the reason Israel continued in a holding pattern.  Often, our attitudes and responses are what keep us on hold.

No matter how we look at it, waiting, waiting, waiting is difficult, but our response to it is what makes all the difference.  Focusing on God and finding our purpose while we are in our holding pattern will insure that we are ready when that cloud begins to move.

Moving Forward:  So thankful today that He is with me in my holding pattern and that He has given me purpose.

Tomorrow @ I Chronicles 15-19

Proverbs 17-18 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is our place of safety in the time of trouble

@ Proverbs 18
Most everyone has faced at least one moment in life on the verge of an accident, fall or catastrophe.  If not, I trust your insurance premium is low because you deserve it!  I faced one of those moments several years ago while driving my little black Volkswagen bug, the first model.  This is important to note in that it really wasn’t much bigger than I was.  As I was making a left turn from a dead stop, a full-size van ran the stoplight, crossed in front of me and the front of my little car collided with the rear end of the big van.  Save yourself the headache of trying to figure out how it all happened and just trust me that it did. I just hate the sound of crunching metal, especially when it’s mine.

Although time seemed to hang in space as my life flashed before me, it all happened in just a split second.  There wasn’t time to brace myself, phone a friend or recite the 23rd Psalm.  The only thing I had time to do was to say Jesus. And He answered.  It was at the moment when I said His name that the left rear end of that van broke through my windshield and ended up where my head should have been from the impact.  Instead of flying forward, I was glued to my seat as if a supernatural airbag had filled the space and I couldn’t move.

Never was the scripture that I had memorized as a five year old and quoted over and over more precious and more real to me than at that moment, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” (10, NKJV)  At the time of crisis, I ran to the only name that could help me, to Someone who knew me, and it was as if He lifted me high above the scene, safe and secure.  Proverbs goes on to say, “The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.” (11)  How foolish they are!  At the moment of impact, the biggest bank account on the planet could not have done for me what the name of Jesus accomplished in a split second.

Before the police arrived, I managed to get out of my totaled bug and went in a nearby home to call my husband.  When I returned to my car, I heard a young policeman ask a bystander as he walked up to the car, “Well, have you seen any movement in the car?  Anyone alive?”  To his amazement, I ran over to him yelling, “Here I am, here I am.”  Not a scratch on me.  What a miracle!  To Him be all praise and glory.

In the storms of life, when the enemy’s agenda is in full force, run to the strong tower of safety.  David had been there time and time again and understood God’s place of safety when he wrote, “Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.” (Psalm 61:3)  I am living proof, dear friends, that He’s as close as the mention of His name. 

Moving Forward: No matter what I face today, whether a trial or simply a desire to be near Him, He’s as close as the mention of His name…Jesus!

Tomorrow @ Daniel 7-12

Numbers 1-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  He has promised victory to all who serve in His army

Numbers!  Math was my least favorite subject in school, and I must admit that I approach an entire book entitled Numbers with fear and trepidation.  While the book opens with the numbering, or census, of the Israelites, Numbers is really not so much about math at all, but it  is more so a story about a group of people at the threshold of incredible promise, their response to that promise and God’s undeniable patience with them through it. 

@ Numbers 1
At the opening of Numbers, the Israelites had escaped from Egypt, traveled south to the area around Mt. Sinai and were camped there for almost eleven months. During that time, through His spokesman, God built a nation and established the nation’s purpose by renewing His Abrahamic covenant with Moses.  He set up the nation’s constitution by providing the laws needed to govern.  And most importantly, He gave the guidelines for the construction of the Tabernacle, providing the means He would use to fellowship with His people.  When we think about the time spent in Sinai in light of this agenda, a great deal was accomplished in a very short time.

Now at the beginning of Numbers, God is ready to advance His people to their new home.  He directed Moses to count the men, “A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai. On the first day of the second month of that year he said, ‘From the whole community of Israel, record the names of all the warriors by their clans and families. List all the men twenty years old or older who are able to go to war.’” (1-3) This directive from the Lord alone must have served as an indication to the Israelites that war was ahead for them.  Moses needed to know how many troops he had for the battles that were ahead, and we should note that this directive did not ask for volunteers.  It was all men over 20, all hands on deck, stand up and be counted and be all that you can be! The army was formed and ready to possess the land!

Similarly, when we give our hearts to the Lord, we automatically become a part of His army, and there isn’t a separate sign-up sheet for active duty.  Just as the enemy of God’s chosen people fought them on every front even before they entered their land, our enemy will fight to keep us from entering the territory God has for us.  If this isn’t the case, why has God provided all our tools for battle in Ephesians 6:13-17?

The Israelite army totaled 603,550, a strong army by any standards, but by the time they reached the battleground, only 2 had survived the journey.  As we read their story over the next several weeks, we will learn how they became casualties on the way to the Promised Land.

We, however, need not be dismayed or discouraged by their outcome because we have reinforcements they did not have in the way that we do, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness… Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:26,35,37)  And my personal favorite is, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 KJV)

Numbers is more than a census, more than a page in Jewish history.  It paints a picture of God’s patience with us, and on occasion it also portrays how not to serve in the army of the Lord.  Sometimes He just needs to draw a picture for us… 

Moving Forward:  Suited up according to Ephesians 6 and ready to rumble!

Tomorrow @ 1 Chronicles 5-9

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