In God We Trust

This week the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ has been in the news.  Brevard County Sheriff’s department added decals with the phrase to their patrol cars.  An atheist group has challenged the sheriff’s right to do so, stating that it is “frightening and politically dubious for the local police department to announce to citizens that officers rely on the judgment of a deity rather than on the judgment of the law.”  Their words could be no farther from the truth.

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I believe that it is frightening and foolish to put one’s trust in any person, organization, or institution rather than in the Lord God.  God created us, loves us, and provides for all our needs, the most important of which is our eternal salvation.   Trusting in the Lord not only makes sense, but comes with great benefits.

  • Trusting in God brings peace and joy.  Romans 15:13 tells “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  • God protects those who trust in Him.  “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 2 Samuel 22:31
  • God directs the path of those who trust Him. Proverbs 3: 5 -6 encourages us to “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
  • God blesses those who trust  in Him.  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

‘In God We Trust’ is our national motto.  It is printed on our currency.  It makes perfect sense that those who put their lives on the line every day for their fellow citizens would put their trust in God and would want to display the motto on their vehicles.

Where do you put your trust?  If you are looking for security, peace, protection, direction, and blessings, I highly recommend putting your trust in God.

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

When I was much younger, my church used to sing the words of Psalm 19: 7 – 11 regularly.  It is a beautiful song and full of truth.  God’s Word is true, and His law is perfect.  God’s Word provides us with all we need to know to live lives that are full, happy, and blessed.

There is great discontentment in our society today.  People are searching for satisfaction in things that will never bring satisfaction–wealth, power, prestige, fame, and physical pleasure–to name a few.  There is nothing wrong with these things, in and of themselves, but they can never bring lasting joy and contentment without a relationship with God.  It’s easy to see that worldly gain and pleasure do not satisfy.  Lack of peace and contentment is evidenced by increased use of alcohol, narcotics and illegal drugs to mask pain and dissatisfaction.  People seeking love go from marriage to marriage, relationship to relationship, without finding true love.

The answer to the discontentment is a relationship with Jesus Christ which is built solidly on God’s Word.  As the psalmist wrote so eloquently, God’s Word brings conversion, wisdom, rejoicing, and enlightenment.  His truths are to be desired and when we follow His commands and obey His law, there really is great reward.

 

Psalm 19: 7 – 11

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

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Paul’s Admonition to be Generous

This morning I read 2 Corinthians 9 during my morning devotions.  Paul devoted the entire chapter to encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous and to fulfill the commitment it had made to assist poorer Christians in Macedonia.  Paul had been bragging to other congregations of the generous gift the Corinthians had promised, and he wanted to insure that the gift would be ready when it was needed.

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As Paul continues through the chapter, he encourages them that God will bless them as they bless others and tells them that it is impossible to out-give God.  Although Paul is speaking specifically about being generous with our money, his words also apply to being generous with people in many other ways, such as love, service, time, attention, guidance, and forgiveness.  Paul says that our obedience in generosity will in enrich our lives and allow God to be even more generous with us, and it will cause people to give thanks and honor to God.

In the final verses of this chapter, Paul writes, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9: 12 – 15, The Message)

How can we not be generous when we read stirring words like these?  Generosity towards others blesses us more than it does the recipients and it brings honor and glory to God.

How has God blessed you after you demonstrated generosity?

God Rewards the Generous

God commands His people to show generosity to those in need, and He promises to bless and reward those who obey this command.  These rewards may be received while on Earth, and they will surely be reaped when we get to Heaven.  Jesus taught this principle during the Sermon on the Mount, saying “When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”  Matthew 6: 3, 4

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Later in the Sermon, Jesus encouraged His followers to store up treasures in Heaven.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19 – 21

We lay up treasure in Heaven by using our earthly treasure to accomplish God’s purposes.  Randy Alcorn refers to this as ‘transferring wealth to heaven.’  He points out that we cannot take our wealth with us to Heaven when we die, but we can transfer our wealth to Heaven while we are living by using our wealth to show generosity to others.  God judges the work that we do has either have lasting value–gold and silver–or having earthly value–wood, hay, and stubble.  Works that do not have lasting value will be burned up like wood, hay, and stubble at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  When we follow God’s instructions to be generous, we are producing works that of silver and gold, which cannot be destroyed by fire.

The apostle Paul wrote, “ Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  1 Timothy 6: 17 – 19

Paul told the Ephesians to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”Acts 20:35

Being generous with those who the Lord puts on your heart to care for will result in blessings both on Earth and in Heaven.  I encourage you to ask the Lord with whom He desires you to show generosity to today and begin building your treasure in Heaven.

Making Time for Quiet

In an interview for Costco Connection, Melinda Gates discussed the need for periods of silence in her life.  “I take a lot of time for silence…Because only in that quiet time can you shut out the noise of the world and really take in what you’ve heard and what you’ve seen.”  (‘This Woman’s Work, by Stephanie E. Ponder, Costco Connection May 2019)

Gates was discussing the humanitarian work she does to improve the lives of women and children around the world and her strategy to keep from being overwhelmed.  She went on to say, “I’ve seen a lot of misery and even death in the developing world.  But you have to take that in and you have to process it.”

Gates is correct in that there is much pain and suffering in the world.  For those who seeking ways to assist others in need, the options are limitless and many times overwhelming.  We must recognize that individually we cannot do everything.  But, we can do some thing.

So, how does one decide what challenge(s) to tackle?  I believe that Melinda Gates is absolutely correct in that one must make ‘time for silence.’  It is necessary to shut out all ‘the noise of the world’ and process in order to decide on the plans of action that will be helpful to those who in need.  I would take it one step further–in the times of silence we need to listen for God’s voice to direct our paths.  Stillness allows us to shut out the voices that are not God’s and to focus on what He is telling us.  In Psalm 46:10, we are told to “Be still and know that I am God.”

If we are still and take the time to listen to God’s voice, He will direct our paths, as a shepherd leads his sheep. God will show us the problems that He is calling us to solve.  When I take the time to sit in silence and listen for His voice, I can be sure that my actions will produce good results. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”  Psalm 37:23

Twyla Paris wrote about this in the lyrics to her song ‘Where He Leads Me:’

There are many wondrous voices,

Day and night they fill the air,

But there is one so small and quiet,

I would know it anywhere,

In the city or in the wilderness,

There’s a ringing crystal clear,

And to be every close beside Him,

When He calls me I will hear.

 

I encourage you to make time daily to spend in quiet fellowship with the Lord and to listen for His still, quiet voice directing your footsteps.

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Building on a Solid Foundation

My granddaughters love the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.”  They’re too young to understand what it means to build on a solid foundation, but they enjoy dong the hand motions, and it is instilling into them the need to build their lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

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The song is based on a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  This teaching is found in Matthew 7: 24 – 27:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

My husband is a civil engineer.  Recently, a client had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove soil from a building site that would not have properly supported the building and replace it with soil that would compact properly.  It was a lot of money for ‘dirt’ and it was painful for the client to write that check.  However, in the long run, it will save a lot of money over having to repair a damaged foundation.

Several years ago, the owner of a commercial building being erected near my office made a different, and very costly, decision. He took a chance that the engineer was wrong and poured his foundation on the existing soil.  When the building began to be erected, the foundation cracked.  The owner was then forced to tear out all the construction that had been done, replace the soil, and start again. He wasted much time and money–much more than if he had done the job properly the first time.

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We make these same type of decisions with our lives.  We can build on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ in the beginning and avoid costly mistakes and much heartbreak.  Or we can decide to do things our way until our foundation cracks and our world falls apart, before turning to the master builder for help.

Following Jesus does have a cost.  We have remove the ‘bad dirt’ of selfish ambitions and worldly pleasures.  In exchange, we build our lives on a structure that is strong and doesn’t crumble when the storms of life come our way. Unfortunately, many people don’t want to remove the bad dirt from their lives; they delay the decision to follow Jesus until storms destroy the life that they have build on a weak foundation.  Fortunately, Jesus does respond to them when they call out to Him from the rubble of their lives.  He cleans away the debris and provides a firm foundation for them to start the rebuilding process.  He cannot, however, reverse the clock–time has been wasted and heartache has ensued.  Any many times the problem which arose from a weak foundation have implications and cost for the rest of a person’s life.

Have you built your life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ?  If not, I urge you do not delay any further.  Only with Jesus as your foundation will you be able to stand firm against the storms of life.

Having a Generous Heart

Our motives are important to God. Giving grudgingly or by force is not viewed by God as generosity.  Generosity has to flow from a willingness to help others.  As we more fully grasp the depths of God’s love for us, our love for our fellow man should increase.

When the young lawyer asked Jesus what commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”  Matthew 22: 38 – 40

Paul provided instructions to the Corinthians on how they should prepare gifts for those in need, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.”  2 Corinthians 9:5 

If we truly love God, that love will overflow into love for people.  Thankfulness for the many blessing God has bestowed will manifest itself in sharing those blessings with others.

Jesus taught His disciples to give without expectations, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. ” Luke 6:30 – 35

God supplies our needs and has extended generosity to each us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  We, in turn, should be generous with those in need whom God puts in our path.

Ask God to open your eyes to see those around you who are in need.  Seek His guidance on how to share the blessings He has bestowed on you with others.  Be His hands extended.

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