In God We Trust

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. (Psalm 25:1-2 NIV)

The more we get to know people, the more we begin to realize that they can’t be trusted. Even the best of people are going to disappoint us at some point in our lives because they’re human and therefore, imperfect. But while people are constantly changing, God remains constant. We can truly trust Him! The Psalmist in today’s passage sure did. Troubled by enemies, David knew that he could only turn to God who was worthy of his trust and who wouldn’t let him down. After all, only God could meet – and exceed – David’s expectations. The United States got their motto right: “In God We Trust.” Put your full trust in God alone. Because sooner or later, you will discover that He is the only one who can be trusted.

Oh Boy!

His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” (1 Samuel 4:19-22 NIV)

A few years ago, I wrote a devotional about the birth of Ichabod which was titled “Where is the Glory?” And a few days ago, my Bible reading plan took me back to this reading from First Samuel 4, but I noticed something different this time around. When Eli’s daughter-in-law was told that she had given birth to a boy, “she did not respond or pay any attention.” Instead, she went on naming her son, “Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel…The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” As I have already noted in my previous devotional, this woman was the only one who seemed to understand the importance of God’s presence symbolized through the ark. That is why not even the news of giving birth to a boy – which, in and of itself, was a reason to rejoice – could keep her from despair. Phinehas’ wife was right. Nothing can replace God’s presence, not even the things in life that we think would bring us joy. Ichabod may not be a pleasant name, but it definitely serves as a good reminder to all of us that apart from God, there can be no joy.

Photo by David Monje on Unsplash

Beware of Scammers

A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” (Acts 19:24-27 NIV)

There’s a story in the Book of Acts about a silversmith named Demetrius, who clearly loved money more than God (or goddess, in this case). When Paul came along “convinced and led astray large numbers of people…in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia,by teaching “that gods made by human hands are no gods at all, Demetrius was obviously concerned. After all, his business depended on it. So he called together the craftsmen, “along with the workers in related trades,to gang up against Paul in the guise of religion. However, anyone reading the story can see that Demetrius wanted to stay in business. The Temple of Artemis which was once one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was eventually destroyed and this is all that remains of it.

Site of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey.
Image: © Sergii Figurnyi/stock.adobe.com

Fast forward thousands of years later, we continue to read similar stories. There are people, like Demetrius, who use religion as an excuse for their own selfish ambitions. The gullible believe them, but the wise, know better. Beware of scammers who will try to sell you an idea so they can stay in business. Be bold enough to stand up for what you believe in even if others try to bring you down. Because if you keep standing strong, you will bring them down.

For Your Benefit

 “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” (John 12:28-30 NIV)

Jesus didn’t need to hear God’s audible voice in order to know that He was fulfilling His purpose on earth. He was content with just hearing God’s still, small voice because He was always in tune with His Father’s voice. But His hearers needed to hear it loud and clear and that is why He told them, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” They all heard it but what were they going to do with the proof of what they had seen and heard?

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

There are still so many people today who don’t know God on a personal level that they need a sign of sorts to help them believe. God speaks louder to them to their benefit. That is why most people have more extraordinary encounters with Him than others. God’s voice can still be heard. But the question is, are we listening? To those of us who are willing to listen, His voice – be it quiet or loud – is for our benefit.

Look for the Light

You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. (Psalm 18:28 NLT)

There’s no denying that we’ve been living through some very dark times and are desperately yearning for the light. So did the psalmist in today’s passage. Read at length, Psalm 18 reveals one of David’s darkest moments. But he also found light at the end of the tunnel. He knew that there was no one else he could turn to than the Light. Several times in the psalm, we hear David crying out to God for deliverance and of being delivered. Instead of dwelling on his unfortunate circumstances, David chose to run to God who proved to be trustworthy. And isn’t that the only way to get through the darkness, by looking for the light? It’s been rightfully noted that “Darkness is the absence of light.” Maybe if we turned to God, we would see the light. Because nothing makes Him happier than to light up our darkness. He has kept a light on. Are you looking for it?

Photo by Zander Bederi on Unsplash

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”

(John 12:35-36)

Speak the Language of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV)

Today the church celebrates Pentecost, a profound time in its history when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles 50 days after Jesus ascended to Heaven, allowing them to speak in tongues (languages they had never learned). While the gift of speaking in tongues remains controversial among Christians today, one thing remains certain: we should all be able to speak the language of love. The apostle Paul, who could speak in more tongues than the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 14:18), had this to say to them, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). And what is love, but patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (13:4-8). Because “where there are tongues, they will be stilled,” but love will remain (v.8). So let us strive to speak the language of love.

Are You Zealous?

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.” (1 Kings 19:10 NIV)

Elijah was so zealous for the Lord God Almighty that nothing could stop him from ridding the land from idolatry and false prophets. It was truly a mountain top experience. But once he was back on the valley, Elijah let a word from the enemy rob him of this victory. “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:1-2).

Have you ever done something so great for God that victory felt certain only to feel defeat shortly after? That’s exactly how the enemy tries to make us feel in order to stop up from being zealous ever again. “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” In fact, he was so discouraged that he prayed that he might die (v.4). God didn’t answer that prayer, but He did choose someone else who was zealous and would continue the work:

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (vv.15-18)

True zeal doesn’t mean no fear. It means courage to keep going no matter what.

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

He Makes Wrong Things Right

Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25 NIV)

I’ve been thinking a lot more about justice lately. Abraham’s words come to mind, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” We long for justice and the only One who can make wrong things right is no other than God, the Judge of all the earth. But what are we doing to bring His justice to pass? God chose to reveal His plans to Abraham because He knew that Abraham would be an agent of change in his family and in the world. “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” (Genesis 18:19). Abraham pleaded on behalf of his relatives and watched God deliver them when He destroyed the wicked. What are you doing to bring about God’s justice in the world? “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

People look at the evil in the world and question if God is good. God looks at the world and questions if there’s anyone who’s willing to do good in it.

Leave the Door Open

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13 NIV)

Jesus has had it with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, and in Matthew 23, He lets them know about it! He pronounces seven woes on them (see vv.13-39), but the one that stood out to me the most is the first one: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Not only was it hypocritical that as religious leaders they kept others from knowing God through Jesus, but they actually didn’t know Him themselves!

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

I’m amazed by the amount of influence most people have to help others come to know Jesus yet they choose not to. When someone else tries, they don’t encourage it either. In the end, no one benefits because of someone’s selfishness, greed, jealousy and envy. Because that’s exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were – selfish, greedy, jealous and envious. They shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces – people who were actually trying to enter – when they should have left it open.

You don’t have to believe if you don’t want to but don’t get in the way of someone who is trying to.

Strength in Waiting

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 CEV)

There is strength in waiting. Not a passive waiting, but an expectant attitude of faith. As we learn to wait on God to fulfill His purposes for us, especially during the difficult times, our own strength is renewed. That strength is likened to that of the eagle, whose wings allow it to rise above the storm. “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” But when we try to bring about His purposes in our own strength, we become weary and faint. I find my own strength renewed not as I plan and fret, but as I hope and trust in Him. Is God asking you to wait? You’re in good company because your strength will be renewed and everyone watching will witness the change. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14 NKJV).