What does it mean to trust God?

Trust

I love this rainbow. It reminds me that God is watching, even when it was stormy.

A simple, straightforward question in a workbook, but I was at an emotional low point. What does it mean to trust God? I know I ought to. I like to think I do. I’ve advocated trusting God in lots of blog posts. But as I say, the question caught me at an emotional low point. I didn’t have a quick answer.

After some thought, I figured it means not to second guess God, not to doubt, not to fall into unbelief. But that’s all negative.… Read the rest

Paul, his government, and where faith takes us

Paul before Agrippa

St. Paul before Agrippa / Sir James Thornhill, ca. 1710

Acts 26 records part of a conversation Paul had with Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice. Officially, those three dignitaries were the Roman governor, the King of Judea, and his wife. A man with his mind set on his circumstances (that is, on the flesh) would have conducted himself very differently than Paul did. He shows us faith in action.

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Stephen’s portrait of church leadership

Stoning of Stephen

The Stoning of Stephen, Annibale Carracci (1603-04)

The church had a problem at the beginning of Acts 6. They were all Jews, of course, but most of them were native to the area. Jews had moved all over the Roman Empire and had established synagogues in every major Greek city.

A number of those Jews eventually moved back to Jerusalem. They spoke Greek, but not the local Aramaic.

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God: an ever present help in trouble

Tower of refuge

Maiden Tower, Baku, Azerbaijan (12th century)

God is our refuge, says Psalm 46, an ever present help in trouble. Everyone knows trouble. Some people know a lot of trouble:

  • Job loss and other financial distress
  • Relationship troubles, which can include various toxic relationships or the loss of loved ones.
  • Sickness and injury
  • Oppression and persecution
  • War and violence
  • All manner of natural disasters
  • Etc.

We commonly call the natural disasters “acts of God.” It takes robust faith to believe that God is our help in trouble.

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Trusting the God of ordinary things

Trust in the Lord“Trust and obey,” says the hymn, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

That’s easy, even fun to sing in church on Sunday or perhaps at home during personal devotions. It’s nothing but church talk if we don’t put legs on it, set our hands to work on it, and let it control our mouths and, yes, our thoughts once we close the hymnal.

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Being spiritually dressed

Paul had quite a lot to say about clothing. No, I don’t mean any comment that could be taken as a dress code. We all have earthly clothing. We have to take it off from time to time to wash both it and our bodies. It wears out and we have to repair or replace it. Spiritual clothing is different. We need to have that on at all times. We are already clean, and spiritual clothing can never wear out or become soiled.

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

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Do you love money? Or would you rather be content?

Greed

Is money the root of all evil? Lot’s of people think that’s what the Bible says, but it’s not. The correct quotation is that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There’s a big difference. We all need money, but money is a tool, not the proper object of love. Here is the verse in context:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

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The lie depression tells

Depression is an unpleasant condition at best. At worst it’s debilitating. And yet it’s basically a lie. In part, of course, it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain, but no drugs can cure it unless somehow its victim can look past the lie to find the truth.

Like all lies of the devil, it works by blinding people to their true situation. Anyone who hasn’t bought into depression’s lie has bought into something else. Although David might be the last biblical character we’d think of as someone suffering from depression, Psalm 13 clearly illustrates both the problem and the solution.

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Living in the middle of the story

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife / Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo (1660s)

When we come to the end of a novel or a movie, we know how it turns out. We get a lot of satisfaction knowing how it turns out, possibly because we can’t possibly get the same satisfaction in our own lives. After all, we’re living in the middle of the story.

Joseph had ten older brothers. Jacob, his father, essentially put him in charge of the family business. Jacob loved Joseph more than the others because he was the firstborn son of the only woman he had ever loved.

But he must have given Joseph all that authority because of his natural ability and character.… Read the rest

What do you expect from Jesus?

Some people go to church week after week and often leave vaguely unsatisfied. Some people, when a famous preacher rents a stadium or coliseum, will drive many miles to attend the meeting. Does everyone leave happy and satisfied? Is that even the point?

What do we want from a church service or other similar gathering? Is what we want the same thing Jesus wants to offer?

Feeding of the 5000

The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (ca. 1413)

Jesus hadn’t intended to minister to a crowd.

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