Thoughts to Ponder

Do you trust God?

The Bible tells us to have faith: (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. And we all do have some faith, or we would not have ever accepted salvation in the first place.

What is faith? What does it mean to trust God? These are questions we are going to look at. As I said above, we all had to have faith to accept the free gift of eternal life that God offers those who believe in Jesus Christ. We know that God loves us. He says so many places in His word, plus He would not have sent Jesus to die for our sins if He did not love us.

Have you ever watched a child who is afraid of water jump off the side of the pool into the arms of a loving parent? What causes that child to jump? It is trust in the parent, but why does the child trust the parent? Could it be because the parent has shown through love that they will not let anything bad happen to the child?

There is a place, not made for humans, but prepared for Satan and his followers called the lake of fire. God does not want any person to go there, yet because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve and our continued rebellion since then, mankind is sentenced to die (eternally) in the lake of fire along with Satan and his followers. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Yet God loves us enough to send a Redeemer to save us from the just and well deserved punishment for our sins. So shouldn't we also feel as that child does that our Father has proven His love and faithfulness to us?

I can remember taking my daughter to the doctor when she was very small. She would ask as we drove to the hospital; "Will I have to get a shot?" I would not lie to her, I would always tell her that I hoped not but that it was possible if the doctor thought that was best. She did not trust the doctor, but she trusted me. She still did not want the shot but she trusted me enough to believe that I was not going to let anyone do anything to her that was not in her best interest, even though that might still mean a little pain and discomfort in the short term.

Do we trust God in this same way? Should we? Maybe this passage will help you answer that question: (Mark 10:13-15 NIV) People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. {14} When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. {15} I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Maybe we should have that child-like faith in our Heavenly Father. Now I am not talking about a blind, leave-your-brain-at-the-door type of trust or faith. I am often ridiculed for being a sheep blindly following something that I don't even understand. My answer to that is that God does not want us to check our brains at the door. He has given us plenty of proof, not only of His existence but also of the truth of His Word. We have to look for ourselves, but if we do He will open our eyes and let us see clearly. What I am talking about is trust that comes from knowing God. If we truly know Him, then we will see His character and know that He loves us and that His word is true. This is not blind faith it is faith based on proof that is all around us.

Okay, I am preaching to the choir, right? Well maybe not, maybe you think you have faith and trust in God, but are you showing by your life that you do? Let's take a look at a kind of difficult passage: (James 2:14 NIV) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? This is a difficult passage because it makes us uncomfortable. It shows that God wants us to have spiritual fruit in our lives. If we claim that we have faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior but our lives show no spiritual fruit (deeds) which confirms that faith, then maybe we are just fooling ourselves about our faith.

This is tough teaching, but it needs to be preached. I don't believe you can accept Christ as Lord and Savior of your life and still live the same way for the next 10 years, or 5 years or even 1 year. For that matter for even months. You are either growing or you are falling away. I have often heard someone described as a Christian who just never grew in the Lord. If they never grew how do you know they are a Christian? Just because they said they understand and believe who Jesus is and have asked Him into their hearts? Is that enough? It is enough if it truly happened but without the outward evidence of that happening you should wonder. A dead tree does not grow, a live tree does not remain the same. If you cut a tree down and look at its rings you will not find a tree that is a hundred years old with only 2 or 3 rings! So why do we think a Christian can go for years without producing any growth rings? I think no rings means no growth, and no growth means death...

Stand back, I am not done yet. I think growth means a faith that is also growing stronger. If you don't trust God more today then you did the day you accepted Christ as your Savior then maybe you better check your roots to see if you are still alive!! (John 15:5-6 NIV) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. {6} If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Because spiritual fruit and deeds are often used synonymously, I think people are often mistaken on what true fruit is. Yes we should show love for our fellow man, yes we should witness to others, yes we should serve God in as many ways as we can, but I think that is only one kind of fruit. I think the other kind is evidence of our true faith. Do we truly trust God?

Many of us will say that we trust God and we will quote verses that show that every thing works together for good of those who love God. That is great, we should stand on those promises but if we don't also put that faith into action then it is useless faith. For instance do we worry over every little thing that happens in our lives? Do we show by our concern about our jobs and our material things that we don't really trust God?

Do we trust God with the big things; like our eternal home, but not trust Him in the little things; like our jobs and our finances? What are we saying if we don't trust God in the little things and the big things? Aren't we saying that we don't believe He cares enough about us to look after those things too? What a slap in the face to God who has shown His love for us, not trust Him to take care of the little things in our lives.

It is not just as individuals that we should show faith and trust to God. What about as a church? You will often hear faith and trust taught from the pulpit these days. Many pastors will tell their congregations that they should trust God with their money. God should get His tithe first and then the person should pay the bills. After all don't we (the congregation) trust God to provide? Now don't get me wrong I have nothing against this kind of teaching, I think it is very biblical. My problem comes when the church after exhorting the congregation to trust God, shows by the actions they take that they (as a church) don't trust God.

Let me give you a couple of examples. You have a church that preaches tithing and trusting God to provide, even when you can't by human eyes see how He can accomplish it. People are told that God can do anything and that He will provide for them and that they can believe that because God has proven His love for us all. Sounds great doesn't it, that is until the church needs something. What is the first thing the Elders and Pastors do? Is it pray and trust God, or is it preach another tithing sermon in the hopes that people will feel guilty and give money? Or do they come right out and preach about supporting the church and then give the needs and the amount needed to meet those needs?

Where is their faith in God? God says that He does not need our money, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I am not saying that it is wrong for a church to tell the congregation of the monetary needs, I am saying that it is a matter of the heart. Do the church leaders trust God? Do they know in their hearts that God will provide, or are they trying by their own power to provide the money for whatever need there is?

No matter how charismatic a pastor is does he think that by asking people to give he has more influence then if he just quietly prayed for God to provide? If so then maybe he should go to the congregation with his pleas and let just one person in the congregation pray that God will hold back the money and see who has the most power. I cannot think of a pastor who would take that challenge, but I have to wonder why not. If they don't trust God enough to provide why would they fear Him enough to believe He might withhold the money?

I am speaking about a heart condition and only God can really know the true condition of anyone's heart, but our actions can sure show an approximation of our heart condition. As I said it is not wrong for a church to approach the congregation with financial needs, but it is wrong if they try to get the money needed by their own power of persuasion. Again I think that is an offense to God. It shows that we don't trust Him.

Here is a final passage I want to discuss: (Romans 14:23 NIV) But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. Now Paul was speaking about people's freedom in Christ to eat anything they want. Nothing is considered unclean to the Christian, but I think we could and should apply this verse in some further ways. Paul says that even though it is not wrong to eat any food, if the person who eats does not believe that (have faith) then it is wrong, because anything done without faith is sin. So even though it is not wrong for a church to approach the congregation with financial needs, if it is done because of lack of faith in God, is it sin?

The same question would be good to ask ourselves in our everyday walks with Christ. Are we acting in faith or are we sinning against the One who plainly says He will provide for us? (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV) "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? {26} Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? {27} Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? {28} "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. {29} Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. {30} If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? {31} So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' {32} For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. {33} But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. {34} Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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