June 30, 2017
A Matter of Trust
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
Trust me. How many times has someone said those words to you? What happens next depends upon whether or not we truly trust the one who is speaking. Do you jump in the deep end of the pool? Do you cut your hair short or change its color? Do you buy the outfit you are a little unsure about, but your friend tells you it is cute? Do you go on the blind date? Do you invest the money? Do you start a new business? Get married? Buy the house?
Romans 8:28-32 is all about trust. God is saying “Trust me.” Trust me when your circumstances stink. Trust me when it seems like everyone is against you. Trust me when you don’t understand. Just trust me. The problem isn’t with God when we doubt, the problem is with us. At the root of our struggles with him and this life that we live is that deep down we don’t trust him.
Trust is built through relationship, reputation, and reliability.
We trust people we know. Our trust for God grows as our relationship with him grows. Psalms 9:10
We trust people who have a reliable reputation. Our trust in God grows as we hear the stories of his provision for others. Psalms 40:10, John 4:39, Hebrews 12:1
We trust people we can rely on to follow through on what they promise. Our trust for God grows as we recognize his faithfulness in our past and current life experiences. Lamentations 3:23, Psalms 28:7, Psalms 143:8
I don’t know what struggle you may be facing today, but I know that God can be trusted to walk with you through it. Romans 8:32 says it all “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God allowed Jesus to die for us. He loves us that much. And if he loves us that much, shouldn’t we trust him to take care of us?
What do you need to trust God with today? What God story do you need to share with someone else to strengthen her faith? What is one way God has been faithful to you today?
Lord, Thank you for your faithfulness. Be near to those who are struggling today with the hardships this life brings. Use our struggles to draw us closer to you. Amen
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
I was simultaneously dreading and looking forward to my five hour flight to Phoenix. Dreading the cramped confinement of a plane with strangers, but looking forward to my trip out West sans children and spouse, I joined the herd of cattle of Southwest travelers waiting in corral C to board the plane. I had not been on a trip by myself since college. The alone time working was going to be a nice change of pace from the daily duties of motherhood. But in order to get there, I had to spend several hours sitting next to, and possibly engaging in conversation, with the stranger sitting next to me. The crowded plane and last boarding group left me with very few choices in seating.
I took one of the only seats left- a middle seat sandwiched between two men in their thirties one by the window and the other one folded up on the aisle. Within the confines of that cramped plane, I found myself engaged in a fascinating conversation with the young man by the window. Over the next five hours I listened to his story of coming to the United States in order to attend the University of Florida. He obtained a bachelor’s degree, while learning English, and is currently working for an energy company. He spoke about his family fleeing the drug cartel of Colombia, of becoming a US citizen and of his love for both of his countries.
As I listened to his story and heard the passion he felt for Colombia, while pledging his loyalty and gratefulness to the United States, I thought about how difficult it must be at times for those who have dual citizenship. If the two countries you are a citizen of are no longer friendly, which side do you take? My young friend said he would have to flee to a deserted island because he would not be able to choose sides because he loves them both.
Our verses today state that “our citizenship is in heaven and from IT we await a Savior…” (emphasis mine). Our citizenship is in heaven. We belong to it, not here. Did you catch it? We don’t belong here. We belong there. It is from heaven’s citizenship that we await our Savior. The world should not have our loyalty. Heaven should. Our first obligation is to heaven, not earth. My problem is that I make my citizenship about here, and not there. I make my life on earth my priority. I give my time, money, abilities, thoughts, priorities and dreams to this life that I can see and not to the one I cannot. We have divided loyalties and because of it we try and please both and we can’t. We can’t because the worlds we live in are at war with each other and we have to pick a side. We can’t be loyal to both. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Our ties to this world are strong, but our citizenship is in heaven and because of that I am to be loyal to the things of heaven. My priorities should become aligned with those of heaven. My life should reflect the place of my citizenship. Becoming a citizen of a new place shifts your loyalty from one kingdom to another. My young friend is no longer a citizen of Colombia, he is a citizen of the United States, and as such, he is learning to be loyal to new country while letting go of the one of his birth.
What changes in loyalty to do you need to make today? What is one priority you can change that is more heavenly and less worldly? What is one thing you need to let go of in order to be a better citizen of heaven?
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
I had not been there in a very long time nor lived there even longer. The dry dusty desert landscape stretched out before me for miles. Swirling mini dust clouds twisted and danced across the sand in front of me. Waves of nostalgia flooded over me. This was my home. The place of my upbringing. It was familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. I had been gone for almost 4 decades. I had left the desert of Arizona to attend college in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and never permanently returned.
It is so easy to take for granted the things that God has given us. Like many other 19 year olds, I couldn't wait to leave home. To be on my own. To get out from under the shadow of my parents and siblings. As I spent time this week at home, I reconnected with a former high school classmate. We caught up on 30 years in a span of an hour and a half over lunch. Both of us left home to go to college, but she had returned to Tucson about 10 years ago even buying her parents old house. She shared how she spent a lifetime trying to get away from her mother's house, only to be currently living in it. She caught me up on the people we knew during our teen years and I was reminded of the good friends God had place in my path during those important years of my life and I was grateful. As I shared my journey with her of how God had moved me from Tucson to Arkansas, to Texas, back to Arkansas and now to Florida, I saw the thread of His blessing once again upon my life. As I recounted to her the friends I made in college and how they encouraged me to return to JBU for my sophomore year where I met my husband, tears filed my eyes and my voiced cracked. The faces and names of all those who had touched my life passed before me and I was filled with gratitude.
Gratitude for a God who knew me. A God who knew me well enough to move me from my hometown in order to call me into a deeper relationship with Him. Gratitude for a God who took us to Texas for seminary and godly friends and mentors. Gratitude for a God who knew my family needed to live in Little Rock, so that our youngest son could be born where there was a Baptist hospital with a NICU that specialized in sleep apnea. Sparing us medical bills that would have bankrupted us, and saving our son's life. Gratitude for a God who knew my oldest son needed to attend college in Florida so he could meet his wife and be called to ministry. Gratitude for a God who knows the road ahead of me and promises to go before me and prepare the way for me and then walks beside me as I follow Him.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20 that we are to be "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Gratitude is not always easy because our circumstances are not always easy. In the midst of the hard dry desert places of life it is difficult to be grateful, but we are called to be grateful to God. Grateful to God, not to the circumstances. Grateful to him because he knows. He knows the poor choices we have made. He knows the injustices we have experienced. He knows the pain of loss. He knows us and he loves us and he sticks with us. As I have looked back over my life this week, I am grateful for everything.
Lord, thank you for your constant love and provision. The thread of your love, protection, and guidance can be seen when we look for it. You promise you will found when we search for you will all our hearts. Help us to seek you. Thank you for making yourself real to me in my life. Amen.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.