Friday, June 15, 2018

Trust in God - Not People

Here's a great reminder of our need to always put our trust in God - from the Family Research Council Prayer Team. . . 

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD... Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. (Jer 17:5,7 NKJV)

Dr. Richard Blackaby (full bio) is president of Blackaby Ministries International near Atlanta, following his father, Dr. Henry Blackaby, who founded the ministry. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After 13 years as a pastor, and 13 years as President of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, he now serves as Chancellor. This excerpt is from his devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day, "Trusting God First."

The Israelites of Jeremiah's day believed they could trust in their army, the diplomacy of their king, and their foreign alliances to protect them from the powerful Babylonian empire. They gave lip service to their trust in God, but their actions showed where their faith really was: in their military and financial might. God spoke through Jeremiah to warn them that He would not bless those who trusted in anyone or anything instead of Him.

Placing your ultimate trust in anything other than God is idolatry. How can you know if your faith is not truly in God? Ask yourself these questions: Where do I turn when I experience a crisis? When I am hurting or afraid, to whom do I go? When I have a financial problem, whom do I want to tell first? Where do I seek comfort when I am under stress or discouraged?

God often uses other people as His method of providing for you. But be careful lest you inadvertently misdirect your faith toward His provision instead of toward the Provider. God may meet your need through your friends, but ultimately your trust must be in God. The Israelites were so stubbornly committed to trusting in human strength instead of God that, even as the Babylonian army approached Jerusalem, they continued to desperately seek for a person, or a nation, or an army that could rescue them. They realized too late that they had neglected to trust in the only One who could deliver them. Don't make the same mistake as the Israelites. Go straight to the Lord when you have a need. He is the only One who can provide for you.

Placing our ultimate trust in Almighty God is a major theme in Scripture both for individuals and for nations. America's Founding Fathers believed in the providence of God in the affairs of nations and appealed to Him often. George Washington called upon his Continental troops to seek God and the Continental Congress prayed throughout the War for Independence, periodically calling upon the people to seek God, especially before or during major conflicts in the war. And they were careful to call for thanksgiving after major victories. During eight years of war, they issued 15 nationwide calls for either extraordinary humiliation, fasting and prayer, or thanksgiving. The routine prayer days practiced in the colonies also continued to take place.

For many years, America has been in accelerating spiritual, moral, and political decline, each symbiotic with the other. God has dealt with us mercifully. He has allowed us to see the consequences of our sin through increased violence, crime, massive storms, calamities, and political failures to remind us of our need to turn to Him. God deals directly with individuals and with nations. And each of us has an impact on the welfare and destiny of our nation for good or for evil. Our sins, unrepented of, not only impact our own lives, but our families, our churches, and our nation. Our courageous acts of faith and righteousness and consistent godly behavior has great impact as well.

Even amid a confused and sin-laden society, God is using relatively small bands of believers who are wholly committed to Him and who trust in Him to access His miracles and mercies in America, despite our nation's shocking spiritual, moral, and political divide. Amid the darkness can be seen the fruit of a growing army of believers and churches that God has stirred to humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways. As that remnant grows over time, I believe God's grace will permeate our entire nation. People and churches will be changed and the kind of righteousness that God says exalts a nation will also. While wickedness is on the increase now, the time may come when righteousness begins to supplant the evil. With the decline of wickedness and the rise of righteousness, godless leaders who have managed to increase wickedness through laws that have corrupted our children, our schools, our cities, and states will be supplanted as well.

The people of Judah experienced renewal under King Jehoshaphat. Assaulted by an overwhelming enemy force, Judah was helpless (read 2 Chr 20:1-30). "Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." The people fixed their eyes, not on their own army or weapons, nor on some distant ally's help. Rather, they fixed their eyes squarely on the living God, trusting Him. As they did, the prophet said, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord...!" They trusted God. Jehoshaphat sent singers to lead the army. But the Lord set ambushes for their enemies and when the Judean army arrived, they found nothing but dead bodies. The enemy armies had turned against themselves and not a single soldier survived.

If a remnant of believing Americans remains faithful and continues to grow, it is just a matter of time before God will use His people and our nation to open wide the doors of entire nations now closed to the gospel. We could see that happen in North Korea, if we will persist in repentance and prayer. Meanwhile, we must continue to press on in urging our fellow believers and countrymen to receive God's grace and turn wholeheartedly to Him. More and more are turning and praying. More and more are getting the vision to be salt AND light, devoting themselves to evangelism and to transforming our culture through transformed character, teaching, and preaching of the word of God as it applies to our culture -- publicly encouraging what is good and denouncing what is evil -- and offering and leading communities with godly solutions.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay

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