Saturday, January 31, 2009

Paying the Temple Tax

The issue of paying the temple tax was a problem. Collectors wanted Jesus to pay but they didn’t dare approach Him—they knew He couldn’t be snared by legalism. Instead, they asked Peter who replied off the top of his head, “Yes, he does.” (Mt. 17:25 NIV)

Poor Peter. He answered without looking into the matter and committed a diplomatic faux pas. For as the Son of God and as Lord of the Temple, Jesus did not pay the tax.

Jesus came to the rescue for His friend by providing the money in a unique manner: Saying He didn’t want to offend them, Jesus directed Peter, the former fisherman, to fish with a line, unusual for a man accustomed to nets, and to look into the mouth of the first fish he caught. There he would find a coin. “Take it and give it to them,” Jesus said, “for my tax and yours.” (Mt. 17 27b NIV) It was a private miracle between two friends.

Originally published October 2, 1981.
Picture: Quilt by Patty. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Yoke Is Easy

Jesus said, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened. . . ." Mt. 11:28a NIV) He died on a cross because of the invitation—because He carried the sins of the world.

We can’t carry the burden that Jesus carried, of course. But Paul invited Jesus’ followers to share the burdens of those who sin when he wrote, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2) So when we reach out to help someone in trouble—perhaps even trouble they’ve brought upon themselves—we take part in the ministry of Jesus, even complete or fulfill His work on earth.

Jesus also referred to carrying each other’s burdens when He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. . . .” (Mt. 29a NIV)

Through lifting the burdens of others and bringing them to Jesus we can enter His ministry and His rest. “For me yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (v. 30)

Originally published August 31, 1984.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

As You Have Believed

A Roman centurion came to Jesus when a beloved servant was painfully tormented. Because the centurion was Roman, he would have had only limited knowledge of God’s Word. And it would have been against his background and training to seek help from an obscure rabbi of an occupied nation.

But the man had a need, and he was impressed by Jesus—by the nature and the character of Jesus’ ministry. So he approached, not expecting special consideration, asking that Jesus, “only speak a word. . . .” (Mt. 8: NKJV) He believed Jesus could help him by healing his servant from a distance.

Jesus marveled at the man’s faith. He saw the centurion as a forerunner of multitudes of Gentiles—of people outside the nation of Israel—who would turn to God: “many will come from east and west,” Jesus said, “and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven . . . Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” (v. 11,13b)

Originally published May 4, 1990.
Picture: Desert landscape, Las Vegas, NV, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Different Criterion

Many groups set up criteria for achieving favor with God—for attaining salvation. These criteria range from accepting a set of doctrines—to living within prescribed behavior codes—to performing initiation rites, etc.

Jesus had a different criterion. He said, “And this is eternal life, that they [His followers] may know You . . . For I have given them the words which you have give Me; and they have received Him . . . and they have believed. . . .” (Jn. 17:3,8 NKJV)

According to this prayer of Jesus, salvation is knowing God by faith—not knowing about Him, but knowing Him. Knowing implies relationship. And because relationships include interaction, salvation includes interaction. It means approaching God—meeting with Him, speaking with Him—personally hearing and receiving His Word in the heart.

Jesus prayed further, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their Word.” (v. 20) We’re included in His prayer.

Originally published January 18, 1991.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

He Had to Humbly Submit

Everyone is important in the eyes of God, but people long to feel or experience the value they have in Christ. And they can. Although Satan tries to destroy people, God knows how to honor the humble—and humble the honored—without destroying the self-esteem of either.

This happened to a little, unnamed slave girl and her master.

The master was Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Under normal conditions he might scarcely have noticed the young member of his household. But he had a great need—he was afflicted with leprosy—so he listened to her message: “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!” she said. “For he would heal him of his leprosy.” (II Kings 5:3 NKJV)

However, when Naaman pursued miraculous healing he discovered that God’s power didn’t respond to someone because of position or wealth. Instead, he had to humbly submit to instructions from an obscure servant of God. He was told to dip his body in the Jordan River. And when he obeyed, his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child. . . . (v. 14)

Although Naaman’s ego was punctured, he did not doubt his value before God. Neither did the little girl who launched him on his journey.

Originally published October 18, 1991.
Picture: Flowers in Como Park Conservatory, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Overflow of Life

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well of Samaria, He said, whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst. (Jn. 4:14a NKJV) He was identifying the Spirit of God that flows from Him as a type of spiritual water. Because water is necessary for life, He was identifying Himself as a source of life.

Life-giving water from Jesus doesn’t necessarily satisfy physical thirst—although it might. It’s especially designed to satisfy spiritual thirst and longing. Jesus said, the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (Jn. 4:14b)

Even after Jesus satisfies an individual’s initial longing for spiritual life, He continues to pour Himself and His life into those who drink from Him. Yielded people—individuals who are willing to be empty, receptive vessels—experience an overflow of His living water, His abundant life, His Holy Spirit. Describing the person who receives, Jesus said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (Jn. 7:38b NKJV)

Originally published September 18, 1987.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Satan, the Accuser

It’s difficult for the human mind to accept Jesus as non-condemning. Yet He made that clear when He said, “If any one hears my saying, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (Jn. 12:47 ASB)

Someone else is eager to point out people's sin. Scripture identifies Satan as the one who accuses Christians and non-Christians alike: Satan, who deceives the whole world . . . accuses them before our God day and night. (Rev. 12:9b,10b) He functions like a dreaded prosecuting attorney whose total purpose is bringing men to destruction.

There is an Old Testament illustration: A high priest named Joshua stood between the Angel of the Lord and Satan. The Lord rebuked Satan—not Joshua—and replaced Joshua’s filthy garments (sin) with festal robes (God’s righteousness). (Zech. 3:4b)

Originally published February 12, 1982.
Picture: Flowers in the courtyard, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, January 23, 2009

God Incarnate

Jesus revealed that He believed He was God Incarnate when He said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, He will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (Jn. 6:51 NKJV)

The claims of the statement are fantastic and audacious. Jesus was saying He had come from heaven, even though it was well known that He had grown up and lived most of His adult life as a resident of Palestine. He was claiming to be the key to eternal life, a concept about which even the religious leaders of His time could not agree. And He was referring to a sacrifice that would save the entire world, a sacrifice no one could understand because He had not yet died on the cross.

Jesus' claims were absurd in the ears of all who heard Him. They were guaranteed to confuse the general population and antagonize the religious leaders or the powers-that-be.

Jesus risked everything for Truth.

Originally published January 15, 1993

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Staff of Life

Bread is sometimes referred to as the staff of life. As a food, it serves as a foundation for other foods.

Jesus referred to Himself the bread of life. He also said, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. (Jn. 6:35 and 53 NKJV)

The crowds who followed Him were troubled by this message. They didn’t understand that He was talking about spiritual food, that He was referring to Himself as a foundation. Many turned back—no longer followed Jesus because they thought the saying was hard. Jesus wasn’t telling them they should literally consume His flesh. His point was that they should spiritually discern the truth of His Word, His ministry. They should spiritually absorb or consume His Life, they should build their lives upon Him.

It isn’t easy to spiritually discern Jesus. We have similar problems today, we’d rather live by laws. But Jesus says, As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (v. 57)

Originally published March 4, 1988.
Picture: Fountain in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2008. Photo by Ken.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The People Questioned Jesus

Multitudes sought Jesus during His early ministry. When Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, the people followed, supposedly wanting more and more of whatever He had to offer. But their specific focus was food. Jesus said, you seek me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes. . . . (Jn. 6:26,27 NKJV)

Then the people questioned Jesus. They referred to God’s miraculous provision during the forty years in the Wilderness by quoting Scriptures from Exodus. They spoke as though they were trying determine if Jesus was a leader like Moses. In their conversation, they revealed their true interest when they continued to focus on food or physical provision.

Jesus understood physical needs, He met people’s needs regularly. But here He changed the focus from physical food to spiritual truth. He emphasized that manna didn’t come from Moses but from God. And He said of Himself, the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (v. 33)

Originally published February 22, 1991.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To the One who Hears and Answers

We’ve all heard the phrase, All we can do is pray. When we say that, it seems we view prayer as something of little significance, a last resort. We try it when other avenues are exhausted.

The Bible tells us prayer is a vital force. It says good things happen when people turn to God in prayer. It tells us that even if our hearts are wrong, full of selfish demands, He can change us when we come into His presence. God can humble us so we’ll actually become ready to receive His answer to prayer!

The psalmist cried, O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come . . . You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth. . . . (Ps. 65: 2,5 NKV)

During times when important national decisions are at stake, we look to God. Only He knows what lies ahead and only He can truly judge the heartbeat and the hearts of the people.

It’s time to pray—to the One who hears and answers.

Originally published November 4, 1988.
Picture: Flower in Hawaii, 2004. Photo by Patty.

Monday, January 19, 2009

They Were Afraid

The Bible says, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. . . . (I Jn. 4:18b NKJV)

Such love cannot be natural. We love, but not to the depth of becoming perfect. We love, but not to the point of no longer fearing. Jesus is the only man who ever walked in perfect love.

However, people who follow Jesus can draw from His love when they experience His intervention. One night the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee without Him when they encountered a fierce storm. After expending themselves to the point of exhaustion while rowing several miles in the dark, they saw Jesus in the distance. He was walking on water as He moved toward them, and they were afraid. (Jn. 6:19)

Jesus understood their fear and He let them know who He was as He continued to draw closer and closer. “It is I,” he said; “do not be afraid.” (v. 20) Evenwhile walking on the water’s surface, He broke the power of their fear. Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. (v. 21)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Tim. 1:7)

Originally published September 15, 1989.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Spiritual Eyes

Jesus healed a man who was born blind. When his neighbors questioned him about the healing, he told them, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed and then I could see.” (Jn. 9:11) NIV

Strange circumstances and a remarkable event—people pay attention when a blind man receives physical sight. But the story isn’t complete. The people questioned him further before the Pharisees came to challenge and rebuke him.

He became testy in return: “Now that is remarkable. . . ! If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (v. 30a,33)

At that, the Pharisees reacted with anger. They, threw him out. (v. 34b)

When Jesus heard how the man had been treated, He found the beleageued fellow. Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35b)

Confused and hurting, the man cried out, “Who is he, sir. . . ? Tell me. . . .” (v. 36)

And then Jesus opened the man’s spiritual eyes so he could respond in faith. With his newly-received spiritual eyes he said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him. (v. 38)

Originally published November 22, 1983
Picture: Patty's Garden, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, January 16, 2009

She Released Him

Have you ever wondered why Mary told servants at the wedding in Cana to follow Jesus’ instructions? After all, Jesus seemingly rebuked her when He said, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (Jn. 2:4 NKJV)

Perhaps Jesus created the moment because He wanted to bless and strengthen His mother. His ministry was beginning. He would be leaving her and their home, and she would be feeling her loss. He gave her opportunity to move in faith by giving her opportunity to release Him.

There are legends, but no historical records of earlier miracles, and there is no indication the family lived anything other than a normal life. This was a poignant moment. Mary told Jesus about a need and revealed her faith in His ability to fill the need. She said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (v. 5)

If Mary had focused on her loss, the miracle would have been different. But she focused on Jesus, and her faith became a key ingredient in Jesus’ first miracle.

Originally published August 16, 1991.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rivers Clapping

Psalm 98 pictures all creation taking part in vibrant praise and exaltation. In fact, God is so great that the psalmist orders people to offer jubilant praises using their voices, their harps, their trumpets, and their ram's horns. Everything is to respond to God’s love for His people.

The psalmist begins with Sing to the Lord a new song . . . (v. 1a NIV) He recounts God’s salvation and faithfulness for His people. Then the psalmist expands the scenario to include all of creation: Let the sea resound, and everything in it . . . Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy. . . . (v. 7a,8 NIV)

Why the animation? To personify joy—to provide a vivid image of an unguarded response to an awesome God.

Earthly Lords and Kings are objects of praise. When they appear before their subjects, waves of adulation rise to meet them. And when the heavenly King makes His presence known, all creation responds.

[S]hout for joy before the LORD, the King. (v. 6b)

Originally published August 6, 1982.
Picture: Flower with butterfly, Arizona, 2008. Photo by Patty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Joyful Obedience

The rewards of obedience can be exciting, and they’re worthy of consideration, especially at a time of the year when many re-evaluate their lives and make resolutions.

But human nature resents restraints. After all, who gets excited about obedience if it means doing something we would rather not do—or not doing something we would like to do?

Nevertheless, listen to this picture of obedience and see if it isn’t exciting. Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you . . . If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. . . . "(Jn. 15:67,10a NKJV)

Obedience to God is exciting because it’s part of our relationship with Almighty God. If we disobey Him, our love for Him and our relationship with Him wanes. But if we love God our relationship leads us into a life of joyful obedience

Originally published December 30, 1988.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jesus' Dominion

When God made man, He said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish . . . fowl . . . every living thing that moveth. . . . (Gen. 1:28 KJV)

That commission changed drastically after Adam and Eve sinned. When God gave a commission to Noah, He said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you shall be upon every beast . . . fowl . . . all that moveth . . . fishes of the sea. (Gen. 9:1,2 KJV) Dominion had been lost; it was replaced by fear.

But not permanently. Jesus regained dominion by defeating Satan. David prophesied this when he wrote, What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? . . . Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands . . . sheep and oxen . . . beasts . . . fowl . . . fish . . . O Lord our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:4,6a-8 KJV)

The psalm can apply to us. Christ's victory can be our victory if we align ourselves with Him. O Lord our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:9 KJV)

Originally published January 31, 1986.
Picture: Flower in Thailand, 2007. Photo by Patty

Monday, January 12, 2009

God Remembered Noah

When God told Noah to do something, Noah obeyed. He built a huge ark. Some believe he worked on it for 120 years.

Even so, he must have felt queasy when he entered with his family and the animals—and when God shut the door behind them as they left behind the only world they knew. Then, the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifth days. (Gen. 7:24 NKJV) Until, finally, God remembered Noah.”(8:1)

Aren’t you glad God remembered? Promises can be a problem. Noah was familiar with people, and nothing is totally guaranteed when dealing with people. People are prone to forget or be irresponsible. But Noah knew God, too; God is faithful and He keeps His Word. Noah trusted God, and we can count on Him as well.

If we think God forgets promises it’s because we’re prone to forget promises ourselves. But God is not man, and He didn’t forsake Noah. When the water subsided, Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (8:20)

Based on Thoughts originally published January 12, 1988, and February 26, 1993.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Shall Be Clean

Many people take personal inventory during the month of January. It’s a time for resolutions.

Desire to improve always requires admitting a need to improve, evaluating mistakes, perhaps acknowledging guilt. That can be painful.

How do we deal with failure or guilt? We can say we’re not really so bad—and justify guilt. We can say there is no guilt—and seek escape from those inner twinges by indulging in some kind of temporary pleasure.

But if we bring failure to God, He not only allows honesty, He encourages honesty. That why David could freely say, “Have mercy on me, O God. . . I acknowledge my transgressions—and my sin is ever before me.” (Ps. 51:1a,3 NKJV)

Then he was free to move toward a new beginning. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (v. 7a,10)

Originally published January 10, 1986.
Picture: Flowers, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Spring of Water

Water is a unique feature of planet earth. Wherever it flows, thirsty lands and people are refreshed. Our bodies can survive prolonged periods without food, but abstaining from water is dangerous. As a cleansing agent, we used it both internally and externally—to flush impurities from our system and to wash dirt from our skin.

Jesus said, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14 RSV)

Jesus used water as a symbol of His Words—and of His Word, our Bible. When activated by the Holy Spirit the Word becomes a cleansing agent. It purges secret sins of the thought life as well as obvious external vices.

The Word also satisfies spiritual thirst and generates spiritual health. It becomes that “spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Originally published March 12, 1982.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Son of Man

Jesus called Himself the Son of Man. This may seem like an unremarkable title to us but it was laden with implications for Jesus’ audience.

Daniel had used the phrase originally. He saw four beasts (representing four successive world powers) in a dream. Then he saw the Ancient of Days surrounded by worshippers. Later, behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven . . . and there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve Him. (Dan. 7:13b,14 KJV)
Imagine the son of a common carpenter from Nazareth using the term in reference to Himself. Shocking! But Jesus said, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (Jn. 3:14,15)

Originally published February 26, 1988.
Picture: Patty's Garden, 2008. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jesus, the I AM

Using the I am phrase was a serious matter for the people who heard Jesus. In their early history as a nation, Moses turned to see a burning bush. That’s when God identified Himself by saying to Moses, “I am the God of thy father. . . .” (Ex. 3:6 KJV) When Moses asked God for His name God said, “I AM THAT I AM:” and he said, “Thus shalt thou say until the children of Israel, “I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Ex. 3:6,14,15 KJV)

So Jesus shook everyone when He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58b KJV) The statement made during a controversy with Jewish leaders was a statement of His eternal existence, of His position in the Godhead.

Jesus used the terminology on other occasions as well. Before Lazarus rose from the dead Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. . . .” (Jn. 11:25 KJV)

And when Thomas wanted to know the way, Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6 KJV)

Originally published April 16, 1982.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jesus the Word

John begins his gospel with, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Jn. 1:1 KJV)

The reality of this Word is a difficult concept, for the Word is a person—a He—Jesus. God expressed Himself in human form as Jesus the Word: And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14 KJV)

Although people have spirits created in the image of God, no other human is the creative Word as Jesus is the creative Word. No other person is God—or a god. But it is possible for human spirits to reflect godly attributes because we can interact with God—and submit to Him.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Word expressed as Jesus when he wrote, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed . . . but the word of our God shall stand forever. (Is. 40:5a,8b NKJV)

Originally published January 12, 1990
Picture: Patty's garden, 2008. Photo by Solveig

Monday, January 5, 2009

God the Word

God has always manifested Himself through the Word. At the beginning of time He said, Let there be . . . and a world was created. Throughout the Old Testament He spoke through the patriarchs and the prophets. He said through the prophet Isaiah, I have not spoken in secret . . . I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, “Seek me in vain.” (Is. 45:19 NIV)

When Jesus entered history as the Word Incarnate, John wrote, The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory. . . . (Jn. 1:14 NIV)

God continues to manifest Himself today through His Word. Because Scripture tells us that He does not speak in secret, it is our mandate to seek Him, to listen for His voice. If we do not wish to hear Him, He will not force Himself, but when we follow His admonition, we discover that He is alive and true.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we moight be a kind of first fruits of all he created. (Jas. 1:18 NIV)

Originally published January 28, 1983.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Good Testimony

Testimonies can lead people to God.

John the Baptist had a good testimony because his message or testimony directed people toward Jesus. Two disciples received his testimony when he identified Jesus who was nearby at the time. He said,“Behold the Lamb of God!” (Jn. 1:36 NKJV)

The disciples didn’t fully understand John’s statement, but they knew it was important. After hearing John they accepted the invitation of Jesus. They came and saw where he [Jesus] was staying and remained with Him that day. . . . (v. 39 NKJV)

One of the two who heard John speak and who followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. Because Andrew knew the value of a good testimony, he looked for Simon so he could tell him,"We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” (v. 41b,42a)

The event was a life-transforming experience for both brothers. It began with a testimony.

Originally published January 5, 1990.
Picture: Bee in cactus flower, Arizona, 2008. Photo by Patty

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Beginnings

When life becomes difficult—and life can become difficult or even devastating—we actually need the concept of new beginnings. Perhaps that’s why for many people, a new year is a time of hope and anticipation. It symbolizes new beginnings.

We just want a fresh start.

Jesus came to offer a new beginning to the people of His time. They responded with joy and hope. Even when He withdrew from the crowds to be by Himself, a great multitude from Galilee followed Him . . . He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. (Mk. 3:7,10 NKJV)

Whatever our circumstances, our problems, or our fears, Jesus offers a new beginning to us as well. We simply have to reach out to Him—invite His presence into our lives. Then we can accept the fresh start He offers. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right be become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. . . . (Jn. 1:12)

Originally published December 31, 1987

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Trusting God

One of the hardest aspects of the Christian walk is simple trust. Trust requires restraint—more restraint and therefore more effort—than jumping headlong into a situation or doing something just for the sake of doing something.

Trusting God doesn’t mean we stop making efforts on our own, however. In fact, trusting God might give us confidence to do something we had been afraid to do before. It releases us to respond to Him and to others.

Because He is God, He uses every effort we make, the good and even the not-so-good. Trusting Him acknowledges that the final outcome doesn’t rest with us and it accepts His judgment as superior to our own. The psalmist said, Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass . . . The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down. (Ps. 37:5,23,24a KJV)

Wait on the Lord . . . the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (Pa. 37:34a,40 KJV)

Originally published January 3, 1992
Picture: Sconce with red berries, 2008. Photo by Solveig