When the Time Is Right – Galatians 4:4-5

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4-5 NIV

Waiting can be hard. The culture I am in is, more and more, one that promotes instant gratification. Fast food, drive thru banking, instant credit, express service, speed dating, and so on. We are impatient and don’t like waiting.

But God is not like us. He is willing to wait until the time is right. When the time was right, he called Abraham to follow him, he called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, he sent Israel off into exile, and then brought them back. And, when the time was right, he sent his Son to us. A Son who was born under the same conditions that each of us are. His purpose in coming was to redeem us from the law, from the empty way of life we had (1 Pet. 1:18), and to make us sons of God.

I don’t know why God chose the time he did for each step in redemptions story. I have a very limited view of history. And even less so of the future. But God is not limited in either his knowledge, or his ability to accomplish his purpose in creation. In my impatience I often want him to act now. But, just maybe, I should trust him to act in his own time. He knows what he is doing, and so my best course of action is simply to come alongside him and let him lead. Trusting him to do what is best, and to act when the time is right.

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I Believe! Help My Unbelief! – Mark 9:24

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 NIV

I believe!  This expression is used in two ways.  Most commonly it is used in the sense of intellectual affirmation or opinion, as in: I believe that the president is good/bad; I believe that guns are evil/necessary; I believe that NCIS is the best show on TV; I believe that God exists; I believe that God loves me.

In contrast to ‘believe that’ is ‘believe in’.  While the first is an intellectual acknowledgement, the second is a statement of trust. When I say that I believe that God exists and loves me, I intellectually accept those statements as true, but that does not mean they have any bearing on my life.  Any more than believing that green leafy vegetables are good for me will cause me to eat them.  But when I say that I believe in God, I am saying that I trust him and will be obedient to him; that he does make a difference in my life.

Lord I believe, I know that you are and you are able to do great things in my life.  But help me with my unbelief, my lack of trust.  Help me to trust in you and to experience the fullness of life in you.

What? Me Worry? – Luke 12:22-26

I worry about many things.

  • Will I make it to my meeting on time?  Almost always!
  • Will anyone else be there?  Usually.
  • Will my knees, or heart, hold up during this run?  They have done OK recently.
  • Am I going to be able to find a place to hang my hammock tonight (while backpacking)?  Never failed yet.
  • Did I get the doors locked before going to bed?  Usually check them twice.
  • Do I have my keys with me?  Always check multiple times before going outside.
  • Will I have enough income if I quit working and the economy tanks?
  • If anyone really knew me, would they like me?
  • Are my kids going to be OK?
Now I don’t lose much sleep worrying.  But I do have to admit to a certain amount of anxiety over things that sometimes I have no control over.  So Jesus admonition to his disciples about worry does kind of hit home.

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Luke 12:22-26 NIV

So what can worry do for me?  It can ensure that I get my house locked up at night, and don’t get locked out.  But it is debateable if that is the result of worry, or a result of being a bit OCD.  Worry is not going to get anyone else to a meeting.  It will not keep my knees working pain free.  It won’t help me to spot a place to hang the hammock, and it sure won’t guarantee that the economy doesn’t put me out onto the street holding a cardboard sign.  Worry seldom helps me to get someplace on time, run faster, or enjoy retirement any better.  Worry does not help me to be a better person, make a difference in the world around me, or be more useful in God’s kingdom.  About all that worry will do is to occupy at least some portion of my thoughts, keeping me from thinking about more useful or pleasant things.

I like Jesus question concerning worry adding an hour to my life?  Seldom will worry add to the length or quality of my life.  If anything it detracts from the quality and can reduce the length.  So why do it?  Maybe because it gives me some illusion of control over things that I really have no control over.

How much better to just make the most of every moment and trust God for tomorrow.  Spend the worry time doing something more productive, something that will actually make a difference, both in your life as well as the lives of those you come in contact with.

In God We Trust!

In God we trust.  It is the American motto and is inscribed on every bill and every coin in my pocket.  So it must be true … right?  I am not absolutely sure who the we is in this expression, but I assume it to mean the American public; you, me and the other 300 million plus people who live in this country.  And surely all of us in this Christian nation trust in God … don’t we?

Trust, according to the dictionary, means ‘reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.’  I would think that reliance is the operative word here.  If I trust in something, then I am relying on that something to come through for me in some way.  I trust in Facebook and email for communication with people outside my home; in other words I rely on them to keep me in touch with friends and extended family.  I trust in my truck to get me to the hardware store and back; I rely on it for transportation.  I trust in my wife for many things, relying on her to make me more than I would otherwise be.  I trust my government to send me a retirement check each month and to provide me with a certain level of physical security; if I could not rely on them for those things then I would have to work until I died, fortify my home and arm my person.  And I trusted my surgeon to remove the cancer from my body; relying on him to do the job that he had been trained to perform.

But do I trust in God?  I believe I do.  I trust him for my eternity: “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV)  I trust him to provide me with a knowledge of his will for my life, both morally and with life direction.  And I trust him to use whatever happens to me to shape me for his purpose.  So yes, I believe I trust in God, at least for those things where that reliance is appropriate.

But what about our nation?  Is it true that the American public actually trusts in God?  According to recent surveys only about 3/4 of the population of our country makes any claims to being Christian.  That means that 1/4 of our population either trusts in a different god or in no god at all.  According to the American Religious Identification Survey 2001 (ARIS), 25% of people in Washington state, where I live, say they have no religion at all, or call themselves atheist, agnostic or secular. Only 42% say someone in their household is affiliated with a church, synagogue or mosque.  Now Washington is considered the least religious state in the country, but the rest of the country seems to be in a hurry to catch up with us.  It does make me wonder about the suitability of the motto “In God We Trust”.

I wonder; before 1956 when “In God We Trust” became the national motto, did we not trust in God?  Or have we trusted him more since then?  Would we trust him less if it was no longer our national motto?  Personally I am pretty ambivalent about this phrase as a national motto and would not be heart broken if it was replaced by something more accurate.  How about “Liberty and Justice For All”?  Or maybe one that more accurately describes the American public: “What’s in it for me?”

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