A true trust in God cares only for His glory and honor, not for what he can do for us

The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Daniel 3:17-18

For those who know their Bibles, the story is familiar. When the Hebrews are captured by the Babylonians, they are taken captive, and the leading families are held in the king’s palace.

The king has set up an idolatrous monument to himself and commanded that everyone in the area pay homage to it at a specific time, or be killed by being thrown into a furnace. Three prominent Hebrews, being Torah-observant, know of course that God has commanded that idolatry is forbidden, and honoring of any other gods is an abomination to him.

Their act of defiance enrages the king, and he does indeed throw them bound into the fiery furnace. To everyone’s amazement, they not only survive, but their bonds disappear and they are visited by a mysterious angelic individual while in the midst of the flames. The king commands them to come out, and not even their clothes or their hair has been singed or burned.

In response to their miraculous survival, the king, who just previously wanted all people to worship him and his idolatrous monument, now commands everyone to honor the one true God of the Hebrews.

They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God.

Daniel 3:28-29

While there are many fascinating facets to this story, the essence of what it conveys is both practical and challenging. True trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced. These men were not trusting God to save them, they were simply trusting God regardless of the outcome. This demonstrates that their trust was not in a hoped-for resolution, their trust was in God alone, whatever was to come of it, even if death resulted.

If you are a believer, why are you trusting God? Are you trusting him to save you from the flames of a fiery hell? What if, for his own purpose and glory, there was no guarantee that he would deliver you from that fate, would you still trust in him? What if when you die, you cease to exist; would you still trust in him today?

A real trust in God would say yes. Real trust believes that God has revealed himself to us as the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe and he alone is Sovereign. Because this would be accepted as fact, regardless of any consequence, nothing should be able to dissuade that trust. It has nothing to do with our personal condition or situation.

Some might say, why believe in a God who doesn’t give you what you want? Isn’t that the purpose of a belief in God, to gain his favor so you can have things go your way? Shouldn’t we believe in him so we don’t go to hell, so we can spend eternity with him? Those kinds of questions belie an undercurrent of self-centeredness masked with false humility that runs deep in this world, and even within the halls of Christendom, today.

If the God of the Bible truly is God of all, then whatever he chooses to do with his creatures and his Creation is up to him. He has demonstrated he won’t ever go against his own word, so he is not arbitrarily creating chaos at his own whim; however, what specifically occurs in each person’s life and how it fits into his overall purpose is not always clear to us. Sometimes deliverance glorifies him most, and sometimes sacrifice.

What if God had chosen to abandon those three men in the furnace? Perhaps he could have decided that their perishing in light of their undying trust in him would have better served glorifying his name: three martyrs for Yahweh. It would still be a good story and they would still be honored as heroes of the faith. Yet God chose their miraculous preservation as a way of honoring their faith and converting a pagan king. That served his purpose better.

Case in point: we’re still talking about the impact of this incident thousands of years later. It is still serving his purpose to this day.

Do you think those three men had stronger trust in God after that incident? I’m sure they were relieved, but to the point I am attempting to convey here, quite honestly I believe they would consider that a silly question. I believe they would say the point of their preservation was not to enhance their faith, but to enhance others’ faith by demonstrating God’s glory. As his glory was revealed, others came to know him.

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God? Then you are believing in God for what he can do, not for who he is.

As believers, we need to remove ourselves from the center of our own faith universe and make sure that we are recognizing and trusting God simply for who he is: God. We need to let him be God, and to unswervingly place our everything: our well-being, our lifestyle, our security, into his hands and let him accomplish his own purpose in his own way. The end result may not look like we expect it to, but it shouldn’t matter. We can be confident it will always be the the outcome that best serves his purpose and provides him the most glory.

We need to check where our trust is truly placed, in our salvation, or in the God who can provide that salvation? Place your trust in God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.

Navigating the fleeting blur of life vs. trusting the eternal God

Trust in the LORD forever, because GOD the LORD is the Rock eternal.

Isaiah 26:4

God deserves our trust because he never changes. What he has decreed will come to pass. What he has done remains forever. What he continues to do is as constant as the ocean surf, the shining sun, the starry constellations.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the purposes of His heart to all generations.

Psalm 33:11

Our lives, by comparison, are unstable and variable as we flit from passion to passing trend. We waste time, energy, and passion on so many pointless and fleeting distractions that we arrive breathless and strained at the end of each day.

We rave about the most popular people and issues of the day, while ranting about individualized injustice and personal misery. Like Job of old, we come to view our lives as a constant, unfair struggle that deserves to be broadcast to the widest possible audience:

I wish that my words were recorded and inscribed in a book, by an iron stylus on lead, or chiseled in stone forever.

Job 19:23-24

The fallacy of this type of thinking is borne out even in the conclusion of Job’s story: his fortunes are restored, his honor is retained, and the eternal justice of God is exonerated.

When we really pause to consider that God is eternal and we are not, how can we possibly think that our ways are better than his? Have we learned nothing from the natural course of life, how the wisdom of the aged is more stable than the impetuous passion of youth? If this is true in a natural sense, how much more with the One who never changes for all of eternity?

We are encouraged by the prophet Isaiah to trust in God if for no other reason than simply because he is eternal. We need to allow God to be God, and to recognize that we are not. When we do so, we can then have clarity through the settling dust of our temporary existence to see him for who he is, and place our trust where it really belongs: in his gracious, unchanging hands.

Exhibiting a trust in God that can influence others

Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise. Apply your heart to my teaching. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. I teach you today, even you, that your trust may be in Yahweh.

Proverbs 22:17-19

The writer of the Proverbs provides us with understanding regarding the nature of true wisdom. True wisdom causes us to trust in God. However, it only accomplishes its goal as we apply and review it regularly to where it is a ready resource for us to draw from.

The process begins with our ears; we must hear the words of the wise. In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form. Yet these truths were historically conveyed to each generation orally, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.

To hear the words of the wise also implies a nearness of relationship as these truths were conveyed person to person. To hear the words of wisdom, one had to be in the company of the wise. In so doing, the learner would be exposed to not only the teaching, but the lifestyle of the sages. They would be teaching not just with a lesson, but their lives.

The next aspect of creating trust in God comes when the wisdom is applied in the most inward recesses of our being: in our hearts. To apply the wisdom is to place or station it in this place so it will remain sure and steadfast, and become part of our deepest make-up, our constitution.

As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.

Finally, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite this wisdom, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust in God. Biblically, trust is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.

Trusting God by listening and taking action

The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.’ … The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.” … When Gideon’s men blew their three hundred trumpets, the LORD caused the men in the whole army to turn on each other with their swords. They fled to Acacia House in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.

Judges 7:2, 7, 22

Gideon’s trust that God would do what he said was based on reassurances that God had provided him. This was evident all along in his journey to becoming a savior of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.

When Gideon was first called by God through an angel, Gideon asked for a sign to confirm this was truly God’s plan. This was demonstrated by a dramatic acceptance of his sacrificial offering. Immediately after this, God instructed him to tear down his father’s idolatrous altar.

When he was preparing to attack the Midianite armies, Gideon asked God for a sign by placing a fleece of wool on the ground overnight. If the fleece demonstrated wetness or dryness opposite to the normal dew patterns, he would know that it was really God who was asking this of him. Once this was confirmed, Gideon rallied his troops for battle.

As a final act of trust, God asked him to reduce his forces to just 300 men. When he did so, God still provided him reassurance as he and his servant spied on the enemy camp and overheard their fear based on a dream that Gideon was going to overtake their army.

All of these examples in the life of Gideon point to an interesting facet of trusting God: God will provide reassurances when he asks for our trustful actions. In these examples, these were not outward signs to all of Israel, but were private and personal reassurances that provided Gideon the confirmation that God was communicating with him, and that he would come through for Gideon if Gideon would act in faith by trusting in what he asked of him.

It starts with us hearing something from God. We have his word to inspire and encourage us to obedient actions. Perhaps it is an admonition from a sermon or bible study, or more typically, a spark of inspiration from personal meditation in God’s word. Then, we respond by reaching out to him to make sure we understand clearly what we think we heard. If we are sincere and attentive, we will find God responding to us in a way that only we can know, a way that has his “fingerprints” all over it.

In our lives today, we may not have visions of angels or miraculous fleeces to provide us confirmation of God’s direction. However, if we are attentive, we receive confirmations that are private and personal to us. Perhaps there is a saying on a billboard which you pass on the freeway that resonates in answer to prayer, or a song that comes up in your playlist with encouraging lyrics that match what you asked of God.

This is the relationship God wishes to have with us: an active relationship based on trust. And for trust to take place, there has to be back and forth communication to establish that trust on which our actions are based.

The Bible knows nothing of a blind faith, only a trust in what may be unseen to others but known to be real to us. And acting on that unseen trust is how we demonstrate our faith in God and fulfill his purposes in this world.

God’s resume of faithfulness

Look, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Genesis 28:15

In this vision that Jacob experiences, God recounts the promises made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. He promised that they would receive the land, that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and that all the tribes of the earth would be blessed through him and his descendants.

After recounting the historical events of the remainder of Genesis through Exodus and the battle campaigns of Joshua, we find that over many generations, everything came to pass, just as God had promised.

On his deathbed, Joshua recounts God’s faithfulness:

Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and soul that not one of the good promises the LORD your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. 

Joshua 23:14

The story of Israel is a story about God’s faithfulness. He has demonstrated himself as worthy of trust because whatever he has committed to his people has come to pass. Time and time again he has proven himself as fulfilling what he has promised, whether in blessing or in judgment.

Beyond the physical promises of a land and numerous people stands God’s promise to the forefathers of Israel that all the families or tribes of the earth would be blessed through their descendants. The Bible records for us that Yeshua, as the promised seed or descendant of Abraham’s lineage, fulfilled every promise and prophecy for the nation, and became the springboard of faith to the rest of the world.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:28-29

We see this promise that was made to the earliest believers in Messiah having come to pass up to our day, continuing to multiply believers in the one true God and blessing all of the tribes of the earth into the future.

The Bible stands as God’s resume of faithfulness. As we honor God by trusting in him and his Messiah, we demonstrate we are participating in the ongoing consummation of his faithfulness to all people.

Anxiety and Trust

Core of the Bible Podcast, Episode 6

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust. According to Yeshua, an intentional trust that is placed in God is a remedy to reducing our anxiety and our emotional responses to stress.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

We all understand that we carry way more anxiety than we should be, and to live simply trusting in the provision of God is certainly a welcome thought in our current day and age of information and emotional overload.

This verse has three basic sections to it, and in order to understand it better, we can highlight each section.

The first section is “do not worry about tomorrow.” How does the Bible define worry?

merimnaó: to be anxious, to care for

Anxiety divides our concerns and distracts us with negative potentiality. The irony is how situations and events that haven’t happened (or more specifically, may not even happen at all) can affect our present emotional state.

We can understand this logically, that it makes no sense to worry about non-existent things, but our emotional responses to these abstract thoughts about fictitious realities can run ahead of our logic, and they typically do.

Viewed from this perspective, this is also true about our personal struggle with anxiety: it divides us against ourselves, with the result being that we cannot stand.

When we do not worry about tomorrow, that is, when we do not allow our cognitive abilities to become distracted with non-existent potentialities, we can remain secure in our house.

The second part of the verse explains why we should not worry about tomorrow: “for tomorrow will care for itself.”

That can seem odd to us, saying that a day can take care of itself. But this type of personification of inanimate or non-sentient things runs all through the Bible.

‘Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy’ (Psalm 98:8).

‘When the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled’ (Psalm 77:16).

‘Then the moon will be abashed, and the sun ashamed’ (Isaiah 24:23).

This process of personification is a classic Hebraic method of communicating an abstract concept in a more relatable and understandable way.

We sometimes do this as a way of gaining perspective on the past or future. we might process this through writing to our “future self” or in reliving what our “past self” has accomplished. These are just ways for us to help grasp abstract concepts in practical ways.

This idea that tomorrow will take care of itself is an encouragement that, as the old song says, “whatever will be, will be.” When the day is complete, whatever will happen will be done, and “the day” will be considered as “having taken care of itself.”

We have to exercise care here in not adopting a fatalistic attitude; that we have no control over our actions each day. Yeshua simply uses this method as a way of helping us understand that even though tomorrow doesn’t exist yet, it will have its own complete share of challenges that will be worked through, good, bad, or indifferent.

The third part of the verse captures the last thought in this philosophy of trusting God:

Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

Martin Luther observes the principle from this passage when he writes:

“Why wilt thou be concerned beyond to-day, and take upon thyself the misfortunes of two days? Abide by that which to-day lays upon thee: to-morrow, the day will bring thee something else.”

Trouble and problems in this life are  a given. We all experience varying degrees of these and yet they are a very tangible reality. This is acknowledged all through the Bible. 

Consider the stories of men like Noah, having to face the adversity of widespread destruction, or Joseph, being ridiculed by his brothers and unjustly sent to prison in a foreign country. Consider the severe trial of Job losing his family and all the possessions he had. In some ways, the Bible is really all about the types of troubles we experience, which is why these types of stories are so enduring and relatable. It’s because we all share some of these same types of struggles. Each day definitely has trouble of its own.

The good news is that the Bible also provides the insight to overcoming the troubles of each day. Noah trusted God and was safely conveyed through the flood, Joseph trusted God and rose to prominence in Egypt. Job never wavered in his trust in God and had his family and fortunes returned, and even increased.

The Psalms are filled with encouragement of God’s help in our times of trouble:

Psalm 86:6-7 ESV – Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

Psalm 9:9-10 ESV – The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 27:5 ESV – For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Psalm 46:1 ESV –  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Believers in Messiah wrote of the same confidence in God:

Ph’p 4:6 Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

1 Pet 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

All of these are admonitions to not be anxious about what hasn’t happened yet; let the future carry its own anxieties. If we continue to be anxious about every aspect of our life, can we, as believers, truly be considered to be trusting God? If we are trusting him, aren’t we trusting him for everything?

Yet we continue to have anxiety over so much in this life that has no value, and is really unnecessary in our lives. 

In the overall passage of Matthew 6:25-34, if the essential things like food, drink, and clothing are not worth worrying about, what are we currently so focused on that can surpass these basic necessities? Notice, there is no promise of shelter, fancy cars or successful businesses. Life is more than all these things, and they can distract us from what is really important.

According to Yeshua, if we are seeking first the kingdom above the cares of the basic necessities of food, drink, and clothing, we are exhibiting trust in God that he will provide these basic things while we are focused on the more essential realities. In his Providence and timing God can certainly provide those homes and cars and businesses, and it’s not wrong to prepare those things in your life. But we have to remember God is not obligated to make us successful in the world’s eyes, and we need to keep our primary focus on his purposes and kingdom.

Instead, let’s replace our anxieties of an unknown future with gratefulness for what we do have. God has not provided us the ability to foresee the future, but if you are reading this right now, he has given us today. We need to be living for him and his kingdom in the here and now, and not be worrying about some fictional future that may or may not come to pass. God meets all of our needs now, and we can dwell in his presence each day, resting assured that he is the great Provider. 

This is trusting God.

Following the path

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct you on pleasant paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The word for trust in this famous passage has shades of meaning which include confidence and boldness, running to a secure place for refuge, being free of care or worry, having a steadfast hope. All of these are different ways of representing the believer’s inner reliance on Yahweh.

It is not an admonishment that we are to abandon all reason and understanding. We are simply not to have our own wisdom as the primary source of our planning and our actions. We must leave room for direction from God, maintaining a view to his kingdom and purpose in this life.

The language used here can be likened to a traveler who is trekking through a wilderness in fog. He uses his wisdom and understanding to find the path that will take him where he needs to go. However, once he is on the path, he places his confidence in the path that it will carry him to his destination, even though because of the fog he cannot see the full length of where it is heading. He is carefree from having to choose his own potentially hazardous way through the wilderness,

Our wisdom instructs us to find the path; the path is that in which we place our trust, since it has been provided by God. We have confidence the path that God provided will lead us to our destination. God promises the path will be smooth and pleasant compared to the directionless wilderness ways of our own choosing.

Get on the path, stay on the path, follow the path.

Resting in His Care

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

Matthew 6:26-32

Your life is more valuable to God than all the beauty and provision represented in his Creation; he knows all of your needs.

As believers, we are easily and constantly distracted from what is truly important by our bodily needs and desires. Living on this earth presents us with challenges and struggles that can pull our focus away from God.

Trust is about perspective. When we focus on the things of this world more than God, then we have lost our true perspective. Yeshua calls this condition “little faith.”

Yet, the simplicity of trusting God can restore us to our spiritual and emotional “center.” A sincere understanding of God and his ability to provide for our basic needs gives us a foundation of trust that we can then build on. When this reality seeps deep inside to our core, it becomes a tap-root that can sustain us through the most adverse conditions.

God cares for what he creates. Whether birds, flowers, grass or people, he has built into his Creation practical mechanisms for sustenance that allow his universe to thrive. Seeing this provision and beauty within his Creation is his evidence to us, his proof, that he has the ability to provide for our needs. All we have to do is recognize this, and rest safely and securely within his care.

The ancient believers expressed a similar amazement at the care that God bestows upon mankind within the vastness of his Creation:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Psalm 8:1, 3-4

Trusting in God or Wealth

“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 wealth.”

Matthew 6:24

You cannot be bound equally both to God and to your confidence in wealth. One will always take precedence over the other, and the results of following either will be evident in your life.

The issue that Yeshua focuses on is not necessarily the results of following either (which are evident throughout the biblical writings), but the complete inability of humans to multi-task loving God in among other responsibilities in this life. We all have necessary obligations in life, but if our over-arching purpose for everything we do does not rest in God and his kingdom, then we have by default chosen to place our trust in the other option.

According to the New Testament writings, covetousness is equated with idolatry (Colossians 3:5). When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that God cannot be worshipped among any other gods, as one of many.

Yeshua makes it clear that every choice in life will fall under one heading or the other, God or worldly wealth, and whichever choice is made is a determination of which deity is being trusted.

Trust and Action

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not amass earthly wealth which is constantly subject to loss. Instead, amass heavenly wealth, for it will always be perfectly safe. Which type of wealth you are pursuing reveals your true heart motivation.

Our beliefs and our actions are tied together; one reveals the other. We believe what we do, and we do what we believe. To do one thing while claiming to believe something else, something perhaps nobler, is an inconsistent position.

Intent is not the same as belief; intent is simply an abstract concept and cannot be demonstrated until an action reveals its presence. If a contrary action is demonstrated, then the true belief is revealed; the ideal in which we place our trust will be evident. If our intent and beliefs are aligned, then our actions will harmonize with our beliefs and we will be consistent.

We are urged to pursue heavenly ideals. What do your actions reveal about where your trust lies?