You showed favor to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Here’s the secret to solving all your problems. When your faithfulness springs forth from the Earth, God’s righteousness looks down from Heaven. The Lord gives what is good and your efforts are blessed. Do you see that there’s only one variable here, and it’s you? So give yourself a quick check up. Does your faithfulness spring forth from the Earth? If not, that’s the first place to focus your efforts.
Our pastor had us all laughing Sunday morning when he asked how our employers would like it if we only showed up for work for an hour or so one day every other week. And yet, he said, that’s the kind of inconsistency we show the Lord. He wasn’t just talking about attending services, either. Some of the most faithful church attendees I know don’t give the Lord a thought during the week. In a paraphrase of Philippians 1:22 the pastor had Paul saying, “As long as I’m alive on Earth, I’ll be working for the Lord.” Can any of us say that?
But what is the work the Lord requires of us? To go out like Paul, sacrificing everything to advance the gospel? Well, He does call some to do that, and when He does He gives them a Damascus Road experience and an extra dose of faith to sustain them. To the rest of us He says to believe in the one He has sent! (John 6:28-29) It means to trust Him with our lives, to rely on Him fully.
He came so that we could have life and have it abundantly, but many of us won’t let Him give it to us. We’re too busy trying to get all we can on our own, because we think that’s the only way to get it. We agree to trust Him for our eternal salvation, but not to help us choose a career, or find a house, or buy a car. Why not? Didn’t David say, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
If we really believe that He wants us to have an abundant life why are we so reluctant to seek His direction on these things? Why don’t we go to Him first when we need money, or a favor? Or pray and wait for His solution to emerge when we have a problem?
I’ll give you two good reasons. First it’s hard for someone who’s been taught all his life to be self-reliant to begin trusting someone else, even God. Especially when he doesn’t see anyone else around him doing it either. Self-reliant people want to solve their own problems and they want all the credit when it works out. Relying on the Lord means we have to give Him the credit.
We’ve all heard the story of the man working on the roof of his house. Suddenly he slipped on a loose shingle and began sliding toward the edge.
“Lord! Save me!” he cried out.
Just then his belt caught on a protruding nail and he stopped sliding. “Never mind Lord,” he sighed, relieved. “I’ve saved myself.” Sound like anyone you know?
And second, we’re afraid we won’t like His solution because we’ve heard that He only gives His people things to stretch them and mold them, things that make them do stuff that’s hard or embarrassing.
Yeah, He does things like that sometimes but there are lots of other times when He just blesses their socks off. And when He does give them the stretching, molding things, He always includes even greater blessings with them.
Some of us need to look back at those times when we’ve given Him control of our lives and evaluate how well it worked. If you’re like me, you’ll be forced to admit that He’s done pretty well at it. So He’s passed the probationary period. Maybe it’s safe to put Him on full time.
“If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,” He said, “How much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (Matt. 7:11) Good question. Why don’t you try Him and find out?