Friday, October 05, 2018

Trusting in Christ Alone

[This is the journal entry from my quiet time with God this morning. If you'd like help in having your own quiet time with God, you might want to read this.] 

Look: “In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’” (Isaiah 20:6)

In the late 8th-century BC, Isaiah was called by God to enact a prophecy demonstrating that Egypt, in which some of God’s people were depending to defend them, would be conquered and enslaved by Assyria. Egyptian leaders and people would be marched along the coastline out of their homeland, as slaves, to Assyria. God’s people on the coast would be among the first to see this and they would ask who would save them now.

It’s fine for nations to have armies and even alliances, but when we place our trust for security, safety, and life in things of this world--armies, wealth, and so on--we delude ourselves. God won’t deliver or favor people who worship other “gods,” the way some of His people effectively worshiped the worldly power of Egypt, then merrily ignoring God daily lives.

Our hope can’t be found in political philosophies or figures, in armies or money. None of those things can protect us from the sin, death, and darkness of the world. Only the God revealed in Jesus Christ can. It’s foolish to put our ultimate faith (trust) in anyone or anything other than Jesus. “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.” (Psalm 146:3-5)

As Peter told a crowd at the temple after he had brought the risen Jesus’ healing to a beggar and proclaimed the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20) In the end, only God can protect us from ourselves, from sin and death.

Listen: The Lord has taught me again recently and underscores in this passage, the central importance of not relying on my smarts or shrewdness (such as it isn’t) or any of the markers of power or success in this world to give me security.

I am called to rely on the God revealed in Christ alone for all good things. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

I need to look to God alone to justify me, sanctify me, validate me, and protect me.

On that latter thing, protection: None of us is immune from the effects of living in this fallen world. We all age. We all fall to sickness and failure. We all die. The question is: Will we live and die relying on Christ or on the false deities of the world?

The answer to that question should be obvious. “Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)

Respond: Today, Lord, help me to live out the truth that You alone are God and You alone can save me from a fate worse than death, being separated from you while living in this world and for eternity beyond death. Be the Lord of my decisions, my thoughts, my mouth, and my actions. Help me to put the full weight of my trust for all good and necessary things in You alone. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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