This Is the Way Walk in It: "In God We Trust"

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"In God We Trust"

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Like many Americans, almost all of my life I have carried coins in my pocket. These small pieces of metal make a statement about trust. No, it's not trust in a bank or in what else lies in our pockets! For our readers who may not know or have forgotten, the statement engraved on American coins is just four simple words with profound ramifications, "In God We Trust."

Of course, the economic crisis is affecting nations around the world, not just the United States. Perhaps more than ever, at least in my lifetime, we are being dynamically challenged to turn our attention from what lies in our pockets to what lies in our hearts regarding the source of our ultimate provisions.

Long ago, the firebrand of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, spoke of the times that he lived in as "the times that try men's souls." While Paine was talking about 1775, his words are still true today!

Time to talk!

Many of us see our financial retirement portfolios evaporating. Others are experiencing a job loss or a cutback in hours. Those on fixed incomes are trying to stretch their pennies yet further, but there may be nothing left to stretch or squeeze. These are amazing times in which we live! It is time to talk! And frankly there is nothing better to talk about than God's promises of a stable mooring in unsettled times.

Long ago, God offered certain promises to a people if they would honor Him and place Him first in their minds and hearts.

He told the newly established nation of Israel, "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: Blessed shall you in be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country" (Deuteronomy 28:1-3).

The people of Israel were granted the privilege of collectively living out "In God We Trust." And God did bless ancient Israel ! But the people of Israel do not have a monopoly on God's attention. God honors all individuals, families and nations who honor Him. It is noteworthy that God states the blessings would "overtake you," indicating when God wants to bless you, there is no way of running away from His blessings.

A tale of two cities

Now, fast-forward to our time. The United States has been a "land of milk and honey." But now, why this dramatic turn of events? What is it within the American personality that has brought us to this financial mess? The answer lies in understanding the conflicting pulls within the American psyche symbolized by "a tale of two cities." No! Not London and Paris as in Charles Dickens' story, but Plymouth and New York City.

Religious separatists settled Plymouth as a religious haven devoted to the worship of God. On the other hand, New York (New Amsterdam) was founded as a gateway to trade, finance and pleasure.

Since those early times, America has always had a dual personality with conflicting drives. Amazingly, these opposite poles of spiritual heart and precious metal come together in American coins imprinted with "In God We Trust." The question is, which is more real? What we hold in our hands or what is imprinted in our hearts?

Today, we find America increasingly turning away from the values of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, the Ten Commandments have become the "Ten Suggestions" for far too many. Increasingly this God-blessed birthright nation has moved away from a society with freedom of religion to an increasingly sad country with freedom from religion. Thus, its moral fabric has weakened.

Rather than people living before their God and living within their means, we have chosen New York over Plymouth as a national model.

Let's realize for every cause there is an effect. We read in Deuteronomy 28:43-44 how a blessed nation that turns from its God-given birthright would have foreigners lending to them, and "he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail." Did I hear China?

What is made plain from the biblical record is that when God either withdraws His blessings or punishes a system that confronts Him, it can happen overnight. Revelation 18:10-19 mentions three times how the final culmination of the Babylonian system headed by "the beast" is going to fall in "one hour."

Much of this same chapter is devoted to describing the mercantile and voracious financial habits of this system opposed to God. It describes how those invested in this corrupt regime will weep over its demise and wonder how this could have happened.

Revelation 18:17 chillingly describes how "in one hour such great riches came to nothing." Such words, right now, are almost too close to home, aren't they? But it shows how quickly matters can change (the implication of those words, "one hour").

No spiritual golden parachutes

What is equally loud in the Scriptures is the fact that God has not chosen to fully isolate His followers from this world. In His final prayer on the night of His betrayal, Christ plainly spoke these words: "I do not pray that You should take them out of this world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15).

What? No offer of a spiritual golden parachute from the ills of this corruptive society? Scripture reminds us of a different reality. The faithful patriarchs of Genesis had to endure famine and be on the move. The children of Israel went through the first three plagues visited upon Egypt. The apostolic Church of Jerusalem suffered from famine alongside their Jewish countrymen. Each in turn had to learn "In God We Trust."

Each generation of covenant people has to learn to pray for their "daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). Each generation of faith-driven folk has to come to grips with whether their riches are in God or in treasure they have laid up for themselves. Jesus advised that "he who lays up treasure for not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

The psalmist David makes a powerful observation regarding those who honor God and have "In God We Trust" embedded in their hearts and not only on the coins in their pocket. David comments, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread" (Psalm 37:23-25).

Please notice that David didn't say "begging for steak," but for bread. In other words, our basic life needs would be provided. This is the same David, who in utmost confidence, declared, "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). He knew even in calamitous times that He was never alone or forgotten.

How's your faith temperature doing right now with so much stirring in this boiling cauldron of global financial insecurity?

Taking a "faith check"

Let's take a "faith check" by squarely facing the words of the greatest Shepherd of all. Jesus challenges and comforts us at the same time in Matthew 6:25-33:

"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

When I mention a faith check, that doesn't mean that we will simply passively sit back and do nothing. Of course not! God helps those who help themselves. Neither does that mean that, as we are confronted with challenging circumstances, our knees won't be shaking. That's natural. But there is a difference between having shaky knees and a shaky heart. Because it is in such times we discover whether "In God We Trust" is simply engraved on our coins or etched into our character.

Oh yes, we have every privilege to be concerned and to responsibly respond where and as we can, but we have no God-given responsibility to be worried. That is homegrown down here below!

Herbert Lockyer dissects worry best when he says, "Worry produces doubt in a threefold direction. 1) God's love is doubted. Worry implies that He cares little for His blood-washed children. 2) God's wisdom is doubted. Worry indicates that He is not able to plan for His own, that He does not know what is best for them who belong to Him. 3) God's power is doubted. Worry says His grace is not sufficient for our needs."

Is your spiritual stock on the rise?

As the global markets turn and churn, please understand one thing. You are not lost in this picture and God knows right where you are. In fact, your stock may be on the rise. While our financial portfolios may shrink, it has given all of us an opportunity to raise our spiritual portfolios by dealing in the currency of faith underlined in the reality that indeed "In God We Trust." Yes, it has been a time for all of us to go back to basics and consider the foundation upon which we invest.

It is the words of David that offer us guidance on that path laid before us of "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21). He simply put it this way in Psalm 37:3: "Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." If you wanted to abbreviate it and put it on a coin, you might just say, "In God We Trust." Better still—etch it in your heart.

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