The Wheelbarrow of Trust

NLFCOUPLES

“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2

Most of us struggle to “be anxious for nothing,” but we can learn to rely on God if we know the difference between faith and trust.

Let’s imagine you’re near the beautiful but dangerous Niagara Falls. A circus performer has strung a rope across the falls with the intention of pushing a wheelbarrow from one side to the other. Just before stepping on the rope, he asks you, “Do you think I can accomplish this feat?”

His reputation has preceded him, so you reply that you believe he can walk the tightrope. In other words, you have faith that he will succeed. Then he says, “If you really believe I can do it, how about getting in the wheelbarrow and crossing with me?” Accepting his invitation would be an example of remarkable trust.

It isn’t difficult for some people to believe that God is capable of performing mighty deeds. After all, He created the entire universe. Trust, however, requires that we depend on Him to keep His promises to us even when there is no proof that He will. It’s not so easy to get into that wheelbarrow and put our lives in His care. Yet it’s a step we must take if we are to “be anxious for nothing” in all of life’s circumstances.

Just between us…

  • Do you find it easy or difficult to trust God?
  • Have you ever felt that the Lord has abandoned you, or that He hasn’t heard your prayer? How did you deal with that feeling?
  • How could putting our trust in God help our marriage?

Dear Lord, You alone are worthy of our complete trust. But responding to You in trust is often difficult. Teach us to trust You—to lean on Your strength, to count on Your goodness, and to expect Your faithfulness always. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Under the Big Top

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

I want you to be wise about what is good. Romans 16:19

Josh was so excited. The day had finally arrived. After lunch, his father was taking him to the circus! Then the phone rang. As Josh listened to his father speak, his heart sank. Something about urgent business that required his father’s attention downtown. With tears in his eyes, Josh got up from the kitchen table and began walking slowly toward his room. Then he heard his father say, “No, I won’t be down. It will have to wait.” Almost in disbelief, Josh hurried back to the table and saw his mother smiling at his father. “The circus will come back, you know,” she said. “I know,” his father answered. “But childhood won’t.”

We do have choices in how we spend our days. Yes, there are consequences if we put off an assignment at work or postpone cleaning the house. But when the alternative is taking time for your son or daughter, what is the better choice? After all, when Jesus asked two fishermen named Peter and Andrew to “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17), did they respond with, “Not now, Jesus, we have important work to do”?

We encourage you to weigh your options carefully as you plan your schedule. Sometimes an afternoon under the big top is the best appointment of all.

Before you say good night…

Do you ever appear to value your work over the kids?

What is God saying to you about the amount of time you spend with your children?

How can you increase your time together as a family?

O Lord of time and eternity, You know very well how fleeting is the opportunity to encourage our children. Open our eyes so that we might cherish such moments and not let them slip away. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from Illustrations Unlimited, edited by James S. Hewett (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988).

Paying Attention – One Year Devotions for Men

Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life andradiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning. – Proverbs 4:20-22

In his utopian novel “Island,” Aldous Huxley wrote, “You forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now.” To pay attention, we need to be aware of and concentrating upon the data that are being supplied to us by our senses at any given moment. But it is possible for us to be in a situation which is so familiar that we can “switch off” the data and concentrate on something that is neither here nor now. For instance, driving a car is so familiar and so repetitive that it is possible for the driver on the way home to have no conscious recollection of the journey but to be deeply aware of the discussion with his passenger.

Our attention can also be distracted from the “here and now” experience because our pre-attentive processes have already determined that the data are weird, boring, or too familiar. Any insignificant event can appear more significant because it is unfamiliar or unusual. So when listening to a profound sermon on eternal issues, an inattentive listener will be easily distracted by a child crying—or a cell phone ringing! With all the possibilities for attention wandering, the need to give “wake up” signals is profoundly important. So imperatives such as “Look out!” or “Listen!” and instructions to pay attention need to be utilized regularly.

The writer of Proverbs certainly thought so. He wrote, “Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning” (Prov. 4:20-22).

Like the writer of Proverbs, God is a father who calls his people “my children” (4:1). God our father, in his gracious will, has brought us into existence and is deeply concerned about our well-being. We, being human, are prone, like children, to allow our attention to wander. We find matters of prime importance too familiar to warrant our concentrated awareness and issues of little import so fascinating that they dominate our thinking and captivate our desires.

It takes a disciplined mind to concentrate on what God is saying in his Word, and to allow the truth of the Word to find a deep resting place in the affections, desires, and aspirations of the human spirit. Failure to pay attention may mean you miss the point. That could mean you miss your way. Listening is of prime importance.

For Further Study: Proverbs 4:1-22  

Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for MenCopyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

BIBLE STUDIES FOR STUDENTS

 
 
Limits of the Law: The law serves a good purpose—up to a point

Verse: Romans 7:1-32

Romans 7:18  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

One issue surfaces in virtually every one of Paul’s letters: What good is the law? To most of Paul’s audience, the word law stands for the huge collection of rules and rituals detailed in the Old Testament. Whenever he starts talking about “the new covenant” or “freedom in Christ,” his Jewish listeners want to know what he thinks about Moses’ Law. Does God still require obedience?

Thanks to his years as a Pharisee, Paul knows Moses’ Law well. This chapter, the most personal and autobiographical in Romans, discloses exactly what Paul thinks about this issue.

When the Law is Helpful

Paul never recommends discarding the law. He sees that it reveals a basic code of morality, an expression of behavior that pleases God. The law is good for one thing: exposing sin. “Indeed I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law” (Romans 7:7). To Paul, rules such as the Ten Commandments are helpful, healthful and good.

 

 

When the Law is Helpless

The law has one major problem: After proving how bad you are, it doesn’t make you any better. As a carryover from his days of legalism, Paul has a very sensitive conscience. Yet, as he poignantly recounts, it mainly makes him feel guilty. The law that bares his weaknesses cannot provide the power needed to overcome them. The law, or any set of rules, leads ultimately to a dead end.

Outside Help

A strict disciplinarian like Paul has little trouble keeping most of the Ten Commandments. Outward actions such as swearing, murder, adultery, stealing and lying can be measured and controlled. But an internal, invisible sin, such as coveting, proves far more bedeviling. As Jesus made clear in the Sermon on the Mount, invisible sins like coveting, lust and anger can have the same toxic effects as the more outward manifestations of stealing, adultery and murder.

Romans 7 gives a striking illustration of the struggle that ensues when an imperfect person commits himself or herself to a perfect God. Any Christian who wonders, “How can I ever get rid of my nagging sins?” will find comfort in Paul’s frank confession. In the face of God’s standards, all of us feel helpless, and that is precisely Paul’s point. No set of rules can break the terrible cycle of guilt and failure. We need outside help to “serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6). Chapter 8 celebrates that help.

Life Questions

What personal struggle makes you feel most helpless? Where do you turn?

This devotion is from the NIV Student Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

 
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