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Where Do You Run to? Where Do You Find Hope?

Devotional Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

16  This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backwards. He is our faith father. Romans 4:16 (MSG)

What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.   (1)

We live in a world full of stress, full of anxiety, full of brokenness.

There is a blessing from this, well sort of, in a round about way.

The blessing is that it is often quite easy to realize when we have set up false idols, when we have set God aside

You see, the more stress we deal with, the more anxiety snares us, the more we deal with brokenness, the more false gods, and the idols we create are revealed.

it may be that are false gods are the the demons of distraction.  The distraction helps us escape or even ignore the problems, they create the illusion of refuge.  For some, this is drugs or alcohol; for others, it seems less dangerous – television or computers or listening to music or even books.  We run to them and hide in them, they become our refuge, our place away from the world and its trauma.  With the exception of the drugs, these things can be nice hobbies, but when we find ourselves spending to much time with them, and that is only the times when we are stressed, there may be an issue

It maybe that our idols, are false gods are a poor imitation of Christianity, the kind of thing where we control God, and we put our hope in cliche’s, not in the actual promises of God.

It maybe our false idols are our political and economic system, or in nationalism/patriotism.  That everything will be okay because we are Americans, or Canadians, or (insert country name here) and God is always going to take our side. This is often more subtle, but it also overlooks the sins of a nation that allows for abortion, that in many ways would redefine life and family, and which would rather see vengence than reconciliation or mercy. This while insisting we are always in the right, well, except for our politicians.

Simply put, idols today aren’t crafted of wood or stone or precious emeralds or ivory.  But they are idols none the less.   We turn to them and try to find hope, or relief from them.

There are other idols, especially the one that is a simple plaint capital letter:  I.  We try to fix life ourselves, we ponder what can be done, we rely first and primarily on ourselves, as our culture teaches us.  We go to the altar of self for refuge, for sanctuary, and we reveal that we only trust in ourselves, and we even know that is probably going to fail.

Luther is right on when he describes what “makes” a god or idol in our lives.  It is where we go to in those times where we should trust in God’s promises, that He is in charge, that He will work it out, and it will turn into a blessing. We fail to hear what Mary did at the annunciation, that we are filled with grace, that the Lord is with us.

That He who is our God becomes OUR God when we trust Him, when we embrace and hold on to Him for dear life, because His promises will make us whole. When we realize that it is, and has been all along to be our God, for us to be His people, His children, the one He pledges to take care of and love.  When the idols of our life fade away, as we realize the promises God has made to us in our baptism.  When God becomes our refuge our strength, to whom we turn when life is broken and stressed.

When He is our first option, our first action is to turn to Him, not any other idol, not any other false god.

It’s tough – but it is also why God starts in the first commandment, not with us, but with Him.  You see it starts with this….

“I, the LORD (actually His Name – YWHW) am your God, who brought you out of slavery……”

There is our hope at work, His action…. trust Him my friends, and know you can pray for the Spirit to help you when you are too weak too…

 

(1)  The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.

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