Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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October 17 – That We Trust In God Alone

“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.  So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.’  But Joab said, ‘May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?’  But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem.”  1 Chronicles 21:1-4

Devotional Thought For The Day

The parallel account of this census taking is recorded in 2 Samuel 24, and is an interesting comparison.  God allowed Satan to provoke David to this ungodly undertaking.  There is some mystery in this, that even David, a man whom God proclaims to be “a man after My heart” [Acts 13:22], could fall into such grievous sin. This must serve as warning to all of us, to remain constantly vigilant in keeping our own sinful hearts in check – through repentance and Christ’s forgiveness, lest we too fall into dark sins.

What was so terrible about simply taking a census?  The text in these accounts does not explicitly identify the sins involved, but assumes that the reader will understand.  David certainly understood, as we can read: “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.'” [2 Sam. 24:10] Almost certainly the sins involved pride and lack of faith and trust in God’s Word, and these sins occasioned great discipline and adverse consequences upon David and the whole nation.  David took sinful pride over the “numbers” of his kingdom, and confidence in the military strength of the nation – rather than simply focusing on God’s Word, His promises of blessing, and living by faith alone.

Surely we are not subject to the same temptations and sins, are we?  When we are constantly looking at our savings and retirement accounts and investments, and either worrying that we do not have enough or taking comfort and confidence in “our” resources, we have turned away from faith.  If arrogantly confident, pride also enters in and we sinfully lift ourselves above others.  This renders us hypocrites when we try to pray “give us this day our daily bread” – for we are confident that we have already prepared daily bread and luxuries for ourselves for many years.  Jesus told a parable about this, about the man who “laid up ample goods for many years.” [Luke 12:15-22] It did not turn out well for him – and those whom God loves He also disciplines, as He did David.  These sinful dynamics – serving money, and putting our confidence in ourselves – are major sources of weakness within the church today, and the cause of many falling away from faith and faithfulness to God.

All of this has also infiltrated the hearts and minds of many in regard to the church.  Some have a compulsive infatuation with “numbers,” evaluating the church solely on the basis of numerical statistics, judging the strength, vitality, faithfulness, and spirituality of the church [and its pastor] solely on the basis of numbers – as if these were within our control.  Growing numbers become a source of pride and arrogance – “look at how effective we are, what we are accomplishing.”  Poor numbers are depressing, interpreted as a sure sign of failure and spiritual depravity.  Rather than looking to God’s Word, remaining faithful and joyful in the tasks He has given us, and living by faith, we instead interpret the life of the church as principally “our” thing – a means to bolster pride and ego, and to determine “winners” and “losers” in the “ministry.”  Those who fall into such sins have great discipline coming, unless the Lord has already given up on them.  Lord, have mercy!

Let us take care then to learn lessons from the example of David, for these things were all written for our learning, that our faith and devotion remain in Christ, and that we avoid such dark sins, especially within the church!  Pastors especially must beware of these dark temptations – lest they mislead and utterly destroy the faith they are charged with engendering and strengthening in Christ’s people.  Let us all remember that our strength, our stability, our blessedness, and our future is in God’s hands – so that day by day we continue to live our lives to God, trusting in His Word, and faithful in the tasks He has given us.  May His promises, His love, be our comfort, confidence, and joy each day – until our days have ended and He has taken us to Himself.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You know how easily our hearts can shift trust to things other than You, to our wealth, our abilities, our strengths. You also know our constant temptations to pride and arrogance.  Have mercy on us, and humble us, so that we do not need hard discipline and suffering to keep us faithful to You.  Bless us to know Your love so that our joy may always be centered in You, and that we be steadfast and devoted to doing Your will.  Amen.