Last week we looked at how challenging it can be to trust God. It is difficult for most of us to surrender control of our lives and circumstances to someone else, including God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
Not being anxious about anything and training our minds to only think about positive things is hard. I know that prayer helps. I’ve experienced God’s peace after spending time with Him, but anxiety doesn’t always magically disappear. We may be able to get rid of it for a while, but it always finds a way to creep back in. Our struggle is definitely a battle of the mind. That’s why the apostle Paul shared this in Ephesians.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
Something or someone influences us all: family, friends, co-workers, the media, politics, religion, and more. This world, all those things outside of us, has an effect on our state of mind, being, and spirituality. Our exposure to positive and negative stimulus determines so much about our patterns of behavior, what we think and do.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2(NIV)
A pattern is a usual manner of behaving or doing. In this verse from Romans 12, Paul challenges us to “not conform to the patterns of this world”. What pattern or behavior is Paul referring too? Are all things in this world bad? Of course not, even with all the negativity and violence, we can still find some positive things going on. I think Paul is referring to those patterns of behavior that are contrary to God’s design for all of us.
Daniel, in the Bible, is a great example of someone who found himself in an environment that was not only foreign physically, but also spiritually. Israel had been taken into captivity in Babylon. They were slaves. The Babylonians had their own gods and culture. Failure to conform and bow down to the Babylonian pattern of behavior and belief was a death sentence. Instead of bowing to the pressure to conform, Daniel trusted the Lord. He remained faithful and obedient. He didn’t allow his pattern, transformation, or renewal to be compromised. The Lord protected and rewarded him for his faithfulness.
In the mid- to late 20th century there was a broad movement that developed across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to describe a historical era said to follow after modernity and the tendencies of this era. The tendencies of this era also led to a departure from historical Christianity. We are now living in what many are calling a “post-Christian” age or culture, especially in the US. Post Christianity is the situation in which Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion of a society but has gradually assumed values, culture, and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian. It’s not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. It has been a slow and steady confirmation. Gradually, our culture has taken on a new pattern of behavior. One in which we may put our faith, hope, and trust in something other than God.
One of our Bible verses for the week is from 1 Peter. Peter says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV) Humbling ourselves or submitting ourselves under someone else’s control is not something we like to do. But, trusting the Lord means to surrender control, to put things in His hands, to be obedient. Not an easy thing to do. It’s a constant challenge.
Weekly Bible Verses and Questions to think about this week:
1 Peter 5:6; Daniel 1:3-5; Daniel 1:8
- How does Daniel’s story help us understand cultural influence and compromise?
- On a scale of one to 10, with one being completely under culture and 10 being completely under God, where would you rank yourself? Why?
- What is something in our culture that you find especially influential?
- Have you ever made a predetermined resolution in order to live under God? How did that resolution affect your life?
- How can we, Christians, be a better influence in our culture today?
For additional study go to www.go2.lc/trust for the “In God We Trust” Bible Plan using the Bible App.
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management