Where do we put our confidence?
Recently USA Today published this bit of news.
Americans have less confidence in organized religion today than ever measured before — a sign that the church could be “losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” a new Gallup survey finds.
“In the ’80s the church and organized religion were the No. 1″ in Gallup’s annual look at confidence in institutions, said Lydia Saad, author of the report released Wednesday.
Confidence, she said, “is a value judgment on how the institution is perceived, a mark of the amount of respect it is due.”
Overall, church and organized religion is now ranked in fourth place in the Gallup survey — behind the military, small business and the police — while still ahead of the medical system, Congress and the media, among 15 institutions measured.
“Almost all organizations are down but the picture for religion is particularly bleak,” said Saad.
In the mid-’70s, nearly 7 in 10 Americans said they had “a great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in the church or organized religion. That has bobbled downward decade by decade to a new low of just 42%, according to the report.
However, the most significant influence on the religion statistic is the high number of Americans disconnected from organized religion and likely to have little or no confidence in it, Saad said.
A Pew Research survey this year finds nearly 23% of Americans say they don’t identify with any religion. The Gallup data — which combined this group with non-Christians — finds only 10% of these had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in religion.
There is also a distinct decline in confidence in the church among Protestants and Catholics. Gallup tracks an overall downward drift of more than 20 percentage points for both traditions since the 1970s, to 51% of Protestants and Catholics alike — “the first time it has been the same for both,” said Saad.
The survey of 1,527 U.S. adults was conducted by landline and cellphones June 2-7, 2015. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points overall.
The word confidence means (1) full trust; (2) a belief in one’s powers or abilities;
Literally: Confidence come from two Latin words: Con: With, Fides: Faith
It means confidence is having faith or trust.
Our confidence is grown out of our dependence upon God. Confidence means to have trustworthiness, a reliability or a belief in one’s powers or abilities. The Bible says confidence is a gift of God’s Spirit.
Our confidence should not be reliant upon our abilities, but upon the Lord. We read many of Pauls’ writings. Paul’s confidence was not in his intellect or speaking ability, but in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit was helping and guiding him.
About twenty years ago, I heard a story about unconditional love that has stayed with me. I’d like to share it with you. The story is about a newlywed couple. A few weeks after their wedding, the young bride was in a terrible automobile accident. Her face was so mangled up, so re-arranged; but her husband lovingly cared for her. He knew the inner beauty that she possessed and her caring attitude. That is what he loved about her.
We need to be reminded that God loves us “warts and all”. What I mean is that God loves us regardless of our flaws. The Bible says God is the husband of the church. His love for us is without questions unconditional. We can have CONFIDENCE in God. We can have confidence in his love. That is his nature. He would not change. God’s love for us is not dependent on how we look, what we can do, what we possess or what people say about us. God loves us because we are His beloved children.
The world needs to hear this good news. Unfortunately “religion” has painted a different God – a God who is easily angered and full of wrath. No wonder people are losing confidence in such a God. But – that is not the God of the Bible.
Really. Mankind does not have any other good choice. If we don’t have confidence in God, where should we put our confidence? Ourselves? No. We are humans and full of weakness and self-righteousness. In our government? History shows men and women who are selfish have ruled governments. Governments have failed. In money? No. Money is temporary and can lose value easily. In addition money has tempted people away from God and has caused a lot of heart aches. My friends, the best choice is to trust in the LORD.
King David has learned this lesson. He said,
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).
David knew during his time that people were losing their confidence in God. They were beginning to rely on military might and power. They were relying on their armaments of war.
Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright (Psalm 20:6-8).
What is the result of not having confidence in God? Downfall.
Throughout the Bible we are told of instances where confidence has been misplaced. These are given as examples for us to follow or learn.
One other example where we can have confidence in God is when the Bible talks about sparrows. Well, sparrows are very tiny birds! Almost insignificant compared to the bigness of earth, or even the universe! And so these little birds mind their own business. They fly from one tree to another. None of us probably even cares about watching sparrows hopping around on their tiny, thin legs. Come on, how many of you care about little birds jumping from branch to branch? Oh yes, they are cute, but we don’t really intentionally stop and watch them all the time.
And yet, Jesus said that God is aware of each thing that happens even to sparrows! Can you imagine that? God (the creator and sustainer of the whole universe) knows and cares about what happens to these little birds.
And if God cares about his creation, how much more important you are to him than the birds.
Don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows (Matthew 10:31).
Unfortunately people are losing awareness of God’s presence. Many are so focused on their careers, education, wealth, health, problems … and lose focus on the great God.
Colossians 3:2 (KJV) 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
I have to admit I am guilty of this. I too, just like most humans can get carried away by the day to day cares of life and forget about God. That is why I thank God for the opportunity to be reminded every week during church services about the more important things in life – our relationship with God.
Notice what David says in Psalm 65:5, David the King says, God is our confidence. No one else! Nothing else.
If we look in Proverbs 14:16 “…a fool rages and is self-confident.” Whoa, God tells us that those who put their confidence in themselves are actually fools. That is pretty straightforward and strong. But it is the truth. The most foolish thing we can do is to trust our selves than God.
Dear friends, Jesus told us to follow him. That means – our trust and confidence is required in His service. While the apostles performed miracles with great boldness in preaching, yet they were not free from hatred and persecution. They were arrested, put in jail, beaten, and slandered by community leaders. Doing ministry and following Jesus does not make troubles disappear. Confidence in God makes troubles appear less fearsome because it puts them in the right perspective. Our God is bigger than any problem.
Why is it that a growing number of Christians are losing their confidence in God? Why is there less interest among Americans in attending church? It is sad that when trials and troubles come, that is when people begin to doubt God. — When what should happen should be the opposite. Should we not trust God more when we are faced with persecution and challenges?
The following scriptures should show us that our confidence should only be in our God the Father. Let these scriptures sink deeply into our hearts.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
That’s God’s promise! He will make sure that the work He is doing in you will be perfected! We can have confidence in that.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Do you feel weak? In Christ, we have strength!
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When you go to God in prayer, God wants us to be confident of Him. Never doubting Him.
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Wow. In today’s troubled world with so much threat to peace and security, God says, Don’t be afraid! He knows how we feel and He assures us that He will not forsake us. Wow. That’s a wonderful promise!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
God is even saying that we cannot have trust our own selves. Our understanding is limited and it is only God that knows what is best for us.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Sometimes things get tough. Sometimes problems seem overwhelming. But God our Father assures us. “Don’t worry. All things will work together for good in the end.” Be patient.
…and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus..
God even says that from His perspective our future is already assured! From his perspective we are now in Heaven. Wow. God seems to have more confidence in us than us in Him.
“..but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
God does not leave us on our own. He knows we are weak, inadequate and full of doubts. So He promises us His Power. We don’t have to feel alone as we share the gospel to the world. God says, he has got our back. We have the most powerful Being in the Universe backing us up.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
One of the biggest problems people have today is feeling lonely. Feeling abandoned. Some people feel rejected. But God promises He is with us wherever we go. WE can be confident that God is with us wherever we will be.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Are you afraid of what is happening in the world today? Are you anxious of your future? God said, Don’t be afraid! Have confidence in Him. He is our strength. He will not forsake us!
1 John 5:14
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
God hears us when we go to him in prayer. The Bible even says that we can go to him boldly. He will always be listening. If we call on God, there is no busy signal…. But a cheery, “Hello my child…”
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Some of us have been in God’s service for a number of years. God says, “your toil is never in vain.” God will reward you for all the services you have given. Those are all recorded in heaven.
Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Do you have burden? Of course we all do. God is telling us to give him our burden. Do we feel like we are inadequate? Lacking in resources? God says He will sustain us.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
We get sick from time to time. Some of us have sickness that will not go away. We have love ones who are sick. God says, He knows what is going on. Be patient. Be confident in Him. In time, we will all be delivered from afflictions.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Do you feel weak sometimes? Do you feel discouraged because you don’t measure up to His standards? Well, God says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t that reassuring?
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
The Bible tells us that the love of many will wax cold. The Bible does say that confidence in God will diminish. More people will trust in themselves, in their economy, in their military, in their technology. But for us, our confidence is in our God our Father.