Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 11 October 20:
Jeremiah 17:5, 7, 8-10 — Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord…. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
In what or in whom do you really place your trust? Today’s verses point out how easy it is for a person to say he or she trusts in the Lord when (s)he is really trusting in self and a self-centered kingdom of family, career, wealth, talents, skills, abilities, government, etc. – the heart is deceitful that way, and we must continually ask ourselves, “In whom am I really trusting, who am I really serving, and why am I really doing what I am doing (right now and with my life in general)? Who you actually trust will ‘lord’ over your life (determine your actions); it will be the foundation of your life and the source of your strength. Today’s verses tell us it is a curse to trust an anything other than the Lord —
- 1 Corinthians 3:11 — For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
- Matthew 7:24-27 — Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
- 1 Peter 2:7, 8 — So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) The Bible has much to say about idolatry, and if you have been within the church community long, you have probably heard a lot about idolatry, which is generally explained as allowing anything in our lives to take priority over God, allowing anything in our lives to be a more powerful influence in our lives (even for a moment) than the will of God. You have likely learned that idolatry takes God’s good blessings, such as family, career, money, talents, pleasures, etc, and distorts them into curses when they draw our affections away from The Way, The Truth, and The Life, Jesus Christ. However, these things which we often like to name as our idols, are not the real idol but merely servants or sacrifices to the real idol, which is self, the “I” in “idol.” These are little gods we intend to serve the big god, which is us. We may turn to family, career, money, etc, for our comfort, approval, control, security, or power, but ultimately, it is all about us and what we want. Today’s verses make the point of the either/or choice every person makes — “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord…. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” Since the day Adam and Eve chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, the question which has divided mankind is, “Who is god, God our man?” Ultimately, we are either seeking first the Kingdom of God or building our own kingdoms on earth our towers of Babel in order to “make a name for ourselves”. (Genesis 11:4) Today’s verses warn that this is a choice between life or death, blessings or curses –
- 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
- Deuteronomy 30:19 — I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live….”
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” A person’s actions reveal in whom they really trust and who they really serve. As Jesus said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit…. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Luke 6:43; John 15:5)
What a person really believes and in whom (s)he really trusts is often revealed most clearly during times of crisis, when things get tough – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10) During times of crisis how strong is your strength? Do you bring to the fight your strength or the strength of the Almighty, Sovereign Creator? Do you turn to the Lord, simply take matters into your own hands, or search from some other rescuer? And when you make it through, do you see the victory as yours or God’s? God may equip you for the challenge or place people in your life to help you, but don’t lose sight of who is the Provider – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
The Israelites of Jeremiah’s day believed they could trust in their army, the diplomacy of their king, and their foreign alliances to protect them from the powerful Babylonian empire. They gave lip service to their trust in God, but their actions showed the truth of their faith. As the enemy approached, the Israelites continued to search for a person to save them rather than humbling themselves before the Savior. Their actions revealed their allegiance.
The U.S. National Motto is, “In God We Trust.” What do our national policies, agendas and actions really reveal? What do your priorities and actions reveal about who you trust? What really lord’s over your daily decisions?
- Psalm 20:7 — Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
- Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
- Psalm 28:7 — The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
- Matthew 6:25 — “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
- Joshua 1:9 — Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58) When your trust and hope is grounded on the immovable rock of Jesus, you become immovable through the storms of life, and less and less do circumstances affect your countenance, your peace, joy, patience, gentleness, kindness, etc. You become “like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought.” The “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [guards] your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) What does the consistency of your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and confidence reveal about what you really believe and in whom you really trust? If, like the rest of us, you find yourself less than immovable, return to the rock of Jesus. Pray that the Lord will help you truly trust in Him and nothing else.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 October 20: Today, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him….” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)