Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
5Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. 6They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. 9The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it? 10I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
Today’s devotion is based on a sermon by Dr. Luke Bouman.
What do you think when you hear someone say that to you?
As the youngest of four boys, I learned to be very wary of that statement when my brothers tried to talk me into something that I probably knew better that I should not do.
Where is your trust? What do you place your faith, your hope? What gives you direction in your life?
What our hearts desire most deeply are, of course, the things that we look to for the highest good in our lives. These things become our gods. We invest in them hoping that they will give back to us, giving everything in our lives for them. They may be cars, houses, careers, relationships, even something as simple as our lawns and flower beds. In the end they demand more from us than ever they give to us. They are the things that moth and rust consume. They are not eternal, even if we wish they might be. We might be willing to give an arm and leg to them, but still they will not return this affection. They are masters who cannot live up to the title. They will not come and serve us, but only require of us that we serve them until all is spent and then some. They are false gods. We all have many of them. We invest in them and our hearts turn to them. Time after time they disappoint us.
Our possessions come to possess us! The things we give our time and energy. And, far too often, our time and energy is given to emotions of bitterness, anger and hate. These can consume us and possess us too!
One is different. This one has invested in us and all creation from the dawn of time. This one's heart does not turn or waver, no matter what we do. So much this one invested in creation that, like a mother who gives everything, even life for her children, so God invests in us, becoming one of us, serving us at table, even dying for us.
When Jesus is present at the table, he is no ordinary guest. In fact he is no guest at all. He becomes the host. He, himself becomes the meal. He comes to the wedding feast and when he finds the servants there, servants like us who often are found wanting, he comes and for the wantonness of our existence, takes on the servant role and pours out his own blood for us on a cross of our own making. So complete is his investment in us, so firmly fixed is his heart toward us.
Here finally is one worthy of the investment of our lives. Here is one whose way, though it cost us everything we have with him, is worth the treasures that will turn our hearts from our false gods to the one who is the highest of all. Here is a place where our hearts can turn and find life given rather than life taken from us. And how might we invest our treasure here? We point to Christ the host with all of our being. We embody Christ, both in community and as individual ambassadors of Christ in the world. Christ himself, is present to give himself to us, ever inspiring us to give ourselves in return. There is nothing else to do. Though our hearts may waver, there is no reason to fear. God has given us the kingdom and everything else with it.
Do not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. The Kingdom of God is yours to receive. God offers in joyfully. God’s promise, God’s presence, God’s peace are yours. So do not be afraid. God is with us.
Let us pray: Almighty God, give us the faith and trust in you that you desire and deserve. May we turn to you alone and live. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen