Daily Update #227

Today’s Readings:  Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1 and Luke 16:19-end

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”Jeremiah 17:5-10
This Lent we have been looking at some very challenging passages and today is no different.  Jeremiah 17 and Psalm 1 both talk about the same subject. Jeremiah is speaking to the people of Judah and once again he is confronting them over their sins. In today’s reading, Jeremiah gives the people an ultimatum.

They can choose between two ways of living: either they can put their trust in other people – mere mortals or they can put their trust in the Lord God. There are no other options, no middle ground.  They cannot have it both ways. To turn toward something other than the Lord is to turn away from the Lord. Nobody can face both directions at the same time.

I should firstly clarify that it is definitely not a sin to trust other people. However, when we choose to pin all our hopes on someone other than God, we are pushing him out of the way of being first in our lives. Verses 5 and 6 spell out the consequences of putting all our trust in other people – namely we would be cursed. Psalm 1 says that “The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish” (v. 4-6).

Today there are so many different things that vie for our attention and hold out promises of happiness and security.

  • We might trust in our own wisdom, strength or resources. Perhaps the wealthier or more gifted we are, the more we rely on ourselves rather than God.
  • We might put our trust in governments or international powers to protect our individual freedoms, rights and way of life.
  • Perhaps we put our trust in the latest vaccine to give us back the life we have lost over the last year.

All of these options hold out promises that they cannot keep.

However, we now turn to verse 7 and 8, which say “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord”. The consequence of choosing to trust in the Lord is blessing and flourishing. Indeed, such people are compared to “a tree planted by the waterswhich spreads out its roots by the river”. This beautiful image encourages us to know that we will have ready access to God through his Holy Spirit, enabling us to grow and flourish.  As we root ourselves in God through His word and prayer, we will be able to stand firm in adversity.  

Perhaps reading these verses, we are confident in which option we have chosen. However, Jeremiah then gives us an important warning.  He states that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?”

We often find our own heart torn by conflicting values and desires. Paul put it very well in Romans 7:15: “For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do.  Our only solution is to bring our confusion to God to unravel and give us not only his perspective on whatever we are wrestling with, but also in submitting to and trusting in God, He leads us to His truth.

Jeremiah finally reminds us that God himself, “searches the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (verse 10). We may deceive ourselves, but we can never deceive the Lord.  As God told Samuel, “Don’t look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for I see not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) 

So this Lent, let us bring our lives to God. David put it very well in Psalm 139: 

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting
.Psalm 139: 23-24May this be our prayer today.

Tomorrow’s readings:  Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Psalm 105:16-22 and Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46