Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 12:40 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Give Thanks.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 17:1-14 (NIV). Our Sin “Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars. Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills. My mountain in the land and your wealth and all your treasures I will give away as plunder, together with your high places, because of sin throughout your country. Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever.” The nation of Israel, though not all who are Jews by birth, has rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Lord. They were thus cut off from the vine and are no longer the children of God. They are not God’s chosen people. They do not worship the God of Abraham. They are of Hagar, the slave woman, separated from the God they claim to worship, and no longer bound for heaven for eternity. Although they may be physical descendants of Abraham, they are not the children of promise. Only those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah are the children of promise and have the hope of eternity with God in heaven. Yet, they can be grafted back into the vine through belief in Jesus Christ, so there is still hope for them. [See Ro. 9:6b-8; Ro. 11; Gal. 3:26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18] We read in the Bible that all have sinned and come up short of attaining God’s glory (See Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous. All of us have gone astray. Because of Adam’s sin, the whole human race is born with a sin nature. We are without hope and without God. And, we are destined to spend eternity without God in eternal punishment, apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ via his death on the cross for our sins, and apart from faith in him. Who do you trust? 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. All throughout scripture we, as God’s chosen people, are warned against putting our trust in humans or in the gods of this world over and above our trust in God, so to some extent this is speaking to Christians. It is a warning against putting our confidence, hope and trust in human beings - even in ourselves - and in their talents, intelligence, wisdom, doctrines, teaching, thinking, reasoning, giftedness, positions of power or authority or privilege, social status, religious popularity, scheming, charm, charisma, and likability; and/or in their appearances of sincerity, honesty and/or seeming personal holiness, but especially with regard to trusting them over and above or in place of our trust in God as our only God. When we trust in man, and in man’s ways, and in man’s thinking and reasoning above our trust in God and in his word, this is a form of idolatry and/or spiritual adultery. So, it hurts our relationships and our fellowship with our Lord, and it grieves the Spirit of God. As well, when we trust in man more than or in place of trust in God, we are behaving immaturely, fleshly and worldly, which is not pleasing to God, because he died to set us free from all that. As well, such attitudes and behaviors hinder our fellowship with him and our testimonies for him and for his gospel, and it hinders our relationships and fellowship with fellow believers, too. It also makes us much more vulnerable to deception and to straying from our pure devotion to our Lord and to forsaking him as our “first love.” We cannot be bond-servants of Christ if we are devoted to men and to pleasing humans instead. It is the Lord whom we are to serve, not men. Jesus Christ died so that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). When we look to humankind for wisdom, knowledge, understanding, teaching, instruction, guidance, support, help, and strength in place of looking to God/Jesus, we run the risk of falling back into old patterns of sinful behavior, living for the lusts of humans instead of for the will of God. [See: 1 Co. 2:1-5; 1 Co. 3:1-9, 18-23; 1 Co. 7:23; Gal. 1:10; Gal. 2:12; Eph. 4:14-16; Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 2:8, 20-23; Col. 3:23-24; 1 Thess. 2:3-8; 1 Pet. 4:1-5; & 2 Pet. 3:17-18.] “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.” Happy and fulfilled are we who put our trust in the Lord as our only source for salvation, hope, healing and fulfillment. Our confidence should be in him alone. Some of the blessings or fruit of such trust are that we are saved from our sins, delivered out of bondage to sinful lifestyles, are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, are given new lives in Christ, and by the Spirit we are able to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We do not live in fear, we are at peace, we are confident in the sovereignty of God and in his plan and purpose for our lives, and we know and believe that God is all powerful and that he is absolutely in control over whatever comes into our lives. So we are able to rest in him, believing him to work out everything in our lives according to his will and purpose, for his glory, and for our good. As well, we have peace and understanding concerning what is true and what is not true, because we put our trust in the Word of Truth, which teaches us truth and which teaches us, too, how to discern error, i.e. what is false. So, we should be free from deception and from falling prey to men’s wicked schemes. Deceitful Hearts The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” We must guard ourselves against deceit by immersing ourselves in Christ and in his word instead of in the culture around us. We must be in the practice of inquiring of our Lord, listening to him speak, and obeying what he says, rather than in following after the ways of this world. I know that when I used to spend a great deal of time watching TV that I was easily duped; easily persuaded by what I saw and heard. I know, too, that when I was involved in church planting that I was fairly easy to convince that I must do all these certain things to attract the world to the church, and to believe that if I just followed man’s methods that it would bring in people into our fellowship and to Christ. It didn’t. Then, the Lord Jesus began to open my eyes. He helped me to see so many areas where I had believed what was false, and where I needed to believe what is true. The less time I spent taking in the ways and thinking of this world, and the more time I spent with him at his feet, the more I began to see the lies I had believed. Then God began opening my heart and mind up to the truth of his word. I think we are more vulnerable to being deceived and even to deceive ourselves, particularly in today’s culture, when we begin to put God second to TV, movies, games, the internet, music, social media sites, internet discussion sites, or to anything else we give precedent to in our lives which might distract us away from Christ, or which might lead us to follow the ways of the world instead of to follow Christ and his ways. A Glorious Throne A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary. Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. While we were still dead in our sins, Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. He put our sins to death with him on the cross, and he overcame them through his resurrection. He died for our sins so that we could be delivered from the penalty of sin – eternal damnation and eternal separation from God – so we could be set free from slavery to sin, and so we could be free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – all in the power and the working of the Spirit within us. We receive this great gift of salvation from sin when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ by faith in him. When we come to faith in Christ, we die with Christ to the sin which once enslaved us, and we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and to obedience to Jesus Christ and to his teachings and instructions; and we are given new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” This is true grace, because it delivers us, not only from the penalty of sin, but from our slavery to sin, and it sets us free to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Amen! I am so thankful for God’s amazing grace! [See: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; & 1 Jn. 1-5.] Give Thanks / Don Moen / Henry Smith Give thanks with a grateful heart Give thanks to the Holy One Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son And now let the weak say, "I am strong" Let the poor say, "I am rich Because of what the Lord has done for us"