6th Sunday after the Epiphany
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
Jeremiah 17:5-8 Sermon
February 11, 2007
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
208 "Christ Whose Glory Fills The Skies"
157 "Lord Of Our Life & God Of Our Salvation"
406 "How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds"
577 "Nearer My God To Thee"
A RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST
TEXT (vs. 5 & 7): “This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.”
This past year, I’ve achieved what I would call a new level of trust. Okay, well that sounds about as nebulous as a blob of jelly. What kind of trust might I be referring to? There’s all sorts of trust, you know—trust in God, trust in other people, trust in banks and financial institutions, or even trusting that an alarm clock will go off when it is supposed to.
In my most recent history, I’ve lost count of how many doctors and medical professionals who have had their hands on me in one way or another just in the last six months. And I trust them. I’ve allowed them to put me to sleep and take scalpels and other surgical instruments and start cutting away. They opened me up a total of three times this past year. And believe me, there’s a lot of faith involved with this process.
First of all, I wasn’t awake for these operations, so I couldn’t supervise what they were doing to me. I had to trust that these people knew what they were doing, and that they were telling me the truth when they explained what they did.
Secondly, I had to trust those who were involved with my aftercare. When they changed my IV drips, I had to trust that they were giving me what I needed. When they gave me my oral meds, I had to trust they were giving me the right thing, and hadn’t gotten me confused with the person in the next room.
And finally, I had to trust that everyone had done their job properly to facilitate my eventual healing and recovery. From all indications right now, I’d say that my trust was not misplaced; I believe that I am right on track with the way things are supposed to be going.
All of my wounds and incisions have healed nicely. They attached the two severed ends of my large intestine with 300 titanium staples. The perforated section of my bowel and what was left of my appendix is gone. The poison these problems created has drained out or has been otherwise eliminated. My tumor is gone too. And now I’m getting back to normal again—or at least what’s normal for me—that is, apart from my abdomen looking like a patchwork quilt.
We all have those times when we have to put our trust in other people or things of this world. It is a necessary part of life. Could you imagine the shape I would be in if I wouldn’t have trusted those doctors, nurses, and other medical people? I wouldn’t be standing here today, that’s for sure. These people were paid for their medical expertise which they put into practice on me. I trusted them, and they didn’t disappoint me.
Our text for today talks about trust. Jeremiah is speaking the word of the Lord given to him, and he’s addressing the Israelites. They had some definite trust issues which needed to be addressed and rectified.
God explains this issue in the most straight-forward manner he can. He indicates that those who put their trust in people or things of this world will not be blest in doing so. In fact, they will be cursed.
He then counters that with an explanation about those who trust in him. They will indeed be blest, and furthermore they will be blest so richly that they can’t even fathom it. God will bless those who trust in him both physically and spiritually.
Okay, so I just got done explaining in my introduction how much I learned to trust doctors and medical professionals. I allowed them to cut away at me while I was unconscious and couldn’t supervise them. I allowed them to medicate me. I trusted them with my life. Now doesn’t this seem to be at odds with what God says in our text when he says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man?”
Before I answer that, I’d like you to think of the things you trust as well. You might trust your parents, or your spouse, or medical professionals. When you drive your car, you trust that the steering won’t suddenly break, and that when you put your foot on that big pedal, your car will stop. If we didn’t trust other people or things of this world, we would have a very miserable existence.
So yes we can; and in fact we should trust these things. It isn’t sinful to trust a doctor, or members of our family, or even the people who assembled our vehicles at the factory, or the mechanic who looks after it. We have to trust these people in order to live on this earth.
So what was God telling Jeremiah in our text for today? The Israelites were a rebellious bunch of people. They were fickle, and they also had a lot of issues—a major one being trust issues.
What they were doing, was pledging allegiance to people and things to the exclusion of God. They were removing their trust from God and placing it where it didn’t belong. They had become idolaters. They were placing faith in false gods, and other people, and even themselves by trusting God less and less. They were heading down the path to ruination, and they needed to be brought back in line once again. God had established a trust relationship with them, and they were turning their backs on him. The Lord God was being replaced in their lives.
As I consider my medical issues, the trust I had in those taking care of me had its limitations. I trusted that they would do their job, but I also knew that they couldn’t heal me. All of their knowledge and expertise could only go so far; the rest would be up to God.
When I was in hospital, I had visits from Pastor Rick Larson, our District President. I also had visits from Pastor Dennis Rock. I was reminded again and again where my trust and faith needed to be. We prayed that the doctors and medical professionals would be God’s instruments to facilitate healing. The surgeon was able to place 300 titanium staples around my large intestine to hold the two severed ends together, but that was the limit of what he could do. It took God to actually heal it. It’s just like those incisions I can see—the doctor closed those openings in my body with staples as well. But the staples are out, and the incisions have healed. God alone deserves the credit for that. There’s where true trust lies—we must trust the healer and give him the glory, and not the instrument.
I’m sure that you’ve trusted someone, and have wound up disappointed. Other people have created problems in our lives. I’ve heard many people say, “I trust him just about as far as I could throw him,” indicating that a person isn’t very trustworthy at all.
Or, we’ve all heard the expression which states, “The only person you can trust is yourself,” or put more simply, “trust nobody.” By saying these things and developing that kind of attitude, we wind up with a bunch of miserable paranoid people who think everyone is out to do them dirt.
Unfortunately, we do live in a sinful world. There are a lot of people out there who don’t care anything about us, and are out to do us dirt. Many people are anything but trustworthy. That’s why we lock our homes, and protect our valuables. That’s why we have law enforcement people at work. Common sense tells us that we need to be selective as to whom we can trust.
But even with the most trustworthy people around us, we need to trust God even more. God needs to be the one in our lives where our ultimate trust and faith is placed. Because when we trust God above everybody and anybody else, we most certainly will be blest.
When it comes to trust, one particular Bible verse comes to mind. It’s from Proverbs 3, 7-8: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The first directive is simple. We are to trust in the Lord, above anything and anyone else. That’s straight forward enough.
But then we aren’t to be leaning on our own understanding. That sharpens things up a bit. We can’t even trust ourselves! Right away, that should direct us back into the Bible where we know we can find the Lord speaking to us. When we lean on our own understanding, we are placing our minds, our intellect, and our entire being above God, thereby making ourselves a god unto ourselves. That will never work, especially when we are to have the ultimate trust relationship with God himself.
This is a relationship that needs to be reflected throughout our lives. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we do so as Christians. When we acknowledge him in all our ways, it means that we live as a child of God and not a child of this world. Being a Christian isn’t something we can take on and off like a coat. We need to show that God lives in us and through us.
And then he says that he will direct our paths. Now how in the world is he going to do that? Is he going to guide us like he did the Israelites in the wilderness by being a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Is he going to zap us like a bolt of lightning from heaven? Is he going to communicate to us through dreams and visions? How will he direct our paths?
God hasn’t promised us this kind of communication. Rather, he communicates to us through the Bible, which is his voice speaking directly to us. God gives us a lot of freedom during this life, and we are allowed to make many choices. In making those choices however, the Bible tells us what is and isn’t the will of God. We aren’t to cheat, or lie, or steal, or murder. We are to be nice and hospitable people. We are to love God and love our neighbor. When God directs our paths, he wants us to make our will square up with his will. He wants us to live as Christians and as his dear children.
When we consider this trust issue, I know that we’ve all failed miserably when it comes to trusting God above all things. We’re sinners, and as sinners we’re inclined to put our trust where it doesn’t belong. And when we misplace our trust, and that trust fails us, then we experience disappointment—and it’s our own fault.
But here’s where the ultimate trust comes into play. We must trust God with the most important thing of all, and that is our souls. So we come to God as sinners, trusting that he will change our condition. We trust that we will be changed from sinners into saints, and that our faith will be heavenward instead of being focused on this world.
Jesus came to this earth to save us from sin. Even though he gave us a good example of a life of trust in God, and he indeed lived a God-pleasing life, that isn’t what is going to save us. Being good most of the time just won’t cut it. Faith in Jesus our Saviour is the only way.
We need to look to Jesus and see the epitome of God’s love toward us. Everything he did was for our benefit. Therefore, he has more than earned our complete trust. He’s made good on 100% of his promises, and we can be absolutely certain that he will indeed treat us as his dear children and take us to be with him in heaven one day.
In this day and age, we have so much advanced technology. With this technology, it has become easier and easier for us to place complete faith in things of this world. The medical advances alone make it almost seem that God is somehow out of the picture, and that modern medicine is doing the healing.
But modern medicine isn’t perfect either. There is still no cure for AIDS, or cancer, or even the common cold. Mistakes and misdiagnoses happen too. We can be thankful that we have the advances we do, but we must also realize that there are shortcomings.
Thankfully God has been proven 100% reliable and true. We can trust him without any reservation. God heals the same today as he has for all past generations, and that won’t be changing in the future. We can trust him with our physical bodies.
But God has also proven himself 100% reliable when it comes to saving our souls. He does this by grace through faith in Jesus our Saviour. Therefore we know where our eternal home will be. Whatever happens to us or wherever we go on this earth, this fact cannot be altered.
Therefore we can trust him completely with everything in our lives. May we always acknowledge him in all we say and do, as we seek to carry out his will in our lives.