02-13-2022

“BLESSED OR CURSED?”

Text: Jeremiah 17:5-8

Sunday February 13th, 2022 – Epiphany 6

Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr

Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text for this Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany is the OT lesson from Jeremiah 17 that was just proclaimed.

Let Us Pray: Dearest Jesus, send your Holy Spirit working through your unchanging Word of truth to remind us to we can confidently put our trust not in our humanity but in your eternal truth. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:

These are difficult times we’re living in. Economic uncertainty, political unrest, financial hardships, anxiety about health and safety can all magnify any personal turmoil we might be facing.

When faced with these challenges, where do you go or what do you do to get through them? Whom can you trust to help you get through these difficult times in which we’re living? Yourself? Others? Or is it to the Lord you go for help in times of trouble?

There really are only two ways: either trusting human abilities or trusting the Lord. And..

To Trust in the Lord Is Better Than to Trust in Human Strength.

The difference is either blessing or curse.

I.

There really are only those two ways: trusting in man or trusting in the Lord. The Lord said to his people, through the prophet Jeremiah, “You are cursed if you do not trust in the Lord, if you only trust in humanity and in human strength and wisdom, and if you turn away from the Lord.

Rather, blessed are you when you trust in the Lord and commit your life to him.”

The one who trusts in himself is like a stubby shrub in a desert with no water about, only salt flats as far as you can see. Nothing good is going to come from that. Certainly, no prospering nor full luxuriant growth. That shrub will eventually wither and die.

In contrast, one who trusts in the Lord, and commits his life to the Lord, is like a strong, green tree that grows and prospers and bears fruit because it has its deep roots in the life-giving waters.

It doesn’t worry nor is it afraid if there’s a drought; it can weather anything because it has a never-failing, ever-flowing stream of life to support it and to see it through.

II.

In whom do you trust? Is it yourself? You wouldn’t be alone if you trusted yourself first and foremost to get yourself through difficult times, or any times in this day and age.

People will say, “I’m smart enough; I’m good enough. People like me. I’ve got enough money. I’ve got friends; I’ve got my networks. I can do just fine.” You might say the same things and be proud of it. But what have you forgotten? What’s left out of the equation?

If these are the things you trust in, God says, “Cursed are you!” For one thing, they will all fail you. They won’t last forever; they’ll die with you, and then what? Will they help you in the life of the world to come? No!

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33). Not as a last resort, but first! Cursed are you! Not only will they fail you, but you also have not turned to the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Turning from the Lord means we have despised and neglected the Lord. We have sought help only in ourselves. Will that be enough on the Last Day? When we stand before the Lord, who will our help be? Ourselves? “Cursed is the man who trusts in man” (v 5).

In contrast, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” (v 7), for the Lord only is able to prosper and protect you. He is the one who will give you full life now and eternally. Not only will all others disappoint and fail you, but your turning to others is really a turning from the Lord.

Trusting in the Lord is like being planted by an ever-flowing river of water, like a palm tree next to the Nile River in Egypt. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t rain; there’s always water. But go just a mile from the Nile and there’s no vegetation at all because there is no water.

So where would you want to be planted? Or where would you plant your crop? By the Nile or inland, in the desert? So it is with trust in the Lord. Where would you rather be planted?

That is, in whom do you trust? You say, “the Lord,” but do you? You might say, “Well, not at first, but if all else fails, I’ve got the Lord to fall back on.” You wouldn’t like to be anyone’s second or third or last choice, would you? How do you think that attitude reflects on your trust in the Lord?

God rightly judges those who trust in themselves and is right to condemn them. We deserve what we would get. We deserve to be parched, to wither and to die, because we have not trusted in God, who says, “Come unto me, and I will give rest (cf Mt 11:28); I will give you life” (cf Jn 10:10).

III.

Yes, we have failed to trust in the Lord; we have failed to seek him first.

But there is one who did all things well (Mk 7:37), who trusted in the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. That is our Lord Jesus. He trusted his heavenly Father with all his life.

In the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus trusted the Word of the Lord to take care of him and his life. And when he died on the cross, parched and thirsty, not because of any sin in him but rather for us and for our salvation, Jesus still said even then, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).

Jesus suffered on the cross all the curses we deserve and in their place gives us all the blessings we have not earned. He poured out his life that we may have life from him, from his body and from his blood.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples, empowering them to preach the good news of forgiveness of sins (Jn 20:19–23).

So, repent of your sin of not trusting in the Lord and trusting in yourself. Believe the incredibly wonderful good news that your sin of mistrust and lack of trust, and trust in yourself, is forgiven and paid for on the cross by Jesus. Know that life, true life, life never failing, comes from God. Stay connected to him, for he is your life and salvation (Ps 27:1) and will prosper your life and growth for his purposes.

He will lead you to streams of living water and green pastures in the house of the Lord forever. Blessed is the man, Jesus, who trusted in the Lord. Blessed are you who trust in the Lord Jesus.

Weather inside or outside, plants need water. If your plants don’t get water, they’ll die. Inside, you have to water your plants yourself. Outside, it may rain and water your plants, or it may not, and they’ll still shrivel and die unless they have another source of water, like deep roots or a nearby stream or pond.

One time, We were gone on a summer vacation and forgot to water our inside and porch plants. When we got back, the inside plants were completely withered, as were the porch plants because they got no water and were shielded from the rain (if we had any!).

But the trees outside were still beautifully green because they had deep roots and could weather the lack of rain, and the lack of watering, reaching down to hidden sources of moisture.

That’s the way it is with the one who trusts in the Lord rather than depending on human strength (or human memory!) to water his plants.

He or she can weather the droughts of this life and still thrive, because God will not fail him, but instead will provide for and nourish him (Jer 17:8).

Amen.

Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.