My son is quite the tea tosser. What is a tea tosser? One who tosses tea! I am a coffee drinker, but even more so, I am a bigger tea drinker. One of my mugs is black so it is not as easy to distinguish if the mug is completely empty when the beverage is closer to the bottom of the mug. When my son had seen my mug sitting on the counter top and it appeared to be empty, he thought he would be funny. He grabbed the mug and attempted to juggle it around. Needless to say, he dumped my tea all over the place. We had a good laugh. He truly thought the mug was empty. The joke was on him, as was the tea!
Many times, things are not like they appear. We look at the outside of a person, but we do not see the heart. We see outward actions, but we do not know the inward motives. The Lord looks at our heart. No matter how hard we try to disguise ourselves, how much we pretend to be something we are not, God sees. He knows how much tea is in the mug, and He knows how pure and how deceitful is the condition of your heart.
The Bible tells us that the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is clear our hearts are in need of some deep cleansing. Thank God, He has the perfect cleaner to get that accomplished (Titus 3:5). Our heart is purified by faith and cleansed by the Spirit (Acts 15:9). Ask the Lord today, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV).
We often like to think the best of ourselves. We do not realize how corrupt our heart is, so it difficult to take a good hard look at ourselves and see the truth. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Deceitful. The MOST deceitful of all things. Desperately wicked—so wicked we cannot say how bad.
Today’s verse says that no one does good. That means that even you do not do good. You are part of the “not a single one.” That is hard to handle. We find it hard to come to terms with the fact that we are not good—that we are corrupt. The truth is, no matter how many good things we do, we have bad things that we think and do—things we do not even realize. But God can see through every crack and crevice. He sees the corruption. He sees the deceitfulness. He sees the wickedness from within us.
The awesome good news is that He loves us anyway, and He has made a way for us to be in right relationship with Him. Despite the corruption, despite not doing good—He has made a way for us to come before Him, covered in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness, made right with God through Him. Today, thank God for His great mercy and His unfailing love. Seek His righteousness above all else. Remember, no one does good—not a single one.
“But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” – Psalm 53:3 [NLT]
We have all certainly missed some blessings. When we walk in faith, we are met with blessing. It might not happen right away, but eventually it comes. I remember when I took a leap of faith and returned to college. When I graduated with my ministry degree, I thought instantly something would happen. It was a long period later before I saw how God orchestrated everything for a better outcome. Remember, He thinks differently than us. What we think would be great, is nothing compared to the greatness He has in store for us.
I have been at the crossroads where I could walk in faith, or turn in the other direction. There have been times when I didn’t step forward. I stood my ground or turned direction. I then missed the opportunity to see God move. Remember, He calls us to walk in faith. If we don’t walk, we miss what follows. Oftentimes, rather than walk in faith, we take burdens on our own shoulder. We then miss the opportunity to see God move in awesome ways. We miss it!
Lately I have been recognizing the lack of faith in people around me. I’m not saying this to say, “My faith is greater than yours.” I am simply noting that God is revealing this to me. It grieves me. I feel for those who are not walking forward in faith, because I know they are missing out on what God has for them. I share with these people how God has moved in my life. Still, they don’t move. I can only pray. Prayer is always the best thing. Today, I’m praying for you. I am praying that you are not missing the blessings. I am praying for you to have confidence in the Lord, to move forward in faith—to step out to what God has for you. Embrace God and embrace His promises. You will be blessed!
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” – Jeremiah 17:7 [NLT]
Here’s a sermon outline from a message I shared on the Slavery of Self-Reliance. You may download the outline below. Please note there was no illustration with this message but instead I spoke of King Asa of Judah from 2 Chronicles 16 giving the gold and silver from the Temple to Ben-Hadad King of Syria.
Slavery of Self-Reliance
Everyone needs: Meaning / Purpose / Security / Safety / Significance / Worth / Value
Self-reliant / Self-determination / Self-Dependence / Independent / Self-Sufficient / Self-Contained
The world sees these as good things / the world applauds these things
The problem: These things enslave us. Burden of Self-Reliance à when all relies on you à Slavery
The solution: God wants to free us from ourselves
God is our: meaning / purpose / significance / security / safety / protection
- God provides you meaning and purpose
- Isaiah 43:7 – God has made you for His glory.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others to glorify God
- God provides you security
- Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (NLT).
- God provides you safety
- Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalm 91:2 – “… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…” (NLT)
- Proverbs 18:10 – Godly run to God and are safe
- God provides you significance and worth and value
- Genesis 1:27 – God made you in His image
- Psalm 139:13 – God created each of us individually – knit you in your mother’s womb with certain abilities & gifts – allows certain experiences – all so you can be of great worth to His Kingdom – YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS! (John 14:12 – “… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” NLT).
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Only those who stand in need of a savior will look for and recognize one.
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)
Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Humility is so important for each of us. We live in a society that tells us to reach for the top, to be the best, to win, to achieve and to look out for self. Pride can become a big problem. As we continue to focus on self, we start to believe we are “in control of our destiny” and we can “do anything.” We hear these phrases again and again.
I love the calling of Jeremiah. The Lord came to Jeremiah and said he would be a prophet. Jeremiah said that he was too young. He was only a young boy. He didn’t know anything. He recognized he couldn’t do much on his own. He understood that by his strength, it was impossible. But God said that He would be with him and He would tell him what to say to the people.
Today I pray that you will recognize you are in need of God, that you cannot do life alone. I pray that you can humbly reach out to Him and forget all the hogwash that points you to focusing on being the best you for yourself. How about being the best you for God’s Kingdom? Did you know God has holy plans for you too? He does. May you humbly seek Him and listen closely as He directs your path. He will be right there with you. He will show you the way. He has such an awesome plan for you.
“’Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.’
But I said, ‘Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!’
God told me, ‘Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’
I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.
I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.
Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.’
-Jeremiah 1:5-8 [MSG]
When a tree does not have strong roots, deep water roots, it cannot withstand the situations of life. We see less signs of life—the leaves are withered and there is little fruit produced because of periods of great heat and drought. When a tree has great roots that sink into the water they always have what they need in any situation and “their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
We are a lot like trees; we also do best with deep water roots. Today’s verse says “blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” That’s how we have deep water roots—when we are deeply rooted in Christ. If we TRUST the Lord, if He is our HOPE and our CONFIDENCE, we will be able to stand firm in life no matter the situation, and we will “stay green” and “never stop producing fruit.”
When you believe, TRULY BELIEVE, in Jesus, living water will flow from your heart (John 7:38). Today we can place our trust in Him for He is our “hope and confidence.” We thrive with deep water roots. We were meant for those deep roots. Do this and the fruit will follow.
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 [NLT]