Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Jeremiah 32:16-25, Romans 12:1-21, Luke 8:1-15
Have you ever tried negotiating with God? Something like: “Dear God, if you will [fill in the blank]… I promise to never/always [fill in another blank].” Are we able to keep such promises? In retrospect, we may realize we were foolish to make them in the first place. God knows just how weak we can be when it comes to holding up our end of a deal.
Jeremiah tells the story of how the Israelites lost the land God gave them, because they forgot God and lived sinfully . In their pride and selfishness, they forgot everything they had was a gift. How often do we hear about “self-made” athletes, entertainers, or politicians who achieve success, only to forget their humble beginnings? And how often do these stories end with a fall from grace when the successful lose perspective? How frequently have we pleaded with God to deliver us – only to insist on our own way once things improve? When times are good do we, like the Israelites, forget the God who provided for us and return to the old ways that caused us trouble in the first place? When our responsibilities are no longer convenient, do we neglect them to follow our desires?
In Romans, Paul warns us not to overestimate our own wisdom. Our successes come when we remember to be faithful stewards of our gifts, not when we take too much credit for them. When times are good, let’s give thanks for what we’ve been entrusted, and when times are bad let’s not rely solely on our own resources to get out of trouble. We learn from the Israelites that such attitudes can turn good situations to bad, and bad to worse. Our efforts count, but not for everything.
Promises do not convince God to act one way or another, and failing to meet promises – even with the best intentions – damages our character. Negotiating is a way of using our “wisdom” to manipulate God. Instead let’s seek God’s will in all circumstances, and live as if we’ve promised to make of ourselves a holy and living sacrifice.
Comfort: We have greater resources than our own thoughts.
Challenge: Meditate on promises you have kept… and broken.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for being constant when I am not. Amen.
Discussion: What do you take for granted?
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