Dear friends, today is only a few days away from July 4, our national Independence Day. Some of us may wish we were already on vacation, and may get sleepy during the sermon. So, if I see anyone start looking sleepy or bored, I’m thinking of have our organist Ila play the National Anthem. We always stand for the national anthem, and that’s a great way to get the blood flowing again.
We’re happy to hear Pastor and Lisa have been blessed with a new baby girl, Rachel. We wish them all God’s blessings and hopefully some peaceful, even restful, time together this week as a new family. I can recall both our boys being born in the 1970s. Seems long ago, yet time has gone quickly. Nothing is quite like the newness of a newborn baby in the home.
I received an interesting E-Mail the other day that told of how our human bodies work. For example, the average heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood and beats nearly 100,000 times in a 24-hour period. Our lungs take about 17,000 breaths a day without our ever thinking of it. Our brains process between 40-50 thoughts a minute and our eyes blink 28-29,000 times each 24 hours. Our body sheds a million skin cells a dayand our brain and mouth allow us to speak 2,000 – 5,000 words per day (depending on whether you’re male or female), and every night we grow 1/3 inch, but then shrink back that much each day. The average body eats – are you ready for this? – 50 tons of food in an 80-year lifetime – wow! And during all this time, all our body cells (except our brains) regenerate themselves. Every 10 days we get new taste buds, every 6-10 months we get new finger nails, new bones are grown every 10 years and we even get a new heart every 20 years. Isn’t that incredible? Our bodies are becoming new every moment of the day. Trouble is, those new cells don’t become like newborn babies, but just replace what’s already there. So we become new – old people! But, by the grace of God, we are still becoming new. Amazing!
And some wise, learned scientists continually try to tell us this newness that happens without our choices – all happens by chance. They say there’s no God involved, just the Scientific Trinity – Father Time, Mother Earth and Lady Luck. But we know better, for we know Who made us – the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and later on in Genesis, God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” And that’s how we got our amazing bodies, bodies with complex systems far too complicated to have come about by mere chance.
In these warm days of summer, it is refreshing to hear the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah speak of God’s mercy and love. Jeremiah saw so much bad behavior among his people that he did not have a happy message. But in this lesson, his normally mournful lament over the sins of his people made an abrupt change. It has turned from lamenting our sins into praising God for His love: Jeremiah wrote, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
We need to hear some Good News. It is so easy to find fault with life these days. Government doesn’t seem know what it’s doing, and people don’t seem to care that we’ve lost common sense in our conversation. Wrong behaviors seem to be winning over what’s right, and things are going to pot! The Rockies bullpen can’t even win a game – all this makes us long for some good news. We all need some Good News, God’s Good News. Well, Jeremiah has it for us today.
The Good News is that God’s mercy and faithfulness of old are still with us today. His compassion does not fail. It is new for us every morning. And since this is as true today as it was in Jeremiah’s day, we do well to hear the prophet’s 2,500 year-old words again: “Therefore,” says Jeremiah, “I will hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Despite what sins may try to destroy our world, our Heavenly Father is still the One where we will find hope. We won’t find our hope in Wall Street, or in the Oval Office, or in the lofty halls of the secular universities. Bank accounts fail. Governments disappoint. University faculties can be misled. Baseball is just a game. Real hope comes only in our Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting Him brings us the peace we need. And what is this hope that will help us all? It is knowing and believing that Jesus is our Lord. He will bring us through this mixed-up world to a better place in eternity.
When I announced that I’d finished publishing Every Day With Jesus, my fourth – and final – Daily Devotional, my teacher son Chuck must have sensed I needed something to do, so he asked me for some help with his teaching. He asked a few ideas to help teach his 8th grade religion classes what the Holy Trinity is all about. I really enjoy being asked by my boys for help with some things that I can actually do. Brian usually asks for help with mechanical stuff, and Chuck asks help with teaching stuff. If I’m lucky I can still get that small engine running for Brian. With Chuck, I can usually come up with materials he will adapt, make into a PowerPoint and use in class.
Now these days it’s easier to buy a new Briggs and Stratton engine than overhaul an old one. But there’s nothing new and better out there to help us understand the Holy Trinity. How does a person explain to a teenager – or anyone – how and why God comes to us Triune – one God in Three Persons? True, there are a few things in nature that rely on three parts. The apple, for example, has its skin, its fruit and seed. An egg has three parts, its shell, white and yoke. And a triangle must have three sides. My dear wife even showed me how even a peeled banana can be split into three sections. All these are three things, but they come together to make up one thing. There are many more such units of three that make up one. Even in marriage, God says in Ecclesiastes 3:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” I believe that passage means when man and woman include God in their marriage, then that home is much stronger. It can still be broken, but not as easily.
That’s Good News, is it not? In a world where we wonder what we can depend on, here is God showing us He is Three Persons in One God. Each Person of the Godhead is separate and is there to help us. God the Father is the one who creates us. God the Son, Jesus Christ, has given Himself on the cross to forgive us our sins. God the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us faith. He helps us trust in Jesus, and guides us in how to live as God wants us to live. The Father – the Son – the Holy Spirit: Three Persons in One God, who loves people enough to give eternal life to all who trust Him.
So Jeremiah says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that we should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” And again he says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
It’s almost as if we live in a “Never-Ending Love Story” with God. We live in a land that is so greatly blessed. Our freedoms, our prosperity, our opportunities, our amazing inventions, our leisure time – incredible! We have so many blessings from God, so much to be grateful for. Could there come a day when God will withdraw His blessings? Might there come a time when we stray so far from the Triune God that we forsake Him and follow the harpies of the secular world who try to tell us – every day – to ignore God and follow them? Or to deny God completely? We pray that never happens.
But Jeremiah saw it happen. He saw his people forsake their privileged status with God and follow their own humanistic ways. Jeremiah’s life as a prophet was difficult. At various times the Bible says he was locked a cistern, beaten, placed in stocks for weeks and imprisoned, all by his fellow Hebrews. Ironically, it was Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar who freed him and treated him well. King Josiah of Israel was also said to have treated Jeremiah well, but it was not long lasting, as tradition says Jeremiah was killed by his fellow Judeans. It took courage to be a prophet of God!
We modern disciples may feel like we know everything, but we can learn from the message of Jeremiah. He was truly saddened by what the people had become, yet he did not despair. While there was much that saddened him because of sin and evil, he never lost faith that God’s mercy and love is great enough to prevail in this sinful world. God does not turn His back on those who trust Him. That’s the Good News we all long to hear. Things may look dismal at times, but God stays with us.
Well, I’m glad you stuck with me. We didn’t have to sing the National Anthem. In the coming days we’ll have chance to hear and sing it, and when we do, let’s remember God’s never-ending love story, told by Jeremiah the prophet: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.” Amen!