Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How's Your River?

A Pastor friend of mine, in commenting on the previous devotional, mentioned Jeremiah 17. Many of us consider verses 7 and 8 without taking it in the context of verses 9 & 10. And God's full thought includes all four verses.

First, there is verse 9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The definition of the original word for “deceitful” includes that it is crooked and polluted. When it says that, I get a mental image of a large, winding, polluted river running through the soul. The shores are covered by stunted plant life because the trees and bushes can't get healthy water to grow properly.

When, in the same verse, the term “desperately wicked” is used, it speaks of being so incurably spiritually diseased that only God can know the depths. And, in fact, verse 10 reads, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Which is an interesting verse in itself. God searches the heart (the core of our being, the seat of our emotions, our very nature), tries the reins (emotions and feelings), gives according to our ways (our thinking), and according to the actions resulting from our thinking and emotional responses. So, if our life is ruled by that winding, polluted river of the world's influence, we will receive the consequences. That's a pretty dire picture. But before God tells us of those results, He gives us a much better possibility by living in His way.

Verses 7 and 8 say, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be anxious in the year of drouth, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” The unpolluted river, life from God, allows continual growth, protects from heat and drought (spiritual and physical troubles and turmoil), and keeps us fresh and bearing fruit. If our source of strength is God, we can easily make it through anything –- although it may not seem like it, sometimes. On the other hand, if our source of strength is anything but God, we can only be polluted by that source. Which river are you in, today?

Father, help us to remain in the right river, blessed by You, blessing others with what You have given, strengthening each of us with Your love and Truth. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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