Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022 || Friday Message By Lutheran Hour Ministries
Read Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022
TOPIC: Play the Sunset
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 2:25-26 – For apart from Him [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God.
Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022 pairs with this weekend’s Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Gertrude Lang wears her red hair in pig tails and practices her clarinet till her lips swell up. Gertrude is a minor character in the 1995 film, Mr. Holland’s Opus. She’s a member of Mr. Holland’s band and has been practicing the clarinet for three years, negotiating with it to get the right notes, but the thing still squeaks like rusty brakes on a second-hand ten-speed.
And the prospect of failure is too much for her. Her siblings are on full-ride scholarships. Her mother is a talented artist. And her father, her father has the most beautiful singing voice. And she’s trying to negotiate a place for herself. She’s got her self-worth wrapped up in how well she performs, and because she’s not performing well, she’s beginning to believe that she’s worthless. But Mr. Holland won’t give up on her.
King Solomon, traditionally taken as the speaker of the book of Ecclesiastes, tells us how he had practiced his part, negotiating to get the right notes. There were moments when he found the melody, but his mortality still groaned like a dying animal. And we hear him waver back and forth between feelings of favor and vapor. He shows us that if we try to negotiate with mortal life it will always fail us. Mortal life cannot give you what you want because what you want is infinite. And this life is finite.
You desire what is infinite because, as Ecclesiastes says, God has put eternity into your heart (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). You have a God-sized hole in your heart and only God can fill it. And you can’t negotiate with God, either, because God needs nothing you have and has everything you need. But, before you or any other human being ever gave a thought to negotiating, God was already giving. It was only when the devil convinced us to negotiate for more that we fell into sin (see Genesis 3:4).
Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022, Friday
And to us stubbornly self-sufficient negotiators, Solomon says, God has given the fruitless task of heaping up only to hand it over to the “one who pleases God.” And who is the one who pleases God? Only One: God’s beloved Son, Jesus (see Matthew 3:17). And Jesus, like His Father, is not a negotiator. He is a giver. And on the cross and in His resurrection, there He is: God, in the flesh, giving Himself for you.
So, what if we stopped seeing life as negotiation? That’s what Mr. Holland did for the red-headed Gertrude Lang. She was ready to quit. So, he asks her, “Gertrude, when you see yourself, what do you like best about what you see?” She says, “My hair.” “Why?” he says. She answers, “My father says it reminds him of the sunset.” Mr. Holland gestures towards her clarinet: “Play the sunset,” he says. That is, play from the place where you know you’re loved.
Now Gertrude didn’t become a virtuoso clarinetist overnight, after this conversation. She still had to negotiate to get the right notes. But she stopped using music to negotiate her value. And she started receiving it like the gift it is—a gift she cherished through long hours of practice, a gift she shared with others, a gift that was an expression of her father’s voice speaking love for her. And Jesus promises even more for us, for everyone who will trust in Him and be taught by Him. He promises life, true life—not a deal won by negotiation, but a gift given in love.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, as we learn to play our part, let it be that what we like best about ourselves, is that You think we we’re worth dying for, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022 was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
- Read Ecclesiastes 2. List three ways that Solomon tried to negotiate with mortal life.
How would you express his evaluation of his negotiations (Ecclesiastes 2:20-26) in your own words?
Is there a simple way you could remind yourself to keep receiving life as a gift from Jesus?
Lutheran Daily Devotional 1st July 2022. Lutheran Hour Ministries is a trusted resource in global media that equips and engages a vibrant volunteer base to passionately proclaim the Gospel to more than 150 million people worldwide each week.