No Good Thing…


For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11

This is an incredible promise and one that those who trust in the Lord can place their hope. It’s also the kind of verse that is so often misunderstood and taken as a promise for the unbelieving, or even worse used in prosperity teaching. I have full confidence that this verse is completely true, yet I don’t always know what’s good for me.

Yesterday our two-year old daughter Lydia openly defied instruction and I was able to live out this verse in her life. She is my daughter, I love her, and I won’t withhold what is good for her. However, she didn’t see it that way. In fact she really didn’t care much for my love for her and I’m reminded that often what might not seem “good” is what we really need the most.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

This verse is also often misquoted as to provide comfort to people and used in evangelism without understanding the whole story. I know I’ve used this verse wrongly in the past and I’d like to really look at what’s “good” and what the LORD will not withhold from us.

Jeremiah was called by God to speak to a wicked and rebellious generation, to call them to repentance and return to the LORD. What an overwhelming task. What an overwhelming task before us today, to preach the gospel of peace to people. Those same people that don’t want to hear, just as those God sent Jeremiah to.

Jeremiah 38:6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

When Jeremiah preached the good news he was rewarded with a trip to the dungeon and for God’s eternal purposes this was good for him. It’s not our general idea of good, but this word means – (to be good, be pleasing, be joyful, be beneficial, be pleasant, be favourable, be happy, be right). I’m not sure the experience of the mire was pleasant for Jeremiah, but it was certainly beneficial.

Our experiences, the ones that we don’t necessarily deem enjoyable are beneficial. They are meant for good. We see this in the example of Joseph.

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Doesn’t this sound familiar to Jeremiah’s story and more importantly how it points us to Jesus?

Acts 13:27-33 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the father. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus.

Jesus considered the joy that was set before Him, the cross that He would die upon, the physical torture and for the only time in eternity, He would have the wrath of God poured out upon Him, a benefit. A benefit that His called out ones could bring Him glory on this earth, because this is the ultimate reality of salvation; the glory of God.

It is, after all, the chief end of man.

Beloved, we must consider our momentary trials and tribulations pure joy (James 1:2-4). The scripture leaves no room for any other interpretation. It’s not always fun. It’s not always our desire, but it is providentially God’s plan for you, and for me. This is a bitter pill to swallow far more often than we desire. But if you are in Christ, you are a new creation, and we can take comfort that God has a plan that far outweighs our comfort.



“It doesn’t feel like you love me…”


“It doesn’t feel like you love me…”

These were the words of my daughter Madeline after being on the receiving end of her father’s instruction and correction.  To put it bluntly she didn’t like it.  How many of us like chastisement?  Especially as adults, when we think we’ve got things figured out.

Proverbs 3:10-11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD love He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.

These words, more often than not, are very difficult to accept, especially if you are in the middle of correction.  I know I don’t like it in most cases, “it doesn’t feel like you love me…” say I.

It’s painful…  Isn’t that the point?

Should the believer enjoy chastisement?

Hebrews 12:7-8 If you endure chastening, God deal with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

The word chasten is paideuō – which means to train up a child, that is, educate, or by (implication) discipline (by punishment): chasten (-ise), instruct, learn, teach.

For children, this can mean the rod….  Gasp! Yeah, not culturally relevant but since when has God’s word been culturally relevant?

For adults, this can mean the sword, the word of God (Hebrews 4:12), this is equally unpopular today.  When was the last time another believer came to you and confronted you with sin in your life?  I would say it rarely happens because it’s uncomfortable for the person coming to you, and it’s uncomfortable to the one going to that person.

It’s really tough, yet God’s word is pretty clear isn’t it?

Aren’t we commanded to go to people, or does it say only if it’s a really big sin?

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 

Jesus also told us to go to them if they’ve sinned – Matthew 18:15 and James affirms this in his epistle James 5:19.

Why is this so unpopular, and if we truly love people wouldn’t we warn them about unhealthy practices in their lives?  Don’t we have warnings on cigarette packages that this is an addictive sin and it could lead to cancer?  Do we condone drinking and driving and just wink and nod if a friend tells us they did that?

We don’t do it very often in the church because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, or we don’t want to risk embarrassment, or we most often don’t want to have that person turn on us and get angry.  It’s pretty easy to know why we don’t do it.

Is it loving to confront sin or unloving?  If we really care about people should we tell them they are in sin?

Or is your definition of love that you just look the other way and hope God deals with them?  No!  Believer this is your job.  This is love, but yet to them, “it doesn’t feel like you love me…” as my daughter said.  How can you trust your feelings? (Jeremiah 17:9)  We can only trust the word of God.

This whole topic is very relevant in my life right now and I deeply love someone that I confronted in some sin.  This is not a “10” sin on a scale, but does it matter?  I say that because how much sin do we tolerate?  Do we think for even a moment that the Lord is tolerant of a little sin, and only cares about the big stuff?  Should we REALLY pursue holiness?  Well the scripture tells us without it we won’t see the Lord and along with it we must pursue peace with all people (Hebrews 12:14).  That is peace between man and God.

Did our Lord suffer a brutal punishment; take on the wrath of God, so that we can dabble in a little sin from time to time?  Are we covered by grace?  Well yes, we are but we shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to sin more.  Certainly not!, emphatically says Paul (Romans 6:1).

John Owen writes: Until then (speaking of glorification) believers are ever to be killing sin, or sin will be killing them.”[1]

God’s word has a lot to say on this topic but most people will just gloss over it…and churches certainly won’t preach and teach on it.  “That’s waaaay too offensive and judgmental, besides we don’t even really know them.”

Yes, that is a problem isn’t it?

I want to finish with something that we should all meditate upon and really consider how we love people.  All people, believers and non-believers alike, we must teach them that if we love God we will keep His commandments (John 15:9-10).

Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Do you see that when we confront sin, we are looking out for other’s interests?  Can you also see that when we don’t we are being selfish?  We are being selfish because we don’t want to deal with what might come our way.  We are afraid to offend others, to possibly lose relationship with them.

Have you considered that love is an action, not a feeling, and to truly love we must give of ourselves for the benefit of others.  You know like Jesus did… or do we live in fear of how they will react?

That is very real isn’t it?  We don’t fear God enough to risk hurting others feelings.

That is really what it comes down to, and if we love them we must, just like I must discipline my children if I really love them.

We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God. —William Gurnall


[1] Owen, Mortification of Sin in Believers, in Works, 6:9.