No Good Thing…

mire

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.

Kevin

 

Do you despise Him?

forest

The Christian life is no different from most lives in that Believers experience the ups and downs that are typical.  We get sick, we have conflict with our wives or children and we are certainly not free from seemingly random things that occur.  I say seemingly because Scripture tells us nothing is by chance and God has all things under His sovereign control.

I believe this and do not subscribe to health, wealth and prosperity doctrines that are so prevalent today.  The one thing I understand is that God has purpose in everything He does.  For the Believer this has eternal consequences because the way we respond in trials and tribulations is a very significant part of our testimony.

James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

The old adage “it’s hard to see the forest for the trees” is applicable to the teaching of James, it’s stated very plainly, yet most often in the moment of trials we don’t want to see what God is doing in our lives because we are in pain at that moment.

We don’t consider it a gift when someone we love is sick or we wonder why God would allow this to happen…  What if you are subject to rebuke or church discipline?  Do you really consider God is treating you as a son or daughter?

If life or our circumstance is not as “we think it should be” the natural tendency is to be upset and angry.  Maybe we won’t say we are angry at God, but the fact is we are exhibiting nothing but discontent.

And discontent is sin!  (1 Timothy 6:6-9, Philippians 4:6, Matthew 6:25-34)

The opportunity to glorify God in a time or season of trial is a gift from God.  Believer, do you believe this?  I know we will agree to this when life is going well.  But do you really believe it when you are facing a trial?

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Let us examine ourselves today.  Do you count it all joy?  Why not, if not?  I hope this is very succinct because I don’t see this as a complicated subject, yet how many that name the name of Christ despise His goodness?

James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

NOTHING!

When Believers and I include myself in this conversation, do not consider trials pure joy we despise the good gift that God has given us.  We have our own idea of an outcome and have no desire to allow God, through patience, to work His perfect work in our lives.

Call it what you want, discontent, frustration, anger, circumstance…  Or call it what it is; distrust in God’s goodness.

I’m thankful for the trial that has recently come into my life, with our daughter Anna.  It has given me an incredible opportunity to learn patience and leadership as I guide my family and my wife through a tough time.  I’m being grown up, so that I can minister to others.  I can’t lead without having been there myself and although in the grand scheme of life’s trials, this is small in comparison.  Each good and perfect gift prepares us for bigger things.

Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 

Let’s consider the purpose of a trial, for some it may lead to repentance, for some condemnation.

How will you respond?  This might show your condition before God.

Kevin