Delighting to Come Through – Jeremiah 32:40-41

“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them.
And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness,
with all my heart and all my soul.”

Jeremiah 32:40-41

A devotion I read this morning, drawing from Joshua 10:9-15, focused on the phrase “But God.” A situation appears impossible, but God intervenes. Things look hopeless, but God steps in.

This focus is very applicable for me in more than one current circumstance, so I want to spend a few moments settling its truth into my heart.

“But God.”

This is how our God loves to write stories. We can see that throughout Scripture. So many accounts of a situation that looked entirely impossible, an enemy that was so much bigger or more powerful, but God’s people turn to Him and He comes through and defeats the enemy without question. This, of course, includes His salvation of us. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1-5).

Both in our salvation and in countless circumstances as we follow Him in faith and obedience, our God loves to write our stories in such a way that His work and faithfulness are obvious. Shining the light of His glory as He comes through powerfully for His people, for this one beloved child whom He has declared is His. As He delights to come through for them.

A devotion by John Piper yesterday (found here) touched on this. That our God is not begrudging in His provision and care for His people. He delights in this.

We can see that truth conveyed in God’s words in Jeremiah 32:41:
“I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”

Our God rejoices in doing us good. We can trust Him here, even if “here” looks overwhelming or dark or impossible. We can trust Him, because He is the God who sees us, the God who hears us, the God who has made us His own and has committed Himself to our salvation and deliverance and care. We can rest, knowing our God will come through, in power and glory and love and perfection. We will see His goodness and our spiritual enemies will know His unceasing love for us, because He will not fail. We know all of this because He has promised it.

What it will look like, how our stories will each play out to showcase His faithfulness, we don’t know yet. But we will not be ashamed, because the Lord is our God and He is victorious and faithful. He will be glorified and we will be made more like Christ, bringing us fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore at His right hand.

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Anguish and Joy – Isaiah 53:11

“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:11

This is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. Capturing so powerfully Jesus’ perspective of His sacrifice on the cross. I’m sure I have written on it before, but its impact on me is renewed each time I read it, reflecting on the love of our Savior and the love of God the Father to send Jesus for our salvation, knowing all it would require.

As Isaiah 53:5 says, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, our offenses against the law established by the sovereign God of the universe. He was crushed for our iniquities, our immoral and wicked behavior. Jesus took the chastisement, the punishment due for the choices we made, to bring us peace with God. And with His stripes – a picture that brings me to the severe lashes on His back from His scourging – we are healed, every crevice of our heart, to the very depths of our soul.

Jesus endured all of this. Sorrow upon sorrow, abandoned by those closest to Him, mocked and scorned by crowds. Unimaginable physical pain. The darkness and heavy weight of all sin, laid on this One who is light. An agonizing break in relationship as Jesus took our place on the cross as forsaken, willingly taking the wrath of Holy God for us and experiencing for the first time in all eternity a separation from God the Father.

But out of this, through the anguish of His soul – the soul of the beautiful, perfect, infinite and holy Son and Word of God – He sees and is satisfied.

Because through this knowledge of grief and pain, Jesus makes many to be regarded as righteous. All who believe in Him, who previously had no hope of righteousness because unrighteousness filled our souls. Jesus fully and successfully bore our iniquities, that we would bear them no longer and be set free from sin. He is satisfied because He can silence our accuser, remove our filthy rags stained with our sin, and personally adorn us with pure vestments (Zechariah 3:1-4).

Ever our intercessor and good shepherd. Caring for each of His own and not losing one of them (John 10:28).

Ensuring, through the perfect fullness of His sacrifice, that no condemnation or accusation can touch us, because we are His. Sealed with His Spirit who lives and works within us, whose presence is revealed and affirmed by the evident renewal of our minds and hearts as we become more and more like Christ, day by day, until we stand blameless before the throne of His glory as He presents us to Himself with great joy. To the praise of His glorious grace.

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died
– more than that, who was raised –
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Romans 8:33-34

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Jude 24-25

Provision for Every Promise – Genesis 22:13-14

“And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked,
and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns.
And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The LORD will provide’;
as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Genesis 22:13-14

Our church is going through an Easter devotional together in these weeks leading up to the celebration. Today focused on the foreshadowing in this passage, pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus, the substitution that offers us salvation from the death to which our sin leads. The devotion ends with this prayer: “Lord, what You promise You are faithful to provide. Like Abraham, I wait in faith, believing You to do ‘exceeding abundantly above all’ I might ask or think.”

It is the words of this prayer I want to spend a few moments dwelling on.

What the Lord promises, He is faithful to provide, to do.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see promises of a coming Savior, a Deliverer. Not only for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to all the ends of the earth. In Isaiah 45:22, we read the words of God, calling out, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” God is calling out, promising salvation to all who will turn to Him. In John 6:40, we hear from Jesus more clearly how this is accomplished: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The Lord promises salvation to all who look to Him, to all who look on Jesus the Son who was lifted up on the cross, enduring the wrath and death that were our due, and who was then raised to life in victory. All who look to Him, turning from their sin and believing He is enough to save, are promised new, abundant, eternal life. The Lord promised it, and He was faithful to provide. He promises it now, and is faithful to give salvation to all who look to Him in faith and surrender. It is through the fulfillment of this promise that we are able to take hold of all others.

In Isaiah 45:19, the Lord says, “I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.” In this, we see a promise of truth spoken, of right declared. A promise that our Lord can be trusted in what He says, that He will not lead us astray or speak wrongly. And when we seek Him, it is not in vain. There are times He seems silent and we have difficulty sensing His presence or seeing His hand in our circumstances, but He does not leave us and He will not remain hidden or silent forever (Job 23:8-10). We keep seeking, and He remains faithful and constant in it all.

In John 10, Jesus reveals Himself as our Good Shepherd who calls to us, leading us each by name (John 10:3). Promising that He knows us (John 10:14) and that, as His own, we can recognize the voice of our Shepherd (John 10:27).

Our Lord is faithful to provide salvation.

He is faithful to provide truth and light.

He is faithful to be found by those who truly seek Him.

He is faithful to call us and guide us clearly in relationship.

My thoughts are drawn to another promise, another provision, that I think we often neglect to realize – myself included. Perhaps because it seems impossible to truly take hold of and experience.

As the Lord has provided salvation, freeing us from the captivity and darkness and eternal death of sin – a provision at great cost to Him – so He also promises and provides all that is needed to walk in this freedom fully.

Because His Spirit is here, inside me. Inside each one who has chosen to turn to Christ.

A Spirit of love, and power, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

Love to eradicate fear, because God’s seal is upon us, declaring us His forever so that we know we will not be lost from His grasp (1 John 4:18; John 10:28-29). A wonderful, hope-filled promise. How often, though, do we stop there? Recognizing the Spirit of God within us as a seal and a comforting, steadfast presence, then continuing on with life mostly in our own strength? Saying to ourselves we’re “only human” and “not perfect” and accepting our sins as just what happens here on earth and, while there might be some measure of felt guilt, not really thinking they’re all that bad?

Do we really comprehend the Spirit of God within us and what that power, the power of Almighty God that raised Jesus from the dead, can mean for our daily lives?

Yes, we are still a work in progress. A work that will ultimately be complete when we stand before the throne of the God who has made us holy and blameless. That work is not yet finished; our brokenness and weakness still show themselves.

But let us not just accept this of ourselves – let us fight! Because we are not just “ourselves” anymore; we have the Spirit of God Himself within us, actively at work to perfect our character, convict us to turn us fully away from sin, and provide us ways of escape from temptation!

O believer, may we each take hold of the power within us that is God’s Spirit and strive toward that goal of becoming like Christ with everything we have. Employing that Spirit of self-control to make our thoughts, our actions, the inclinations of our heart obedient to Christ, because we are His, bought with a very high price, and He gives us the strength and ability to do so.

If we really believe Jesus came to bring salvation, freedom, and abundant life, let us pursue that freedom wholeheartedly and determine to walk in His abundant life throughout our days. Because that is where joy and peace are found most fully: abiding in Him, in His presence, knowing the power of His Spirit as we are made more and more like Christ, as we experience Him working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure (John 15:9-11; Philippians 2:12-13).

He has promised to give us everything we need for this, and what He promises, He is faithful to provide.

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
2 Peter 1:1-10

Different – Jeremiah 11:4

“…Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you.
So shall you be my people, and I will be your God”

Jeremiah 11:4b

I am the Lord’s. As His, my life is to look different. Very different from the world.

It looks different because I listen to Him. I don’t just go along on my own or neglect to take time to listen to Him and study His Word, opening myself up to His guidance, correction, and assurances.

It looks different because I obey. Decidedly. All of it. Not just those things I can wrap my mind around. Not just what feels convenient in the moment or my situation. Not just what has minimal consequences or difficulties. I obey because I am His and because He is my God. Nothing else above Him. This includes my pride or my sense of understanding.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

As one who is the Lord’s, this obedience goes beyond personal acts of right living. I am called to proclaim His excellencies as one brought into marvelous light, one who experiences true belonging and mercy as I am lovingly set apart and joined to this God of light who makes us whole. This purpose of proclamation extends outside of ourselves to draw others to this light. To share what our God has done so others can know this relationship.

Because being among His people is not just about ownership, though He has placed His seal on those who have surrendered their lives to Christ and taken refuge in His salvation. It is much more than that. It is about relationship.

I am one of His people, and He is my God.

Surrender is difficult and can stir fear of the unknown, but what amazing faithfulness we find in our God. The God who rules all things and is able to orchestrate all the details, determining the end from the beginning. The God who will see His purposes fulfilled. The God who does not fail those who look to Him, wait for Him, and obediently follow His guidance and His commands. Our God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and He will not fail or forget His own. There is freedom here, knowing as we walk in His ways and look to Him at all times, He will take care of us.

If you are His, I pray you will sense the peace and hope in this. As we listen for Him, trust Him, and obey Him, we find Him ever-faithful. We are His people, holy and set apart, and He is our God, faithful and true.

“This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 18:30

Impacts Beyond Ourselves – 1 Samuel 15:17

“And Samuel said,
‘Though you are little in your own eyes,
are you not head of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you a king over Israel.’”

1 Samuel 15:17

My decisions impact much more than just me. I am not near the kind of office Saul held as king of Israel, but my actions and responses, my obedience and disobedience whether outwardly demonstrated or held in my heart – the impact of all of it extends far beyond myself.

Like with marriage. I have been reading through This Momentary Marriage by John Piper, which emphasizes God’s role in marriage, His design of what it is to look like, and the purpose of it all. Marriage holds the responsibility to reflect the covenant relationship of Christ and His beloved church. It is a picture of the gospel. Piper stresses that this responsibility must not be taken lightly and is about so much more than the individuals or the couple themselves. Because it is meant to show the glory and hope of the gospel of Christ to the world.

My obedience elsewhere, in every facet of life, must not be taken lightly either. Obedience in contentment, in joy, in faith, in forgiveness, in purity. Obedience in only speaking with grace to benefit the hearer. Obedience in service and ministry, stepping willingly and gladly into the roles God brings us to, even if they look intimidating. Obedience to speak the truth in love, checking motives to be certain we speak with pure love and kindness. Not shying from voicing Christ, His truth, and the hope given to us, but offering the words as hope, not condemnation. Christ died out of love for sinners. The Lord’s heart breaks for those lost in darkness, as it broke for us before we believed and were saved by His grace. May our hearts break as well and seek to show and speak the hope of Christ with His love, compassion, and strength.

We are light in this world. We must walk as children of light; that is what we are (Ephesians 5:8). Not just because walking in light keeps us in fellowship with the God who makes us whole, but because our walking in light affects all around us. Our family, friends, and acquaintances as well as those we don’t see. The other drivers on the interstate. Those who see our posts or comments on social media. People around us in stores, restaurants, or parking lots.

We are light. We must live intentionally here, in our homes and our workplaces and our schools and wherever our days take us, because oh how this matters! Stirring up other believers to love and good works. Bringing perhaps the first glimpse of hope someone has seen in a long time. Filling our role in the body of Christ, knowing each part matters and is needed for the whole body to hold together and build itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).

We matter. You matter. There are purposes set out for you by the God who made you. Your faith and joyful obedience impact those around you. You might not see it, but those effects ripple out – as do the effects of disobedience.

Though you may be little in your own eyes, are you not woven together by the Living God who has written your days and brought you to new life in Christ for the good works He has prepared for you (Psalm 139:15-16; Ephesians 2:10)?

This God thinks of you. He sees you. He strengthens and equips you. He loves you. He calls you to Himself, having brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Walk as His beloved, set apart, chosen child of light in the ways and purposes He has designed (Colossians 3:12). They are beautiful, life-giving to you and those around you, and will show His magnificent glory to all.

Greater Joy – Psalm 4:6-7

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!’
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

Psalm 4:6-7

This morning I am contemplating our joy. The joy poured into the hearts of those who look to and follow the Lord. Joy far greater than the happiness others experience when material blessings and prosperity abound and when everything seems to just fall in place. The joy we receive from the Lord is greater than that.

As we bring our attention to this greater joy, my personal prayer is that the Lord will speak truth to me that my joy in Him can be full regardless of how circumstances play out. That however long difficulties or uncertainties remain, the basis of my joy is not in how or when these things resolve. It is based solely in Him. So I need not despair. All I need for joy is Christ. And I always have Him. And He is the same in every moment, ready to pour in fullness of joy as I abide in Him.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in me…If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept the Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
John 15:4, 10-11

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16:11

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”
Psalm 63:5-7

We tend to live surrounded by lies that other things will satisfy and bring joy. That if we don’t have a certain career or relationship or new technology or house, if our lives or family don’t look a certain way, if we aren’t having certain types of “fun” or experiences, we will miss out on something that would make our lives so much better.

Sometimes these things are inherently sinful. Sometimes they aren’t bad in themselves, but they become our focus and we lose sight of how the Lord is working in our lives and the good He has in store – whatever that looks like. We lose sight of the Lord Himself. When our eyes become fixed on those other things and they become our pursuit, that is when we miss out. Because we’re missing out, right now, on the fullness of joy and the richness of satisfaction Jesus wants to spring up in our hearts.

Fullness of joy is found in His presence. His joy is experienced within us when we are abiding in Him, obeying His commands and abiding in His love. Living in Him, pressing into Him, and shedding the old life and the old lies that broke our relationship and turned us away from Him.

Our soul is satisfied as with fat and rich food as we intentionally focus our attention on the only One who will satisfy us to our very core. This satisfaction does not only come when things are going as we like. The man who wrote Psalm 63 was in the wilderness. Singing for joy in the shadow of the wings of his Lord, in whom he had taken refuge. Because our joy is found in relationship and the experienced steadfastness of our God who is with us and who upholds us always.

I pray this stirs hope in you this morning, and challenge if it is needed, that our joy and satisfaction come abounding from our relationship with Christ, with the God who reigns over all. That as we abide in Him, obey His commands, and choose to fix our attention on Him, we will experience the fullest joy, joy so abundant that the happiness others seek or feel in the gaining of all this world can offer cannot compare to the fullness of our joy and the richness of our satisfaction in Christ. Make Him your pursuit, the treasure you seek in your days far above anything else. He is very, very worth it.

Personal Grace – Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion–
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

Oaks of righteousness. A picture of such strength and steadfastness, of holiness reflecting the character and beauty of the Lord…a picture that could stir thoughts of those perceived “heroes of the faith” and a sense that such a position is reserved for a select few. Those who are capable of a different level of strength or who have a different story.

But what strikes me this morning is where the individuals in this passage come from. These oaks of righteousness are the poor and afflicted. The brokenhearted. The captives. Those who have been bound. Those whose mourning had them in ashes, whose spirit grew faint.

This is where they were. These are those whom our God transforms. A planting of the Lord. Requiring His personal involvement. Because this is a very personal grace, meeting us in our weakest, most desperate, most painful state.

Personal grace that speaks good news – good news of hope from our Savior, spoken to the one whose hope has been lost. Personal grace that binds up a heart wounded and shattered. Personal grace that proclaims to the individual captive, “I have come to set you free!” and opens the prison in which one is bound. Personal grace that comforts the one in mourning, exchanging ashes for beautiful adornments, anointing with gladness perhaps thought lost forever, wrapping in praise that strengthens.

This very personal grace of our Lord meets you where you are. To plant you firmly in Him, running the roots down deep. That you may become known as an oak of righteousness.

He takes the broken, the captive, the weak, and pours out personal, powerful grace to make each one an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Because He has done it. He picks up the one and brings healing, hope, freedom, comfort, strength, praise.

Beautiful, personal grace. Planting us in Christ as oaks of righteousness and growing us up in strength and holiness to bring Him great glory and praise.

“The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name,
that the mouth of the LORD will give.”

Isaiah 62:2

“I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.”

Psalm 40:1-3