Before I get to the foundational text of this devotion, I want you to click on the link to listen to my friend Lane Wood singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Pay particular attention to the third stanza that begins with, “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth…” Great is Thy Faithfulness
Ps. 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Delight – what mental picture does that word elicit? This is important because it is a command that ends with a promise. God says if we delight in him (our responsibility) he will provide the true satisfaction our hearts crave (his responsibility). But how we understand “delight” and “desires” will determine whether we experience this cosmic promise or not.
I think we generally start at the end and work our way back. We think we understand our “desires”, which if obtained, move us to “delight” in God. But that’s backwards and will always result in emptiness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, maybe bewilderment and anger. We ask why would God keep a good gift from me? I desire: a family that honors Jesus, enough financial stability to give generously, health so that I can do ministry, an end to the pandemic so I can get back to doing what I want to do, and I desire ___ (fill in the blank). If we are honest, we will find we are defining our desires. They may sound heavenly, but they contain a whole lot of earth.
We are in a time when God is stripping away the good so we will understand the best. He is showing us that our desires have not been for him. We have redefined what it means to be a follower of Jesus with things, lists of do’s and don’ts, and action points. It’s exhausting and ultimately empty because we have missed the entire point of our existence. Jesus. I love how one writer puts it:
He [Jesus] does not let us get into a habit of obedience-by-memory that does not engage the spirit. There is a great mercy in that. He is a God of relationship, and He only allows us to relate to Him. We cannot memorize Him, we cannot learn His principles apart from His person, and we cannot substitute His Law in place of His Spirit. He desires to be known, and while His past deeds help us know who He is, His present direction can only be found in a vital relationship with His person. – Chris Tiegreen
Last week I talked with a friend who is very successful in his business, but the current situation has literally stopped his work. Responsibilities and revenue dried up almost instantly. Yet in the middle of this chaos, he is rediscovering his first love, Jesus, and that love is being seen and experienced by his wife and children. The change has been so noticeable that they’ve commented on it. Don’t get me wrong, he was a solid husband and father before all of this occurred. However, with everything stripped away, he is finding his true delight in Christ. This is opening doors for his true desires to emerge, resulting in deeper relationships with his family. Going back to one of my initial statements, we get it backwards. Family is good, but if you want the best, make knowing and loving Jesus the priority. As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth you will get neither.”
Great is thy faithfulness – that statement has no qualifier attached to it. It does not say great is thy faithfulness if the economy roars back or if health is restored or if America remains a superpower or if the dollar stays strong. No, the truth is simply this – great is the faithfulness of our kind King who provides strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Amen and amen. Joel Mc