God is Good All the Time

god-is-good-all-the-timeYou are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes (Psalm 119:68).

What does it mean that “God is good?”

 

When you say, “Oh Billy, you’re sure a good boy,” we mean that Billy has done something that pleases you. But is that what the Bible means when it says God is good? Does it mean that God does things to satisfy and please us? Are we the ones who decide God’s goodness?

Think back to the first page of the Book of Genesis. Before man was made, God looked at the creation of His hand and declared it to be good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and very good (Genesis 1:31).

A good tree produces good fruit (Matthew 7:17). Any goodness that may exist in anything is there only because it was created by a God of goodness. What He does is good because He is good. His goodness wasn’t created or decreed, it is the very nature of His eternal character.

God’s goodness means that everything that comes to His child, is good. Some people think that bad things come because Satan is in control. My friend, the God of the Bible bows to no one, and as His child, Satan has no authority over you. Those things that seem “bad” in your day are just another method of God working an unrecognized goodness in you life (Rom 8:28). It grows your faith in Him and draws you closer to Him.

God’s goodness means that there is no deficiency, fault, or more that can be done to improve upon Him or His acts. It means that all He does is perfect, so that even His judgment of sin is good!

God’s goodness means that even His wrath against sin is a revelation of His goodness. If He didn’t provide a consequence to those who are either ignorant of His will, or who purposely rebel against His will, God would not only be unjust, but He would be promoting evil. That’s why we read in Hebrews 12 that even the discipline He gives His children is a sign of His love and goodness.

God’s goodness means that while our perceptions of His works may be weak, flawed and sinful, He is not. The Lord is good (Nahum 1:7).

 

Angry Humanists

angry-humanists-jpetA friend posted a passage of Scripture on his Facebook page. It was Joshua’s call to the Israelites to choose whether they would serve the God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt or serve the gods of their own making.

The response to this man’s posting of Scripture was fascinating.

First, this tolerant crowd replied with anger. Their words harsh, judgmental, demeaning, and condemning. There was no dialog with others or joy in being asked whom they would serve.

Second, the commenters relied upon their own personal sense of morality to dictate their actions. Surprisingly, they all believed their actions were good; praising and validating their own self-righteousness.

Third, these angry humanists dismissed the idea of a God who judges sin and that He should judge them. They had each chosen their own god, and that god looked just like them.

The God of the Bible offers mercy and love to those who abandon self to trust in Jesus alone:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through HIm might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (John 3:16-20).

The Worst Blindness

the-worst-blindnessSearch me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

I didn’t see it coming until it smashed against my face, knocked my glasses from my head, and laid me out on the gymnasium floor. When I realized what happened, the ball had been caught and I was surrounded by a group of other kids and the teacher who had thrown the red rubber ball. I loved playing kick ball, but Coach Johnson made a different impression on me that day!

I hopped up off the ground, put on my glasses someone handed me, and through watering eyes pronounced myself good to go. I was a tough wimp and didn’t want anyone in junior high school to think otherwise.

Coach put his hand on my shoulder and said he didn’t see me standing three feet to his left.

The worst blindness is that which we have toward ourselves. It’s quite easy to see the problems in other people because we’re inspecting those people all day long. Times of personal introspection are few and far between.

Jesus asked, Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me  remove the speck out of your eye”, and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

The Hometown Hero

The batter stood and walked to the plate.  He grasped the bat tightly in his hands and waited for the pitch. The moment came, he swung, and hit the ball right out of the park once again. Another run and another game won for the home team!

Yet it was the same response all his years in his small hometown. The crowd from beginning to end was mostly silent. People got up for drinks of water, shuffled between seats, and there was even conversation. Few cheers, slaps on the back, high-fives, or simple “thanks” were given, just stares of disinterest, yawns of boredom, and eyes of distance as the batter approached the plate. Many season ticket holders didn’t even show up.

Did the crowd in the stands appreciate his effort and the lonely hours of preparation and practice? Did they acknowledge him throwing his all into his work? Were they aware of his discouragement, his stress, and personal pain? The many questions of fault and failure that ran the bases of his mind. Did they even care?

A fan said to the media, “He gets paid. What more does he want?” Another said to his face, “We don’t want you to get a big head.”

If you were that batter, game after game, how would you feel? What would you do? Yet every Sunday, this is what many pastors see, hear, and feel from the pulpit. We thank the postman, the drycleaner and the waitress who serves our meal; when was the last time you thanked your pastor?

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).

The Sanctity of the Unborn Baby

abortionThere are 233 countries and protectorates in the world. Of these countries, 210 have a population less than 60 million people. This is significant, because since 1973, more than 60 million babies have been aborted in the United States.

Let’s put it another way: More American babies have been murdered in the past 43 years than people who inhabit 210 countries of the world!

Many people do not understand that when abortion was legalized in the US in January of 1973, it became legal to get an abortion until the moment of birth.

Those with even a passing knowledge of the Bible are aware of what God says about the sanctity of human life in the womb (Exodus 21:22-25; Job 10:8-12; 31:15; Psalm 22:10; 127:3-5; 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:2; 49:1, 5; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Luke 1:15, 41; Galatians 1:15). Yet, there is a full disconnect in the minds of Americans who claim to be Christians.

Many people rightly decry the wicked and evil actions of Hitler and Stalin for their murder of Jews, homosexuals, and the handicapped, yet voted for candidates willing to do much worse by preying and profiting off the most helpless in society, the unborn. They had no difficulty voting for candidates who advance abortion rights and the illegal sale of the dismembered baby body parts for profit.

The only conclusion is that these voters are either woefully ignorant of what God says about an unborn baby or are wilfully rebellious toward Him.

Yes, God will judge us on how we vote; how we vote is an extension of our belief system. The protection of life created originally in God’s image must be an utmost priority of the Christian voter.

The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His, ” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19).

In a four weeks, people around the world will celebrate the birth of a Babe in Bethlehem. As Christians we must be careful to reflect our faith and our Father’s heart in all we do – including how we vote.

The Gospel of Jesus

JesusIt is significant is that it’s not Christ’s teachings, His goodness, His miracles, His stories, nor even His life which is despised. The unsaved mind has no argument with any of these. What they find appalling is the gospel message that Jesus alone is the Saviour of the sinner.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) is found in acknowledging one’s inability to save himself, and trusting exclusively in the work of Jesus who died and was raised from the dead on the sinner’s behalf. This is the Jesus rejected by the world.

I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1, 2, 3, 4).

The Look of Love

what-love-looks-likeIn Mrs Rogers’ second grade class, Cassie wrote on her folder: “Brent loves Cassie.” I must have made some kind of comment because Cassie snorted at me, “You don’t even know what real love is.” She was right. If I could find Cassie today, she’d admit that when she was 7 years old, she didn’t know either.

So what is love?

It’s not necessarily what we see in a television sex scene or Hollywood movie. It’s not necessarily what we witnessed between our parents as we were growing up. It’s not necessarily the lyrics of a country music song about a beer, a barn, and a broad. Love isn’t necessarily imprinted on a pastel colored candy heart or the front of a $6.99 Valentine’s Day card.

We love baseball, apple pie and Mom. We love the USA or we’re told to leave it.  We love our cars, our children, our careers, and chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate! Is this love? Love seems so hard to put a finger on today.

The Bible says husbands are to love your wives, as Christ also loved the church  (Ephesians 5:25).

We are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind  (Matthew 22:37).

We’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself  (Matthew 22:39).

We’re even told to love your enemies  (Matthew 5:44).

We read that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil  (1 Timothy 6:10).

So what does love look like? By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16). The perfect picture of love is found in the sacrificial giving of Jesus’ own life for you and me. It’s not so much a feeling but a choice to put the welfare of the loved one first, no matter the cost or how the one who is loved responds.

And so we read that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). That is love!

Give Thanks to the Lord

thanksgivingSome like the white Christmas with family. Others enjoy the cemeteries, haunted houses, and monsters of Halloween. For me, my favorite holiday is Independence Day.

My hometown, Hillsboro, Oregon, puts on the largest Fourth of July parade west of the mighty Mississippi River.

I’ve attended the parade nearly every year of my 50 years. I’ve seen high school marching bands, politicians shaking hands, senior citizens strumming old washboards, horses in hats, clowns with squirting umbrellas, dogs pulling carts, policemen doing tricks on motorcycles, boy scouts riding bicycles, rodeo and dairy queens, old cars, and war veterans proudly marching alongside the American flag.

I enjoy sitting on the side of the street with my family, scanning the crowds for someone I might know, and watching the children. There’s something close to magical about children and parades.

In recent years, many entrants in the parade have taken to tossing candy to the crowd. Even adults have been known to dash into the street, elbowing five-year olds to get their hands on that mini-roll of Smarties.

The funny thing is that as the parade nears the two hour conclusion, so much candy has been thrown that the crowd begins throwing it back to the parade participants! There is so much candy that we stop appreciating the generous gift.

The solution to ingratitude is to give thanks. In America, we live in a place and a time when we have much, much more than we need or really want. We quickly become ungrateful for our bounty. When we realize how much we really have, and how easily it can be taken away by robbers or tornadoes or our own carelessness, we learn to be grateful.

Society says, “Easy come, easy go.”  I prefer to say, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! (Psalm 106:1).

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

All Grace

Matuu (6)God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work. As it is written, He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness remains forever

(2 Corinthians 9:8-9)

My wife and I were driven high into the hills above the tiny Kenyan village of Matuu to visit a family. Their teenage son had just that morning been released from the hospital after a serious infection.

The family lives as tenant farmers on a sparse plot of land. The small, one room home is set apart from the second building which serves as outhouse, kitchen, and barn. They sold their few chickens and a goat to pay the hospital bill and had no money for antibiotics, pain control, or any other medication.

We sat under a shade tree while the wife prepared two serving pitchers of piping hot white tea in the kitchen. When it was confirmed we would visit, she walked several miles that morning to the market for two loaves of store-made white bread and butter to serve us.

Though the family neither spoke nor understood English, we heard of the boy’s mysterious illness, their faith in Christ and work in the local church, and ended with a song and prayer of thanks.

As we stood to leave, we realized that the family had served us tea and bread and didn’t partake themselves. They had no money to feed themselves, but had fed us while they went hungry.

It’s a false and racist idea that Africans only want Americans as cash cows. This family wanted nothing from us; they gave to us out of their poverty like the woman Jesus commended (Mark 12:44). Their only want was for us to share in their thanks to God for their son’s life.

As Americans, we’re fond of boasting how we’re “not rich.” We compare our wealth by what our friend or neighbor has; really, we ought to be comparing what we have but others don’t.

Do you have ready transportation? A warm, safe place to rest your head? Have you ever travelled outside your hometown? Do you have food in your home for more than one meal? If yes, these things make you rich and most blessed. Give thanks!

Your Value to God

your-worthAnd the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

Scientists tell us that there are 92 naturally occurring elements on the earth. They also tell us that the human body contains 60 of those elements. Elements like gold, arsenic, mercury, uranium, flourine, lead and carbon make up your body. Scientifically, you are not much different than the composition of the dirt stuck in the tread of your shoes.

To add further insult to injury and humility to your sense of self-pride, if the elements of your body could be extracted and sold at current market prices, the value of your whole body is only about $160.

Scientifically and chemically speaking, you’re not valuable; yet you are valuable enough to the Creator that He sent His very own Son to die in your place. Jesus personally took the offenses of your sins against your Creator, and when He died on the cross, He took God’s punishment against your sins upon Himself. Jesus’ death for your sins meant freedom for you.

You are of immense value to God!

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:4-5).