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).

Love is Blind

love-is-blindThe English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) wrote that love is blind. The idea is that truth is often distorted as we gaze through rose-colored glasses at the ones we care most about. That distorted view makes us feel good about ourselves, but it is dangerous to everyone involved. Overlooking sin and wrongdoing is never beneficial.

King David’s son stole the throne of Israel and caused David to flee for his life. Yet on the run, David’s greatest concern was always for the welfare of his favorite son. He couldn’t see the situation for what it really was. He refused to see Absalom for who he was and what he’d done. His rebellion was more than against father and the nation; it was open rebellion against God.

As Israel’s army marched to protect God’s chosen king, David commanded his soldiers, Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom (2 Samuel 18:5). David’s concern for his rebellious son influenced his actions. Despite all Absalom did, David loved his son and hoped for reconciliation as if his son’s actions were nothing but a simple misunderstanding. His love as a parent kept him from reality as the king.

Man is a sinner and needs a Saviour. We are ever forgetting how wicked our sin is. We don’t understand that all the love and hugs and warm feelings in the universe cannot fix man’s sin problem. The Bible says that there must be a payment in blood for sin (Hebrews 9:22). Sin is a death sentence demanding full satisfaction (Romans 6:23).

God’s love for you is not blind. The Father didn’t ignore your sin because of His love; instead His love brought Him to send Jesus to die in your place (John 3:16-17). The innocent Jesus took upon Himself the guilt of your sin-debt. WHen Jesus died on the cross, justice was served so that love could reign.

The new birth is the only saving possibility for the sinner, and for new life to come, Jesus died.

50 Shades of Gray

50-shades-of-greyWhen the Jewish leaders brought the King of the Jews before the Roman governor, they demanded He be given the death penalty. Jesus was guilty in the minds of the Jewish leaders of declaring Himself to be God, but what would Pontius Pilate decide?

The Gospel accounts say that Jesus refused to defend Himself against His accusers. This left the Roman governor confused about Jesus and what to do next since he found no fault in Him at all (John 18:38). But the protesting crowd outside the courthouse was moving from anger to violence.

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that an uproar was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (Matthew 27:24). Stirred by fear of the crowds (John 19:8), Pilate compromised truth with what worked for him politically and Jesus was led away to be crucified.

I’m been amazed at how many people calling themselves Christians are willing to act like Pilate. They will compromise truth for fifty shades of gray. They will accept one shade of evil while condemning another shade of the same evil.

As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we are to walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret (Ephesians 5:8-12).

Whether in your workplace or at the ballot box, in your finances or in the privacy of your own bedroom, let us shine the light of Christ rather than throw shade in an already compromised world.

God’s Answer for an Evil Nation

Revival 10.1.15Like many of us, the ancient prophet Habakkuk questioned what seemed to be God’s inactivity. Like him, we want to see God act against the evil around us.

God was fully aware of the sins of the people of Judah. They were materialistic and violent. The government was unjust and politicians were corrupt. God not only knew what was going on, He was preparing an answer, but it was an answer Habakkuk didn’t want to hear:

Look among the nations and watch – but utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you (Habakkuk 1:5). Wowzers! God was preparing something truly amazing. “Revival!” must have been the prophet’s first thought. But there would be no revival, instead God was raising up the Chaldeans to destroy the nation of Judah (Habakkuk 1:6).

Habakkuk had been eager for God to act, but then didn’t like God’s plan.

God must judge sin. Look at the nations of history. Only one nation has stood the test of time, and that’s Israel. All others have risen and fallen and eventually disappeared. That’s the destiny of the Hittites, the Babylonians, the Magyars, and will be of the United States.

Rather than asking God to change His unchangeable mind, Habakkuk reaffirmed his trust in God and His perfect ways. Rather than call for a tent meeting revival at the state capital for prayer and music, the prophet trusted God in His righteous judgment and wrath upon an evil nation (Habakkuk 3:16-18).

O Lord, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2).

Opposing Evil – not Voting for It

BonhoefferIn 1933 and the rise of the German Chancellor Adolph Hitler, the German Evangelical Church was consumed by the Nazi government. Church leaders surrendered their authority over spiritual affairs and accepted the demands of Nazi leaders. No longer was the Church of Jesus Christ an independent voice for morality and good, but was coerced into silence and control by the federal government. Most German Christians either voted for Hitler as the lesser of two evils or sat idly by and allowed the government to act without opposition. While the handicapped and Jews were being gassed, German pulpits were silent except in their praise of Hitler. German Christians buried their heads in the sand.

A young pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer refused to back down in his opposition to Hitler and the government. By radio, Bonhoeffer warned the German people that they were making Hitler into a god and that the church had become a cult of idolatry used by Nazi politicians. Just then the radio transmission was cut. Two months later Bonhoeffer declared that the church had a responsibility not only to help those crushed by the government, “but to fall into the spokes of the wheel itself.

A small cadre of pastors began what was called the Confessing Church, a group opposed to Hitler, his socialism, and stood in support of the Jews. These pastors insisted that Christ Jesus and the Bible alone could dictate the conscience of a Christian and the role of the church in society. Secular government nor any political leader ruled over Christ’s Church.

Refusing to compromise the Gospel, Bonhoeffer and a few others openly resisted the government. Soon churches, schools, and charities that refused to cooperate with the government were closed by force. Pastors were banned by court order from preaching in public. Bonhoeffer secretly traveled Germany, teaching the Bible, preaching against Hitler and socialism, and advocated on behalf of the Jewish people. He also participated in several failed attempts to assassinate Hitler.

Pastor Bonhoeffer was eventually captured, imprisoned, tried and convicted of crimes against the state. On Sunday, April 8, 1945, from inside a concentration camp, he preached his last sermon, from Isaiah 53:5, by His stripes we are healed. Upon finishing, he was taken and hanged, only days before Allied Forces liberated the concentration camp.

The blood of martyrs might once again be demanded, but this blood, if we really have the courage and loyalty to shed it, will not be innocent, shining like that of the first witnesses for the faith. On our blood lies heavy guilt, the guilt of the unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness.  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Free Hugs

Love and Free Hugs

The man walked down the street offering “free” hugs with the promise of creating world peace. He also said that the government must forcefully take the wealth of others to satisfy the greed of those who have less.

If these juvenile beliefs were true, we could abolish the police and the military and create “Hug Squads.” No need for courts or jails, UN peacekeepers or human rights tribunals. No locked doors, secret PIN numbers on your debit card, self-defense classes or pepper spray. Folks, just hug the mugger, the thief, the murderer and rapist into stopping his behavior.

This love-and-hug philosophy is nothing but the foolish rejection of basic Bible doctrines concerning sin, human depravity, judgment, God’s holiness, and the need of redemption in Christ Jesus.

Imagine that God could have withheld His judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality by sending hug and love squads. The final judgment could be avoided by God simply hugging evildoers into Heaven. Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross when hugs are the real solution.

The Bible is a revelation of God’s holiness and man’s utter contempt for himself, for others, and for God. A society which rejects God and the Bible has nowhere else to go but to idiotic philosophies and satanic deceptions to divert themselves from God’s truth.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD (Jeremiah 17:9-10, 7).

Being Less Evil

3197b6f7004cb4bf8021b31bf6dbc9fcOur return flight from Kenya left us with an 18-hour layover in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Unwilling to sit in the Schiphol Airport and then another 11 hours on the plane back to Oregon, we ventured into the city.

We boarded the crowded train into the heart of old Amsterdam. We transferred to another train and easily found a group of open seats for the three of us in a sectioned off area. The train started up and as I looked around noticed a sign that we were in the first class car. I  imagined being caught by the transit police for riding first class with general class tickets.

I told my wife our problem and that we needed to move to the standing room only second class car at the next stop. A man beside us said, “Who cares? Just say that you’re Americans and didn’t know.” But we did know.

We all want the bad guy to be punished. It’s what he deserves. Evil is evil, whatever the measure; but that also means that my evil is just as bad as the evil of the guy sitting next to me. If he gets punished, I must be punished also.

Hell is the eternal place where God will forever punish each one who has done anything evil.

Hell isn’t avoided by being less evil than someone else; it’s avoided because Someone else took the guilt of your evil and was punished in your place. That Someone was Jesus when He died on the cross.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:14-15).

Remembering You?

Remembering YouNo one wants to be forgotten.

The older I get, the more people I’ve known die. Over time, the memories of these people begin to get hazy. I’ll probably always remember their names and quirky or beloved attributes, but before long details slowly fade until all that is left is what you see in a photograph.

My son will always remember me, but in ever disappearing details.

Isaiah 53:8 has an interesting line regarding the Jewish Messiah. After writing of the Messiah’s death as a substitute for the sins of humanity, the prophet Isaiah asked the question: And who will declare His generation? When the Messiah died as a sacrifice, who would remember Him?

Obviously we remember Him because Jesus was more than a mere man. He is God in human flesh, the Lord of Life and the Soon Coming King. But what about you? What about me? If you passed into eternity tonight, who would remember you? And how long would that memory last?

First, God will never forget you. Since He has each of the hairs on your head numbered (Matthew 10:30), be assured that He remembers you.

Second, everything here on planet earth eventually succumbs to moths or rust or robbers. The only thing you can really leave behind is the testimony of a life lived honoring God and serving others. Soon, your name will be forgotten. The things you said will disappear. The things you’ve accomplished or built will rot away.

Begin today, living the life that you’ve always wanted to live. Live it right. Live it with purpose. Live with eternity in view.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).