“For GOODNESS Sake!”

Scripture Passage:  Romans 8:28; Matthew 19:16-20

When I was a child, my mom taught me a prayer to say at mealtime, especially at THANKSGIVING.

“God is great, God is GOOD, let us thank Him for our food.  AMEN.”

And as an adult, I remember singing this chorus in the church:

“God is so good, God is so good, God is so good.  He’s so good to me.”

We find the GOODNESS of God as a reoccurring theme in the Scriptures:

God HAS to be good…it’s His very nature to be good.

  • WE RECEIVE PARDON.
  • FORGIVENESS.
  • HE HEARS OUR PRAYERS.
  • WE CAN EXPERIENCE FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM.
  • WE CAN TRUST IN HIM THAT WHATEVER HAPPENS IN OUR LIFE IS BASED ON HIS GOODNESS!

SOMETIMES, we don’t SEE God’s goodness, especially when something BAD happens.

When we experience heartache, a tragedy, a disappointment in our lives…it seems like God isn’t GOD.  Otherwise, why would God allow this to happen to us?

BUT FOR GOODNESS SAKE, EVERYTHING that God does…is good!

When God created the world, He stooped and said, “It is good.”  Part of our problem is that we spend too much of our time complaining about 10 BAD things and not enough time rejoicing over the 1000 GOOD things.

Yes, 9-11 was a tragedy…BUT we could be living in Israel where it happens daily.

Yes, I lost my Mom to Alzheimer’s disease, BUT I enjoyed 65 good years with her.

Yes, I have had heartaches and tragedies and disappointments in my life, BUT my GOOD GOD was there, through it all, to see me through every one of them.

THANK GOODNESS!

God sets the standard for GOODNESS.

How do you determine what is “good” and what isn’t “good”?  What is the standard for “goodness”?

Matthew 19:16-17 – 

The Rich Young Ruler had everything money could buy and he was living the GOOD life.  One day he comes to Jesus and asked him“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus wants to teach him the standard for “good”…(19:17a).  The Rich Young Ruler didn’t know what “good” was.  He thought it consisted of “good things”, “good circumstances”, “good feelings”.  He even thought that being “good” would get him to Heaven (19:17b-20).

Anything that is GOOD comes from God.

If it’s not from God, it isn’t good!  It doesn’t matter how good it looks…how good it feels…how good it tastes…if it doesn’t come from God, it isn’t good.  AND…if it isn’t good, it didn’t come from God.

LIMA BEANS didn’t come from God…BUT chocolate did!  There will be no Lima Beans in Heaven!  Adam & Eve had no Lima Beans in the Garden of Eden…they came after the fall of man…a result of the curse upon the Earth!  LIMA BEANS will be the main course in Hell…HEAVEN will be full of chocolate.  You get the idea.

The truth is (as much as I hate to admit it), that Lima Beans are GOOD for you.  They even teach us a spiritual lesson.

GOODNESS Isn’t Determined by Experience, But by Its Source.

I’ve had a bad experience with Lima Beans growing up.  My parents were determined to get me to eat what was on the table, saying, “Mel, this isn’t a cafeteria.  You’ll eat the Lima Beans on your plate NOW, or have them in the morning cold, for breakfast. Your choice.”  Their strategy must have worked, because who wanted “cold” Lima Beans for breakfast?  BUT that doesn’t determine whether Lima Beans are GOOD or BAD.

Goodness is determined by its source, not by experience.

Chocolate tastes good…it makes me feel good…it makes me smile.  BUT…chocolate isn’t good for me, especially since I’m diabetic.

EXPERIENCE isn’t the set standard for GOODNESS.

James 1:17 (Amplified Bible)

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives light], in [the shining of] Whom there can be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself].”

GOD TURNS BADNESS INTO GOODNESS –

Somebody might say:  “How can God be good when thousands were killed on 9-11.   I can’t believe a good God would allow such a thing to happen.”

Let’s just say you are right…and that God isn’t good…and that He really doesn’t exist.  You have still got thousands of dead people.  Getting rid of God didn’t solve the problem at all!

How do we answer the fact that God is good…yet bad things happen?

ANSWER:  If it isn’t good, then it didn’t have its source in God.

YES, God is sovereign…He’s in control.  God ALLOWS bad things to happen for reasons that we don’t have a clue!  BUT…God didn’t participate in their sin in any way, form or fashion.

“OUR GOD IS GOOD!”

Our problem is, we use the wrong standard for “goodness”…we use OUR standard.  OUR standard is: “Good” is whatever is “good” for me.  We say: “I am the standard for GOOD”.

God says: “I AM the standard for GOOD.”

The proof of “goodness” isn’t in the experience…it’s in the SOURCE.  Nobody likes to get a shot before dental surgery, but it’s good for you at the time.

God’s GOODNESS doesn’t mean that BAD things won’t happen to you.

We live in a bad, evil world.  BUT…because God is GOOD, He can take BAD things, and bring eternal GOOD out of them.  IF…we let Him.

Romans 8:28

We always want to blame somebody for the BAD things that happen to us.

God is always nearby, so we blame Him a lot;   “If there’s a good God in Heaven, how could He let this happen?”  What are we really saying when we blame God?  We are REALLY saying:  ‘Since God didn’t act the way I expected He should…He’s either WRONG, BAD, or DOESN’T EXIST!”  But, you can’t really be mad at a God you don’t believe really exists, can you?

See how foolish this is?  Are you going to believe in God ONLY if He acts like you want Him to?

Are you going to form your opinion of God from how He acts IN RELATION TO how YOU would act if YOU were God?

You’d be better off worshipping yourself…since you’re putting yourself on a higher level than God.  You’re determining what is “good”.  You’re setting the standard for what is “good”.

I say, NO!  GOD sets the standard for “good.”

God is GOOD…ALL THE TIME!

It doesn’t matter what happens to you and I, it could have been WORSE!

Dr. W. T. Watson used to tell this story at Trinity College:

“There was a preacher who, no matter what bad thing you said had happened to you; he had the habit of always saying ‘It could have been worse!’  One day a man in his church decided to put a stop to this and attempted to stump his Pastor at the door after the service.  He told his Pastor, ‘I had a dream last night’, to which the Pastor replied, ‘It could have been worse.’  The man went on, ‘I dreamed I died and went to Hell’, the man stated.  The Pastor replied, ‘it could have been worse.’  He thought he had the Pastor this time.  ‘Pastor, what could be worse than dreaming you died and went to Hell?’  The Pastor replied ‘It could have been true!’  

It doesn’t matter what happens to you…“It could have been worse.”  Praise God that it wasn’t.  [My Connect Church, June 23, 2014 – Romans 8:28]

Try to focus on His GOODNESS to you!

I don’t always know what “good” God has in mind when He allows tragedy, heartache, and disappointments to come into our lives.  I don’t know…BUT…I don’t have to know.  What happens in my life may not be good…it might even be terrible.  Maybe I can’t see any purpose at the time in it at all.

BUT…What does Romans 8:28 say about what I am to “know”?

I may not be able to see how it’s working for good…or feel like it is…or understand how it’s working for good. 

BUT…I am to “know” that it is!

I need to look at it from God’s perspective…not mine.

Don’t ever think that God’s GOODNESS means that bad things won’t ever happen to you.  God is GOOD…BECAUSE…HE takes the BAD things that happen to you…and brings eternal GOOD out of them.

I may never see the “good” that comes out of it…this side of Heaven.  Or…I may.  BUT…I can “know” that God means it for “good”…OR…He would never allow it to happen.

God, the Father, KNOWS What’s Best!

God has one up on us…He’s omniscient!

You and I can only see things in the present tense lens…God sees things with the Eternal View lens.  God has a lot better view from Heaven than I do in Lynden, Washington!  What happens to you and me may not be good…but it IS working together for good.  And I can “KNOW” that…when I put my faith and trust in a “good” God.

Again God is good…all the time!

That’s His nature…He HAS to be good.  God has given us so much more than we deserve.  If we got what we DESERVE in life,, we wouldn’t have driven to work today in our fine automobile (“It could be worse!”).  We wouldn’t have such nice clothing to wear to church (“It could be worse!”).  We could be in the finest hospital, or the finest jail where we live.  We could be lost and bound for an eternity in the Lake if Fire.

We’ve gotten into the habit of saying to ourselves:  “THIS is good!”  A job promotion, a pay-raise. a gift, a pleasure in life, CHOCOLATE!  We should develope the habit…whenever something GOOD happens to us…instead of saying “This is good!” “For GOODNESS sake, God is so good!”

How can we make God’s GOODNESS…REAL in our lives?

  • Don’t judge God by your standard of “goodness.”
  • Don’t judge God by whether He does what you want Him to do.
  • Don’t judge God by how you would run the universe if you were God.

God says:  “When you start creating universes…and control tides…and keep the planets in orbit…THEN I’ll come to YOU for advice…THEN I’ll let YOU determine what is “good.”

In the meantime, we need to trust Him, For GOODNESS Sake.  

YOU ARE WORTHY!!!  GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

_____________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Music Video:  God Is So Good (You Are Worthy) by Pat Barrett – YouTube 

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Version (KJV); New Living Testament (NLT).

Images/Photos:  Gooogle Images Search.

“This Isn’t Another MESSAGE On ‘GIVING’ Is It?”

1 Chronicles 29:9 (KJV):

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”

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ONE MOTHER’S TEACHING ON GIVING–

It was officially Mother’s Day on May 10th, 2015 and I thought, what better way of starting the conversation, but from a story regarding a mother’s teaching on GIVING:

A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson.  She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church.

“Put whichever one you want in the offering basket and keep the other yourself,” she told the little girl.

When leaving thee church that morning, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.

“Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the offering, the mn in the pulpit said, we should all be cheerful givers.  I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter…so I did.”

The mother may not have agreed with her daughter’s reasoning, but at the heart of the matter is the fact–the daughter gave in the way she believed.

True of all Christians–we give as we believe. 

In 1 Chronicles 29, DAVID led the people to BELIEVE in what they are given to.

David believed God deserved a TEMPLE.  At first, God would not let him build it because as 1 Chronicles 28:2-3 tells us,

DAVID wasn’t the type of man God wanted to have building the Temple.  BUT DAVID still believed the Temple for God needed building.

And so, in 1 Chronicles 29:2, David dedicated his own wealth to the project.

DAVID’S VISION IS INFECTIOUS (verse 6):

The leaders of the assembly dedicated money for the Temple.  And then (vs. 9), “the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with a whole and blameless heart they had offered freely to the Lord.  King David also rejoiced greatly.”

“the people REJOICED because”…

The Hebrew word here for “rejoice” or “rejoiced” is ‘samach’ [Strong’s Concordance #8055]: “Samach usually refers to a spontaneous emotion or extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible and/or external manner. It does not normally represent an abiding state of well-being or feeling.”  (See Footnote [i] ).

WOW! Rejoicing after giving.  What a concept and one that I surely need to give more attention to.  Remember, the people giving their offerings in 1 Chronicles 29 are giving willingly with a “whole and blameless heart.”

And they gave and they built because they believed in a VISION.

 The “What’s Happening Now Church?”

Flip Wilson was a popular comedian several years ago and one of his characters was a Preacher.  Flip did a skit once that I watched on television, where he told about this preacher.  He’d shout out:

“IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GO IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON IT’S KNEES AND CRAWL!!!

And the audience yelled back,  “Make it crawl preacher, male it crawl!”

“AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP ON IT’S FEET AND WALK!!!”

“Make it walk preacher, make it walk,”  the audience moaned.

“AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK, ITS GOT TO BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!”

“Make it run, preacher, make it run!”

“AND IN ORDER TO RUN, ITS GOT YO REACH DOWN INTO POCKETS AND LEARN TO GIVE!!!”

(pause)  “Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl.”

A CHURCH CAN’T GROW IF IT DOESN’T GIVE.

And if our churches don’t give…it’ll crawl.

Inspiring People to Give–

Now when DAVID wanted to inspire people in their giving–he set the example.  He said–this is what I’m giving.  Then the leaders in the congregation stood up and set the EXAMPLE, the pattern for GIVING.

“TITHING” versus “FREE WILL OFFERING”:

In setting up the scene in 1 Chronicles 29, overlooking the “free will offering” principles would be detrimental to the whole MESSAGE on stewardship today.

Is there a difference between TITHING and OFFERINGS?

TITHING is giving GOD the first tenth of ALL your increase.  

In the Old Testament, most tithes were given from produce or herd.  But in modern times we tithe with MONEY since most of our increase is financial.

In the O.T. there were different types of tithes and different types of offerings.  TITHES were required giving according to the Mosaic Law, where OFFERINGS were voluntary.

Here in 1 Chronicles 29, the free will offerings given didn’t replace their tithes.  Their giving was above and beyond the Law of “10%”.

God trusted us with what is His in the first place:

He trusts us with an INCREASE–lets us have 90% of it–but places a 10%–the “sacred portion” aside (Deuteronomy 26:13; Numbers 18:28) which we are to tithe back to Him.  

This “sacred portion” is entrusted to us and we return it to Him.

TITHING TEACHES US Redemption–

The TITHE is the first tenth, the FIRST FRUIT of our increase.

Christ was God’s FIRST FRUIT.

When God gave to us His only Son to die on the cross for our sin, He REDEEMED us from the curse of the Law.  And when we give our TITHE, we are worshipping God by recognizing His REDEMPTION.

So then, we should recognize that through JESUS, we are redeemed and in turn God redeems and blesses the 90% that is our portion.

I remember after my wife and I were saved, our preacher gave a sermon on TITHING as many preachers try to fit in once a year, at least.  Afterwords, we both admitted to one another that “tithing” was out of the question.  We were overwhelmed at the time with debt and other obligations of a young family; we could tithe 10%!  But then, the Spiritual Light Bulb came on! God’s Word had penetrated our spirit, and we decided to be faithful and to trust God for the results.  We’ve been BLESSED ever since.

Is today’s Church suppose to adhere to the “giving principles” of the Old Testament?

Many people believe that today’s church should not follow the practice of TITHING–it was in the Old Testament–not mentioned in the New Testament except for reference.

But I say the LAW was given to help us see our need for redemption every time we tithe in honor and recognize our need for God and the amazing way He has blessed us and provided for us.

I think that many use the Gospel of Grace to free themselves from OBEDIENCE instead of discovering the GRACE OF GOD enables us to follow Him more passionately.

SO WHAT IS AN “OFFERING”, or generous giving?

1 Chronicles 29:6-8 (NASB):

[6] Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly;

[7] and for the service for the house of God they gave 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, and 10,000 talents of silver, and 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron.

[8] And whoever possessed precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, in care of Jehiel the Gershonite.

[9] Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.

OFFERINGS are something that you search your heart for (not your wallet), deciding to give beyond the tithe BUT NOT IN PLACE OF THE TITHE.

TITHES go to the local church but offerings are free for you to decide what to do with.  

Many people give OFFERINGS to their place of fellowship because they’re excited about what God is doing there and they know there’s a need.

Others use their OFFERINGS to support missions, a favorite radio or television preacher, maybe a local Christian para-church ministry.  ALL are great options as an OFFERING or GENEROUS GIVING.

Christian Maturity–

Christians mature (grow spiritually) as their FAITH grows in fiscal responsibility; in giving more and more generously to God’s kingdom through offerings that are over and above the TITHE.

Looking at a great verse where the Apostle Paul talks about offerings in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (AMP):

[6]  [Remember] this:  he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously  [that blessings may come to someone]  will also reap generously and with blessings.

[7]  Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].

[8]  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].

“GIVING” FOR A REASON:

Now hopefully, we don’t give to the “building project,” and we don’t give to the Pastor.  And as we see in 1 Chronicles 29, the people gave to God, to GLORIFY HIM, to build up His Kingdom.

If the attitude out there is “Yeah, sure we do”, then reread 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 one more time, or as many times as it takes, to give with a “blameless heart.”

Hopefully, you can give with a VISION; that God is going to do something special with your offerings because of your faithfulness.

It’s about BELIEF…

In 1 Chronicles 29, David says something about our believing (vss. 10-17).

IN DAVID’S PRAYER…HE PRAYED acknowledging that they were giving to the building of the Temple because… the believed God would supply.  The funds all came from God’s hands in the first place.  They were only using His bounty to build a place of worship for Him.

Other passages of the Bible speaks of this kind of BELIEF (1 Corinthians 9:6-11; Malachi 3:10-11).  

This is all in agreement with the powerful message given to us in Hebrews 11:6:  

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] BELIEVE that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”

And so FAITH is important in all aspects of our Christian walk in Christ Jesus.  Especially in our giving.

TITHES & OFFERINGS:

Both our tithes and offerings (generous giving) should be a part of our lives as Believers–Christians. SO…

–GIVE “JOYFULLY” (1 CHRONICLES 29:9),

–GIVE THANKFULLY (1 CHRONICLES 29:10),

–AND EXCEL IN THE GRACE OF GIVING,

BUT NEVER FEEL PRESSURED TO GIVE!

It is NEVER about the amount you give, but about the JOY in your heart to give.

A song that almost every parent with small children have heard a million times and know the words by heart, is from the Disney movie, FROZEN – “LET IT GO”

Let me give you the words in the music lyrics that I thought might fit in perfectly to the message in our giving of tithes and offerings:

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me

I’m free

[TO GIVE]

set-it-free

 

 


 

Footnotes, Credits, and Commentaries:

Footnote [i]:  Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Photos:

Google Search in 1 Chronicles 29 Images.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible except where Noted.

Commentaries:

ABC’s of Giving by Jeff Strite

Tithes vs Offerings by Patrick McCue