“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!!!

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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.

Our God Is So Awesome!

I received a message on Facebook Messenger a few weeks ago from my great grandkids with a question for their great grandpa.  Well, it was actually from their mother since Jaxon is 5 years old and Talon is only 3,

THE QUESTION:  “I challenge you to answer the boy’s question in your next blog:  Why is God so cool?  And what about Jesus too?”

It has been a long time since I’ve used the slang word, “Cool”, so before answering their questions, I decided to go to the internet to see if the definition of the word had changed over the years:

“COOL is an acronym abbreviation or slang word meaning AWESOME, GREAT.” (thesaurusyourdictionary.com/cool/awesome – slangs]

Now I’m sure there are many books and commentary written to answer the question of why God is so awesome, so great, so “cool”, but the best book ever is written gives exhaustive reasoning to my great grandkids question is the word of God, the Bible.

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 38:4-8; Isaiah Chapter 40:3-8 (9-24); 1 Samuel 17:36; 2 Peter 3:8-13; Psalm 34:18-19.

The Book of Isaiah tells us that God described himself to the Israelites because their king (Hezekiah) was a fickled king who couldn’t make up his mind whether to be loyal to God or not, consequently, the people were questioning their relationship with God.  It was then that God thundered to the people who He really is.

Isaiah 40:9-12 (Amplified Bible)

[9] O you who bring good tidings to Zion, get up to the high mountain.  O you who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

[10]  Behold, the Lord God will come with might, and His arm will rule for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.  [11] He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arm.  He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young.  [12] Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, marked off the heavens with a [nine-inch] span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

The largest seas in the world are nothing but a handful of water in God’s hands.  That’s AWESOME!  And really “cool” to a five and three-year-old.

Yet, have you ever been in a ship out in the ocean where you can’t see land?  Makes you feel rather small and helpless.

But to God, all those seas are like water in the palm of His hand.

The distance between planets and stars is far in our observance.

How far are galaxies from other galaxies?  If you are traveling at the speed of light as Luke Skywalker was able to accomplish in the Star Wars movie series, you couldn’t reach the end of the universe in your lifetime.

But the Bible tells us that God measures the diameter of the universe with the span of His fingers.  Yet God knows how many grains of sand that are on that beach you collected shells on last Summer.  Now that’s really “cool’!

Verses 13-14 asks:  “Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?  Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?  Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?”  [NIV Bible]

These verses tell us about God’s omniscience.  He’s ALL-KNOWING!

Where did God get His knowledge?  

Sometimes we’re impressed by people’s Ph.D.’s or those whose IQ is more than 200, but God’s IQ is infinite.  And here we are trying to make God fit into our prefabricated boxes instead of just opening ourselves up, dispensing with our vanity, and just asking Him to tell us about Himself.  Now that may be difficult to explain to a five and two-year-old boys, but reading out loud verses in the Bible with children about what an awesome God He is a good place to start.

Verse 15 declares:  “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”  [NIV]

Our God governs the universe and yet, He’s intimately involved in each of our lives.

Be careful not to think too highly of nations or those who govern.  Some people are tempted to elevate their leaders or governments to the level of God.  But the Scriptures tell us that they’re DUST particles on a scale–or found on a dust mop.

There are some educators today who relate God to the laws of science.  But God’s not a scientist who obeys scientific laws.

He’s the author and finisher of ALL laws and more.  This we see in Isaiah 38:1-8.

In case you don’t know what it means, turning back the sundial ten steps, it’s the same as adding two degrees–or forty minutes–to the length of day.  How “cool” is that?

In other words, our God not only created the universe, but He’s still actively in control of the universe.

He controls the movement of the planets and of time itself!  As it says in Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

I think that’s where many Christians get stumped.  We know, in the abstract, that God can do anything, but we run into a problem that He’ll do anything for us.

The God of the Bible is a living Being–and a very personal one at that.

The Philistines worshipped gods as made of stone or wood.  The Israelites had forsaken God.  But to David, the Lord of all creation is a living God.

In 1 Samuel 17:36, David said to King Saul,  “I, your servant have killed both a lion and a bear!  Goliath the Philistine who is not circumcised will be like the lion or bear I killed.  He will die because he has stood against the living God!”  (International Children’s Bible).

The idea that God was real and alive had not entered the minds of the Philistines and most of Israel either.  They were worshipping gods of stone and wood; god’s devised by their own imaginations.

Isaiah 40:18-20 asks the question:

Maybe you’re thinking we don’t see Christians doing these things.  Wouldn’t it be a little weird to see your neighbor praying to his apple tree?  Or watch him peel an apple then offer it to a rock?  But that’s exactly what Isaiah’s talking about in ancient idolatry.

Today, there’s a different kind of idol worshipping.  Anytime you or I make a person, a god, an institution or anything else that’s equal to or higher than the LIVING GOD in our loyalties, our priorities, then we’re committing idolatry.  

That’s what IDOLATRY is; giving to anyone or anything the loyalty and devotion we should render to God and this includes anything that we feel deserves our time and resources more than our worship of God.

Did you know, we’re all born to be worshippers–even so-called atheists?  They may claim that they worship no god, but in God’s eyes they worship themselves or whatever it is that gives them pleasure.

If you think about it, Isaiah has a real sense of humor.  In verse 20 for instance, he’s saying, “Some of you are poor and you say that you don’t have gold to cover your idol.  Well if that’s the case, be careful of the wood you choose!  Your god may be eaten by termites.”  [paraphrased]

Then he says, “And by the way, be sure to nail your gods down or they may just fall off their pedestal and break!”

Well, God can’t be compared with a physical or human icon–a politician, movie star, or musician (the”American Idol”).  He’s very much alive, and He’s without faults, imperfections, or with failures.  All that He declares is accomplished.  And anything or anyone we put ahead of Him is bowing to deaf and dumb idols of ancient times.

Nevertheless, we do tend to put material things ahead of God.  Every time we make our jobs, our leisure time, our worries or our friends more important than our WORSHIP of God, we show that our view and estimation of God is lacking.

Isaiah 40:21-24 tells us,

  • Don’t you know? …Hasn’t it been told to you from the beginning?
  • It is HE who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants like grasshoppers (READ to your children the verses with “awe”!), (HE) who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to live in…

God is not only incomparably “awesome” compared to idols, but He’s incomparably great in His relations with the rulers of this world!

  • …Who makes princes into nobodies, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing  

How “cool” is all that, Jaxon and Talon?

Let me wrap up my observations with THREE POINTS:

#1.  God is all Powerful, all Knowing and He’s everywhere! 

“His arm rules for Him.”  

God’s arm, His Son Jesus Christ, shows us God’s power.  With Jesus, nothing is impossible – be it mountains moved, problems to solve, or bodies to be healed.

He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  Big words for a 3 and 5-year-old.  It means ALL powerful; Knows everything; He’s present everywhere, all at the same time.

#2.  God is a very personal LIVING Being.

“His reward is with Him.”

God is a very personal God whose greatest desire is a RELATIONSHIP with you.  He knows every pain (“owie”) you will have and sorrow as well as every joy and triumph that you’ll experience.  And He even listens to you–even if you don’t make sense.

#3.  God is the perfect loving Shepherd.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd.”

He shows you that He’s powerful…yet tender as a shepherd who will not abandon His sheep, and wherever He leads you, take you to His perfect PEACE.

 

 

 

Psalm 34:18, 19 reminds us,

Recognize that God is an AWESOME God in your daily lives.  And when you continually recognize and demonstrate His care for you, your children will follow.

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CREDITS:

Photo/Images:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); or as noted in the text.

 

“I’m MAD as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take this anymore!”

Mad_as_HellThe infamous line in the movie Network is often used to describe our hectic lives.

How many of us have ever felt the pressures of life?  Let’s not fool ourselves.  We live in a fallen world surrounded by everyday troubles and stresses. 

*  Financial

*  Family

*  Ministry

*  A nation in conflict

“I’m at my wit’s end over all this!”

THE APOSTLE PAUL Addresses the Issue – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.  [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  [10] We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  [11] For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  [12] So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Looking at this Scripture, we can discover a few applications from it–

#1.  You and I are going to have problems.

Here we have Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and having and facing problems in his life.

—  He was shipwrecked 3 times…

—  Beaten…

—  Put in prison multiple times…

  He had many ministry issues…

—  He had a “thorn in the flesh…

It doesn’t matter who you are, how spiritually mature or immature, you are going to experience problems and pressures in your life.  Just because you come to JESUS, it doesn’t mean that the world and your enemy are going to cut you any slack.  In fact, it will probably intensify!  And, you might even say to yourself at times…“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” 

Overcoming the Types of Problems and Stresses in Life–Soda Pop Cans and “Jars of Clay”

Paul not only describes the types of problems and stresses we all face, but how to overcome them at the same time.

A.  I’m PRESSED but not CRUSHED!

Paul is telling us we are “hard pressed on every side.”  This is the PRESSURE OF THE WORLD.  But, I am NOT crushed – Why?

An Illustration:

Unopened Can
Unopened Can

TWO ALUMINUM POP CANS – One can is unopened and full of soda pop.  The other can is opened and empty.

If I take the FIRST CAN and squeeze with all my might, I can’t crush it.  Now, I know that with enough pressure the can will rupture, so bear with me in this.

CRUSHED CAN
CRUSHED CAN

If I take the EMPTY CAN and apply only a small amount of pressure, it will collapse.  I wasn’t able to crush the first can because it isn’t open to the world.  SECONDLY, there is something inside.

“He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

ONE CAN collapsed easily–

1.)  Was open to the world.

2.)  There was nothing on the inside.

How then can we be PRESSED but not CRUSHED?

We make a decision not to open up to the world; to allow Christ Jesus to be our strength.

B.  I’M CONFUSED, BUT NOT FREAKING OUT!  (verse 8)

The word “PERPLEXED” in the Greek language literally translates  “to have no way out; to be at a mental loss.”

Have you ever been confused?  Not knowing where to turn or what to do?  Yes, we have all dealt with circumstances in life where we thought there was no way out.

So how is it that we can be “at a mental loss” and not FREAK OUT saying, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Same reason as before:  IT IS CHRIST WITHIN ME!

Jesus is ALL-KNOWING!

He is OMNISCIENT!

He knows what tomorrow holds!

He is in control.

The reason I’m not freaking out is because I know God is going to work it all out for my good.

“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who LOVE GOD and are called according to His purpose of them”  (Romans 8:28 NLT–capitalized for emphasis).

God might be working you right now, but He’s working you for your own good.  TRUST in His promises.

C.  I’m Bloody, Not Broken.

If you get smacked in the nose, it hurts!  Your eyes well up with TEARS dealing with real pain.

I remember playing baseball in High School one year, and while in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch, I was struck between the eyes with a fastball.  It broke the safety-glasses I was wearing in half.  No blood, but suffered two black eyes and plenty of tears from the pain.

In LIFE, we all deal with hurts, wounds and yes, even black eyes.  It may come from our PAST or PRESENT situations.

How then, can we deal with our HURTS and still PRESS forward?

Allow Christ to manifest Himself in your life through the Word of God.

Build up RELATIONSHIPS of other brothers and sisters in Christ which helps us through our tough times.  Sometimes we just need someone with skin on them to comfort us in a time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

D.  I’m Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out!

Yes, sometimes we do get knocked down; hit in the gut by betrayal, death of a loved one, loss of finances…the wind is knock completely out of us as we lie gasping for breath and afraid to get back up on our feet.

FEAR of being hit again can keep you down.

DOUBT can keep you down.

The only person keeping you on the mat…IS YOU!

Why cant the DEVIL keep me down?  Because Christ is in me.  The devil and every demon in hell couldn’t keep Him down!

“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING shall in any way harm you”  (Luke 10:19 AMP).

HOW CAN I ‘KEEP ON, KEEPING ON’, WITHOUT GETTING MAD AT MY REOCCURRING CIRCUMSTANCES?

It’s coming to the REALIZATION…it’s not about you.

It’s a CHRIST thing.

To be a Christian you need to let JESUS, not you, control your life.

You have to SUBMIT to Him fully–not half way; not kinda, sorta, BUT fully!   This allows Him to flow through you.  Remember, you’re going to have problems.  There’s no escaping it.

I have been BLESSED to be a part of 5 Billy Graham Crusades over my Christian life.  I will always remember George Beverly Shea; Canadian born, American gospel singer and hymn composer, who died this past April 2013 at the age of 104.  One song in particular he composed and used to sing at the Crusades fits in nicely I think with 2 Corinthians 4:7-12:  I’d Rather Have Jesus than…

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;

He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;

He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;

I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

WITHOUT HIM, I CAN BE…

–  Crushed

–  Freak Out

–  Be broken

–  Be knocked out

JESUS tells us this:

“And Jesus said,  [You say to Me],  If You can do anything?  [Why,] ALL things can be (are possible) to him who believes!”  (Mark 9:23 AMP).