Posts Tagged goodness

Cheer, Treasure & Sweetness

Psalm 19: 9 – 10             Passion

Every one of the Lord’s commands is right; following them brings cheer. Nothing he says ever needs to be changed. The rarest treasures of life are found in his truth. That’s why I prize God’s word like others prize the finest gold. Nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking his living words.

Following God’s commands brings cheer. Could it be, then, that is the reason He gave them to us. If you accept the premise that Yahweh is a loving God, or to go further, that He is love, then wouldn’t it follow that the direction, instruction and commands He gives us are for our good? Do we really believe that God is emotionally damaged? Many people have not come to the conclusion that His directions are meant to keep us from harm and lead us to paths of prosperity. If they are not meant for our good then are we hypothesizing that He is tyrannical, that the only reason He commands us is to subjugate us? Is He really that emotional infantile and injured that He has to dominate and suppress us? If we do not believe that God commandments are given to us for our good, then there has to be another reason and the only conclusion I see is that He is an oppressor. So, which is it? If we conclude that God is good, then we must accept that He is good all of the time and that everything He does is motivated by love. Then the question becomes, if we accept that God is good all of the time and that all He does is motivated by love, then why do we resist His instruction? Why do some of us believe Him to be a harsh and cruel task master? Why don’t we seek Him day and night? He is seeking us day and night. His words, instructions and yes, even commandments, are meant to bless us. They are absolute truth. They do not need alteration because every word He speaks or has ever spoken is right. That is one of the reasons they always cheer our hearts. There is no error so they always lead us in right paths.

I do value His word, as I know you do. This translation says the rarest treasures of life are found in His truth. That is a full statement. His truth is the ultimate divining rod. His truth leads us to the gold mine, the diamond find. The most rare prize which exists can be found in His Word. “That is why I prize God’s word like others prize the finest gold.” Don’t get me wrong. I like gold and diamonds but they ultimately pale compared to God’s wisdom. Further, I believe the way to them is through His direction. All the good things in this life and the life we will live beyond the earth are in Him. That is why the next sentence in this passage is, “Nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking his living words.” This statement is a conclusion to the previous thoughts. Living in His words, seeking His living Words – two ideas, one great passion. This is a life well-lived, to seek the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength and all our passion.

I love watching your life change as you increasingly seek the Lord, His words and His ways. In them is the life, not just simple existence, but a life worth living, a life which is full. Don’t just take up space on the planet. Live to the fullest. Seek the Father zealously. Prize His words. Give the Word great value and weight in your life. Take God at His word and hold Him to it. He can handle it and you are going to see even more change. 2019 is almost upon us. Let’s begin to determine what we want for the new year. I want more blessing for you. I want you blessed in the day and in the night, coming in and going out, blessed in the city and blessed in the country. I resolve to press in with my study so that I can be used more powerfully by our Lord and God to insinuate more of His blessing into every Word of the Day and ultimately, into your life. Be blessed.

His Ways

Psalm 145: 17

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.

I like this Psalm, as many of you do, and I have several passages highlighted. As I read it today, I kept coming back to this verse. I imagine that for most of us there is no revelation in this verse. We expect God to be righteous and at a minimum we want to believe He is kind in all His deeds. Still, I find value in reviewing this verse for two reasons. First, it is good to be reminded of His goodness. Second, when we ponder this verse, it grows in our understanding.

God is good, all His ways are righteous. That means God isn’t out there performing badness. Isn’t that good news? He bring righteousness to everything. That means that everything we invite Him into enjoys that same quality of righteousness. When He comes to our event, He brings with Him everything that is good. The only way He knows how to be is right; doing right, being righteous. All His interactions with each of us are filled with righteousness. God will always do right by you.

Mediation on this verse leads us to examine each word. The word “all” captures my attention. I am especially taken by God’s kindness in “all” His deed. What does that mean if you rephrase it? Every single act of God is kind. Now if you are a person who believes in the Bible, that can have a major impact on your theology. If everything God does, every act, is an act of kindness, then He never does an unkind thing to anyone. That necessarily means that He did not blow out my knee even though some people told me He did. It means He never gave anyone cancer. He never, ever, in all the millennia, did an unkind thing. Everything He has ever done has been kind.

Soak that in. He didn’t allow you to get fired from your job so that you would learn to seek Him. He didn’t break you so He could make you. His way of making you, actually, is to love you into the version of you that He sees when He looks at you. He loves you and only wants the best for you because His kindness extends to the way He thinks of you and the plans He has for you. Every thought He has towards you is kind.

As we expound on the little words in a verse, they expand our understanding and our insight. Thinking our way through these kinds of verses illuminates the very nature of God. Then, as we begin to appreciate His inherent goodness, we grow in our trust in Him. Soon, the entire dynamic of one’s relationship with Him is altered for the good and forever.

Take your time with this little verse and let the Father’s kindness infiltrate your life.

Who is Your God?

Ruth 1: 13, 21         GW

My bitterness is much worse than yours because the Lord has sent me so much trouble. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi when the Lord has tormented me and the Almighty has done evil to me?

This is classic Old Testament confession. The people of those times didn’t have the years of history we now have, nor did they have the written Word. They are the history we read. They didn’t know about Satan. They actually knew very little about the Holy Spirit. Of course, they didn’t know Jesus. How different their experience is than ours. When something happened, either for good or for ill, the only cause had to be God.

It chagrins me more than I can express to tell you the whole truth in this regard for I have found that we are not that far removed from our ancestral roots. Despite the years of experience of the saints, the coming of Jesus, the sending of the Holy Spirit, page upon page of revelatory writing by the prophets, disciples and apostles, we still hold very close to Naomi’s confession.

Recently, I attended a prayer breakfast for the National Day of Prayer. It was a great event. One of my friends, though, said something that bothers me. He told me about a gentleman with cancer then followed up by saying that He thought God used disease to help us grow. After all, he told me, we don’t grow in the mountain top experiences but in times of trouble.

Well, first of all, I don’t believe that is true for me. I find my greatest extensions on the mountain top communing with Jesus. Under intense stress, I withdraw and that is not where I find growth. His statement really hurt my heart and I pointedly did not agree with him. I told him that I believe God is good and that He is good all the time. Moreover, God doesn’t have cancer in heaven to give us. To which he remarked, “Yeah, there are no tears in heaven.” There is a revelation in there. We agreed that regardless of the cause, we know he who is the answer.

I am still bothered by this dynamic though because I hear it more frequently than I hear statements of faith and belief in a loving God. Or are people saying that God loves them so much that He gave them cancer so they would grow? That seems ludicrous to me. After thousands of years, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit, we still sound like Old Testament people who knew no better. We are Old Testament believers when we should be thinkers who have been renewed by the gracious good news gospel of Jesus Christ. Will someone give me an Amen!?

There is death and doubt in our churches and if that doesn’t pain you perhaps we should be asking why. Why are we claiming calamity in the name of God Almighty, the merciful? We are no longer ignorant. Are we? We know there is a devil out there and that his full intent is to rob, kill and destroy (John 10: 10). How is it, then, that when we see destruction, death and robbery we attribute it to God?

Somewhere along the line, each of us needs to decide; do we believe in a good God, one who is merciful and full of lovingkindness or do we believe in a cruel task master? Who is your God? That is the question. Let me introduce you to mine. He is love – all the time. He wants to protect and keep you. He said He has good plans for you, plans for your well-being rather than calamity, a plan for hope and for a future (Jeremiah 29: 10). That verse cannot be reconciled with a God who gives you cancer. So decide. Who is your God?

Goodness in my Heart

Psalm 31: 19

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee before the sons of men!

By now we are getting this. God is good. He is good all of the time and all that He has is good. So why send you another “God is good” scripture? I think we are ready to move into God’s goodness emotionally and spiritually. We have gained an intellectual acceptance of His profound goodness. Now what is wanting is to connect that knowledge to a heartfelt belief. We need to know in our hearts and in our spirits that God is good.

There is an expression I would love for us to adopt. It is “radical trust.” Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived in radical trust of all that God is and all that He says? In order to move into this dimension, we must embrace His goodness such that there is no doubt remaining in our hearts. If there is the slightest doubt, then when God speaks, you will hesitate. If we are to walk in the fullness of what Jesus came here to win for us then we can have no hesitation. We have to know in the deepest part of our being that God loves us and always wants what is best for us.

He does not give us problems in order to make us stronger. That is a purely humanistic perspective. He wants to be our strength. His desire is to fold us in the refuge of His embrace, protecting us from the storms. You were meant to live above the fray. He told us that the world has problems but for us to have no worry on that score because he has already overcome the world. Yahoo! So why does Dad need to make us strong when Jesus has already won? Do you see how people’s theology has gotten twisted? Your Dad loves you and that is the $1,000,000 take away. That is the truth that is to be written on your heart. He has stored up good things for you so that you can live in them and all people will see the goodness of your Father in your life. Amen.

Good Treasure

Luke 6: 45

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good: and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

I didn’t know what to write on today so as I looked through my Bible, this verse jumped out at me. We’ve all read it before and heard the sermons. Still, we are often fooled by people so maybe it is worth looking at again.

I noticed that the way we can often tell what is in a person’s heart is by what comes out of their mouths. If they are sold out to God and trying to be like Him, then they will speak kindness and their speech will be gentle for those are the characteristics of God.

What about the silver-tongued devil – you know the one, he talks a good game. When you first meet him he is charismatic and charming. He even talks about God and the Bible as if is heart is with God. Do you know that the anti-Christ will be the same way? He will say soothing things that will lead many people astray. Keep listening though and these people always reveal themselves. As you get to know them better, you begin to see harshness in their character. They aren’t kind and generous. In fact, my experience is that they are completely self-serving. If you have something they need or want they will ooze charm. The minute the advantage wanes, however, they begin to show you another side. You have been used. Their hearts are not filled with the love of God no matter how pretty a yarn they weave. Godly thoughts are not self-absorbed. Godly thoughts are always focused on other people.

What should you do? First, you must penetrate the veil. You may have been fooled for a while but once you look at the fruit of their life and the words of their mouth you will see the truth. Look at their relationships. Are they always in confrontation with someone? Do they constantly have new stories about some jerk at the store or at work? It is always someone else’s fault, they will tell you, but this is a good indication that the source of the problem is really them. Look at their relationships with their spouse and children. What do you see? Go beyond the immediate family. Are they kind to their parents and siblings. Do they do nice things for their nieces and nephews? As you check the fruit on their tree, look for generosity. Our Father is foremost a giver. God is extremely generous, even with people who don’t deserve it. Do they give easily and frequently? Are they good tippers. Do they give gifts to their pastor or do they just suck off other that person’s fruit and never restore them?

And here is a big thing – do they tell the truth even if it will cost them something. Do they do what they say they are going to do. If they say they will call you back, do they? If they say they will meet you, do they continually find excuses to change the schedule? If a person can’t even return your phone call or do what they have told you they are going to do then I can tell you without meeting them that the fruit on their tree is bad.

One thing I have noticed is that people usually tell on themselves. Eventually they let you know where they are. Your job is to go get a new friend. There is a reason Jesus told us to check the fruit on people’s trees. We are supposed to exercise wisdom and seek better and more edifying relationships. We are not to be found in the company of fools. Some people are hard to get away from, I understand that. Bosses, co-workers and family are examples of people we are forced into relationship with. My advice is to limit your exposure, and to tell these people the truth in kindness if they confront you. Don’t let them drag you down and learn to say “No” to them. Take control of your life and don’t let them bully you. Just say, “No.” I know it is hard but we must grow up in wisdom and stop letting these people suck the life out of us. Their heart is not where it needs to be so pray for them but don’t hang out with them. Pray daily but do not continue to be a victim to their manipulations. That is your responsibility and God has better for you than people with evil in their hearts.  Look again at the series on love from First Corinthians and let that be your guide in relationships.

Good God!

Isaiah 63: 7

I shall make mention of the lovingkindness of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the multitude of His lovingkindness.

I am involved with a group of believers who are exploring God’s goodness through the revelations of Bill Johnson as shared in his book, God is Good. This prompted a conversation with a minister friend. Together we agree that if our ministries can lead people to the understanding that God is good, then we will have been successful. As you attempt to communicate God’s goodness, you find that words fail. Just look at Isaiah’s paragraph above. How many ways and how many times does he have to say God is good for us to get it? It seems like Isaiah just can’t say it well enough or big enough to suit himself. He uses the words: lovingkindness, great goodness, compassion and the multitude of His lovingkindness. Can you see how he struggles to convey the great kindness and love of God? Why is this so difficult to convey and to receive?

I remember as a small child we used to say a very simple prayer and believe it, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food.” God is great! God is good! You know, some adult had to teach us that prayer. Do you think the adult believed the words? Why do so few adults, particularly Christian adults believe these words now? Weren’t we taught that God is good? How is there even space in the Christian world for Bill Johnson to write a book on God’s goodness? Shouldn’t we all be so steeped in this very basic principle as to make his book unnecessary? I wish! By the way, it is a good book and I am enjoying it. I just don’t like that there is any revelation here for any of us.

How is this hard? God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son . . . (John 3: 16). We sure can quote this verse and make signs and placards bearing its words but miss its message. If your personal theology has no other linchpin that this one, let it be that God loves you. Grasp with your heart, mind and soul that He is all good all of the time. He only has good plans in mind for you. Well, now I sound like Isaiah. There are not words enough to satisfy the communication of His great goodness. Maybe it’s best if I defer to the Apostle John who said it best, “God is love” (1 John 4: 8)

Goodness

Psalm 145: 9

The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.
This scripture is talking about us. We are the works of God’s hands, His handiwork. And He has good plans for us. He is merciful when we make mistakes and His plans for us are plans for good. Sometimes we think of God as vengeful and harsh but the Word of God says that He is a good God and that He is good to His kids. He is a loving father with plans for good things for you. He gives good gifts to His children and protects us from harm. All His ways are of kindness and goodness because He is love. His substance is love. So, all that He has is good. He wants to give more good to you than you have ever received before. Let us get a revelation of His goodness so that we allow him to pour all of His lovingkindness into our lives. You have to settle in your heart first, though, that God is a good God.