God is Good

You are good, and what You do is good (Ps 119:68a).

There are quite a few verses throughout scripture that woven together, describe God’s goodness and what our response to His goodness should be. In Romans we are taught that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose. We sometimes experience a disconnect when we think, in our eyes, ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here)            can’t possibly result in anything good.

A buzz phrase today is “to be intentional” and that is a fitting way to define God’s goodness. It is purposeful, never meaningless nor random. God’s purpose, to conform us to the likeness of His Son, is a much greater good than our comfort at the moment. Our definition of good is both temporal and temporary rather than spiritual and eternal.

This brings us to another challenging verse about God’s goodness, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here too)     .  This verse certainly requires some prayer and study. But we can know–we can be absolutely sure–that God’s actions are motivated by love, and that the end result will be worth it, and good.

Going through tough times is tough. But God’s word gives us promise after promise of His faithfulness in walking us through trials, in giving us strength, in giving us endurance, in supplying everything we need.

His grace is more than enough.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (pursue) me all the days of my life.

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The Perfect Plan

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Nellie Bly, a gutsy 19th century journalist, became famous by exposing the neglect and brutality at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Her assignment required that she be admitted undercover feigning insanity. This assignment involved trust—trust that someone from the outside would arrange for her release.

I know that this is a very, very, very weak comparison, but I was thinking about Jesus. About how He left His position in glory, at the right hand of the Father, to come into the world and in all humility to assume His human role as the Son of Man. His mission wasn’t to expose, but to defeat the enemy and eternal death, and replace it with an opportunity for us to have fellowship with the Father and eternal life.

When Jesus came to earth as a man, His physical suffering and agony was real, and He also knew first-hand what being one with the Father was like. But the part that Jesus dreaded even more than the physical torture was that once He shouldered our sin, the Father, who can’t be in the presence of sin, had to turn away from Him. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ’Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

But Jesus’s release from the bowels of the earth was pre-arranged. Sin and death were defeated. Our part, to individually trust and believe in His death, burial and resurrection, seems so insignificant in comparison to the torture, agony and then the ultimate resurrection power necessary to conquer death.

Yet it was the perfect plan. And we can share in the victorious results.

Passion

I will praise You with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto You (Ps138:1).

Recently I was speaking with a woman whose country is 20% Christian and 80% Muslim. She said that in her country if you choose to follow Christ, you must be totally committed; everyone there is passionate about his/her faith or religion. No one is just lukewarm.

In our country it is relatively comfortable to be a Christ-following believer. We can openly worship, we have access to scripture at the tap of our thumb, and we certainly can pray. I’d like to think that I am totally committed, but I’ve never had to act on it by putting my children in a dangerous situation, nor like Rachel Scott, the young girl at Columbine who chose to be fatally shot rather than denouncing her faith.

But just because, thankfully here in the US, we’re not required to choose between torture or denying our faith, we can still heighten our passion and commitment.

How can we become even more committed? The answer is the same as how do we fall in love. The passion and commitment follow as we know more and more about that person. Although on this side of heaven, we can no way fully grasp the magnificence of the character if God, His mercies, His justice, His love…, we can learn more and more about Him through scriptures, conversing with Him, and the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. And allowing ourselves to trust His word and His will as He reveals Himself to us.

Psalm 138 continues, On the day I called, You answered me and You made me bold and confident with renewed strength in my soul.

The Father’s Love

Although I rarely repost, this selection really touched me and I’d like to share it again during this special season:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.

Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.

How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.

Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.

And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.

Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?

The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.

Forgiveness–The Divine Miracle of Grace

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph 1:7).

After seeing the movie, I Can Only Imagine, and with Holy Week coming up, I began thinking again of the powerful concept of forgiveness. In the movie, the main character was asked to forgive, a very difficult task when the person inflicted a lifetime of physical, psychological, and emotional pain on him. How much harder is it to forgive someone who neither asks, nor even acknowledges that they maligned us? Yet that is what Jesus did and what we are called to do.

Whenever we bring Jesus into the equation, forgiveness reaches a totally different dimension. Because He was totally blameless, He had no need to seek forgiveness, and He could certainly justify refusing to forgive us. But the Father’s love for us, and His great desire to fellowship with us, moved God to send His Beloved Son. It was the only price by which He could forgive sin yet still remain a holy God.

Jesus’s sacrifice completely satisfied the atonement for sin, the price of forgiveness. We don’t need to add one thing to the equation but faith—not good works, a fine, works of penance, self-condemnation. Nothing that we could meagerly add could come close to the tragedy of the cross, the enormous cost of the agony at Calvary.

But by faith we are free and clear—forgiven—It is finished.

Looking Forward

Not that I have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Phil 3:12).

Did you ever look back to events in your life and realize that many of them prepared you for what you are doing now? Personally, some of the things that I just stumbled through gave me the skills or stamina that I am using now.

David, the shepherd, was faced with a lion and a bear that he had to deal with in order to protect his sheep. His developing skill with the slingshot…well, you know the rest.

Often when we look back we see things that we regret. God doesn’t desire for us to stay there and beat ourselves up for mistakes or even [forgiven] sins. But the lessons learned can become our strengths that segway us into helping others.

If anyone had a right to self-condemnation, it was Paul. But his passionate hatred for Christians turned into an even greater passion for sharing the gospel. In his own words, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The Father’s Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.

Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.

How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.

Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.

And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.

Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?

The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.