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“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
God is good.
Many automatically respond to this truth with the pithy chorus, *All the time!* And while there is some truth therein, it is a limited truth turned into a reflexive, religious chant. How many reply in vain, having forgotten or never fully known what God’s goodness truly means?
And why don’t we realize the fullness of His goodness? Could it be because we don’t live it forward as we were created to do?
We were created in God’s image [Genesis 1:26-27]. So then each of His attributes were meant to be an integral part of our own character. But sin deposed God from the throne of our hearts so that humankind is not born basically good, as philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau surmised. Nor even basically evil, as philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued. Rather, we are born sinful–which means that we are separated from God because of our fallen human nature which itself desires to be its own god.
When self is god, then self gets to decide what is good. And self is only interested in what is good for self. God’s goodness, though, is panoptic and it is all-encompassing. God’s goodness flows from His infinite wisdom and omniscience. He sees all, hears all, knows all about all for all of created time, and He works toward the overarching good of everyone in all of human history.
That is quite the difference from our self-limiting goodness. Because when everyone does what is right in their own eyes [Judges 17:6 & 21:25], the result is that everyone visits evil on everyone else. Not always maliciously and intentionally, but even unintentional and accidental effects of our choices can bring great harm to others.
That is why scriptures implore us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48]. Not that we can actually, in this life, attain to perfect goodness at all times–we can’t. But we can become more like Christ everyday through the Holy Spirit working in us [Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 9:23; John 14:26; Romans 12:2; Galatians 3:26-28].
And just as God breathed life into the first man Adam [Genesis 2:7] and proclaimed that His Creation was very good, so also Jesus’ last breath on the cross created us anew to do the good works we abandoned after the advent of sin [Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Ephesians 2:10]. But only if we choose to accept God’s grace by faith. And only if we then choose to surrender our lives to His Lordship so that we may be His instrument of goodness in a lost and dying world.
Are you allowing yourself daily to be made into the image of Christ? Does God’s goodness flow freely through your life?
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations…Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:1 & 12
We are refugees of time–bound and driven by seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. God is our everlasting refuge through it all. But He also made us to share in His eternity.
When Pharaoh asked the patriarch, Jacob, how old he was, Jacob responded as a refugee of time: The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. They have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers [Genesis 47:9]. Jacob understood full well that life is just a temporal journey with an eternal finish line.
If we see with a heavenly perspective, this world is not our home–as the lyricist wrote–we’re only passing through. We pass through time as time passes over us. We are pilgrims, wanderers who travel long and light across death-dusted roads. We do not share the desires and mindsets of the multitudes around us, rather we share the desire for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 6:10]. And we share God’s heart for the lost and dying world we tread.
Like the heroes recorded in Hebrews 11, we should be described as aliens [aka foreigners] and strangers on earth, rather than foreigners and strangers to God [Ephesians 2:19]. People should hear the lilt of our heavenly accent in every word we say. They should see our Christ-clothing in all we do [Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 2:11]. They should wonder at our heavenly food and drink [Matthew 5:6; John 4:32]. They should burn with curiosity to know where we’re from, what makes us different, and we should be ready to tell them [1 Peter 3:15].
More than pilgrims, foreigners and strangers, we are refugees. Emigrating from our spiritually war-torn earthly home–which belongs to the prince of the air, Satan [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. And emigrating, with restored citizenship, to our heavenly home where we will live with God for all eternity [John 14:2-3].
The King James translation of the Bible uses the phrase it came to pass 456 times. The worries and troubles of life–but also the goodness and blessings–come in time and leave in time [Matthew 6:25-34; John 16:33]. Until the end of the age when time will be no more, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess [Hebrews 10:23], trusting and obeying God in all things [Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 28:20].
The breath of our life has come to us for this season and will pass from us in the next. How we choose to pass our time matters. It matters to God. It matters to us. And it matters to the lost and dying generation around us.
Is Christ your refuge along the road of life? Do wayward travelers see your heavenly citizenship and desire it for their own?
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?'” Acts 2:37
As previously mentioned, God is self-existent. He created us–you, me and everyone. Therefore, He is our authority. He is in charge of everything that He created. [Are you with me so far?]
But because of sin, we are born with the sinful-natural desire to reject God as the Sovereign that He is in our lives. We are born with the desire to be our own authority.
And because it seems so naturally ingrained in us from birth, we each justify this desire to throw off God’s sovereignty as normal, right and good. Yet it is the essence of sin in us. Every act of sin stems from this base of rebelling against God’s authority [Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; Revelation 21:8 & 22:15].
He is the moral standard–the One who distinguishes between right and wrong, good and bad–because He created everything and the order within which it all works. When we truly come to recognize this truth–I am a sinner and God is holy, righteous and good–we can’t help but respond like the crowd at Pentecost, What shall we do?
This self-as-sinner before the holy-sovereign-God recognition should bring us to repent–not out of fear, but out of right understanding. Though scripture warns us to be careful not to harden our hearts instead [Psalm 95:8; Hebrews 3:8 & 15, 4:7]. Because many realize who God is and shake their fist at Him, daring Him to make them do something contrary to their own free will.
He won’t. Not in this life. But eventually, everyone will see God for who He truly is and recognize their own rebellion against Him. On that day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess His lordship [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11]. But for many, that day will be too late, because the revelation will come after this life has passed. When all is stripped away and they stand face to face before God Almighty at the judgment.
Do you know your createdness? How do you respond to your Creator? Who decides what is right/wrong/good/bad in your life? Have you been cut to the heart with the recognition of your own sinfulness?
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his passionate speech about the dream of equality. A dream that stems from the eternity, set by God, in the hearts of man [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. A dream with its roots in the Garden of Eden and watered by the river of eternity [Revelation 21:4 & 22:1-5].
So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them [Genesis 1:27]. From the Creation, there was no distinction of human race. God created one man and one woman, from whom everyone on the earth is descended [Acts 17:26]. We are all family. Humanity is one race.
Every person we meet–regardless of color, creed or language–is our own flesh and blood. We each have the life breath of God in our lungs. We each have gone astray to our own way, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23].
Yet if we rightly believe about who God is, then we must rightly treat our fellow human beings with His pure love [Mark 12:30-31].
God does not show favoritism [Romans 2:11], and it is sinful for us to favor some over others for any reason in any circumstance [James 2:1 & 9]. God desires us to live and to act as one body under the headship of Christ, showing equal concern for one another and treating each other with equality [1 Corinthians 12:25; 2 Corinthians 8:13].
But it is–and always has been–the sin at work in the world and our individual lives that leads people to mistreat one another, both in the church and among those who refuse to believe in God. And it grieves God’s heart.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister. He preached the word of God. But growing up in church, the messages he heard didn’t line up with what he saw happening around him. And certainly, there have always been and still are people in the church–and sometimes whole churches–that have not acted in accordance with the word of God–especially where His love is concerned.
Jesus spoke to this grave error [Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Timothy 3:1-8]. Just because people call themselves Christians, doesn’t mean that they are acting in accordance with His will.
In the scheme of eternity, this anachronism–this dissonance–does not invalidate God’s Word. But in our day, it very well may turn away hearts. It may prevent unbelievers from ever seeing the truth of God at work in the world and coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
We shouldn’t expect sinners to do anything inconsistent with their sinful nature. Mistreating and excluding others because of skin-deep judgments or deep-seeded hatreds is the natural, immoral behavior of sinful man. But as Christians, just as a chain’s strength depends on its weakest link, so the truth of our love for Christ is evidenced by the way we treat the person we least like [Matthew 25:40 & 45; John 13:35].
Do you deny the power of God in your life because of low views of your fellow human beings? Is there anyone that God is asking you to treat with a love that you just don’t have for them? Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with the love of God for that person and for all people. Pray for Him to fill your heart with the dream He planted in Eden.
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17
God’s Holy Spirit desires Christ’s return and the advent of the New Heaven and the New Earth. The bride of Christ–His church preparing herself for the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven [Revelation 19:7 & 21:2]–longs for that day. If God’s Spirit indwells us [Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:16-25], if we have truly accepted Christ as our bridegroom [Isaiah 61:10 & 62:5; Jeremiah 2:2; Matthew 25:1-10; Revelation 21:9], then our spirit cries out, Come, Lord Jesus, come!
So great should our joyful anticipation be for the return of Christ and our heavenly home, that those around us hear about it. The Good News should overflow our lips like a spring fed cup–because our lives are so finite like the cup and God’s love so infinite like a constant spring. Our joy should be a very good kind of contagious, so that those around us will not only hear but desire to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior–that all the world will call out to Jesus to, Come!
Come into our hearts. Come into our lives. Come into every ounce of our being. Everything we say and do surrendered to Christ alone. Come. Return to take your people home. Return with your glorious light and free us from the darkness of sin , sorrow, suffering and death. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Blessed–extremely and eternally joyful–is everyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness [Matthew 5:6]. For Jesus is our righteousness [1 Corinthians 1:30], and He freely fills us with that which we could never attain for ourselves [Isaiah 64:6].
The translation of, wishes…free gift, here comes from the Greek, dorean–freely. A better translation of this idea would be, Let the one who is thirsting come, let him who desires take the water of life freely.
Freely. No one makes Jesus do what He does for us. No one made Him die on the cross. No one makes Him forgive us for our sins. No one makes Him stand before the Father in our stead, covering our sins with His own righteousness, holding the door open to eternal life. He wants to do it. Freely.
And we are free to choose to accept or reject this gift, freely given to us. Generously lavished without interference, limit or restriction on those who accepting find. We are not forced to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf or the eternal life it brings. Neither are we limited in the abundance of life we receive, nor are there restrictions on who may receive this gift.
Except that it is received freely, just as it is given freely. No coercion. Just the purely loving response by grace through faith of accepting God’s gift of our own free will [Ephesians 2:8].
Have you freely accepted God’s grace? Does your soul cry out, Come? Does your joy overflow into the world around you so that they desire to know Him too?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:13-15
Jesus speaks to close the Revelation, much in the same way that He did to open it, declaring His eternality and, therefore, the sovereign authority of this book [Revelation 1:8 & 17].
The Alpha and Omega–first and last, beginning and end letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the spoken Word of God through whom all things were created [John 1:3; Romans 10:17; Colossians 1:16], have their being [Acts 17:28] and–by faith–are reconciled to God [John 3:17; Acts 10:43; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 4:9].
He is before all things that are in this world and He will always be, long after every stitch of grass and blade of sword have perished in the fires of judgment. Nothing on earth will remain in the New Creation, because nothing else is eternal. Like traversing the gravity-free reaches of outer space, nothing in the physical world holds any weight at all in the scheme of eternity.
Only what is done for God has any gravitational pull in eternity.
Extremely and eternally joyful will be everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus, accepting His forgiveness for their sins and thereby washing the proverbial robes of their soul [1 Corinthians 6:11]. There is plenty of Old Testament precedent demonstrating the need for physical cleanliness to be in God’s presence, much of which was prescribed in tabernacle and temple worship [Exodus 19:14 & 40:32; Numbers 8:21; Ezekiel 16:9].
It’s true that cleanliness may not be next to Godliness–as it is nowhere stated in scripture–but to stand before God we do need to be sin-stain free. Without spot, blemish or wrinkle. Justified. Redeemed. Washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. It’s the only way to access the tree of life [Genesis 2:9 & 3:22; Revelation 2:7]. The only way to be granted access to the twelve gates of heaven inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and guarded by twelve angels [Revelation 21:12 & 27].
Outside is the trash heap of the heavenly city, the eternally burning lake of sulfur [Revelation 19:20, 20:10 & 21:8]. The gates to hell are wider than the imaginations of humankind and the paths more numerous than rope-fibers of the hangman’s noose [1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; et al].
All ways but One lead to condemnation.
One Way leads all who find it to life.
Which gravitational pull do you obey? The weightlessness of earth or the truth of eternity? Unsure? Check the path your walking on. Gain discernment by comparing and contrasting the sign-posts of your life against God’s Word [James 1:22-25].
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” Revelation 22:8-9
Now John was already corrected once for falling down in worship before an angel [Revelation 19:10]. That angel had also been one of the seven who poured out a bowl of God’s final wrath just as this one did. That angel had taken John to show him what happened to Babylon and all those who made their beds with false religion. Whereas this angel shows John what will happen to the faithful, the bride of Christ, the redeemed of the Lord.
Falling down at someone’s feet, in John’s day, was the sign of highest respect and awe. Perhaps he thought that this second angel was somehow higher in the hierarchy of heavenly authority for showing him the wedding feast of the Lamb and the New Jerusalem–God’s blessing and reward rather than His wrath and punishment. Perhaps, he lost sight of the earlier prohibition in his excitement.
Whichever the reason, clearly John was swept up in great emotion, desiring to praise the one who had brought him such great news. Imagine someone telling you that the very thing you’ve always wanted is real and yours for the taking. Wouldn’t you want to jump up and down, cheering, and maybe even hug that person? In our day, that’s a sign of respect and awe in exciting situations.
But with God, there is no favoritism [Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6]–the angel who proclaims His wrath is not favored any more or any less than the one who proclaims His goodness.
Because we all have been created equal, and God is above all [Psalm 113:4], no created being should worship another. Only God, who created us both, is worthy to receive our praise and our worship.
And only a servant of God deflects worship from self to rightly direct it back to the Most High alone [Matthew 7:15-20].
Run this litmus test on the people, things and ideas in your life. Are they of God? Do they draw your attention from or direct your worship to God alone?