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“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8
God is good. And He is infinitely so. But what is that goodness? What does it consist of or pertain to? How and when does it manifest?
Many cultures have mythologies of gods that are sinister but powerful. The Greek and Roman pantheons were worse than the most corrupt human beings, acting selfishly in all their ways and disposed by whim to mistreat humans it suited their own immoral pleasures. Their character couldn’t have been further from the truth of who God is.
Good is the opposite of evil. God is not bad in anyway [Psalm 92:15]. He is morally upright, but more than that, He is generously kind and loving to all. His infinite goodness is the source of every blessing and joy, the source of our hope and the wellspring of His love and goodwill–mercy and grace–toward humankind.
He created for all our needs and faithfully provides for them, though we are unfaithful about cultivating our relationship with Him [Matthew 5:45] and though we fail to thank Him for His faithful beneficence.
He keeps His creation in motion, patiently waiting for more of mankind to turn and recognize Him as God [Genesis 8:22; 2 Peter 3:9].
He hears our prayers and provides us with His Spirit to overcome just as He did. Because He is good, we can have peace [John 16:33], joyful strength [Nehemiah 8:10], hope in Him [Isaiah 40:31] and contentment waiting for our heavenly home [Matthew 11:29 & 10:24]. Because He is good, He strengthens us in our present circumstances [1 Peter 5:10-11]. Because He is good, He made a way to reconcile with us so that we could spend eternity with Him [John 3:16].
But our present circumstances are exactly the rub for so many who choose to walk away from belief in God. They shake their fist at heaven and ask, If God is good, then why is there bad in the world?
God is infinitely good. But His adversary, the devil, is full of every kind of evil intent toward us. Satan is angry that he will never attain heaven and angry at human beings that we can be redeemed. And he does everything he can, in his limited power of deception, to keep as many of us from coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ [1 Peter 5:8].
God is infinitely good, but we, His Creation, are sinful and therefore predisposed to love self and thereby wrong others in pursuit of self [Matthew 7:12 & 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28 & 16:31].
As believers, we must realize that we were redeemed to be a light of God’s goodness to this world, just the way He intended us to be from the Creation [Matthew 5:14-16].
Does God’s goodness flow through your life to others? Do others understand that God is good because they see His good work in your life [1 Peter 2:12]?
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
God is omnipotent, that is, He alone is almighty or all-powerful.
And He gives us His Spirit [Numbers 11:17; Judges 14:6; Acts 1:8; et al], enabling us, by His power, to bring glory and honor to His name.
By His Spirit, Moses and David led Israel [Numbers 11:17 & 25; 1 Samuel 16:13]. Samson tore apart a lion, effortlessly broke through sturdy rope bindings and battled dozens of men all at the same time [Judges 14:6 & 19, 15:14]. Mary bore the Christ-child [Luke 1:35]. Demons were cast out [Luke 4:36]. And we are empowered to live as witnesses to the truth of the gospel [Acts 1:8].
God’s Spirit doesn’t hide timidly inside us. So neither should we shrink back from a contrary world. Our friends and family might not want to hear about God anymore than they want to hear that eating vegetables and exercising are good for them, but they need us to speak God’s love boldly. They need us to live out the blessings–extreme joyfulness–of the godly, self-disciplined life.
Because–just like we once did–they need God. They need His power to transform their sinful hearts and finite lives into the eternal ones they were made for.
The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with that hope [Romans 15:13]. Did you hear that? Let me say it again. The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with hope!
By God’s power alone we have peace in a war-torn, hating world–even while we ourselves are persecuted for that peace who is called Jesus [Ephesians 2:14]. By His power alone we have joy–though we ourselves get sick, face financial hardships, lose loved ones, get mistreated and threatened for our faith. By the power of His Spirit in our lives we have an abundance of hope that exceeds our finite capacity to hold it, and He keeps pouring the power and hope in and through us until we overflow with hope to everyone around us!
The power of God was never meant to lift us, whimpering, out of the gutter of self-pity or guilt–but it does. And it will do so faithfully and without criticism time and again. When it does–and we have been filled with all the power, joy, peace and hope that we can possibly need–then it’s time to go to work. It’s time to walk around like a fountain with legs and gush God’s power and love into the lives of everyone we meet.
Anything less is denying God’s power in our lives. Anything less is disobedience. Anything less withholds our blessing, locked within the timidity of our hearts.
Are you ready to be a walking conduit of God’s power to this lost and dying world?
From The Student Question Board: Why Did God Make Us if He Knew We Would Make Bad Choices and Be in Distress All Our Lives?
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 147:10-11
Since God is, always will be and always has been omniscient, He knew perfectly well that Adam and Eve would choose to disobey in the garden. He knew that their choice would usher sin into His perfectly created world [Romans 5:12]. And He knew that in the broken sinful world, we would have trouble [John 16:33].
So why did God bother creating us at all?
Because He also knew that He would love us without fail [John 3:16]. Because He also knew that He would send His Son Jesus to redeem His fallen Creation [Genesis 3:15]. And because He also knew that love comes only by choice.
And He desires our love just as He desires to lavish His love on us.
God considers us the apple of His eye [Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8]. This term of endearment more literally equates us to the pupil of the eye. The pupil allows light to enter so that the eye can perceive. When God calls us the light and salt of the world, it is a double entendre–that is, it has two meanings! We are light and salt to the lost around us, but we are also a light of joy and the salt of good pleasure to our Creator God.
He delights in us [Psalm 147:11 & 149:4]!
Remember His love when you are worried or wearied by the troubles of life [John 16:33]. Remember that everything comes to pass in its season [Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]. And remember that the season of human life is just a disappearing mist or a fading flower in the expanse of eternity [Psalm 103:15; James 4:14; 1 Peter 1:24].
These troubles have not come to stay, but if we stay the course we will find abundant life in this life and eternal peace and rest in the New Creation [John 10:10; Revelation 21:1-4].
Do you know who God created you to be? Are you living as the apple of His eye? Do you delight in your Creator as He delights in you?
“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘You made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed one.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:24-28
Faith without free will is no faith at all. Love without free will is no love at all. And God desires both from the joyful submission of our free will to Him.
Here after Peter and John were released from prison, they prayed with fellow believers. And they acknowledged that, from the beginning, God knew exactly at which point in human chronology He would send Jesus. God sent His Son when the Roman-centric world would swallow up His chosen people, Israel, and both cultures would converge to crucify Him.
Because it was all a part of His plan to redeem His Creation.
Though–being all-knowing–He knew who would carry this out, God didn’t choose to villainize or destine people or force anyone to do the job. Everyone who denied, denounced and destroyed Jesus’ physical body did so of their own free will. Just as everyone who comes to Christ also does so of their own free will.
Faith is absolute certainty in what we hope for but cannot see. But it must stem from the free will of our intellect, for without faith it is impossible to please God [Hebrews 11:6]. So if God chooses who will have this faith and who will not, then it is no longer faith. It is coercion.
Love, by necessity, is a choice. No one can force someone else to truly love them. But each person comes to love another purely as an expression of their own free will. We each choose whom we desire and how to demonstrate that affection. So if God chooses who will love Him and who will not, then it is no longer love. It is coercion.
But God is self-sufficient–He needs no one. God does not show favoritism [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11]. He sent His to die on the cross for whosoever would believe in Him [John 3:16] and He doesn’t want anyone to choose to perish in the lake of fire [2 Peter 3:9].
And even knowing what we will choose, He still acts mercifully with all of us. Indiscriminate of our ultimate decision to accept or deny Him. He still loves each and every one of us. He still lets us choose for ourselves whom we will serve [Joshua 24:15].
Whom have you chosen?
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
God is self-sufficient.
He does not need human beings, nor any of His creation. But He loves–an act of will–His Creation. He chooses us as His own. And He doesn’t discriminate among us or show favoritism.
Let’s take a moment here to address the misunderstanding of predestination in the Bible [Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5 & 11].
Predestination does not mean that God selects some people for salvation while disregarding others. Though there are Bible believing churches that teach such things. But if you read these scriptures carefully in the context of the culture, history and the whole scope of God’s plan of redemption in the Bible we are all predestined. God does not desire that anyone should perish [2 Peter 3:9].
Romans 8:29 says that those He foreknew–aka everybody–are predestined. And therefore called [Romans 8:30]–enter cultural understanding that everyone who is called [which again is everyone] can be justified and if they accept this justification, then they will be glorified. It’s a condition. A heart-will condition. God doesn’t need us. We need Him.
And if we come to Him, it is for our good that God works through us to bring the light of His good news to the world around us. He can and does bring people to a saving knowledge of Him without us, but how much more does He love when we choose to share in the work with Him? How much more are we blessed when we sync our will with His and live out His all-consuming zeal for the lost and dying people all around us?
God is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need us. His mercy is freely given to all who call on His name [Romans 10:14]. But how can they call on the one they have not believed in?–not because He hasn’t shown Himself to them, but because they rejected Him when He did. And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?–not because no one has told them about God and His good news, but because speech falls short when the light of Christian lives don’t equal the measure of their words. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?–as Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Our lives synced with God’s will. Our love the overflow of His love for us. Our salvation–not the result of anything we do and yet it ought to bring us to a place of humble obedience that can’t contain the sweet story of salvation. It ought to change the very fabric of our everyday lives. Not because God needs us to do anything to spread the Word. But because His Word ought to spread like wild fire in our own souls.
Are you synced with God through prayer and studying the Word? Are you overflowing with love for all? Does your salvation burn within you?
“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship–and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:23-25
Born of a baby’s laugh and sustained by a child’s faith. When children stop believing in her existence, she begins to fade, until–wait, that’s Tinker Bell. Not God. God is self-sufficient. Unlike Peter Pan’s fairy, God exists whether people want to believe in Him or not.
And many do not want to believe in God, because they don’t want want to have to admit that they’ve been wrong–even though this truth would free them. And because they certainly don’t want to give up control of their lives–even though it would bring them great joy.
Our understanding of who God is and what He desires for each of us only serves to elevate us. Whether or not we take the time to get acquainted with or honor Him does not diminish His existence in any way. He is no less God. He has no less authority. He is no less holy and good just because someone refuses to acknowledge Him, or chooses turn away from Him, or decides to disobey Him.
For just as He is and has always been, God will always be. People, on the other hand, disappear in a heartbeat [Psalm 37:2, 90:5, 102:11 & 103:15; Isaiah 40:6; 1 Peter 1:24]. Unlike God, we have a beginning and an end. And in the short span we exist in between, we need things outside of ourselves to sustain our life.
Perhaps the one commonality that we have with God, in this sense, is that we exist whether others want to acknowledge us or not. This is the bit of eternity in each of our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] that cries out against inhumanity. When people suffer at the hands of fellow human beings, when slavery is rampant and genocide looked on with indifference, the eternity God sowed in our hearts begs to be seen and heard. I am here whether you choose to recognize me or not.
In the story, when children stop believing in fairies, Tinker Bell fades away. Peter Pan encourages everyone to clap to show that they do believe, and she comes bounding back to uproarious applause. But just as being ignored does not erase my existence, so no amount of fame and ovation can sustain it. One day, my end will come.
And God will keep on keeping on, more constant than the North Star that He created. People can choose to disregard the evidence in the world and refute His Word, but that does not dethrone Him as Sovereign of all. We can’t ignore God into nothingness.
He doesn’t need us, but He loves us. And we need Him. As human beings, our greatest need is to recognize our sin and reconcile our hearts to God. Have you?
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” Mark 8:18
Jesus asked this pretty pointed question to His disciples soon after the feeding of the 4,000. They’d just seen Him perform an incredible miracle of provision, and then got confused by His warning about yeast [Mark 8:15]. In true Jesus’ fashion, He’d meant yeast metaphorically and the disciples had interpreted the warning literally–so don’t eat bread that Pharisees and Herod offer us, got it.
The disciples walked and talked with Jesus every day and they still didn’t understand the truth when they saw and heard it. How much more do we–2,000 years removed from Galilee–misunderstand what God wants us to see? And why?
The eye is the lamp of the body, that is to say, that what we see and understand to be true either fills our lives with light or shrouds it in darkness [Matthew 6:22-23]. But God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path [Psalm 119:105]. When we learn the scriptures–not just read, memorize, quote or otherwise regurgitate them–when we truly figure out what the Bible is saying and let it change our lives, we begin to see the world with the eyes of heaven.
God’s Word cuts to the heart of the matter in our understanding, slicing away all the junk and revealing the truth of the world in the light of eternity [Hebrews 4:12]. It equips us to recognize and act on the faith-deeds that God wants to work through us [2 Timothy 3:16]. More importantly, it draws us closer in our relationship to Him [Deuteronomy 6:4-14].
While the rest of the world writes resolutions for what they plan to do in 2018, as Christians, let us get into God’s Word and pray to see what God wants to do both in us and through us. And then, let us be faithful to will and to act according to God’s purposes as He works in us to His glory and honor [Philippians 2:13].
Have you resolved to see 2018 through God’s eyes? What is God calling you to this year?