Tag Archives: God’s goodness

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

The blue doors in the picture are at the funeral home where our church meets. We’ve been there over a year now. Before that we gathered at two different schools, and in our living room. Each location has met our general need of a place to worship, but our congregation is more than ready to throw open the doors to our own church building.

To this end we’ve started a building campaign called “Healing Hearts.” We’ve named it this for a couple of reasons:

  1. People all around us are struggling, and in need of a safe community to have their hearts gently restored by the transformational truth of the gospel. To be a hospital for the broken is a mission of our church.
  2. Without a “home,” Redeemer is limited in the ways we can serve. A building would encourage and renew our own hearts, and enable us have a greater impact in the community.

Nine years of not having our own place though and riding the ups and downs of church planting has made it hard to get our hopes up that anything will ever change. We wrestle  with “why,” and wonder if and when he will build his church.  “How long, O Lord,? Will you forget me forever? (Psalm 13:1)”

It’s easy to shake our heads at the  Israelites’ impatient grumbling and lack of faith, until we realize we’re no different. Forty years of sojourning for them, and I’m just talking nine! But we want the instant, don’t we?

Nobody likes to wait for anything, and in our culture we often don’t have to. How quickly then we become disappointed, discontent and depressed when things don’t go as we want- when we want. We blame God for withholding goodness because we think our ways are better than his. Adam and Eve thought so too.

What’s amazing is though we try (as did they) to usurp God’s control, his loving-kindness never ceases. In fact, it is in the trials, suffering and sin we see more of God’s goodness displayed.

Exactly where God is going in Deuteronomy 8:2 when we learn why the Israelites were led into the wilderness…

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart…”

The testing was to expose their sin, weakness and need to depend on him every step of the way. And with the purpose of showing them how deep his love. Despite their sin, God never left them or went back on his promises, but held them tight and delivered them at his appointed time into the Promised Land.

Had they not seen their tendency to grumble and complain, try to take control, and turn to false gods, surely what he did for them would not have been so great.

So it makes me think, had we gotten a church building and grown exponentially right off the bat, would we see our need of dependence? Would we look to the gospel alone to heal hearts? Or, would we think more highly of ourselves, thinking we are strong? Would we have taken for granted his goodness? Would we turn to him in prayer?

I still don’t like waiting. But if the Christian life is about falling more in love with Jesus, and doing so requires seeing our need, God’s goodness to us surely comes in the waiting. So, Lord, help me wait in light of the promises of your Word so discontent would give way and the doors of thanksgiving be flung wide.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron (and of Redeemer) say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let those who fear the Lord say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1-4

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How Can We Know God is Good?

I have finally gotten to my friend Courtney Doctor’s devotional book, From Garden to Glory, for my morning time in the Word. Like my teen devotional it starts with Creation and The Garden because if we don’t get our story straight in the beginning we will misread and misapply Scripture. Too often we view our Bibles as more of an instruction manual than the one unfolding story of a conquering king who came to rescue and redeem his people.

So I’m in Genesis, chapter one.  Something I’ve read and heard since I was a small child, and written about myself. It can be tempting to skip over familiar passages like this, but I’m glad I didn’t. Once again God’s inexhaustible, living and active word struck me in a new way.

This time, the repetitive phrase, “Let there be…and there was” jumped out at me. You know, let there be day and night. Let there be heaven and earth. Let there be vegetation, the sun and the moon, creatures and mankind. And there was and It was good.

God spoke creation into being and declared everything good. So my big thought of the day: If this was true then, isn’t it still true now?

In Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus (who is God) is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  And in Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever.” Therefore, according to God’s unchanging nature and the authority of his word, it has to be that still today what the Lord declares/decrees (Let there be) will come to pass (And there was) according to his perfect plan (It was good).

This can be tough to swallow. I’m wrestling with it even now as too much bad is happening all around me.  How can we make sense of sin, suffering and trials being ordained for our good?  The thing is we may never understand the whys. Even so, I can either reject the truth of God’s goodness and sovereign rule, and live completely hopeless, or I can ask him to help me trust him and live with the hope of his promises.

I chose the latter.

At the cross, Jesus declared victory over sin, death and the devil. That is why we call Good Friday “good” even though it was the day of Christ’s gruesome and undeserved death. At the cross, God’s word is made more real to us not by answering our whys, but giving us a Savior who entered in with us and for us. Jesus did everything necessary to satisfy God’s wrath and declare “It is finished” so we can know with certainity that our love has been secured.  Let there be…And there was…it was good.

If this is true, when I experience the pain and heartbreak of this world, by God’s grace I can my fix eyes on another world and remember this is not my home.  One day all things will be made right and his perfect peace will rule forever.  Let there be…And there was…it was good.

If this is true, when I struggle with my identity and worth, by God’s grace I can know my security in the One who declared me holy, perfect and righteous according to who Jesus is for me! By the power of his word may this mean more to me than what I see as true. Let there be…And there was…it was good.

His Word is his guaranteed goodness to all who believe. It doesn’t take away the trials or prevent suffering, but it promises that one day he will wipe away all of the tears.  And even if it is not until we stand with him in glory, a day is coming that we will taste and see that he is good.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

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When God Seems Against You

I remember as a high schooler trying out for cheer, which I had no business doing considering I had never taken gymnastics in my life! Back then though kids didn’t have to choose an activity from such an early age and at my high school the cheerleading squad was a privledge just for seniors. I’m sure my soccer coach was so annoyed, but the status of being a cheerleader carried great appeal with me at the time.

Needless to say I didn’t make the squad. I did continue playing soccer. Initially though I was bitter that God didn’t give me what I wanted. In my mind as a “good” Christian, I deserved it. So why did he “bless” others and not me?

This example seems trivial and silly now. But, do you ever think this way?

Perhaps, you have been passed over for a position or promotion. Maybe you’ve been trying for months, years even, to get pregnant. Or, you can’t ever seem to get ahead with your finances because something is always breaking down or needing repair. For us, it’s God not working according to our timetable with the church we are planting. Regardles of what it is, do you sometimes feel like you are doing everything “right” so why isn’t God coming through?!

The part that is hard to admit is this mindset points to a works-based religion, a theological persepective that most Protestants would deny. Yet functionally we are believing our “performance” should determine God’s response. If we hold up our end by doing “good” and acting obediently, we deserve God’s blessing. On the flip side, when something bad happens we assume it was deserved because of a lack of commitment to Christ. When it doesn’t work out this way, our prevading reaction: God failed us.

Image by hauntedbymymemories.deviantart.com
Image by hauntedbymymemories.deviantart.com

Does He though? 

His Word says He is for us and “if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?” It sure doesn’t feel this way when at times it seems everything and everyone is against us – including, and maybe even especially, God!

Continuing to the next verse we read: “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?”

Giving us all things? Really?

Certainly it isn’t the all things that we want! Nor all things we think would be best. Could it be all things is actually something greater than we imagine – something more?

I think the key to this verse is found in “how will He not also with Him graciously give.” ALSO WITH HIM refers to Jesus.

In Jesus, God graciously gives us all things. All things being His perfect perfomance record credited to us, His righteousness replacing our filthy rags, and his sacrificial, atoning death so that we might live. In a nutshell, God gives us Himself!

Because of all these things when we fail, God still views us as perfect. We won’t ever get what we really deserve because He became sin for us. So, instead of judgment – we receive His grace and mercy and unending love.

The problem is in the midst of our here and now and not getting what we want, we forget these things. We believe He is against us becaue it looks like He is withholding “good.” We charge Him for not coming through according to our plans. We rebuke Him because what we really want is for Him to hand over His reigns. We think certainly we would do a better job of ordering all things.

What we fail to see in this is how He could possibly be using (even allowing) our sin, struggles, disappointments, rejections, hurts, heartaches and hardships for our good. A good that is better than what the world views as “good.” Good in the sense of bringing us to the end of ourselves so we land at the foot of the cross.  

I know that may not sound better than the “good” we want, but to the degree we see our need and dependence on the One who took our sin and gave us His life is to the degree we will be overwhelmed by His love for us. 

When I know His unfailing love for me and see the all things God has bestowed upon me through His Son, it may not take away the pain or make life easier, but it does give me hope to hang on to. And it gives me the reassurance I need to know He is not only not against me, but He is for me. My ultimate good and His glory is always, without fail on His mind.