Sunday, September 30, 2018

Is God Good?

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The Scriptures provided an excellent answer to this question: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11, ESV)

It is an interesting observation from the Scriptures noting how the worst fathers still give the best gifts for their children. In 1 Samuel 2-3,  Eli was a father who became aware of his children’s sins and received notice from the Lord of confronting their sins. Eli was like any father who thought he was doing the very best for his children, gave opportunities and good things to them. Unfortunately, the cost of doing it resulted in them breaking away from God’s standard. Because Eli's children grew up sinning, without consequences, warning and guidance from their father, God dealt with them as He saw fit by putting an end to their sinful lifestyles. What Eli failed to do, God did!  Jerry Bridges explained God’s prerogative in this case:

God is completely sovereign. God is infinite in wisdom. God is perfect in love. God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about.

God, our Father, provides the best gifts for His children who ask Him: “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Because He is good, we need only to ask His help with boldness: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). John Calvin emphasized, “It is only the goodness of God sensibly experienced by us which opens our mouth to celebrate His praise.”

Because He is good, we must acknowledge His goodness in our lives with gratitude: Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalms 107:1). With this emphasis, John Ortberg explained:

The goal of prayer is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness of the presence of God. Prayer becomes real when we grasp the reality and goodness of God's constant presence with 'the real me.' Jesus lived his everyday life in conscious awareness of his Father.

Because He is good, we are confident of our standing in Jesus and to receive His abundant blessings through Him: He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things? (Romans 8:3).

Overall, the goodness of God revealed in the writings of the apostle James provides a guarantee, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). God's assurance of provisions and eternal blessing for His people is secured. Therefore, when God's people experience God's goodness, faith strengthens and expands greatly. Martin Luther described such kind of faith this way: “This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God.”

Remember, speaking about God’s goodness and living it out are two different things. God's goodness becomes a reality at the least expected moments of life and being ready at all times is a must. Here’s how we can see God's goodness appreciated by examining an example of one of God's faithful missionaries in the life of Allan Gardiner.

Allen Gardiner experienced many physical difficulties and hardships throughout his service to the Savior. Despite his troubles, he said, "While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me." In 1851, at the age of 57, he died of disease and starvation while serving on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. When his body was found, his diary lay nearby. It bore the record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. The last entry in his little book showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. It read, "I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God" (excerpt taken from the "The Lord is Good" Sermon by Jeffrey Richards).

What’s your story about the goodness of God? Would you declare the same perspective as Allan Gardiner did?

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