Who is God? He’s good.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “God is good, all the time.” Of course, that’s true. But, it goes much further than the statement. God is goodness itself. It is Who He is.

Maybe we could think of it this way: God = good.

His essence is goodness. He’s the embodiment of goodness. His intentions are good, actions are good, plans are good … we could go on and on.

There are many profound statements in the Bible about God’s goodness. Let’s look at a few of them. I picked out some recurring themes. Feel free to comment and add others you’ve thought of.

How is God good?

He gives good gifts. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Jesus said, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)

God’s commandments are for our good. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day (Deuteronomy 6:24).

He wants us to be strong and courageous, because He is our strength. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9). Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD (Psalm 27:14). The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

God is worthy of our praise. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid (Ezra 3:11). Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10). The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works (Psalm 145:9). I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good (Psalm 54:6).

The Lord provides salvation. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8). O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalm 34:8). Jesus said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (John 10:11, 14).

And, the most encouraging thing of all, because of God’s goodness, He actually keeps working in our lives, so we can serve Him. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalm 34:8).

For the first “Who is God?” post, you can read it here.

How to rest in God’s care

One of the easiest things to do when you’re in the middle of a trial is panic. We stress about the circumstances, the what-ifs, and unknowns. They say that 80% of the things we worry about never even happen. I am so thankful for the Bible, especially in difficulties. God says He understands and cares, and He asks us to rest in Him.

It isn’t always easy.

We often begin to try to rest, but our minds instead want to wallow in self pity, self doubt, and even in our own suffering. Like some kind of a morbid game, we “enjoy” thinking about our yucky circumstances instead of training our minds to think on the Lord and praising Him.

My faithful blog readers know that I have found Philippians 4:8 to be life changing. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

We need to focus our thoughts to the good stuff. Look for it. Meditate on it. Have a life habit of praise—even when everything around us (and maybe inside us) is falling apart.

The next verse describes the result of obedience and thought control. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9).

Resting in the Lord is a concept that Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, finally learned. The book that describes his struggles, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, is one I would recommend to every Christian.

Who can rest in God’s care? Those who belong to Him. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:29). There’s great security in knowing we are God’s children. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). Have you received Jesus?

Resting in Jesus means we acknowledge His willingness to help us.

  • The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:4-6).
  • Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
  • Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Mark 11:28-29).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).
  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment (1 John 4:18a).

Heaven is the ultimate rest. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).

When our focus is on God’s Word and how the Lord desires to be our refuge, we cannot fear and be anxious. When we learn to rest in Him, we are at rest in our souls.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Rest in Him.

Be honest. What are you selling?

People are trying to sell me something. I want them to be honest. What exactly are they selling?

I don’t know.

Instead, they say:

  • “My hair has never been thicker.”
  • “Come to my party.”
  • “These drops! I have lost X number of pounds already.”
  • “This lipstick doesn’t rub off. You can kiss your kids and husband as often as you like, and it’s still fresh.”
  • “Just drink this every day, and all your gut problems will be solved.”
  • “My lashes didn’t even show up, but just look at these results.”
  • “I used to be sick, but now I have boundless energy.”

I often see wonderful before and after pictures. They make me sincerely happy for those people. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like that after two to four months?

But, my problem is that I have no idea before what or after what.

I get it. The seller wants me to click on their page, follow them, etc., and sooner or later—most likely later—they will actually tell me what they are selling and—drum roll—after that, tell me the price.

Sellers, I admire you. I might even like your product, were I to try it. But, let me tell you a secret. I appreciate honesty. Don’t be sneaky. I actually have gotten sales pitches from some people for years–and I still have no idea what they are selling. I know it has something to do with lifestyle and weight loss, but I am not sure if it’s supplements, exercise routines, or what. A shame!

Be up-front, in-your-face honest.  Say, Here is my product. It is called this name. It is marvellous. It will make you healthy, look like a million dollars, help you lose weight naturally, or it’s a great buy.”

Tell me the price. Don’t make me faint dead away when I finally see it. Tell me up front that your product will be this price each month for the rest of my life—or that it will cost me X dollars right now. I am fine with knowing, and I might not even faint if you tell me at the beginning. (No guarantees, though.)

I don’t sell anything.

But, I have a wonderful product. It’s called salvation from sin. Everyone needs it, because all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

It’s already paid for, but it cost God everything. He gave His only Son on the cross, bearing our sins, because He loved us that much. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

He offers it to everyone. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b).

Those who receive His gift can be saved. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

They can go to heaven. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

I’m not selling anything, and I’m being honest. This is the truest truth there is.

There is no other way of salvation. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus provided salvation. He offers it as a gift, when we repent of our sins and accept what He did in our place. Now, it’s entirely our decision. A precious gift.

What are you selling? Be honest, and tell me.

On social distancing and the church

When Covid19 struck, we were closed in our homes. There was no place to go—not even church—and we weren’t allowed to drive outside of our towns, except to get groceries, drugs, or to go to the hospital.

Those were rough days. There were quite a few weeks without any contact with anyone but my husband. (Thankfully, he’s a great guy.)

I actually talked to the neighbor’s ponies one time.

Spain is a lot like Italy in culture: friendly, touchy, huggy and kissy.

When I was finally allowed to do grocery shopping, I got on an elevator. The lady getting on with me backed up into the corner. I naturally did the same. Six feet distancing. She was actually afraid of me! Both of us were wearing masks, and soon, we would both disinfect our hands and grab a clean buggy—with new gloves on. But, she was concerned to be in the same closed space with a stranger.

At church, at first, the recommended Corona virus precautions seemed like a joke. Some of the guys did happy foot-bump greetings. But then, the virus hit Spain hard. Now, at church we smile behind masks and hope our eyes convey friendship. No touching, kisses, hugs, or any physical contact. Everyone’s feet and hands are disinfected at the door. It doesn’t feel like fellowship. But, we’ll take it. It sure beats sitting at home and all our services being remote, as in the beginning.

Social distancing is not normal. It’s not normal in Spain and Italy, but it’s not normal anywhere else, either, not even where the cultures are a little “cooler” than here. Why?

We need other people.

Especially in the body of Christ, we need others. The whole reason for the church is to worship the Lord together—a corporate uniting of hearts. Yes, we go to listen to the Word preached. I’m not taking away from that at all. But, we actually encourage each other by being physically present together.

At the height of the pandemic in Spain, there were a few months that it was illegal to hold physical services, and we didn’t. We did streaming, and it worked for the short time it was needed.

But, oh, being together again is a blessing—even behind our masks.

The Bible talks about the early church gathering together regularly on Sundays.

  • And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).
  • And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight (Acts 20:7).
  • For first of all, when ye come together in the church…. (1 Corinthians 11:18a).
  • Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come (1 Corinthians 16:2).

From the beginning of the church and even before Pentecost, it was important for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to come together for mutual benefit. The Apostle Paul encourages us with these words: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:12-16).

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

The Day of the Lord is closer, and assembling ourselves is even more important than ever before. The Bible says so.

Let’s not forsake our assembly.

Is there power in prayer?

I’ve heard the sayings, such as: “The devil fears when Grandma gets on her knees.” “Don’t underestimate the power of a praying woman.” “Prayer changes things.” There are many more, and you’ve probably heard them. We understand the sentiments, and the sayings are true up to a point.

But, what is wrong?

Is the power in prayer?

Nope.

I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but even people in false religions, sects, and paganism pray. They are also sincere.

For illustration’s sake, lets describe a scene that might happen somewhere that practices idolatry. A woman kneels with her floral offering and a lit candle in front of an idol. She prays.

Is there power in her prayer? There might be sincerity, but there’s no power. Why? The problem is in the one she’s praying to. The image can’t respond. It can’t hear, walk, talk, or react in any way. Her prayers go absolutely nowhere.

The power isn’t in sincerity.

It isn’t in prayer itself—the words.

Power in prayer is only because of to Whom we pray. God answers in incredible, supernatural ways, because He can. He is God.

Jesus’ model prayer that we call The Lord’s Prayer begins, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth (from Luke 11:2).

Notice, this prayer begins with the acknowledgement of the object of our prayers—God the Father. He’s in heaven and worthy of our praise because of His holy name. The next sentences pray for His kingdom to come—literally praying for the Lord Jesus to return—and for God’s sovereign will to be done in the universe.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with our powerful, holy, omniscient God, who has a plan for all times. That recognition is the premise for powerful praying.

We pray to God. He has the power, and His will will be done. We can count on it.

James was writing to Jewish Christians. He instructed them to pray when they were sad or happy and also for the sick. Then, he gives the example of Elijah’s powerful prayer.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit (James 5:13-18).

Notice where the power came from: the Lord shall raise him up. The promise of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much is because of God’s power. Prayer is effective because the Lord answers.

The example of Elijah was because he knew beforehand God’s will about the rain. God had already revealed it to him. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah was merely communicating the message from the Lord about what would come to pass. Prayer was Elijah’s means of communicating with God.

The power comes from God and God alone. We do nothing magical when we pray. Prayer is a wonderful means of communicating our emotions and petitions to God. It is the way we visit with Him and have a relationship with Him. Then, we watch Him answer.

God’s answers in one of three ways:

  1. Yes. God will immediately answer your prayer. Sometimes, these yes answers are miracles.
  2. No. Knowing better than you do about what is best, God denies your request.
  3. Wait. God wants you to keep praying and looking for the answer. He will answer in His own way and time. By the way, God’s answers are always on time.

I love Jesus’ parable about the lady who bugs the judge. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)

Many times, the Bible exhorts us to pray. In fact, we’re supposed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). All the time, all day long, we’re to be communicating with the Lord.

He has the power.

He can answer.

He will answer.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).