Tuesday, September 28, 2021

If God is Good, why are there so many tragedies?


For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117:2 MEV

 For the purpose of this study may I ask have you ever experienced a personal tragedy? That is a loved one lost or injured in a natural disaster, a car wreck, or an accident. What about those who lost their loved one or a co-worker or an acquaintance in a tragic event like 9/11 or some type of mass shooting? Ever then asked God why?

  All believers can boast of God's goodness when things are going well. The real question is can we hold fast to this same belief when things aren't going so well? Can we say with bold confidence that God is always Good even in the face of tragedy and loss? 

 This bold confidence and conviction to proclaim His all the time Goodness and to fully believe it unhindered by circumstance is a journey of Faith, Grace, and personal experience. This is a journey that some have not embarked on. It is not an easy journey for anyone.

 It's a journey of Faith because we fix our minds on the Word, and are not moved by any circumstance or situation. It's a journey of Grace because we trust in Christ alone and not in ourselves in any way. Not our intellect, not our reasoning, not our doing or abilities to try and "fix" something. Finally, it's a journey of personal experience because we also have experienced loss and tragedy and chosen to still believe God wasn't at fault but that He is always Good. 

 The enemy doesn't want you on the journey. Religious tradition creates new theologies designed to prove that God can still be Good but can also kill your son or daughter with some disease or disaster. Tradition says God is Good but also sends destruction, disaster, and devastation throughout the planet. Religion says God can heal but also makes you sick and afflicts people with a disease for some mysterious purpose. The enemy loves religion but also loves his tactics of accusation.

 When the enemy can't convince you of your unworthiness, or unrighteousness, when he can't push you into accepting his accusations about your standing with God, he will immediately attempt to persuade you to accept accusations about God. He begins to accuse God to you. He tries his hardest to get you to accept his lies about the Father. He impugns God's Goodness, His justice, His will for you. He tries to get you to question God's faithfulness toward you. 

 He works to get you to accept religious lies about God;

 "God's willing to heal some but not you."
 "God's goodness and mercy only go so far."
"God's putting this on you to punish you."
"God brought this in your life to better you, if you resist it you're rebelling against God."

 In answering the question about why tragedies, we must firmly establish our hearts on the Biblical and Christ demonstrated truth that God is always Good. No matter how the question of suffering is worded, the answer is only found when we know and understand and receive the truth that God Almighty is a Good Father. Always has been and always is. 

 Jesus Himself said He is the express image of the Father. Jesus said He only does what He sees the Father doing. Jesus when asked by the Disciples to show them the Father, responded if you have seen me you have seen the Father. Jesus didn't make men sick. Jesus didn't cause men to experience poverty. He never sent pestilence, plague, or pandemic. Jesus only went about doing Good. He healed, raised the dead, prospered people, and bore the curse for mankind on that tree, and arose three days later to establish a New and better Covenant.

 According to Jesus, there were even tragic events when He walked the earth. Luke's Gospel records Jesus mentioning the tower of Siloam falling.  Apparently, 18 people died in this tragic event. Why didn't Jesus prevent it? Does that make Him less Good?

Why God?

 We ask why whenever we see great tragedy. We ask why God when we see natural disasters or famine strike various lands and nations or cities. We ask why when a loved one is afflicted with sickness or disease. 

 In helping us to grasp the truth, allow me to ask another question first. Why did God allow you to watch pornographic videos? Why did God allow people to make/star in, those sinful pornographic videos? Why did God allow you to not report all your time wasted at work? Why did God allow people you may know or even yourself to commit adultery, coldly betraying spouse and child? 

 When we keep these types of questions in the practical every day of life realm, many of the extreme sovereignty teachings fail, and many questions find their own answers. These other questions are rarely asked yet whenever tragedy strikes we ask God why. The answer to the little things provides the answer to the bigger things.

 First, God allows what we allow. This may sound harsh but it is truly loving. God gave man free will. How we use that will oftentimes determine if there will be tragic consequences. Secondly, because God allows what we allow i.e. free will, the planet became a fallen and fractured creation. In a fallen world, where sinful men dominate, and the enemy is the god of this fractured system, (see 2 Corinthians 4), we will continue to see disasters, destruction, devastation, and desolation until Christ returns. 

 That's why there are tragedies. Let us not lose hope though. Let us not throw in the proverbial towel. Let us not just quit and simply lay down as a soft target for the enemy and curse on the earth to come freely attack. 

 Jesus is alive! Happiness and joy are ours in Christ. We know that any suffering here is nothing compared to the abounding blessings glory will bring to those who believe for all eternity. In this life, Jesus is still Lord. We have the Spirit within us. God, by Faith, can lead us and guide us into safe paths of protection. 

 Though the enemy is defeated, he is an outlaw fallen angel and he may attack but God has given us powerful weapons to counter him. We have the armor of God. That is knowing who God is, who we are, and enforcing the enemy's defeat. This may be a fallen world but Christ is here with us, He may bring us out or bring us through but we always have Him with us. This is why we can trust in Christ and in His Goodness.

 In summation, God is Good. True, there may be tragedy in a fallen world, however, don't stop there. Jesus said in Him we can overcome. We can walk in victory because in the midst of any situation we know God didn't cause it, ordain it, or send it. We can always run to Him. He is our shield, our defense, and our protector. He is our dwelling place. God is always Good, He is not the author or "allower" of evil or tragedy. God is a Good Father, always!

Image by Anand Kumar from Pixabay

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

God is not mad at you

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:16-18 NLT

 God is a Good Father. God loves us with an everlasting, eternal love. God's love for us has nothing to do with what we do or don't do. His love for us is not a response to what we have done, how well we did it, and how often we did it. His love for us is based on His Goodness, tender mercies, and great compassion alone.

 In order to walk in the fullness of this truth, we have to move away from mere cliche, formulas, and ritualistic religiosity. Too often, the Love God has for His people is not experienced in its fullness because believers have allowed the truth of God's love to become a cliche in their minds. We say "God loves you" and many simply dismiss it as an abstract notion, not something that affects their lives directly.

 I recall as a young man just about to go into the Military and a senior citizen handed me a gospel tract that stated "you are special." The tract revealed God loved me. I dismissed it at that time. I saw it as a far-away truth that could never mean much to me. Why was this? Because I was seeking validation from man and not God.

 God's great Love for us is not a mere cliche. It is not just something we tell people but don't really believe ourselves. God's Love is what gives us purpose and motivation. God's Love strengthens and encourages us. God's Love for us casts out fear and reminds us of how much we are loved by a Good Father. Not an absentee father, or a neglectful father, but a loving Father who is always there for us.

 In order to fully experience and walk in this great Love for us, we must move away from turning truths from God's Word into mere formulas. Sometimes, believers see God as the harsh taskmaster. If God is the angry taskmaster, we must develop formulas so as to never mess up and appease this angry god. This may not be the only reason we create formulas, but ensuring we appease the angry God/don't want God mad at me is still one reason many do. 

 Faith has been turned into a formula. Now it is true that there are principles of Faith i.e. believing in your heart and speaking with your mouth. But these principles though were never designed to turn Faith into a formula. We turn many truths into formulas: relationships, prosperity, healing, etc.

Formulas are really an outward expression of living a performance-driven life. If we can just get the formula right then God will reward and accept us. This is the mindset that goes into this way of thinking.

 Because of the excesses of the seed-faith teaching, people teach that all our actions are "seeds." Plant enough good seeds and people all around will bless you and your relationships will be great. This is performance and formula, not Faith. 

 Generally speaking, when you are friendly and kind, people will be kind to you. However, this is not a law. This is not a formula. Why? Because this fails to account for other people's free will and the condition of their heart and mind. It doesn't take into account what words they have been feeding on, i.e. the words of the world, the lust of the flesh, or the words of the enemy. 

 I have seen it in law enforcement. Even the most patient, respectful, and long-suffering officers have been in altercations with suspects or inmates. In relationships, I have seen one spouse treat their spouse well and the other still left them, pursuing adultery instead. Look at Jesus. He is the person of Grace and still, people walked away from him and one of the 12 even betrayed Him. 

 The point is we can't control others. We can't make them receive love and goodness. Love is received not earned. That's ritualistic religion doesn't walk in the fullness of His Love. 

 Religious rituals are exercised because those who practice them still see God as angry and full of vengeance. They see Him as the harsh taskmaster. If they do this practice enough times God will finally accept them, He won't be mad at them. 

 We need to relinquish all these formulas and religious rituals. God longs for His people to open their eyes and see just how much He loves them. He wants His people to know He is not mad at them no matter what.

 God is not mad at us when we sin. He saw us before we received His salvation. He saw all of our missteps and mess-ups and received us in His family anyway. He knew before we were even born all the mistakes, all the rebellion, and all the selfish actions we'd take, and yet He still died for us, He still desired us, and still chose us to be in His family. 

 God is not mad at us, because Jesus paid the price in its fullness. Jesus satisfied the claims of divine justice. There is nothing that can make God angry at us. Under the Old, before the Cross, yes God was angry at the injustice and evils sin produced. So He did something about it. God, Himself came down to earth, lived as one of us, and chose to die for all of us. He arose victorious the third day defeating the enemy, death itself, and the grave. 

 Certainly, God is not pleased with our actions when we lose our temper with our spouse or loved one. He isn't pleased with sinful lifestyles, because He knows the bondage it brings. Yet, He is not angry or mad at us. He isn't condemning us. The price for those actions has already been paid. His Grace and unconditional Love just lead us into better choices. 

 God is not mad at us. We are loved by our Father eternally. We can actually partake of this Love and receive it in its fullness. His Love is unconditional and ever-present in our lives. His Love is not a mere cliche or abstract concept. It's real, and active in our lives.

 We don't have to perform to get it. We don't have to get the formula perfected to receive it. We don't have to turn relationships into rituals for God to pour out His Love in greater measure.

 Formulas are man-made concepts. The truths of the Word were given by a loving God showing us the bright path to travel. Walking by Faith, walking in love, walking victorious lives are not formulas. 

 Don't let any minister or group try to convince you there is a formula for the perfect marriage. Marriage is the joining of two imperfect people. If both desire to flow with God and His Love then there will be harmony. No formula there. If one or both spouses don't desire God or follow His ways there will be disunity and sadly it may not last. We can only follow God, walk-in love towards our spouse, and pray for them, the rest is their decision to accept God's Love or to disregard it. Formulas are also created to shield us from hurt. In a fallen world, we may get hurt, but God is greater and His Love is there to minister healing and wholeness if that happens.

 In summation, God is a loving Father who will never be mad at you. He isn't condemning you. He isn't disappointed with you. His arms aren't folded in disgust at you. His arms are wide open receiving you gladly because He loves you with an unconditional love that cannot be quenched. God Loves you!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Goodness of God: correction and instruction

 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Titus 2:11-13 NKJV

 In our last post, we looked at the chastening of the Lord. We saw that God isn't using trauma, terror, tragedy, or turmoil to chasten or instruct and correct His children. That God is a Good Father who would never harm or hurt His own. It is absolutely vital to know and understand who God is and what He is like.

 Understanding who God is, what His character is, and how He treats us is a vital truth. At the same time, seeing passages that reveal that God corrects leads us to a question. A rather valid question I might add. 

 Does the concept that God corrects His people, run contrary to Grace? Is it counter to Righteousness and the Gospel that God instructs and leads us into truth and away from the wrong, the error, the false? Does it bring to mind the question that God who said He wouldn't remember our sins, has to remember our sins if He is correcting and instructing us?

These are important questions that need to be answered. The first thing we must establish is our Righteousness in Christ and the truth that Jesus has completely paid for our sins and failures. Because Jesus paid for our sins we never have to.

 Jesus completely paid the price at the Cross. His once for all time sacrifice met and fulfilled all the claims of divine justice. Jesus shed blood, death and burial was a more than enough payment. Even though we still miss it, blow it, just plain sin, we are not required to make up for it. We aren't required to make additional payments on account of our sins and failures. Jesus' blood was more than enough.

 Because of Jesus' Finished Work, God is satisfied. There is no longer any demand for additional payments. There is no demand for further punishment for sins, iniquities, and transgressions. See how Isaiah reveals this powerful and complete sacrifice and once for all payment for sins

God is not punishing us when we sin. He punished sins in the body of Jesus on the Cross. The amazing blessedness of God's great gift of Righteousness is that God no longer imputes our sins to our account. He remembers our sins no more. He has forgiven us once for all time. This is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus.

 What we must renew our minds to is that correction and instruction are not punishment. Now if you sin, there can be natural consequences. This doesn't mean God brought those upon you. Your own choices and actions did that. Also, understand God isn't punishing you or angry at you.

 Understanding correction and instruction aren't punishment, we must grow to understand that because God loves us He corrects us. If He corrects us doesn't that mean He is remembering our sins? No that doesn't mean that.

 What we must understand is that spiritual growth and development and maturity have no bearing on our salvation. What I mean is this. Salvation, redemption, being made Righteous, freely forgiven once for all time are what Christ gave us the moment we believed. Salvation and redemption have nothing to do with spiritual growth. Spiritual growth and maturity are not automatic.

 We have believers who have been saved for decades, and they still hold onto grudges, harbor resentment, gossip, look down on others, and are not joyful. Does this mean they aren't really saved? Of course not. Fruit is developed, fruit is grown. If you plant a fruit tree, but never tend to it, never give it water and such it won't produce. It doesn't change the fact that it is still a fruit tree.

 Because of Jesus God isn't imputing sin to our account. That is, God isn't holding our faults over our heads, demanding we do better, withholding His goodness and love and blessing until we do. The blessings, answered prayer, favor, and goodness are already ours because of Jesus. He blesses us because He is Good not because we are.

 Therefore our sins and shortcomings are not remembered. We aren't out of fellowship, out of intimacy with God because we fail. That said because of God's great love for us He wants us to grow up. God sees us. He sees our motives and actions and words. 

 God sees us, He first sees us Righteous, and rejoices because we carry the fragrance of Jesus. As our Father, He sees us when we aren't our best. Because He wants our best, He comes to us in love and brings correction.

 Our two text reveals how He corrects. He corrects us with the Word. He corrects us with His Grace. His great Grace upon us shows us a better way. Correction is a good thing because it helps us grow up, helps mature us, and leads us to be a bigger blessing to ourselves and others. 

 Correction and instruction are never contrary to Grace. His Grace teaches us and instructs us. Not man-made tradition, but His Grace leads us into all truth. Is this progressive sanctification? No! We were already sanctified when we believed. This is progressive maturity. God's Word and Grace, correct, lead, guide, and instructs us, and we progressively mature outwardly into what Christ already made us inwardly. 

 In summation, a Good God, a loving Father instructs and corrects us because He loves us. He doesn't punish us. He doesn't use evil to teach or train us. His Word and His Grace bring instruction and correction when needed. None of this is condemnation or the idea that the Spirit "convicts" us. Conviction is what the Spirit does for the World because they have rejected Jesus. 

 The Spirit reminds us of our Righteousness. God reminds us of our identity. God shows us who we are and whose we are. The Word shows us the better way. Grace received empowers us to grow up in Him. As children of God, the Spirit leads us into all truth and guides us into the way we should go in our day-to-day life. God loves us unconditionally and eternally. He desires we grow in Grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. 

Image by bpcraddock from Pixabay 

Monday, September 6, 2021

What is the Chastening of the Lord?

 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Luke 9:56 MEV

 God is a Good Father. This is a truth I never get weary from proclaiming. It's the very foundation of our Faith. It's the motivation of why God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice for all our sins and afflictions, sickness and disease, and spiritual death. While most Christians fully acknowledge God is Good, there is one area that seems to cause many to stumble. 

 The idea that God chastens His children has been a source of confusion for so many. That is, they believe God is Good but if you foul up, fail, falter or fall into sin your proverbial goose is cooked. God is really angry and disappointed in your failure to measure up, and He will punish you greatly for it.

 First, let's see what the New Covenant states about this subject.

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LordNor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:5b-6 NKJV

 This passage establishes that God does in fact chasten His children. That is never been questioned or contested. What I do contest and disagree with is the idea of how He chastens us. Specifically, what does chastening actually mean? 

 Examine this passage in light of the New Covenant. In light of Jesus' revealed will and character. In the light of God's all the time goodness. What words pop out of this passage? 

 Do not despise or be discouraged when you are being chastened. God chastens those whom He loves. Did you catch that? Those whom He loves!

 The fact that the Word declared God chastens those whom He loves should give us better insight as to what chastening means. The fact that in the same passage as the word chastening appears so does the words for whom God loves, should bring clarity as to what chastening means and what it can't mean.

 The word chasten simply means instruction and nurturing. It carries the implication of correction. Correction is a good thing, not a bad thing. If I get the answer wrong, I want to know the right answer so I can grow and be better equipped. 

 I dare say we've all known parents who never corrected their children, always gave in to their demands, and never disciplined them when they did wrong. What kind of behavior did these children exhibit as a result? Rebellious, selfish, and sadly sometimes destructive.

 What God wants His people to know is, who He really is. He is a Good Father. He is not the harsh taskmaster who is ready to send destruction your way the moment you mess up. He is not the impatient king who is burdensome with His demands and will quickly strike you with affliction when you miss the mark in meeting all the harsh requirements. He is a loving Father who cares for His own.

 If chastening simply means instruction and nurturing and carries the connotation of correction, how then does He instruct, or correct? God does not instruct us by killing our loved one. He doesn't correct us by afflicting us with painful sickness or disease. God's nurturing or the development of His children's growth, doesn't mean He bankrupts our business, causes our car to be wrecked, or takes away our possessions. A Good Father would never do these things, and God is always Good.

 God loves us unconditionally. His arms are never folded in disapproval or disappointment over our failures or foul-ups. He isn't pointing His finger at us in disgust when we blow it, falling into sin and wrongdoing. Understand, God is Good and just, He isn't pleased with the sin or wrong, but He is still pleased with us because we are His beloved children made Righteous by the Blood. He still rejoices over us, the redeemed, because He loves us and will never turn His back on us or cast us out. He is a loving Father.

 Knowing that God isn't pleased with the sin, the poor choice, the wrong thinking, the wrong believing, the wrong speaking, leads us to the why He corrects. He corrects us because He loves us. He corrects us because these actions, deeds, thoughts, words, and beliefs are detrimental to our growth. They hurt others and even ourselves. They are also contrary to our new nature. They are counter to who Christ already made us in the Finished Work. 

 Knowing why He corrects, because He loves us and wants us to grow up in Him, we must answer how He corrects. Let's see what His Word declares.

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:9 NKJV

 This passage gives the key to "the how" He corrects. The confusion about chastening would fade away if we just read and understood this passage. Hebrews reveals we had human fathers who corrected us. How? in the flesh, that is by natural means. The Word goes on to describe God as the Father of spirits. So how does He correct? In the spirit. By spiritual means not natural. That removes the idea of catastrophes, cataclysmic destruction, and calamities being the method of His correction. 

 His correction method is completed in the spiritual realm. 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

 How does He correct? He uses His Word. The Corinthian church had many issues in their midst. How did the Spirit through Paul correct? Did God through Paul say;

"you better straighten up or you're gonna get it?" 
"I have had just about enough of this behavior!"
"God is so fed up, disgusted, and done with you!"

No, God spoke to them about their identity. God used a letter, His Word through Paul to bring the correction. God didn't send a mega-tsunami to wipe them out. He didn't send an earthquake to get them.

 How does God correct us? How does He bring about growth? How does He train us up? God uses His Word to bring us to maturity. He reminds us of whose we are, who we belong to. He reminds us of who we are in Him, He reminds us of our identity. He reminds us that we are the Righteousness of God in Him. He makes us aware again that we are the redeemed and these thoughts, words or actions are not who we are. He reveals His steadfast, and unconditional Love for us in greater and greater measure.

 In summation, we have a Good Father who always wants our best. We have a Good Father who longs for His people to know who He is. That He is always Good. That He loves us unconditionally and for all time and eternity. 

 He is so Good and loving that He takes the time to help us grow, mature, and walk out who He has already made us inwardly through the Finished Work. Chastening is a good thing, it is not the traditional religious idea of God's punishment. God punished Jesus for our sins, He isn't ever going to punish the believer's sin because the price has already been paid. We have a Good Father, amen. 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net