10. God is good

Meditations in James: 10 :   God is Good

Jas 1:16,17 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

There is, in the world, a lie that has been generated by Sin and by Satan, that God is a hard and harsh God. It runs from blaming God for minor injuries right through to blaming Him for the Holocaust. With little thought about the matter it blames God for creating evil and it blames God for suffering generally. Rarely does the Bible ‘defend’ God because the foolish will always think and say foolish things and the wise will seek and come to the truth anyway. Yet it is a clear truth that the sinful nature always looks on the black side when it comes to God. People have been deceived by Satan ever since that first deception in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) and have listened to his lies (Jn 8:44) and have thus been blinded to the truth (2 Cor 4:4).  Sin generally has a blinding effect (Jn 12:40, 1 Jn 2:11). When things go wrong sin suggests that it is God’s fault. When we are tempted, we say it is God’s fault. These are the silly things that come into our minds, and out of our mouths, and James warns against these things, warns against being deceived.

James starts his attack on this way of thinking, aware of the struggles we cope with in this Fallen World, dispersed among the world, referring to everything good that is part of our existence. It’s one thing to focus on all the bad things of the world (actually brought about by sin in mankind) but rarely do we hear anyone categorising all the good things of this world. James doesn’t bother to stop to think about what they are, but you might like to do that sometime. Stop and consider the wonderful provision that this planet has for us. Consider the potential for enjoyment that God has given to us. Consider the wonder of such things as love, joy, peace. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the wonder of His goodness in your life. I did that a number of years ago and have been marvelling ever since, as I have started to realise even more how God’s hand has been on my life, throughout it, and that hand has only ever brought good, wonderful good!

No, James simply acknowledges that there are things in our experience that are actually good and faultless and, he says, they come from God. Only good things come from God because God’s character is good. Indeed everything that God does is good. It started, as far as we are concerned, from when He created this world: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31). Before sin entered the world, that was a description of it, very good! When Moses spoke of the land, even though it was occupied by sinful pagans, he said,God is giving you this good land to possess (Deut 9:6). When one of the scribes recorded what happened he declared, Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled(Josh 21;45), i.e. God had promised good for them and all that had come about.  When Abigail spoke to David she said, When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him” (1 Sam 25:30). She acknowledged what was generally accepted, that God had promised good for David. Solomon also, at the dedication of the Temple, reiterated the same thing: Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:56).  David wrote it as a song to be sung, Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron 16:34). This came to be something declared at great moments, such as the dedication of the Temple referred to above, “they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron 5:13). This had practical outworkings, for instance, when Hezekiah reinstigated the Passover and some came not having had time to purify themselves: But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God–the LORD, the God of his fathers–even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chron 30:18-20). He trusted in God’s goodness in the situation and God honoured that.

But even more than that, James says, not only is God like this but He is always like this. He doesn’t change! In the beginning when God made everything He made the sun and the moon and the stars and as fixed as they are, so is His character. Even as He shed natural light on the earth, so it is a reminder of His own glory that shines, ever giving us light, a glory that is unfading in the Gospel (2 Cor 3:11). For ever His love keeps pouring out and will not stop because it is simply an expression of His character. This is what He is and so this is what we receive. No, we don’t need to let the gloom of the world, or the gloom that Satan would bring on us through difficult circumstances, bring us down. From our God come good things, even in the midst of this world, wherever we are. So, if the enemy has been spreading lies in your mind about God, it’s time to refute them with the truth of Scripture. Let’s join with the saints of old and continually be found declaring and singing, “God is good; His love endures for ever!”

22. God is Good

God in the Psalms No.22

Psa 16:2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

The idea that God is good almost seems too obvious to comment upon, but therein is the very reason we should meditate upon it, because very often we take things for granted so don’t think about them and don’t appreciate what we read. A dictionary defines ‘good’ as “having suitable or desirable qualities; promoting health, welfare or happiness; benevolent, not troublesome” and goes on to give reams more uses of ‘good.’ ‘Good’ signifies in our thinking something that is pleasant, something positive that we are happy with.

When David brought the ark into Jerusalem the song (psalm) he composed spoke of God in a variety of positive ways and in one line he declared, Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron 16:4). When Solomon finished the temple, they sang of the Lord this single refrain, He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron 5:13). When they sacrificed and fire came down to consume it at the dedication of the Temple, again they sang this single refrain of the Lord, He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron 7:3). When Zerubbabel laid the foundations of the new temple this refrain was yet again used, He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” (Ezra 3:11), a refrain that cropped up various times in the Psalms (Psa 106:1. 107:1, 118:1,29, 136:1). When Jeremiah prophesied restoration, one of the signs of it would be that this refrain would be heard again (Jer 33:11).

David reminded himself of this truth when he needed lifting up: according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.” (Psa 25:7), Taste and see that the LORD is good (Psa 34:8), You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psa 86:5), You are good, and what you do is good (Psa 119:68), Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good (Psa 135:3). In the midst of his terrible prophecies of judgment, Nahum declared, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.” (Nahum 1:7). Jesus emphasized this when he replied, Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone (Mk 10:18). Peter knew something of this when he wrote: now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Pet 2:3). It is a truth that is repeated again and again

The result of this, we should see is that, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (Jas 1:17) – everything that comes from God is good!   Moses declared, He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Deut 32:4) and all of that description could be summed up in, “He is good!”  Everything that God thinks, says and does IS good.  Now this must challenge all casual talk about why does God allow evil, why isn’t God doing something. We may not know full answers this side of heaven but Habakkuk’s declaration, Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD (Hab 3:17,18) emphasises what he had learnt, the truth that God is good and can be trusted in the face of adversity! We feel negative when we look at the world around us, at what people are saying and doing and we realize than sinful mankind is not good, and we have to agree with David, apart from you I have no good thing”. But we do have the Lord, and He IS good!  Hallelujah!

5. God brings Good

ADVENT MEDITATIONS No.5

5. God brings Good

Luke 1:11-13 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.

It seems that one of the by-products of sin is fear of the Lord. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God and then acknowledged that they were afraid of Him (Gen 3:8,10). Today so many people fear God because they think He is going to slap them! Yes, it is natural when we are guilty to flee from a holy God, but tragically that only shows even more the awfulness of this thing the Bible calls ‘Sin’, because it also blinds us to the whole truth (2 Cor 4:4). The whole truth is that God promised blessing for His people (Deut 7:9-15) because He is love (1 Jn 4:8). The Bible shows Him constantly seeking to bless His people, those who will come to Him. In fact anyone can come to Him and receive His blessing, His goodness – but of course you must first see that that is something you really want, mustn’t you?

So, here we have righteous but childless Zechariah in the innermost part of the Temple, minding his own business while lighting the incense, when he is confronted by a messenger from heaven, an angel – and he’s frightened. For all of his righteousness, all of his goodness, he has not been able to come to a place of peace in the presence of God.  Indeed for Him, God is not a loving heavenly Father, but an awesome far-off, holy Being, one to be feared.  Well yes, the Bible does say that the ‘fear of the Lord’ is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), but note that it is the beginning. That simply means that recognizing our weakness and our failures and seeing God’s perfection is a starting place for any relationship with Him. From that we find that He’s there with open arms to whoever will come with an open and honest heart, acknowledging their need.

Of course Zechariah hasn’t realized that because Jesus hasn’t come yet and hasn’t demonstrated God’s staggering love by dying for us.  No, Zechariah is still in the place of fear, because he hasn’t yet realized that God is good, and all God does in our direction is for our good, for our blessing. He’s still in the “God will condemn me” mode.  He hasn’t yet got to the realization that “God loves me, God is for me, God wants to bless me” place that the children of God come to as they receive the wonderful work of Jesus in their lives.

The very first thing the angel does is try to put Zechariah at rest – don’t be afraid. When he says that, he means it. You don’t have to be afraid! There is no cause for that. God has come to bring blessing. What was the greatest burden in Zechariah’s life? That he had no children. So what’s God going to do? Enable him to have a child! Isn’t that good?

Those of us who still struggle with a “God’s a hard man” mentality (see Lk 19:21) will grumble and say, “So why did he have to wait so long?”  Hullo?   He could have waited all his life!  But God came at a time that was right, because of lots of other circumstances now falling into place, and enabled him to have the child he had so longed for.  Isn’t that wonderful?   How you respond to this, reveals where you’re really at with God. Do you need, perhaps, to pray, ‘Lord set me free from this fear and help me see you as you really are, full of love for me’?