The Nature of the Goodness of God

Psalm 145:9 (NKJV) 9 The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

We have been looking at the importance of understanding the goodness of God. When Moses asked God to show him his glory, the Lord responded by saying he would show Moses his goodness. When we look at the condition of the world and of the church, we know we need to see God move in a mighty way. We need the glory of God. When we think of the glory of God we usually think of the kinds of things Moses saw as he delivered Israel from Egypt. However, Moses knew that those things were outward representations of something far deeper.

If we are ever going to see the outward manifestation of the glory of God, we need to understand that those outward things come from God’s nature. Just as Moses needed to understand more about God so do we. What God seemed to think Moses needed was to understand his goodness? I believe we must have a deeper revelation of the goodness of God if we are ever going to see the outward manifestations of God’s glory that we so desire.

We have looked at a number of things this week. Yesterday we looked at 2 Corinthians 3:18 and the fact that we can have the same revelation that Moses did. In Moses case, the revelation of the goodness of God caused a physical transformation. His face glowed. He covered his face so that Israel would not see that this manifestation was fading. In our case, the bible says that we will not have a physical transformation that fades but an inward transformation until we become channels of the Glory itself. What Moses could only reflect, we become in Christ.

We found from James 1 that every good gift comes from God in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. There is no possibility that God is going to be anything but good. (James 1:17) The King James Version uses the word “variableness” to describe God’s consistent goodness.

When looking at something that needs to be done, scientists and others will look at the variables. What things could change that would affect the outcome of what we want to do. Weather can be a variable for instance. Where the goodness of God in our lives is concerned, God is not a variable. Neither he nor his goodness will ever change.

I want to look at a few scriptures today that describe God’s goodness. What are the limits of his goodness? What does his goodness mean to us? We will start with today’s scripture. The Lord is good to all. He is not good to some. His tender mercies are over all his works.

God is even good to the sinner. He gave them Jesus to die for their sins. He sends us to them so they can hear the Gospel. (Romans 5:6-8) Since he is even good to sinners, we can be sure he will be good to his children.

Romans 5:9 (NKJV) 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

There are those who think that God’s goodness does not extend to them. Maybe they have done something for which they feel guilty. Maybe they have failed God. Maybe something in their life has convinced them that they are not worthy of God’s goodness. This verse tells us that the Lord is good to all. You and I must be part of “all.”

Psalm 33:5 (NKJV) 5 He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Here we see that the earth is full of God’s goodness. There is nowhere we can go to escape his goodness. Possibly more important, where ever you are right now his goodness is with you. The world seems to be a very evil place today. Nevertheless, every inch of this world is touched by the goodness of God. If we will trust him and believe in that goodness, we will find it for ourselves and for those around us.

Psalm 52:1 (NKJV) 1 To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.’ Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.

How long will the goodness of God last? Are there times when his goodness runs out. Are there any gaps in the goodness of the Lord? In this verse, we see that his goodness operates continually. There are no outages when it comes to the goodness of the Lord. When we are asleep, his goodness is still working for us. When we are distracted or working, his goodness is still on the job. Even when we are not where we should be when it comes to the Lord, his goodness is working in the background to get us back to where we need to be.

Nahum 1:7 (NKJV) 7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.

I like this verse. Not only is God’s goodness there for us when things are going well but it is a stronghold when things are not going so well. When things around us look bad, we need to remind ourselves that God is good. We need to meditate on the fact that God’s goodness is there to protect us. That is what a stronghold does. Even though things may be looking bad today, I know his goodness will cause me to triumph in the end. There is nothing the devil can do to stop me from overcoming.

My father used to have a saying before his was saved. He would refer to some person that he worked with as a guy who could “fall in manure and come up smelling like a rose!” (He used a little courser word than manure!) What he meant was that no matter how bad things looked for that person it always worked out well for them in the end.

The stronghold of God’s goodness will protect us from being destroyed in the trial. In the end, we will “come out smelling like a rose!”

Finally, I want to look at the words of Jesus.

Matthew 7:11 (NKJV) 11 If you then, being 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!

A good father wants only good things for his children. Sometimes good things are not the things we think we need. A father knows how to discern the difference. In this verse, Jesus shows the goodness of God by assuring us that God is a much better father than any of us. He will always give us good things and only good things.

Whatever God is doing in your life it is exactly what you need to get you to where you need to go. I am not talking about the things the devil is doing or the things we bring about with our own flesh. They are always bad. However, in the midst of the bad things that may be happening, God is working some good gift.

What the devil means for evil, God will turn to good. The mistakes we make that open the door for evil will be transformed by the goodness of God into a gift that will bring life to us. This will happen when we stand by faith in the stronghold of God’s goodness and boldly declare, “The Lord is good and his mercy endures forever! (1 Chron. 16:34)

Wonderful Ministry in Tororo Uganda

Matthew 5:6 (NKJV) 6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

We have finished the conference here in Tororo Uganda with a time of teaching on marriage. This is often one of the more difficult things we do, but it was a real blessing this year to see people receive so openly. The whole seminar in Tororo has been wonderful. We taught on the idea that we must be a wartime church not a peacetime church. Of course we talked about many things involving lifestyle to give insight into how we fight this war. We must realize that when we are at war, although we can have times of rest, fun with family, recreation and many other things, we never can forget that the mission comes first. We ended with a look at many aspects of David’s victory against Goliath.

The people this year were more open to receive than any other year. It was the most effective time we have spent in Uganda. Pastor Joram and sister Rosemary did a wonderful job taking care of us and setting up the meeting. There were a number who came from out of town. One precious couple who did not know pastor Joram came at 8:30 the first day (the meeting didn’t start until 10.) For those who have traveled in Africa, you know what kind of commitment that indicates. They said they heard about it on the radio and they just knew they had to be there.

They and many of the people had such wonderful words of encouragement. Most of the time Africans are gracious and have very nice things to say. There was something different about the comments this year. They were truly humbling for my wife and me. It is really mostly a new group that came together this year and they have assured us they are going to work together to have a better meeting next year. We have heard that before, but somehow I believe these people mean it. Praise God for his faithfulness!

Ministry for a Week in Uganda

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NKJV) 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

We have crossed the border to Uganda for a week with Pastor Joram and a group of ministers here in the city of Tororo.  God has been so faithful despite some continual opposition.  For the most part it has been just irritants, nothing we don’t expect on the mission field.  (Dr. Wilson always told us, “If you want it to be like America, stay in America.)  However, one thing that was more than an irritant is that both my wife and I dropped our computers and now the touch does not work.  Since we use them to preach, that is a bit of a problem but nothing that will stop us.  Pray we can replace them when we return to the States.

With the opposition we have seen some great meetings.  We just finished in Malaba, Kenya with Pastor Pius and Matilda Idewa.  We had a wonderful group of men and woman with 50 to 70 in the seminar and nearly 600 Sunday Morning.  We ministered on the topic “Are We to be a Peacetime Church or a Wartime Church.”  These faithful men and women of God received the challenge and will go back to the 14 churches they represent ready to defeat the adversary Peter spoke of in 1 Peter 5.  We expect the same here in Uganda.

From Tororo we travel back to Kenya and on to Kericho for our final week on the road.  Then we drive back to Limuru where David Cerar our host is waiting for us.  We then begin our final weeks in Kenya with meetings in the Limuru/Nairobi area.  Keep us in prayer that we finish strong and thank you in advance for doing so.

From Goodness to Goodness

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NKJV) 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We have been studying Moses’ encounter with the Lord in Exodus 33 and 34. Moses made a request of the Lord in chapter 33 in response to the Lord’s favor. Moses asks God to show him his glory. Moses saw miracles that others ever will. Nevertheless, he understood that there was something underneath the demonstrations of God’s power. The miracles were glorious, but Moses wanted to see the source “glory” for those miracles. God defines this for Moses. He tells him, “I will show you my goodness.”

I have been intrigued by this for quite some time. There is something about the goodness of God that is so fundamental that without understanding it we will never see the power of God. Understanding goodness is fundamental to understanding God. When Moses received a revelation of God’s goodness, it changed him. I believe that if we receive this revelation, it will change us as well.

We read in the first of today’s verses that when God showed Moses his goodness, Moses’ face actually began to shine with the glory of God. We can read of the actual event in Exodus 34. The revelation of God’s goodness was so powerful that it caused a physical transformation in Moses.

I know that Moses spent time in God’s presence during this encounter. However, Moses had spent time in his presence before. Moses spent 40 days in the presence of God when the Lord first gave him the Ten Commandments but there was no mention that his face shone.

In Exodus 34 God replaces the stone tablet Moses had broken. The commandments were the same. Moses did not spend 40 days in the presence of God this second time. What was so different in this second encounter with God that it caused a physical transformation? Moses saw the Glory of God. Moses saw the goodness of God. It was the revelation of God’s goodness that caused Moses face to shine. Look at what God said to Moses in the Amplified Bible.

Exodus 34:6-7 (AMP) 6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.

God speaks of his mercy, forgiveness, goodness and truth. He reveals to Moses that he will keep showing mercy to thousands. I know that these verses also point out that God does not forgive the guilty. We must understand that to punish the guilty is also a manifestation of the goodness of God. Judgment on the guilty frees God to do good for the innocent.

The thing that is different to Moses is the emphasis on the goodness of God’s nature. That is the aspect of his glory that is most important for Moses to understand. That is what caused Moses face to shine.

In the second of today’s verses, we see that the same revelation that caused a physical change in Moses is available to us in Christ. However, there is a difference in what happens to us and what happened to Moses. We read in the verses between the two we are looking at today that the change in Moses was temporary. It was outward. The change that we will experience is inward and lasting.

God showed Moses as much of his glory as was possible under the Old Covenant. God told Moses, “You cannot see my face; for no man shall see my face and live.” (Ex. 33:20) This was true in the Old Testament. However, we see that in Christ things have changed. We “behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.”

What do we look at in a mirror? We primarily look at our own face. James 1 compares the Word of God to a mirror. As we look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word, we can behold the fullness of the Glory of God. Moses had to be protected from that fullness. Paul tells us that we not only can but also must look into the Glory. When we do, we will not experience and outward change that fades but we will be transformed inwardly into the image of the glory we see.

This is a powerful revelation that I think we miss. Most of us believe that if someone’s face were to glow as Moses’ face glowed this would be the height of a demonstration of God’s glory. We are so outward focused that we do not understand what Moses did. The outward is simply a reflection of the inward. The outward is real. The inward is more real. What Paul tells us is that we can have what Moses could not. We can have an inward transformation. We can become what Moses could only reflect.

Moses wore a veil over his face so that the people would not see that the glory reflected in his face was fading. Outward manifestations fade. We may have had wonderful experiences with God that do change us. However, with the passing of time the effect of the experience fades. We remember it. It may be very important to us, but it fades. Paul wants us to see that what Christ has done in us does not need to be veiled because it does not fade.

The revelation that we receive transforms us. It does not just change us outwardly. It changes us completely into the same “glory” that we behold. What is the glory that we must behold? I suggest that we need a revelation of the same glory that Moses did. Paul did not choose this example from Moses’ life by chance. What God revealed to Moses was his goodness. I believe that the more we understand God’s goodness the more we are transformed into the people God wants us to be.

Since it is God himself that equated his goodness with his glory, I think it is fair to substitute the word goodness for the word glory in this verse. Let us read it again.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the goodness of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from goodness to goodness, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Think about that for a moment. I am still thinking about it. What does it mean? I am not sure I fully understand it myself, but I know that I must fill my heart with thoughts of God’s goodness. I must meditate on the truth that everything God does is motivated by goodness. I like what the bible says in James 1.

James 1:17 (NKJV) 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God. The world has nothing I need. In God, there is no variation from this truth. It says there is no shadow of turning. He is not even thinking about changing. God is good. Everything he does is good. Everything he does in my life is good. When I see that, truly see that, I will be transformed in my lifestyle, my expectations and my behavior into the same force for goodness that God himself is. God is good! He is good all the time!

Living in the Goodness of God 1

Exodus 33:20-22 (NKJV) 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.

We have been dealing with the question, “Are we a church in time of war or in time of peace.” I believe the New Testament is clear that we are at was and will be until Jesus returns (1 Peter 5:8-11.) As we are traveling in Kenya, I want to repost something from 2015. According to 2 Corinthians 10 our weapons are not carnal. I think one of the greatest weapons at our disposal is the Goodness of God. Join me as we look at this powerful force.)

I want to look at Exodus 33 and Moses’ encounter with the Lord. Israel were so rebellious and so full of unbelief that The Lord told Moses he would send them into Canaan, but his presence could not go with them or it would destroy them. Moses intercedes for Israel once again and once again; his faith enables God to do what Israel’s unbelief made impossible. In response, Moses asked to see God’s glory.

We have already stated this, but I think it bears repeating. Moses had seen what most of us are looking for when we think of God’s glory. He had seen signs and wonders beyond imagination. Yet he still asked to see God’s glory. I think we could learn something from this. We interpret God’s glory by the outward. That is part of what his glory is. However, Moses understood that God’s real glory was something deeper. That is what Moses wanted to see.

How do you interpret the glory of God? How do I interpret it? Both are irrelevant. We need to know how God himself defines his glory. He tells Moses, “I will show you my Goodness.” God’s goodness and his glory are the same thing. If we want to see his glory, we need a revelation of his goodness.

What does it take to receive a revelation of the goodness of God? Today’s scripture gives us at least one key. God tells Moses that to see God’s glory, his goodness; he must be in a particular place. He must be standing on the rock. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul calls Christ a rock. I believe this is a type of salvation. We cannot know God’s goodness unless we know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the father.” (John 14:8) Take the time to walk with Jesus in the Gospels. You will see the goodness of God in operation. You will see him heal the sick. You will see him forgive sinners. You will see him cast out devils. You will also see him confront the evil of the Pharisees. All of this is the goodness of God in operation.

You will never see Jesus doing anything evil to anyone. Even when he confronted the Pharisees and drove the moneychangers from the temple, this was a manifestation of goodness. Evil keeps man from God and from attaining all that God wants for him. Jesus drove out evil so good could prevail.

As we continue to follow him, we see him deal lovingly and gently with those who need him. We see him go out of the way to minister to the Samaritan woman. We see him forgive the woman caught in adultery. We see him heal a lame man on the Sabbath. When he did that, the Pharisees accused him of doing something bad because he did it on a holy day. He let them know that they were confused about what was good.

Matthew 12:9-12 (NKJV) 9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–that they might accuse Him. 11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Jesus had to tell the Pharisees that it was good to heal a sick man even though it was against the letter of the Law. The Pharisees understood religion, but they did not know the goodness of God. We need to understand that it is possible to know doctrine or religious tradition but if we do not understand the goodness of God, we do not know him.

When are born again we become “new creatures in Christ.” Many things happen to us in this process but one of them is that the glory or goodness of God is revealed in our hearts. We must be born again, or we will never understand his goodness.

The Lord also tells Moses that he will put him a “cleft in the rock and cover him with his hand.” Moses had to stand on the rock first. We must first be born again. However, there was something deeper that God had to do with Moses before he could understand his glory. He had to “hide him in the rock and cover him with his hand.” This reminds me of something Paul wrote to the Colossians.

Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV) 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

To understand the goodness of God it is not enough to be born again. That is the door, but many Christians come to Jesus and never understand the goodness of God. They struggle thinking that God cannot really love them because of their past. They never feel they are worthy of the blessing of God. Consequently, they never walk in the fullness of salvation.

We see here that there are some things we need to do not to be saved but because we are saved. They would do no good if we were not standing on the Rock. However, once we are born again, there are things we must do to understand the true nature of what has happened to us. This includes understanding the depth and reality of the goodness of God.

Paul tells us, we must seek those things that are above. We live in the natural world. We cannot ignore that fact. We cannot live in the world without dealing with the world. We seek food and shelter. We seek pleasure and the fullness of relationships. Paul is not saying that we should just ignore the natural world. He is saying that we must also seek to know and to walk in the world above. That is the world of the spirit.

How do we do that? The New King James says we must set our minds on these things. I believe that is part of it. How do we set our minds on things above? We start by setting our minds in the Word of God. God has written down his thoughts and his attitudes. As we read his Word, we feed our spirit. It is in his Word that we will learn of his infinite goodness.

It is not enough to read the Word. We must keep it in our minds. We must meditate in the Word of God. God told Joshua to do this “day and night.” The result would be that he would have “good success.” (Joshua 1:8) I cannot help but notice the word good in that verse.

The King James Version says we should set our “affections on things above.” This is a little different picture. While we must set our minds on the Word of God and the things of God, we must also set our affections on higher things. The term affections speak of that about which we like to think.

We may have affection for a person, a place or a thing. When we do, we think about it. We dwell on it. We want to be with it or with them. Where is our affection? Is it primarily set on earthly things? If so, I think we will find it difficult know the goodness of God. We must cultivate affection for the things above through the study of the Word, prayer and worship. If we do, we will find that the goodness of God will become more evident both in our understanding and in our daily experience with God.

Continued Ministry in Kenya

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Praise God, many of you have been following my wife, Elaine Kiefer, on Facebook and have seen the pictures of our journeys through Kenya.  If you have not and are on Facebook just look for Elaine Kiefer and you can follow us on our travels.  I will try and add some pictures to this site when I can, but we have some time before our meetings today so I thought I would post an update. 

We got to Nairobi and then Limuru on August 3rd after missing our connecting flight in Doha Quatar.  They put us up in a nice hotel, so that was fine.  We got to David Cerar’s house in Limuru with some time to rest before starting our schedule in Western Kenya.  The difference this year is that my friend, co-minister and driver for the past 7 years on this trip had a medical procedure and the doctors did not want him traveling so far just yet.  That meant that I spent our time resting also practicing driving in Kenya.  We are now in Western Kenya and, although it is still strange to be on the “wrong side of the road” and the car for that matter, I think things are going well.  (No incidents, Hallelujah)

We have had two conferences so far.  The first with Pastor Celestine in the area around the town of Bungoma.  He is a wonderful man of God who is the overseer of the PEFA churches in that region.  PEFA is a missions organization connected to Elim Bible Institute near Rochester NY.  This was our first time with them and so it was somewhat a “getting acquainted” meeting. We had a wonderful time sharing with pastors and church leaders there and look forward to much more next year.

While in Bugoma we joined a new friend who is a pastor and missionary in Mexico. His name is Steve Leigh. He taught the people along with us and stayed with us for our first day in Mumias. He then flew home after a 3 week stay in Kenya. It was a blessing to meet and spend time with this man of God.

We are now in the town of Mumias. There were some scheduling conflicts that we were not aware of so the meetings have been small, but impactful. Pastor Eliakim and Pastor Anselmus are great men of God with churches in town. We are working here with the local pastor’s fellowship. Today we finish with a second day of teaching on Marriage. Sunday, we go to churches and Monday we head to Malaba and Pastor Pius and Matilda Edewa, dear friends and family. We will be speaking in their annual pastor’s conference. Pastor Pius is over the Maranatha churches in the area. He has, as of last year, 14 churches he has personally started. It is always a great joy to be with them.

We still have Tororo, Uganda for a week after that and then Kericho Kenya for a week before returning to Limuru to start ministry there. Pray for our safety and strength. Driving here is a new experience so I need your prayers. (By the time I get back to Limuru I will be a veteran Kenya driver! Say amen somebody!) Our schedule is grueling but fulfilling. Your prayers keep us healthy and strong. We will try and update and get some teaching posts up soon, but it is hard to get the time. Thank you again for your faithfulness in prayer. You will never know the impact that a person who prays in faith can have.