Faith in the Goodness of God

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) 6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Last time we saw that God could not reveal his goodness to Moses until the Ten Commandments were restored to Israel.  Moses had broken the stone tablets upon which the commandments were written in response to Israel’s sin.  God told Moses in the beginning of Exodus 34 to cut new tablets so that God could once again write the commandments.  It was in chapter 34 that God fulfilled the promise to show Moses his glory made to him in chapter 33. 

In Romans 2:4 Paul tells us that God’s goodness leads us to repentance.  1 John 1:8-10 tells us that when we repent, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we repent, the goodness of God can once again flow freely in our lives producing blessing and prosperity.  If we do not repent, sin will continue to allow death’s influence to hinder the manifestation of the goodness of God. 

We must walk in repentance to keep the goodness of God flowing.  I want to look at another thing we must do to accomplish this.  We must believe in the goodness of God.  I know that seems obvious, but I have been in ministry more than 40 years and I can tell you that most of us do not believe in the goodness of God as a driving force in our lives.  We believe in it as a theory or as a theological truth, but not as a present reality.

There are many reasons this is true.  Past experience or the influence of parents can produce a mindset in us that tends to expect the worst out of life.  Certainly, abuse can cause us to think we are not worthy of good things.  Whatever causes us to feel that good things are not working for us, the solution is the same.  We must choose to believe in the goodness of God as a force at work behind the scenes of life.

Most of us evaluate the goodness of God based on our life experience.  We may do so consciously or subconsciously, but we do.  If we are going to walk successfully in the goodness of God, we must begin to evaluate life experience based on the presumption that the goodness of God is at work.  This would change our whole way of responding to the challenges of life. 

Later this week we will see this at work in the life of Paul.  First, let us ask the question, “How do I change that perspective.”  The answer is faith in the goodness of God.  Romans 10:17 tells us how to build faith for anything the bible teaches.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  The implication here is not just that the Word of God went into your ears.  The implication is that there is an acceptance and understanding of what is heard.  The more we meditate on any promise in the Word, the more we build faith to receive that promise.  The promise of the action of the goodness of God in my life is no different.  I must find the goodness of God in the bible and meditate on it until I know in my heart that God’s goodness is at work in every area of my own life.

The bible is full of the goodness of the Lord.  We can look at God’s dealings with Old Testament characters and see his goodness at work.  We can hear David declare God’s goodness in the Psalms.  One of the best places to see the goodness of God at work is in the ministry of Jesus.  We see him healing sick people, casting out demons from the oppressed and preaching good news to all.  Look at his words in the beginning of his ministry.

Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV) 18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

This is what Jesus said he came to do and when you read the story of his life you will find that this is what he did.  He was the goodness of God incarnate. 

I want to take a moment to look at one of my favorite scriptures in light of the goodness of God.  It is the verse quoted above.  In my bible, I have this verse underlines in this way.  6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

I believe many people subconsciously believe that God is more a punisher than a rewarder.  That is what religion teaches and it is what many people have learned to believe due to the life they have led.  Nevertheless, this is not the truth.

God is predisposed to be a rewarder.  God’s desire for his children is to reward them.  This truth is even evident in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV) 19  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

It is God’s sincere desire that we choose life and blessing.  He wants to bless you right now.  It is never his desire to see bad things happen to you.  Hebrews 11:6 is clear that if we are going to come to him in faith, we must believe that he is going to reward us.  Rewards are never bad.  They are always good.  When I come to God, I must do so with the understanding that he is not going to give me anything or do anything to me that is not good.

How does this relate to faith in the goodness of God?  This scripture assures us of his goodness.  As I meditate on this verse, I cannot help but build faith that the goodness of God is at work in my life.  He is a rewarder.  He is rewarding my diligence in seeking him.  As I seek him, his will and his ways, the goodness of God is going before me working in me and in my circumstances to produce good things. 

That is not to say that everything that happens will be what I want.  That is not to say that everything the goodness of God produces will be things I initially like.  It is true that everything God does will produce good things in my life sooner or later. 

I want you to take some time today to think about this verse.  God is a rewarder.  God is working to bring reward into your life today.  That reward will be the highest good possible for your life.  When you look around and see things that cannot be described as good, know that God’s goodness is at work changing those things.  His goodness is at work in the bad thing to bring about a higher good for you than you could imagine yourself. 

The goodness of God is a driving force in the life of a believer.  Goodness is like light.  Darkness cannot dispel light.  Nevertheless, no matter how dark the darkness becomes, just a little light will drive it back.  Evil cannot dispel goodness.  No matter what evil is at work, the goodness of God can dispel and destroy the evil. 

We must believe in the power of his goodness.  It is at work in your life and circumstances right now!

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The Goodness of God and Repentance

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) 4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

We have been looking at the goodness of God.  In Exodus 33, Moses asked God to show him his glory.  God said, “I will show you my goodness.”  There is a direct correlation between the goodness of God and the glory of God.  This week we have been discussing how to walk or live under the constant influence of the goodness of God.  In Exodus 34, we found that before God could show Moses his goodness, the Ten Commandments, which Moses had thrown down and broken in pieces, had to be restored.  To walk in his goodness, we must walk in his ways.

Today I want to look at another scripture in Romans.  We know that we are not under the Law of Moses.  Salvation is a gift given freely and earned by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can do nothing to deserve it nor can we do anything to earn it.  However, the wages of sin is death.  I do not believe he is only talking about the death of eternal separation from God when we are outside of salvation.  I believe Paul is also talking about the door that opens in the life of a believer when he or she allows sin to remain.

God desires good things for his children.  His goodness is our inheritance.  I desire good things for my children.  When they were young, I delighted in giving them good gifts.  However, I also gave them discipline and even punishment when they needed it.  I did not do this because I was withholding my goodness.  I was actually acting out of the same desire to give them good things.  There are things that my children had to learn in order to continue to partake of goodness in adult life. 

God is a better father than I am, and he desires that his children learn to partake of his goodness throughout life.  Sin will block the goodness of God.  Our Father teaches us not to sin.  He tells us what we must not do.  He lets us know that those things do not please him, but his real purpose is that we would stay away from the things that open the door to the evil of the devil and close the door to the goodness of God.

Any Christian who is honest will acknowledge that he still commits sin at times.  1 John 1:8 makes it very clear that God understands this.

1 John 1:8 (NKJV) 8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

To me, there is no question that he is talking to Christians since he says, “If we say.”  Christians sin.  The wages or result of sin is death.  Death is the power of the devil in the earth.  When we sin, we open the door to the influence of the power of the devil.  To say this is not so, is dishonest to ourselves and to  . 

What is the solution to this problem?  How can I stop sin and thereby keep the influence of the devil out of my life?  Today’s verse tells us that God, in his goodness, has provided a way.  This verse does not say the goodness of God simply excuses sin.  That would not be just, and God is always just.  It does not say that the goodness of God negates the influence of the devil that sin opens us to.  It says that his goodness leads us to repentance.

Often when we hear the word repentance, we think of God’s anger.  We tend to associate repentance with God’s displeasure.  I will not say that God is pleased when we sin.  He is not.  However, repentance is not a product of his displeasure.  It is a product of his goodness toward us. 

We must look at the rest of 1 John 1 in order to understand this.

1 John 1:9-10 (NKJV) 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Repentance is the process of acknowledging that we are wrong and taking steps to turn from what is wrong to what is right.  No one can do that for someone else.  We can only repent for ourselves.  When we acknowledge that we are wrong, we are taking responsibility for what we have done.  This puts us in a position to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.  He is our savior.  He is our Lord and our Father.  All sin is ultimately against him.  With the confession is the understanding that we are asking God to forgive us of that sin.

This verse says that he does that.  It also says something that is very important.  He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  Unrighteousness is that state of being not right with God.  Salvation made us right with God from God’s point of view.  The sins we all commit in the course of life do not take that right standing with God from us.  Jesus paid for those sins as well as the past sins.  However, sin opens the door to the devil’s influence and brings a sense of separation to us.  God will not condemn us, but the devil will and so will our conscience (1 John 3:20-21.)

When we repent, God is both faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us of the effects of the sin.  He is faithful because he is fulfilling his Word to us concerning eternal salvation.  He is just because Jesus paid the price for the sin.  He has every right to both forgive us and cleanse us. 

The forgiveness causes a removal of the sense of separation that comes to man when he sins.  The cleansing of unrighteousness takes away the devil’s ability to bring death into our circumstances because of sin.  The effect is instantaneous.  There may be times when our sin sets in motion certain consequences that cannot be changed.  However, once we are forgiven and cleansed further consequences can be avoided.  Death has no more say in the situation.

None of this can happen unless we repent.  Why would that be true?  It is so because God does not take away our free will when we are born again.  Jesus died to preserve our free will.  He will not make us behave correctly.  He will not make us avoid sin.  If we want to sin, we can.  Death is still in the earth and sin still gives death influence in our lives.  That is not God getting mad at us and withholding his blessing.  That is an effect produced by a cause.

God expects us to grow up in him.  To fulfill our destiny and become channels of the goodness of God, we must become mature believers. When my children were very small, I strictly controlled their choices.  The older they got the less control I had over their decisions in life.  They are all grown now.  They make their own choices and they must deal with the consequences.  The Christian life is no different.  God expects mature children to make good choices.  When they do not make the right ones according to God’s standards and principles, there are consequences he does not control. 

Since it is inevitable that we are going to make bad choices, God provides a way for us to negate them.  He provides a power that can free us from the future consequences of those choices if not the past ones.  His goodness leads us to repentance. 

Living in the Goodness of God 2

Romans 11:22 (NKJV) 22  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Yesterday we began answering the question, “How can we live in God’s goodness?”  The first thing we must say in answer to the question is simply this.  We must believe in his goodness.  We must believe that everything God does in our lives is good even if it may not appear so on the surface.  James 1:17 is a wonderful promise along these lines.

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.

When I approach things with the assurance that the God I serve is always good, it gives me a different perspective on life.  I can say with Paul that nothing can separate me from the love, and therefore the goodness, of god.  (Romans 8:37-39)

In looking at Moses encounter with God, we find in chapter 34 that something had to happen before God actually showed Moses his glory.  Moses had to cut a new set of tablets so that God could re-write the Ten Commandments that Moses had broken in response to Israel’s sin.  Before God could show Moses his glory and his goodness, the commandments had to be in place.

As we read the rest of Exodus 34, we see that God promises Moses he will do powerful signs and wonders for Israel.  He also gives them some directives.  Most notably, he directs them to keep themselves separate from the people of Canaan and from their Gods.  He promises Moses he will drive them out, but while he is driving them out, Israel must maintain their holiness.

What does this mean to us?  Does God require that we earn his goodness?  Is this just for Israel under the Old Testament or do we have to maintain a Godly lifestyle in order to live constantly under the benefits of God’s goodness? 

As we read today’s verse, we see a statement from Paul’s mouth about the goodness of God.  This chapter is speaking of the fact that God grafted the gentile church into the covenant with Israel.  This chapter is about the truth that God brought the church into relationship with himself apart from the law.  We are in Christ by grace through faith not by acts of obedience.  Israel maintained their relationship by keeping the law not by faith. 

This was necessary for Israel because Jesus had not yet come.  He had not died for the transgression of Adam.  The results of the fall had not yet been put upon him and he was not yet raised for the justification of man.  To some Israelites, this did not seem fair.  In this chapter, he is telling the church that it was not fair.  It was grace.  Grace is not fair, but it is just.

His point in this verse, however, is rather interesting.  Paul portrays what has happened between the church and Israel as two sides of the same coin.  He uses the word severity to describe his actions toward Israel.  The Greek word here means decisiveness or rigor.  His actions toward Israel were decisive.  Sin produced separation from God.  For many years, he had pushed the judgment for Israel’s many sins to the future.  Once Jesus came, that judgment came decisively, and they were cut off.

Paul also notes that the other side of the coin was that decisive judgment released God’s goodness.  That goodness was not just to the gentiles but to all who would believe upon Jesus.  Israel’s special dispensation ended in decisive judgment.  To the outward eye, this seemed severe but God’s severity was only so he could release his goodness.

It is the latter half of this text that will give those who preach that grace eliminates consequences for disobedience some problems.  Paul says that the goodness God gave to those who receive Jesus continues as long as we walk in his goodness.  If we do not walk in his goodness, we can be cut off as well.

I believe that if we take all the teachings of Paul as a whole, we cannot conclude that we are completely cut off from salvation.  If every act of disobedience caused us to lose our salvation, most of us would need to be saved every day.  As we read this chapter, I think we cannot escape the fact that this is a warning to those in the church who were making grace an excuse to sin.  Paul tells us that if we do not continue to walk in the goodness of God we can and will suffer the same fate as Israel.

What happened to Israel?  Did they stop being God’s people?  Paul did not think so.  What happened to Israel is that the things they were trusting in for salvation became ineffective.  The method of salvation obtained solely by keeping the law was replaced with the cross and they were just as much entitled to that as anyone else.  If they did not choose to accept the cross, the protection and blessing of their covenant was no longer affective.  They had to accept and walk in the goodness that God had provided in Jesus or they were cut off from the covenant just like the gentiles

I believe we need to understand that to partake of the goodness with which God desires to bless us, we must also continue to walk the principles that release the goodness of God.  As I said yesterday, our behavior does not earn us righteousness or salvation.  Our behavior keeps us under the influence of the goodness of God. 

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23.)  Romans chapter 6 tells us that we must not yield our members, neither our bodies nor our souls, as servants of sin.  When we do, we give death influence in our lives.  This does not mean we will go to hell.  It does mean that we may experience hell on earth.  It also means that we are not pleasing to the Father who gave his Son for us.  This should mean something to us.

How do we continue in the goodness of God?  We must obey the Word of God.  Paul’s writings alone are full of things we must do.  Let us look at one passage.

Ephesians 4:20-24 (NKJV) 20  But you have not so learned Christ, 21  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

This scripture uses the word “conduct.”  The term “put off” is something we must do for ourselves.  I believe that if we choose to do this by faith, the Holy Spirit will help us.  The bible does not say he will do it for us.  I must put off certain conduct that flows from the deceitful lusts of the old man.  I am not the old man any longer.  Any honest Christian must admit that some of the conduct and habits of the old man remain.  It is up to me to put them off.

Then I will be able to put on the new man.  All of this is tied to another kind of conduct I must put on.  I must be renewed in the spirit of my mind.  How do I do that?  Romans 12:2 says we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This is the same word used in Ephesians 4:23.  How do we do that?  Joshua 1:8 says we must meditate in the Word of God day and night.

I will continue in the goodness of God as I learn to put off the old man and put on the new man.  I will continue in the goodness of God as I am transformed by the renewing of my mind in the Word of God.  If I continue in this way, I will partake of all that the goodness and glory of God have for my life.

Living in the Goodness of God

Exodus 34:1-3 (NKJV) 1  And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. 2  So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain. 3  And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let neither flocks nor herds feed before that mountain.”

(We are still in Kenya but in a lighter part of the schedule.  One of the seminars was canceled so we are mostly busy on weekends.  There are some other things in the works so pray that we keep busy.  Our last scheduled conference is the will be October 3-6.  In the mean time let me continue with the teaching on “The Goodness of God.”)

For the last few weeks, we have been looking at the encounter between God and Moses in Exodus chapter 33.  In the course of their interaction, God tells Moses that he has found favor with the Lord.  Moses response is to ask to see God’s glory.  It is worth repeating that Moses had seen manifestations of the glory of God that none of us has seen.  Yet he understood that there was something he had not seen.  He knew that the source was something deeper than plagues and pillars of fire.  He knew that the outward manifestations of glory came from an inward life.  He wanted to see God as he really was.

God granted Moses’ wish.  God told him he would show him all of his glory that he could see and still live.  I believe he was also showing Moses the most important aspect of his glory.  God said, “I will show you my goodness.”  The goodness of God is one of the basic elements of his nature.  I think that the revelation of the goodness of God is fundamental to showing forth the manifestations of the glory of God we want to see in the earth.

It is my desire to live in God’s goodness.  There are two dimensions of this.  One is to live in the blessing his goodness brings into my life.  We looked at Matthew 7:11 last week.  Jesus says that if natural fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, certainly the perfect Father, God, will give good gifts to us.  God is by nature a father.  All we know and feel about parenthood comes from him.  I would do anything to bring blessing to my children.  I believe God’s goodness brings healing, prosperity, peace and joy to his children. 

On the other hand, I brought other good gifts to my children so that they can be happy and successful in life.  I brought discipline and correction when needed.  I taught them how to be good citizens and good people.  I taught them the value of work and of self-control.  All of these things were also manifestations of my goodness to them.  They are sometimes hard to learn and harder to live.  However, these “good gifts” enable them to fulfill their destiny through a productive life.  If I provided them with toys, gifts and money but did not provide them with the other things, I was not a good father.

God is a good father in every way.  He desires to give good things to his children.  It is never his will for us to be sick in body, soul or spirit.  Never!  It is always his will to heal us in all areas of life.  If you are a parent, is that not how you feel? 

At the same time, he desires that we become channels of his goodness not just recipients of his goodness.  Therefore, he not only brings healing and blessing, but he also requires that we walk in faith and integrity.  He requires a standard of behavior that he knows will enable us to walk in the blessing he wants to give to and through us. 

There is some confusion today about grace, righteousness and behavior.  Salvation is free.  There is no question about that.  We can do nothing to earn it.  We can do nothing to deserve it.  It is a gift.  We do not have to confess past sins to obtain it.  We do not have to do penance.  We do not have to change our behavior in order to partake of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.  We must believe it and receive it; nothing more. 

Keeping our analogy of parenting in place, birth is a free gift.  The baby has nothing to do with it.  The baby is conceived by an act of the body and will of the parents.  The baby does not go through the pain and work of birth.  The mother does the work.  The father contributed the life that caused conception.  The baby does not earn life, nor does he deserve life based on anything he or she has done.  Life is a product of the love of the parents and the love of God.

A newborn has nothing to contribute.  Babies have no responsibilities in life.  The parents provide everything they need.  As they grow, more and more is required of them.  These requirements have nothing to do with earning life.  Life was and is a gift.  They have everything to do with how happy, healthy and productive they will be in life.  What is cute in a toddler is unacceptable in a pre-teen human.  What we can excuse in a teenager can be devastating in an adult.  It is the job of parents to show goodness to their children in training as well as in emotional support and provision. 

Salvation is free.  Walking in salvation requires that we grow up in him in all things (Ephesians 4:14-15.)  This means we need to learn the proper behavior for those in the Kingdom of God.  Children in my house had to behave according to a standard.  This had nothing to do with their identity as my children.  That comes by birth.  It had to do with pleasing me and more important with what it takes them to be productive.

We must understand that the goodness of God does not mean we do not have to behave according to righteousness.  There are certain qualities that define the lifestyle of any family.  The qualities that define the family of God are things like his goodness and his love.  They are also things like holiness, character and integrity.  Righteousness is not earned but given to us by Jesus in salvation.  That does not mean we are not required to walk right with God. 

Walking right before him does not earn us sonship it releases the power of his goodness in and through us as sons.  Walking in ways that go against the standards of behavior in the family of God will “close the supernatural gates” and keep us for experiencing the “good life.”  My love for my children is not determined by their behavior but their love for me is indicated by their behavior.  My love for him reflected in certain behavior opens the channel of his goodness in my life.

In today’s scripture, we see that God instructs Moses to cut two tablets of stone so that God can once again write the Ten Commandments upon them.  God had given Moses the standards of behavior for the family once.  Moses had broken the stone tablets in frustration over Israel’s behavior.  Before God can show Moses his goodness, his glory, the commandments had to be back in place.  It would not be fair for God to show Moses his goodness without the revelation on how to walk in that goodness. 

Some would say that this was for Israel not the church.  The tablets were for Israel.  The written laws were for Israel.  The principles are for all who would be part of God’s family.  Jeremiah 31:31-34 makes it very clear that God had something better than the written law in mind. 

He was not going to do away with the standards of behavior for his children.  Any parent who does not teach their children how to behave is a bad parent.  He said he would give them a better way to walk in these standards.  He would write them on their heart so that once their sins were forgiven, they would be able to walk in a way that the goodness of God would be free to bless them and everyone they would meet. 

Update From Kenya 2019: Back From our Western Road Trip

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.

I just wanted to post a short update for those who have followed us in Kenya this year.  We just finished our swing through western Kenya.  We visited 5 towns for 5 conferences as well as some teaching on marriage.  Each Sunday we ministered in churches.  It was a busy time.  I preached 46 times in roughly 31 days and my wife ministered 31 times in the same period.  It was wonderful.

I picked the above verse because I think it typifies what we believe God has called us to do in this phase of life and ministry.  We have always done our best to give whatever God has given us to faithful people who will be hearers and doers of the Word of God.  Now we have taken that to a different dimension by finding leaders and ministers who are interested in what God has given us and giving it to them so that they may give it to those to whom they minister.  I believe that this trip to western Kenya represents an increase in anointing and receptivity for what God has asked us to do.  We have found many truly faithful men and women that I believe will take what we have given them, improve upon it and teach it to others.  Together I am convinced we can and will have an impact on Kenya.

The trip itself was tiring but exhilarating at the same time.  The people were all so gracious and their comments inspired humility in our hearts.  They spoke of change coming to their lives because of the Word of God that was taught to them.  I know that any such impact is only because of the touch of the Lord and not because of what we bring.  Still, it is a blessing to know that God has seen fit to use willing vessels.

The part of this that I was somewhat dreading was the fact that I was going to have to drive.  I did not know quite what to expect.  Driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car was daunting enough.  The way people drive here, and more concerning than that, the way the people and the cars seem to all take up the same space in the cities and towns was even more of a challenge.  However, I found that it was not nearly as hard as I though and, with a great deal of caution and some hyper-vigilance, we made it for 4 weeks and no one was hurt.  I was very glad to return the car to David Cerar with no damage and in good condition.

One testimony involves the police.  In Kenya it was common for various agencies to set up check points where police would stop people to check for various things.  The problem is corruption.  Often the officers would use intimidation to try to get money from the drivers.  This is often compounded if you are a foreigner.  I did not want to have to deal with this kind of thing.  I think it was what I most wanted to avoid.  God was at work for us.

When we left for our trip, we heard that in June of this year, the government had pulled most of these check points because of the corruption.  We saw very few police on the road and none of them signaled us to pull over.  I always made sure I drove carefully and according to the speed limits.  We had absolutely no problem of any kind with the police or otherwise.  By the time we got back to David’s, I was even beginning to feel normal on the “wrong” side of the rode!  I believe God heard the prayers of all of you that prayed for me.  Thank you very much.

We will finish with ministry around the Limuru/Nairobi area with a conference in Limuru beginning tomorrow and a youth ministry on Saturday.  Then there will be churches on Sunday.  Next week we will spend time at Harvest fields Bible School in Limuru with Pastor Abel Oyaro.  This is the school founded by Leonard and Rozella Fox and presided over by there daughter Sharon Cranford for many years.  We will also get some much needed rest.

Remember to check Elaine Kiefer’s Facebook page for photo and video updates and more.  Keep us in prayer that we finish strong.  God is doing something good and we want to be the purest channel we can be for his glory to this precious people and this nation.  Thank you once more for all your prayers.  We will post again soon.

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!