A shepherd looks at the goodness of God.
You had a great performance review, yet the guy in your office everyone thinks is least likely for the promotion gets it instead of you...how do you resond?
Your alarm clock decides to NOT go off and you're late for that important appointment...how do you react?
Your phone rings at 10:15pm. It's the hospital informing you that your daughter was involved in a serious car accident...how do you respond? Is God good? Why do bad things happen to good people?
David the shepherd wrote in the 23rd Psalm: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...", but what do you do when you feel like you've just driven over mercy and goodness with your car??
Every day, we have the opportunity to doubt whether God is good. More often than not, people, difficulties, and trials seem to tell another story, but are they just means to a greater end?
The Bible has a lot to say concerning these types of circumstances. For instance, we read in James 1:2-3: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." Let me take a moment to clear up a misconception. You see, faith is not the opposite of doubt…faith is the enemy of doubt. The opposite of doubt is certainty. When difficulties come and God proves Himself as one who is good over and over, I become certain that:
God is love.
I am certain, that God is forgiving
I am certain, that God is just
I am certain, that God is good
Faith is the enemy of doubt because faith brings certainty into our lives. And our certainty increases with each experience of God's goodness towards us. As Moses and the Israelites found out in their trek out of Egypt, it's one thing to be delivered out of adversity, it’s another to know God is with you going into it.
In Exodus 33, Moses had to be convinced that God not only escorted them out, but that He would also escort them in to the Promised Land, so He asked God to show him His glory. God responded by showing Moses all His goodness.
"Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh.The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”
Goodness Lesson #1 - God is Compassionate and Merciful
This is the first thing God wants you to know about Him! God’s first impression when He sees you is to have compassion for you and show mercy towards you. Have you ever seen a lost child in crowd at State Fair or SummerFest? That's how God feels towards us when we're in circumstances that could overwhelm us. It's the same compassion that drives a shepherd to leave the flock, and seek the one sheep that's missing!
Goodness Lesson #2 - God is Patient and Kind
You really have to work to get God upset!
He’s filled with unfailing love…
He’s filled with unfailing faithfulness…
Q: How can you fill God?
Q: How can you fill someone who’s infinite?
A: Only with that which is infinite: unfailing love...unfailing faithfulness
Rabbi Paul as he described perfect love in New Testament, drew his understanding of what love is from this passage, this revelation of God! Paul said, “Love never fails” We know that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Goodness Lesson #3 - God is Love and Justice
There’s forgiveness for everyone, in every generation, every day!
His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness towards us is great! He’ll forgive every iniquity, every rebellious thought or action, every sin...but know this: He will not forgive the sin we never repent of. Remember, perfect love requires perfect justice.
God will forgive the guilty, but He will not just excuse us. When sin is left:
unchallenged by the love of Christ
uncovered by His blood
unconfessed because of pride
the enemy is given legal access to perpetuate that sin in the lives of the children….and their children…even to the 3rd and 4th generation. In my years of ministry, I've seen alcoholism comes down a family line, sexual abuse comes down the line, hurts and wounds from fathers passed on to their children - many times unintended and even unknowingly, but because it's all they've known, it's all they have to pass on. Satan will have his way until someone says: STOP! Until a generation rises up and says: "No more! It's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, and the goodness of God that loves us just the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way. Will you turn to the goodness of God today? Will you humble yourself, and aknowledge your need for Him? He's a prayer away. Remember, His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness towards us is great!