Tuesday, February 19, 2008

JUICY FRUITY GOODNESS - Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 7 - February 16, 2008

“God is good…”
“All the time…”

The phrase, “God is good,” calls for a response. No matter what Christian gathering I have been in, the congregation or audience knows to respond, “All the time.” This exchange is always echoed by its reversal: “All the time,” “God is good.” If I were walking down the street and someone said, “God is good,” my mind would automatically finish the phrase. Like “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” “God is good…” is etched permanently in my mind.

I guess if you had to boil down the Good News to six words, “Jesus loves me” and “God is good” would just about cover it. Knowing that I’m loved is essential to my well being. And when things are going wrong and my life seems to be falling apart, it’s vital that I believe that God is good, ALL THE TIME—even when God seems absent.

David—the shepherd boy turned King of Israel—knew the meaning of crisis. When he was facing a giant, running for his life from King Saul, worrying himself silly over a rebellious son, running from his own sinful nature that led him into adultery and murder, or grieving the death of his newborn son, David inevitably sought God’s goodness. “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And he encourages us to, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

In spite of one adversity or blunder after another, David firmly believed that, “God is good…all the time.” This does not mean, however, that David always felt the presence of God and God’s goodness. Many of his psalms record his fears, despair, loneliness, and his desperate cries to God to reveal his presence and purpose. In the midst of our own crises and losses, we easily identify with David’s feelings. We wonder, “Where is God?” In the midst of emotional pain, our focus narrows and we tend limit God’s goodness to our current situation. If we’re suffering, then God must be “away from his desk” and not returning our urgent voice mail messages.

We need to broaden our focus and reconnect with the truth that God’s goodness is inexhaustible and ever present. “God's providence has been supplying unending resources for life for 6,000 tumultuous years of human history,” states John Ritenbaugh. “These come as air, water, food, housing and reproduction and all the uses man's creative mind and energetic workmanship put them to. Even our minds and workmanship are products of God's goodness!” And, “in spite of our stiff-necked and rebellious conduct, He has continued to bear patiently with us, forgive us, supply us with life and knowledge and move us forward with His purpose.”

Yes, life is tough—and a lot tougher for some than for others—but our lives are permeated with God’s goodness and presence. We are bombarded daily via the news with countless examples of sin, downright evil, and mass destruction in the world—from the daily webcam of Brittany’s life to acts of terror around the world. Thus, we have to make a concerted effort to live out our spiritual heritage of goodness.

We can reconnect with God’s goodness by being God’s goodness in this sin wrought world. Juicy Fruit Goodness:

· begins with intention (It is possible to do good things, but for the wrong reasons, for example, to make ourselves look good or in the hopes of getting something in return.),
· is done out of goodness of heart, no strings attached, no hidden motivations,
· can be gentle (aid, forgiveness, mercy…) or sharp (confrontation, correction…), and
· is always done with the well-being of the recipient in mind.

“Ya’ll be good now, you hear?”

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
John Wesley

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