God Is Good

Today is Sunday, the seventeenth of October.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today!

Day 23,229

Twenty-one days until DST ends

Our plans are gaining more traction as we make arrangements to visit R & J, next month, in Indianapolis. We are currently looking at a couple of possibilities for an airbnb house to rent for four nights. Our current plan is to fly out on Wednesday evening, November 17, and return on Sunday, November 21. I would be missing one day of work, Friday the 19th. C would miss two days, Thursday and Friday. It’s a short trip, but C would return to work on Monday, and I would be scheduled back on Tuesday.

Yesterday was a pretty good day at the library. It wasn’t terribly busy, but there were moments when it did get busy. That seems to be pretty normal for a Saturday. I think I registered about six people for new library cards.

The Red Sox made post-season history last night, by blasting two grand salamis in consecutive innings. The phenom Kiké Hernandez also had a solo homer, and the final score was Red Sox 9, Astros 5. So they head to Fenway for tomorrow’s game, tied at one apiece. In the NLCS, the Braves took a 1-0 lead, beating the Dodgers 3-2. They will play again today.

We have our church gathering, this morning, and C and I are planning to attend in person. She is still aching a bit, but the localized pains she was having earlier in the week have subsided quite a bit.

It’s 46 degrees outside, this morning. Lovely weather. Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Breathing and Praying, by Daryl Madden

And all of us breathe
Each moment each day
Sometimes we draw deep
In an intentional way

An entrance to prayer
When we begin
We say to our God
We let you in

Breathing and praying
A new view to see
That with every breath
God is praying in me

So let us acknowledge
This with every breath
For if either one stops
The result will be death

I love this poem, comparing praying and breathing. Both are essential for true life.

For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.
Selah.
(Psalms 44:6-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn weather
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You have not rejected my prayer or withheld Your love from me (Psalm 66:20)
4. for Your goodness
5. that we are already walking in Your Kingdom

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
(Psalms 66:20 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I center on the love of God, feeling it deep within my soul.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?
Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.
(Psalms 106:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
(Lamentations 1:1-3 NIV)

Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away.
(Lamentations 1:8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read through these passages again, I look for words or phrases that stir within me. I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, as I seek truth and wisdom.

The first thing is the reason given for giving thanks to the Lord. “For He is good; His love endures forever.”

God is good. If you feel compelled to say, “All the time,” in response, feel free. I don’t believe that it is possible to overstate this truth. God is good. In fact, at one point, Jesus even said that God is the only good.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
(Mark 10:18 NIV)

Good is good, and no on is truly good but God. There are people who do good things, true. But we are born into sinfulness. At our very heart, our very nature is wickedness, and even the good things that we are capable of are “filthy rags.”

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

But God is good, AND His steadfast love endures forever. And He does not treat us as we deserve. What we deserve is what humanity received in the days of Noah. Why do I say that? Because we do things that fly back in the face of that great goodness of God. We look at all the good things that He has done for us, and promptly turn away and sin some more. Many among us refuse to acknowledge His goodness, or even acknowledge His existence.

Verse 2 of the psalm (another of the “orphan” psalms) asks a strange question. “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare His praise?” We don’t know who wrote this, but, I mean, that person was proclaiming the might acts of the Lord, right? I can proclaim His mighty acts, as can you who are reading this. Perhaps a different translation can help.

Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?
(Psalms 106:2 NLT)

That gives the question a little more “oomph,” if you will. I can’t list them all; can you? And I certainly cannot praise Him enough. But together, we can, just maybe, come close. I kind of like the way the King James phrases this verse.

Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?
(Psalms 106:2 KJV)

The word that is translated “fully” in the NIV comes out as “all” in the KJV. The Hebrew word, there, can also mean, “the whole.” So we are presented with an impossible task. Who can do it? It’s a rhetorical question designed to remind us of how inadequate we are, in the face of the goodness and steadfast love of God that endures forever.

If we act justly, we are blessed, but then there’s that phrase that makes me stop in my tracks. “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”

Uhoh.

There is a popular phrase that is supposed to help us make decisions. “Always do right.” But do we? Does this mean that there is no hope for us to be blessed?

I choose to think that is not what it means. Because God is good. And His steadfast love endures forever. And He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).

At this point, it is almost as if the psalmist throws his hands up in the air and simply says, “Remember me, Lord, when You show favor to Your people.” All I can do is throw myself on the mercy of God, and cast my hope into the sea of His goodness. I don’t seem to be able to stop sinning. And I won’t be able to, until I am fully transformed into the likeness of Jesus, which is an ongoing process that will not be completed until I step over into the other plane, the true and eternal Kingdom of God, the Country of Resurrection and Life.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” said Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I’m reminded of a song. (What? Again??) This one was recorded by Pam Thum, and is called “Life is Hard (but God is Good).”

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Life is hard, but God is good

I’ve always liked what M. Scott Peck says at the beginning of The Road Less Travelled. While it doesn’t reference the goodness of God, I still believe it is a true statement. “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Here’s the thing. Once we do accept that, and then add to it the fact that “but God is good,” then we step into the Country of Joy, which, according to Dallas Willard, is the “pervasive sense of well-being.”

Father, I praise You for Your goodness. I acknowledge that life is hard, and will continue to be so. But when we focus on Your goodness, rather than the difficulties facing us, it becomes less hard. It becomes bearable. And when we focus on Your goodness together, in numbers, as a community of saints, it doesn’t seem difficult at all. Your goodness overcomes our difficulties; Your steadfast love that never fails, that never gives us on us, and never runs out, brings us gently into the presence of joy, and makes us realize that, in You, in Your Kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. Thank You, Father!

Lord, as we worship You today, in whatever setting we find ourselves, may You give us resurrection hope and joy. Then show us how we can share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus as we travel through our week ahead.

"Fierce God,
I want to run from pain,
hide from sorrow,
and medicate my misery.
When the foundations of my life crumble,
when all that I've put my trust in is pulled out from under me,
help me to cling to the foundation I have in Jesus Christ,
leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NIV)


Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
(Psalms 71:9 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:26 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-10 ESV)

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.