Embracing Grace: The Goodness of God

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 78

Scripture: Exodus 33:19; Mark 10:17-18; Romans 2:4; Psalm 23:5-6; Psalm 27:13; Psalm 31:19-20; Hebrews 12:25-29; Hosea 3:4-5; Psalm 145:6-8; Psalm 105:7-9.

Photo credit: Robert Kraft. Public Domain.

Do you ever feel like you were born for more than this life, that you were created for a much  higher purpose? I cannot remember ever NOT feeling this way.

I attended a weekly Bible study when I was in high school. A pastor friend of my dad’s led the group. At one point in the study, he asked us to share a “spiritual” experience. Others said things along the lines of finding courage to meet a difficult task or strength to walk through the death of a loved one, basic stuff without a whole lot of detail regarding WHO it was who helped them.

Then came my turn.

I said, “God answers prayer.”  And then I proceeded to spell out how I knew this for certain. One of my cats had gone missing several months prior. This had happened before, where one would disappear for a day or two, only to turn up later. So at first we weren’t too concerned. But as the days stretched into weeks, my parents remarked that maybe Groucho had gotten locked up in a garage, or hit by a car, or killed in a catfight.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, circa 1931. Photo courtesy of United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division, digital ID cph.3c26207.

(We really did have a cat named Groucho Marx. She was a tortoiseshell calico with black eyebrow markings above her eyes and a black “mustache” above her mouth. She was so comical as a kitten that I named her after her namesake, hence the odd name.)

Each time my parents voiced such thoughts as the demise of my cat, I would shake my head and said no, she wasn’t dead (because I had peace when I prayed for her safe return.) A week went by, then two, then three, but no Groucho. Mom startled me one day by driving me over to a spot in the road where an animal had been run over and asked if I thought this was our cat.

Poor mom, she was just trying to break it to me gently that she thought the cat was dead. But I got angry. Pointing down at the road kill, I fumed “Groucho isn’t even this color. She’s alive somewhere.” My parents must have shaken their heads at my unrealistic expectations. And as a parent, I can see that now. But at the time, I placed my trust in a God who I was convinced loved me enough to bring back my cat. I have seen since that time that the Lord favors the simple prayers offered by a child.

God is good to His children.

Halfway into the third week, Groucho showed up on our doorstep, emaciated and weak, but alive. I thanked God as I shared this with the others in the Bible study that day, encouraging them to trust Him when impossible situations arise, regardless of the outcome.

Photo courtesy of Phil Downs. Public Domain.

We are not always presented with ideal situations in which to share our faith in God. But if you let your light shine, I promise you will be rewarded. Who knows if someone listening at that moment desperately needs to hear those exact words. God knows.

The pastor leading that study took me aside afterwards and told me not to share such things as I did about my cat because it was not appropriate to, as he put it, “get so personal” in a group Bible study.

Not appropriate?

When is the sharing of answered prayer not appropriate? God led me out of that denomination when I moved away to college, but my point in sharing this experience is to demonstrate how much we tend to box God into our religious comfort zones. It is because of religion that many Christian churches in America are no different than those of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Another word for it is dead. When people raised in church do not come into a living relationship with our awesome and amazing Three-in-One God, or cease to live a submitted and humble life, they slip into their religious habit, pun intended. Even Moses was guilty of wearing a veil so the people would not see the glory of God fade from his face, so this is nothing new to us.

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil. Public Domain.

The Cure?

We need a revelation of the goodness of God.

When Moses prayed and asked the Great I AM to show him His glory, God said I myself will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”1 

Good is “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; honorable or worthy; genuine; not counterfeit; sound or valid; not spoiled or tainted.” It comes from the Old English, gōd. 2 Now goodness is the quality of being good. It is the state of moral excellence or virtue. It was understood by ancient man and by those living in the days of Jesus that only God is good:

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.3

In a day and age where God is ignored by much of the populace, I find it interesting that even in the English language of 2011; goodness has retained its connection with God. It is a euphemism for God, as in “Thank goodness!” It comes from the Old English, gōdnes.4

So when God passed all His goodness before Moses, was He passing before Moses all His God-ness?

It kind of sounds like it, doesn’t it?

1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given. Photo courtesy of Irina Patrascu / CC BY 2.0

Scripture says that it is the goodness of God that draws men to repentance.5

Much of the Psalms is attributed to King David. For a man who endured public humiliation due to killing the husband of a woman he lusted after then being rebuked by the Prophet of God for doing so, he, more than most understands intimately the goodness of God…

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. 6

 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.7

Photo credit: Jon Sullivan. Public Domain.

Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.8

We are seeing a shaking in the earth. The church is being shaken. The world is being shaken until only that which cannot be shaken remains.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.9

Photo credit: Paolo Neo. Public Domain.

This shaking is a wakeup call to the inhabitants of the earth. He stands at the door!

For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days. 10

God is good.

His mercy endures forever.

Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.11

He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac.12

Photo credit: Richard Spencer. Public Domain.

 

Read: Exodus 33:19; Mark 10:17-18; Romans 2:4; Psalm 23:5-6; Psalm 27:13; Psalm 31:19-20; Hebrews 12:25-29; Hosea 3:4-5; Psalm 145:6-8; Psalm 105:7-9. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, show Your mercy to this generation. Reveal to the lost Your goodness. For the sake of your Son, Jesus, amen.

_____________________

1Exodus 33:19. Emphasis mine. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
2good. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/good (accessed: May 26, 2011).
3Mark 10:17-18. Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.tyndale.com  
4goodness. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/goodness (accessed: May 26, 2011).
5Romans 2:4.
6Psalm 23:5-6. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
7Psalm 27:13. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
8Psalm 31:19-20. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
9Hebrews 12:25-29. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
10Hosea 3:4-5. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org 
11Psalm 145:6-8. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
12Psalm 105:7-9. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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