GOD IS GOOD
We get excited about silly things.
A group of multi-million dollar athletes, who don’t know us and could care less about our loyal adoration, win a game and we go crazy.
Joe Schmoe invites us to a party where people stand around screaming because the music is ear-piercing and we’re thrilled.
We’ve got dual exhaust a 4 barrel Carb and neon on the under carriage of our Pinto and we’re delirious.
We can’t wait for summer and no school, so we’ll have time to be bored.
We can’t wait for retirement & no work, so we’ll have time to be bored.
We get a computer with a 30 gig, 300 ram, Pentium III processor with 21” screen, and every other gizmo you could want (which, by the way will be ancient in 2 years!) and we’re going nuts.
We’re ecstatic because we finally got through on the 1-800 “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” telephone line.
Yes - we get excited over silly things.
In contrast, we have some real reasons to celebrate & to be excited.
God loves us!
He has forgiven our sin!
Jesus Christ is alive & here!
By God’s grace we are saved!
Heaven is gonna be great and it will never, ever end.
AND, Mason Smith, who is here at Cornerstone Christian for the first time, is officially in remission!
I know that the past several months have brought the Smith’s and all of their family & friends a whirlwind of emotions.
Peaks & Valleys!
Our prayers won’t stop, they will continue, as we pray Mason’s remission will continue.
Our songs and prayers have given thanks and glory to God, which He deserves and at the conclusion of the service, there will be a time of testimony, to remember God’s goodness in this given situation.
There is a verse in Romans that is such a great promise and a verse that is very appropriate as we celebrate today.
Permit me some background information about Romans, leading to it.
Paul wrote this letter to Christians living in Rome, around 55 A.D.
Now being able to look back in time, we realize that the followers of Christ have already faced difficult times & it would not get easier.
The main concept of Romans is about the importance of righteousness.
Even in t/face of opposition & oppression, Christians R to be righteous.
Righteousness, means to “do right, behave right, think right, act right”.
God is righteous
Romans 1:17, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
There is nothing about God that is not righteous.
Yet on the other hand, Paul clearly states that man is not righteous.
Romans 3:10 & 23, “As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.”
Since we cannot become righteous on our own account, we must receive our righteousness through God.
Romans 4:5 & 7-8, “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
The Bi-Product of course will be overflowing celebration - Peace & Joy!
Where we were once dead to sin, now we are alive in Jesus. How?
Romans 6:4-5, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”
Paul then speaks of the battle between the 2 natures, sin or death, righteousness or life - and transparently he says I still struggle.
And then comes chapter 8 - One of the most powerful, encouraging, affirming and loving chapters in the entire Bible.
In the midst of persecution and possible defeat, there is Victory!
In fact the chapter begins and ends with a victory cry:
Romans 8:1 & 39, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” AMEN!
Now, in the midst of this chapter, we come to verse 28, which reads,
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
As in many other Biblical verses, we find a bi-lateral covenant.
God states a promise, with a condition to be followed.
If we carry out the condition, then God’s promise is guaranteed!
I’m going to save t/promise for last. Let’s look at the conditions first.
1. Those Who Love Him
Many of us attended the Promise Keepers Rally in St. Petersburg several years ago. It was great being with 50,000 Christian men. Before the sessions began, as the men were seated, almost without fail, one enthusiasm group would starting singing t/chant, “We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus -scream - HOW BOUT YOU?”
To which another group would echo back and it would continue.
Then there were the overly competitive group that would scream, “We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus, MORE THAN YOU!”
Our guys, being the conservative lot, wouldn’t sing or shout, they just turned to each other and mumbled, Yes, we love Jesus.
We all know that we are commanded to love God.
Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
But does the command mean that we are doing it?
Does screaming that we love Jesus prove our love for God?
How do we know we really love Him?
The Bible states some simple tests. Jesus said in
John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
1. Obedience - it’s an act of love. It’s agape!
You can’t expect God or anyone else to believe the sincerity of your love if you consistently disobey His commands.
I John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
2. Undivided - Exodus says that God is jealous.
He doesn’t want to share you with the world. For God knows that you can only serve 1 master. Trying to love God & t/world won’t work.
I John 4:20, “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
3. Consistency - love the creator and his creation.
Not just brother, means everyone, agape, right behavior, do what’s right!
These are 3 tests to know if we really love God.
If you are doing these things, then you have fulfilled the first part of the covenant - now to the next part.
2. Those Who Have Been Called According to His Purpose
What does this mean?
It’s not a call to salvation, it’s to those who have already responded to God by accepting Jesus, His Son.
It’s a call like in
2 Timothy 1:9, “who has saved us and called us to a holy life.”
It’s living a righteous life, that is a shining example for all to see.
It’s doing His will day in and day out.
Now when these 2 conditions are met, there is a great promise that follows, a promise, because it’s from God - will happen.
3. God Works For the Good
It brings Encouragement & Assurance even in the midst of difficulty.
First, What does this verse NOT say:
It doesn’t say that if we love God & are called according to His purpose that everything that happens in our lives will be good.
Remember Joseph? Hated, sold as a slave, accused, imprisoned - yet he was faithful to God & became t/2nd most powerful man in t/world.
When his brothers thought he would kill them in revenge, Joseph said:
Genesis 50:20, You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Take Paul, the writer of this book, he persecuted the Church & because of that persecution; the church scattered everywhere (running for their lives), in doing so they took the gospel to the entire world.
What seemed to be a calamity, served only for the good by planting churches in hundreds of new places.
Now we don’t know all of Joseph’s thoughts, while he was being carted away to slavery or during his unjust imprisonment? Hm Good?
We don’t know all of Paul’s thoughts, while being stoned, beaten or ship wrecked?
But we do know that as they reflected back, they both realized that in everything (even the bad), God can cause good to come from it.
Think of this, if God caused everything that happened to Christians to be good, what would be the end result?
Conversions based on selfishness - be Christian cause of what I get.
Not grow strong because never face any difficulties - not trust God.
No desire or longing for heaven, when you have utopia here.
No, not everything that happens is good, but also remember that God doesn’t orchestrate suffering.
In fact Jesus died to remove the sting of sin and death.
Now, there are reasons why bad things happen to people:
Sometimes they happen because we bring them on ourselves, by SIN.
Many times it’s just because we in a sinful, fallen world, and not being exempt from bad things - they come. It rains on t/just & unjust.
Yet it is the faithful Christian, the one who knows the heart of God that can truly have confidence in this verse, that good will come.
Where there is love & trust, then t/believer can know that even in a bad situation, God will (because of His great love for us) bring good.
Indeed, God’s overruling grace cooperates in all things for His people’s good, even in those things which at the time are distressing, perplexing and hard to bear.
When Paul uses t/words, “we know” at t/beginning of this verse, he’s speaking as one who’s experienced it himself, one who’s seen this promise through his own life. He’s not speaking out of ignorance.
Specifically, Paul endured hardships for the furtherance of the gospel and his sorest and most disagreeable trials were the means by which the power of Christ rested upon him.
The counsel of someone who “hasn’t walked a mile in your shoes”, is hollow. But true encouragement comes from someone who has “been there”.
Paul could say, “been there, done that!”
As I prepared this message, especially as I worked on this point, my mind thought of individuals and families who are in the midst of the storm. People who are earnestly searching for the “good”.
This verse will be most difficult for you, because you haven’t completed the journey yet.
But hold on, God’s Word is always true, and the promise still remains. So trust God, be faithful to Him and in time, good will come, God has promised it.
Takes a lot of faith,
It’s so difficult to see in the midst of the storm. It’s not till later, sometimes much later that we can see the good that has come.
I Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Mike, Dadra, if I asked you last September about this verse, would your level of confidence be as high as it is now? It has taken time to weather the storm, yet you have remained faithful throughout.
Even of more importance, God is faithful!
GOD IS GOOD!
This part of the verse contains the concept of a loving father who wants the very best for his children. And in his love, God manipulates the bad things that happen and causes good to come from them.
You will hear about some of the specific ways this verse is true in Mason’s battle with cancer a little bit later on.
Many times we think of cancer as such a horrible word, bringing terror at the very mention of it. Yet it has it’s limits.
Dan Richardson lost his physical battle with cancer, yet his life demonstrated that t/spirit can remain triumphant.
Poem Dan honor
Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
Thank you Mike, Dadra, Tyler, Logan & Mason Smith for allowing us to see in your lives that God always keeps His promises.
British preacher Charles Spurgeon once vacationed at an isolated spot in England because he had been told that many nightingales lived there. To his great disappointment, however, it started to rain just as he arrived. The weather turned cold and Spurgeon feared the the purpose of his trip had been spoiled. But as he sat by his open window, he suddenly heard a delightful melody - a nightingale perched on a branch outside. The only light was a dim lamp burning at the entrance to the hotel. The nightingale,oblivious to the rain and cold was exulting in that tiny bit of light. Spurgeon wrote of his experience, “I do not expect to listen to anything so sweet and thrilling again until I hear the angels sing in glory. The God of that nightingale is the same loving Savior I serve. In spite of darkness, storm or thorns, He always provides some ray of light and gives a song in the night.”
GOD IS GOOD!
Let us live lives that qualify us for Romans 8:28!
If you need the goodness of God in your life, you can have that today.
T/Bible tells us that we don’t work for salvation, that Christ has already done the work for us, yet we must accept it on God’s terms.
He has asked us to believe with all our heart that Jesus is God’s Son.
He has asked us to change from living self-based lives, to living selfless lives. That requires not only a change of heart, but a change of mind and will that leads to right behavior, or righteousness.
Then we complete the process by having our sins taken away through baptism, or immersion in water.
Whether your decision is to become a Christian for the first time, come back to Christ or become a member of this congregation, please come forward as we sing.
Then as you demonstrate love for God & a life that lives His calling, you will experience His promise of goodness, even in t/face of despair.