Depending on our good God through trials and triumphs – David Jeremiah

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a popular film critic recently reviewed all the movies he’d seen over the course of his career and he made a list of the films he said these films are so bad that they’re good in some movies the plot is so weak the acting so poor the production so flawed that the movies are worth watching just so we can laugh at them and these movies have created a cult following for being so laughably bad they gather together to watch these movies not because they’re good but because they’re so bad our world has a hard time distinguishing between good and bad our cultural values are changing so quickly that virtues once prized are now scorned and behavior once condemned is now celebrated the prophet Isaiah anticipated this when he wrote woe to those who call evil good and good evil and put darkness for light and light for darkness who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter social scientists are scrambling to try to redefine human goodness they have a hard time breaking free from all the traditional values in fact in a USA Today article are you a good person morality experts say this is how to find out whether you’re a good person or not what does it actually mean to be good they right social psychologists and religious leaders say we see eye to eye on the big stuff we believe it’s good to be kind and fair and just it’s bad to cheat and murder and steal evidence suggests we’re all born with some innate sense of morality and fairness which makes us sensitive to the distress of others in this postmodern age of relative values I find this a fascinating admission even non-religious people instinctively know there is a moral standard somewhere in the universe and that good and bad are objective realities even amid shifting morals and manners we want to be good people better people in fact over the last two years the Marist Poll that chronicles our New Year’s resolution reports that being a better person has now topped the perennial favorite of losing weight everybody wants to be a better person even more than they want to lose weight but goodness is so much more than the secular writers can convey goodness is an attribute of God himself and until we see goodness as God is good we really don’t understand it at all by the way where do you think we got the English word good it is just God with an extra Oh one of the first prayers we teach our children to pray when they start to grow up in the faith is God is good god is great and we thank him for our food well when we say that what do we mean what do we mean when we say that God is good the Bible presents this truth over and over again I could spend the whole time of my message just quoting you passages from the Bible where we are told about the goodness of God exodus 34:6 says the Lord the Lord God merciful and gracious long-suffering and abounding in goodness 1st chronicles 16 34 says oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good some 30 4:8 says o taste and see that the Lord is good when I say God is good I mean he is gracious I mean he is merciful when I say that God is good I’m talking about his perfection and his excellence but the more I studied this word in the Bible the more one central concept seems to jump out at me it seems to me that God’s goodness is conveyed mostly in his generosity perhaps God’s quality of goodness means far more than his generosity but it certainly includes his infinitely generous attitude toward you and me by nature God longs to bring blessing and joy to all of his creatures and even as fallible human beings most people feel a sense of satisfaction when we’re able to do something for someone else what’s the source of that impulse where does it come from it comes from being made in the image of God God is the one who creates within us and in a desire to help somebody Matthew 7:11 says if you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him so I want you to think of the greatest pleasure you’ve ever felt in doing something for somebody else and then multiply it by billions and that is the heart of God in heaven as we consider is goodness here is how it affects us here are some derivatives from the goodness of God for us to use in our lives every day first of all God is good he provides for us we experience God’s generous goodness by the way he takes care of us Daniel Defoe has a famous novel we all know about as the novel’s called Robinson Crusoe it’s about a rebellious young man who through a series of misfortunes ends up as the lone survivor of a shipwreck on a deserted island among the items he savages from the floating debris is a Bible and as he reads this Bible marooned and desolate Robinson learns of the goodness of God who provides forgiveness for our sin and gives us an endless supply of grace to meet all of our needs and the young man joyfully trust Christ as a savior and the island becomes sort of like a Bible College or a seminary where he is growing in his understanding of God through what he observes and through his Bible and he learns that he has a God who is good but one day Robinson receives a terrible jolt he spots a footprint in the sand on the island and he knows he isn’t alone after all someone else is lurking nearby he also is aware of the fact that this is among the cannibalistic islands cannibalistic where they eat people Robinson becomes a fearful man he looks over his shoulder with every step he’s afraid to go to sleep at night and he visualizes himself being captured boiled and devoured all that former confidence in God which was founded upon such wonderful experiences of his goodness had now vanished as if he who had fed me by miracles he wrote could not preserve me by his power the provision which he had made for me by his goodness one day Robinson came face to face with the man who had made the footprint and in the course of the story he shared the gospel with him and led him to Christ and Robinson named him Friday and the two became inseparable friends and Robinson was strengthened in his faith to know God’s goodness is truly able to provide for all of our needs even on a deserted island most of us struggle with various fears we’re not looking over our shoulder wondering where the cannibals are but many of us have anxieties and those anxieties often represent a lack of faith in God’s goodness we just don’t know if God cares and sometimes we may even verbalize that in our prayers God are you watching do you know what’s going on do you really care the psalmist said I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living I’m here to tell you today that no matter what the circumstances look like behind all of the midst of the unknown is this truth we have a God who is good it’s remarkable to think about that but when we’re in the will of God through Jesus Christ we will never face a genuine need for which God doesn’t give us a genuine provision where they were stranded on a desert island or we simply feel that way the Lord will provide think about this the one who gave us lungs created air the one who gave us stomach supplies food and water he who made us in His image provided companionship and he who made us with eyes created spellbinding vistas for us to enjoy he who made us with eternal souls provided a pathway to heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ whatever our need the goodness of God provides the answer some 33:5 says the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord at the beginning of this message I quoted Psalm 34:8 o taste and see that the Lord is good and we tend to interpret that verse metaphorically and spiritually but there’s a literal truth to this sometimes we need to taste something desirable and say this is from God and this is good sometimes we need to behold a gorgeous Vista and remember God is good sometimes we need to smell a pleasing aroma and remember that God is good he gave us five senses and his provisions come to us through all five of those senses to remind us of His goodness God is good he provides for us can we say an amen to that is God our provider amen number two God is good and he’s patient with us we see God’s goodness and generosity in his incredible patience with us in fact in the Bible the idea of God’s patience is frequently linked to the idea of His goodness some 100 verses 4 and 5 says be thankful to him and bless His name for the Lord is good and His mercy is everlasting God never runs out of mercy he’s a good God the mercy of God represents his patience all the blessings of God can be organized men and women under two headings the grace of God and the mercy of God the grace of God is everything God gives you that you don’t deserve and the mercy of God is everything God with holds from you that you do deserve how many can give a happy amen that God is both gracious and merciful his patience his mercy never runs out his mercy endures throughout all generations I don’t know about you but I don’t know how God puts up with us have you ever prayed this prayer Lord it’s me again and it’s the same thing again and it’s no better again than it was last time I was here and God says okay tell me about it you know it’s like your child coming up to you after you’ve told them a hundred million times not to do it and they keep doing it God never gives up on us the Bible says when we need his wisdom all we have to do is ask and he gives to all who ask without abrading them or without scolding them god never scolds us for coming to him with our need he’s a patient God the mercy of God is endless infinite and it’s an outgrowth of God’s goodness I’ll give thanks to the Lord for you is merciful if you think about it carefully what you say in your life and in the lives of the people you know that there is more goodness than there is misery in the world of course there’s exceptions there’s deep suffering in some parts of the world some regions are wracked with all kinds of pain but where most of us live would you not say my life has more goodness than misery isn’t it interesting how we fixate on the negative and forget the positive when Don and I started a church back in Fort Wayne Indiana we had some wonderful experiences there but we had a few challenging ones too and there was a guy in this church who I don’t know how to say this any other way he was after my head he didn’t like me he got to the place where he was resistant to what we were doing I heard things that he was saying now this guy was impressive because he was six foot six and he had white hair just like mine and whenever you walked into a crowd you could see him what I found out I was doing is I was walking out on the platform to preach him before I even prayed I was looking to find out where this dude was is he here you know and I got so convicted about that one day I was in my study and I looked over on the in my study and we had just produced a picture book of all the people in the church it was really a nice thing because you could put faces with names and all the rest and I looked at that book and all of a sudden it hit me I was fixating on one man and here is a book full of the pictures of all the faithful people of God in our church I had the choice either to rejoice that God had blessed us with so many wonderful supportive people or to fix my attention on one guy who was causing me grief and all of us have that choice do we not we can either talk about the goodness of God or we can commiserate which means share our misery with each other the Bible says as a father pities his children so the Lord pities those who fear him he knows our frame and he remembers that we are dust in other words God is not expecting perfection from us God is even good to those who don’t know him did you know that he’s good to those who don’t fear him he’s good to those who curse him he fills the world with common blessings we call it in theology the common grace of God it’s available to the saved and to the unsaved it’s available to the good and the bad to the righteous and the unrighteous you don’t have to be a Christian to know that God is good the Bible says he makes his Sun Rise on the evil and on the good he sends rain on the just and on the unjust God gives some of his goodness to all of us people and all of his goodness to some of us people and none of us deserve any of it no matter what group were in bottom line is none of God’s people deserve his goodness yet he is overwhelmed me with his goodness and he’s done the same for you he’s a good God his goodness comes to us in the form of divine patience oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men this Psalm is like a song that has a number of stanzas and the chorus keeps repeating itself and the psalmist writes this and he talks about the struggles of his life when he gets done talking about it here comes the chorus all that man would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness for his wonderful works to the children of men and then he goes on and tells another story and he gets done with a little story and he comes back all that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men for different times he says that same thing look it up it’s in verse 8 15 21 and 31 in Psalm 107 the same words oh that man would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men and what that says to me is that no matter what’s going on in our life no matter how hard it may seem to us right now maybe you’re going through a difficult place maybe you’ve never been in a place like this before but if you look you will see the goodness of God for it’s everywhere it’s only when we block it out because we put our problems in the front of our mind and we forget how good god is oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men God is good he provides for us and God is good he’s patient with us and God is good he protects us God is our protector God’s goodness is seen in the way he cares for us when I was ordained as a minister to the gospel many years ago I went through the process that they went through then and that we do somewhat now I had to write a paper outlining everything I believed about doctrine and every word I wrote was evaluated by some pastors and professors who were on the ordination committee a number of Cedarville faculty members sat on that ordination council at my oral examination my father who was a pastor and my mother were present to hear me being questioned about my doctrinal understandings one of the men questioning me said mr.

 

Jeremiah there is no statement in your paper of doctrinal positions on the subject of guardian angels do you believe in guardian angels and before I could answer my mother spoke up and said if he doesn’t I do I remember that it’s just jump right out I just blurted right out of her mouth and my mother is not the kind of person who would ever do that it was so unusual so I mean I remember it to this day she was thinking in her mind of all the times God had rescued me from my foolish escapades she would never have gotten me out of the childhood alive apart from the program God’s blessing I was a curious child and yet the angels the guardian angels were with me one time for example I was staying with my uncle on his farm in Pennsylvania he had a herd of milk cows along with all kinds of equipment two huge silos next to his barn I was about nine or 10 years old and one day when I was playing around in the barn I saw a ladder attached to the outside of one of those silos leading to a gate or a door at the top of the silo and I decided to climb up and walk around on the silage in the top what fun that was gonna be so I climbed up the ladder and I started to step into the silo and when I looked down there was nothing in the silo it was empty it was one long hollow tube I was way way up in the air and my head started to spin and I lost my nerve and I started shaking in a grabbed hold of the ladder with all that I had and somehow I got myself turned around and inched back down that ladder it was so terrifying I can still feel my heart pounding after all these years every time I see a silo I feel a jolt in my heart one slip and I would have plunged to my death you see I climbed the wrong silo the other silo was full this one wasn’t when I walked out I got him reversed and they climbed the wrong one I’m sure my mom was thinking of a number of such times when she blurted out the answer of my ordination and Psalm 34 says it this way the angel of the lord encamps all around those who fear him and delivers them o taste and see the Lord is good how do we know that goodness belongs to protection because the scripture says so if you don’t believe in the goodness of God let me tell you something the reason you don’t believe in the goodness of God is because you do not know what you do not know if you knew what you don’t know you would see many places along the way where God by His goodness has reached out and kept you His goodness protects his people and only when we get to heaven will we be able to look back over our shoulders if we’re allowed to do this and see all of the places where God’s goodness rescued us and we will praise him because his goodness protects us and then God is good he guides our pathways the goodness of God guides us in life Psalm 143 verse 10 says teach me to do your will for you are my god your spirit is good lead me in the land of uprightness here the psalmist connects God’s goodness with his leadership in our lives and we can connect this with a passage in the New Testament the Lord Jesus had something important to say about this in the Sermon on the Mount his words are worth pondering right here because they sort of provide a commentary God’s commands are a part of His goodness we have misconceptions about God because sometimes we read in the scripture that there are prohibitions to our faith and because people do they don’t like anything that conflicts with their idea of personal freedom sometimes the rules they read about in the Bible are at odds with what they think God should be his goodness but the goodness of God is always demonstrated for us in the path he chooses for us in life and by the guidelines he provides for our belief listen carefully Jesus said enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it if you read through that paragraph you’ll discover there are two gates of and a narrow one there are two roads a broad one and a difficult one there are two groups of people the many and the few and there are two destinations destruction and life imagine you were untouched and untaught by the gospel and you’re trying to start out and find out which way you should take you’re standing at the crossroads the broad way goes this way the narrow way goes that way you have no instruction from God which road would you choose most of us would look over on the broad way and see there’s so many people going down that road this must be the right way but we know that we would be wrong because that way while it is broad the Bible says it leads to destruction the broad way where everybody wants to get on the road and go there leads to death only the narrow gate the difficult road the small crowd lead to eternal life and that’s the road God chooses for us if you’re a Christian today God put you on that road by His goodness and grace he says to us I choose for you today this pathway I choose the narrow gate I choose the difficult way I choose the few companions because I understand what’s at the end of the road there has never been a time in history when narrow gate theology as one person put it is more out of vogue than it is today and yet as we walk with God does not life itself teach us that God is good and that his way is best the broad way as we observe it today is a lifestyle unencumbered by any moral guidelines it is free from spiritual stop signs and ethical speed limits you can sample the pleasures of life you can live as you please you can do things simply because they feel good this is the life of saying let’s eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die the narrow way has speed limits and has guardrails and those traveling the broad way looking over us and they say come on man get life loosen up color outside the lines once in a while they think those of us on the narrow road were the weird ones we’re husbands and wives who decide to bond together for a lifetime for better or for worse we’re parents who give ourselves to our kids and we’re not just chasing dollars we’re children who are respectful of our mothers and fathers we are families going to church trying to serve the Lord God and doing what’s right even when it’s hard it is difficult sometimes to be on the narrow road but not to be on the narrow road is to be headed toward destruction the broad way is the road to death people on this road tend to become bitter or disillusioned as they age have you noticed they lose the vigor of youth they lose the passion of life as they face the prospects of the cemetery Anthony Bourdain a 61 year old iconic figure and famous chef hanged himself in his hotel room in France and famous designer Kate Spade chose the same method to end her life in New York City at the age of 55 two people at the top of their game of his death Bourdain’s mother said she had no idea why he decided to kill himself he had everything success beyond his wildest dreams and money beyond his wildest dreams and one article that followed up on both of these suicides I read the following how powerfully it speaks to the discrepancy between what we see of people on the outside and what they’re experiencing on the inside between their public faces and their private realities between their visible Swagger and they’re invisible pain these two deaths happened in a week when newly released government statistics revealed a staggering increase in suicides by Americans between 1999 and 2016 it is increased by 25 percent in other words 45,000 people took their own lives all is not well on the broad road and so many who get on that road with all of their vision of what’s going to be like when they get to their goal they get to their goal and it seems empty it’s not what they thought because you see God has created us not ever to be satisfied with anything or anyone but him and when we get on the narrow road sometimes it’s difficult but behind it all is this vision of knowing God and being known by God and realizing that no matter what happens God is there and God is good and all as well people who are on the narrow way as they mature get closer to God as they come to the end of their lives you see the relationship deepened you see the confidence in their understanding of God grow they still bear fruit an old age and they stay fresh and green and proclaiming so God said my friends I’ve chosen this road for you it’s through a narrow gate and it’s a difficult way and there aren’t as many people going that way but at the end of the road that makes it all right this is the road that leads to life and the piece in his book of personal stories just for a moment I saw the light is the title of the book John Duckworth wrote of the difficulty of growing up in a pastor’s home he said as a child we got so tired of hearing about the Lord’s work it consumed my parents I weren’t even sure they appreciated the sacrifices which they including us were making John made a mental list of the sacrifices he was putting up with cramped parsonage is not being able to afford restaurant meals having to go to church all the time having to move so much having visitors in the house at all hours of the day and night and then there were the times he and his little brother had to sing a falsetto duet of wonderful words of life at the nursing home one day a fire engine screamed past the parsonage in John’s dad jumped into the truck to follow it knowing pastors were often needed during emergencies in small towns the fire engine stopped at the Barnett house but there was no fire apparently mr.

 

Barnett had decided to dig a basement under his house and somehow a jack or a log it slipped and the house had collapsed on top of him no one knew whether he was dead or alive with the fireman hollered for everyone to stay back because they were afraid another jack or log would give way trapping someone else this young pastor’s son said dad peered under the building and there in the dimness he could barely make out the figure of a man hunched over head bent to chest Dan wasn’t sure what mr. Barnett’s relationship to God was and what if he was alive physically but not spiritually there might still be time to win him to Christ and through one side a volunteer firefighter was preparing to crawl into the house to see if the man could be rescued and Reverend Duckworth this young man’s past her father sank to his knees and it wasn’t a pray he crawled under the house and as neighbors gathered and stood in hushed silence the two men risked their lives and ‘seeing their way until they reached the trapped man after determining that he was dead they crawled back out each moment risking the collapse of the house on top of them when they broke the sad news to the family John’s father caught one of the daughters who had fainted at the news he stayed with them for a long time meanwhile John said my mother was anxiously standing by the phone waiting for updates and finally my father Reverend Duckworth came home and told the story in the days that followed John watched as his dad cared for the bereaved family conducted the funeral joined a team built that new home for the Barnett family and after that John said his attitude toward the Lord’s work began to change I got used to small houses I learned a lot of good hymns by going to church all the time I learned to spot a bargain and saw a lot of country moving around so much and I learned that God’s work included things like crawling under houses catching the faint waiting anxiously by the phone and pouring concrete I saw that all of us from preachers kids to farmers to firefighters to moms enlisted in a vast army when we met the commander in chief I found that we serve not because we live in parse midges but because we live on the frontlines a few of us get our names on the church sign but a lot of us don’t but all of us get to have the greatest job in the world serving the good God who loves us the most if you want to take the goodness of God and put it into action you have to make the journey from his goodness to your service why do we know God is so good cuz he so wonderfully blesses us with who he is and what does he call us to do he calls us to serve we shouldn’t have to stand up every time we do something around here and beg people to get involved if we know who God is and how good he’s been to us we should be standing in line trying to find a way to serve Him amen and for all of you who do that for all of you who serve I’m here to salute you today thank you for expressing the goodness of God in the outreach of your life don’t ever stop I’m recommitted in my own life to be a servant how can I serve my God better today if you’re here and you don’t understand all of this completely maybe it’s because you’re on the wrong road there’s a kind of language you learn when you get on the narrow road it’s not understood by those on the broad way I want to tell you something I invite you today to make the transfer there’s still time for you to get on the narrow road you can still make it God loves you and he sent his son to die for you and if you will give him your heart and acknowledge him as your Savior he’ll put you on the narrow road you’ll have some challenges but you’ll have the joy of watching God work in your behalf as he always does he’s a good guy and he’s worthy of your trust [Music] [Music]

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