God’s Good and Perfect Gifts

I often hear people say that the bad things that happen to them are God’s punishment for something wrong they have done. I have a friend who desires to find someone to marry, but has said she doesn’t think God will ever bring her a mate because of all the wrong she has done in the past with respect to relationships. In the news we hear televangelists say natural disasters are God’s punishment for the sins of the people in the area hit by the disaster.

But I don’t think God works that way.

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James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:17-18 (NIV). God desires to give good gifts, not punishment.

I also think of Job, a man who endured great suffering and loss. But none of it was punishment from God. Rather, all of his sorrows came from Satan, albeit with God’s permission, so that Satan would see that God’s redeemed and faithful servants would never reject Him simply because of trials they face. See Job 1-2 (NIV).

For the believer in Christ Jesus, all the punishment for our sins has already been meted out at the cross. As Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30 (NIV). To believe that we need to suffer punishment for our own sin is to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was insufficient. The apostle John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV). God does not seek to punish, but to restore and redeem those He loves.

There are, however, natural consequences of sin.

If we are gluttonous, we are likely to be overweight and suffer various illnesses that come from poor eating habits.

If we get drunk, especially habitually, we will suffer in terms of health problems, possibly losing a job, or having financial difficulties because we spend too much money on alcohol.

If we get involved with other drugs, the same problems can happen, perhaps even worse if they are illegal drugs because we could end up in prison for breaking the law.

If we are sexually promiscuous we may contract diseases, end up with a child we didn’t want, or will suffer emotional damages and loneliness.

If we gossip and badmouth others, we will damage others view of us and damage our relationships.

Every sin has natural consequences. Sometimes we are fortunate to avoid the worst of the natural consequences, but not always. And all sin results in the natural consequence of separating us from God because our guilt and shame cause us to avoid God. That has been the case from the first sin in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve hid from God.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:6-10 (NIV).

God knows what is best for us and has declared what is sin based on His superior knowledge of what is beneficial for our physical and emotional well-being. Just as He gave to Adam and Eve all that they needed in the Garden, He desires to give us good and perfect gifts.

In addition to the natural consequences of individual sinful behavior, the sinful nature of mankind over the centuries has brought into our lives a brokenness that leads to pain and suffering. The evil nature of some people can lead to suffering by others, such as a violent man who beats his wife, or the drunk driver who causes an accident that kills others, or a serial killer who tortures his victims. Our sinfulness is also engrained in our DNA and can lead to sickness and disease that brings suffering as well.

So if you are suffering and think that God is punishing you, think again. Return to God and seek His face, seek the good and perfect gifts that He has offered. Lean on Jesus in your suffering because He desires to restore and redeem you, not cause you more suffering. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NIV). Come into the light and rest in His love.

The Blood of Jesus, [Tenacity]

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“For I will never leave you, or forsake you.”

 Hebrews 13:5

It’s funny, but it seems that our civilization claim to fame revolves around this grand idea of inventing good adhesives. Chemists and manufacturers have astutely given us wonderful glues and epoxies. One of the more recent on the market is a compound known as cyanoacrylate or “Superglue”. Perhaps you have seen their ads? A man wearing a hard hat is lifted off the ground by a crane after a drop is applied to the hat.

Now that is the ultimate stickability! He wiggles, and strains but he is stuck (literally). It seems to be a swell product, and marketed quite well. Everyone should have on hand a tube or two. You never know when you might need it.

The Lord Jesus has created that powerful bond between us. His blood is sticky, and once applied there is a permanence and a connection between Him and us. I think it was Dostoevsky who said, “Those who have been infected by Jesus Christ will never, ever be the same again.” Even with the strange metaphor, the principle is very true.

The blood of Jesus is a tenacious thing. We are cemented to the Lord, locked by His determined love. Some will try to escape this determined relationship, but experience teaches us that it is highly unlikely this can be done. Romans 8 is directly involved,

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39, NLT

Dear saint, God is determined to bring you home to Him. You and He are bonded together, and God’s tenacious love will never let you alone. People who apostatize are still being pursued, and those of us who are struggling along, are also being pursued. And those of us who are managing, are also being pursued. That is the nature of the love God has for you. Don’t ask me why, but He truly loves you!

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Mother Teresa’s Heart, [Mercy]

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives”

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8, NLT

These are all quotes from Mother Teresa, born ‘Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu’, 1910-1997. Here are some of the things she wrote or said. I hope they will inspire and encourage.

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Be the eyes of God. See what He sees.
  • See the world as God sees the world.
  • When God sees a homeless man. He sees a precious person who has a painful life, whom everyone else has cast aside.
  • When God sees people fighting against each other, He is grieved because they have allowed their small differences to destroy what they have in common.
  • When He sees a child without parents, He sees the lonely heart abandoned by people who themselves have pain.
  • See what God sees.
Be the ears of God. Hear what He hears.
  • God hears the silent tears of the lonely. He hears the voices of the oppressed. He hears the shouts of injustice. He hears the cries of pain.
  • Learn to listen and hear as God hears.
Be the mind of God. Think as He thinks.
  • Seek to understand the mind of God, to think as He thinks. Observe things around you and have conversations with Him. Seek His wisdom and knowledge. Know that He wants to bring you to a higher consciousness of His Kingdom.
Seek to understand the heart of God.
  • Be the heart of God. Feel what He feels.Feel the pain He feels for those who suffer. Feel the tears He feels for the lonely. Feel the magnitude of His great love and compassion for us His creation.
  • The heart of God is filled with overflowing love and He desires us to participate in His work to bring back wholeness to the world. See that the heart of God is indeed filled with unconditional love.
Be the hands of God. Do as He does.
  • God asks us to take everything we have learned from Him and change things. He asks us to use our hands to do His work: To stand up when there is injustice. To love as He loves. To do things no one else wants to do. By making a connection, volunteering, joining a community or offering to help, we do what God hopes for us all to do: love people to Him.
  • Listen to God and do what He beckons you to do. There is so much that needs to be done, but so few persons willing to do the work of God. We can no longer be just bystanders on the side of the road asking God for handouts, comfort and security. We each have a part in His great plan to bring salvation to the world.
  • Many believe that being spiritual is cerebral. Our minds seek only to contemplate and meditate on God, but that is only part of it. Thinking on God is 1% spirituality. Doing the work of our contemplations is 99% of it.
  • Action above all is what is hardest for us to do; yet, ACTION is the fruit of deep spirituality. Contemplation may be spiritual, but when there is no action behind our spiritual thoughts, they become worthless.

Like the Good Samaritan, what matters is that love is manifested into action. Not just concern, not just prayer, and not just sympathy, but ACTION.

  • The energy that gets the ball rolling and sets God’s love into motion is ACTION.
  • So many of us pray when someone needs help, yet, no one just goes on in and helps. We pray for someone else to do the work, but perhaps we are the ones who should heed our own prayers.
A person of God, sees, hears, thinks, feels and then DOES.
  • Spiritual thoughts are fruitless until they become a part of your life. One who does, follows through with what he has learned and produces fruit. It is the result of our conversations with God. One who thinks only entertains himself. One who does, entertains God.
  • God is excited when we allow our hands to be His hands, because only then can things begin to happen. Only then can work be accomplished.
  • We can no longer remain complacent and removed from everything. He challenges us to walk along with Him and be His eyes, ears, mind, heart and hands to do His work. To walk a closer walk with Him.
When our hands do as God does, then we are truly walking side by side with Him toward the Kingdom of God.

“We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.

Mother Teresa

Sources: http://epistle.us/articles/deeperspirituality.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa
 
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Psalm 16, Study– “He is Always Good”

 Psalm 16

1 Protect me, God,
       because I trust in you.
 2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord.
       Every good thing I have comes from you.”
 3 As for the godly people in the world,
       they are the wonderful ones I enjoy.
 4 But those who turn to idols
       will have much pain.
    I will not offer blood to those idols
       or even speak their names.

 5 No, the Lord is all I need.
       He takes care of me.
 6 My share in life has been pleasant;
       my part has been beautiful.

Psalm 16:1-6,  New Century Version

This Psalm is profoundly deep, and the themes it discusses are definitely significant.  The Psalmist has a steady and direct confidence in all that swirls around him.  He knows that God is available and perched to protect him.  To a certain extent he thinks that as he gives himself over to Him, he will be protected and watched over.  He sees that God’s innate goodness is available to the needs his soul has.

We operate and function completely surrounded.  There is no way we can diminish God’s goodness.  It’s the way He functions–He will never be bad, but only and completely good.  The Psalmist goes on to proclaim the wonderfulness of God’s people.  They are outstanding, they are terrific.  He loves those who belong to Him.  The Psalmist understand these two incredible concepts:  God’s goodness and God’s people.  These two resources will help him deal with the future.

The Psalmist abhors the falseness of idolatry.  When you have truly experienced the reality of God, just being with  idols will truly bring you to despair and futility.  In the piercing light, we cannot imagine a substitute.  He knows that God rules and directs.  The Psalmist will not budge or falter.  God sits on the throne, exclusively, and He doesn’t share it with an idol.  Nothing can change that, especially no false maneuvering or manipulation here on earth.  He will still be God.  The Psalmist speaks,

No, the Lord is all I need.
       He takes care of me.
 6 My share in life has been pleasant;
       my part has been beautiful.”

He has a “razor’s edge” understanding of all that has been given him.  God Himself is his source.  God is the well he draws water out of.  God is the complete source of all his needs.  Can you say that?  Will God, your Father provide for a struggling “you?”

As we analyze this Psalm, we are brought into this sense that the believer has been led into a confidence, and an assurance of God’s exceptional goodness.  The writer clearly speaks of “pleasantness” and “being beautiful.”  Without a doubt, these key words will adjust, and assist us to savor His grace.  He has made things to be pleasant and beautiful.  We must take this confidence, and weave it into our lives.

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ybic, Bryan

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