See His Goodness
See His Goodness
When we were children, my sister and I went on a picnic with our parents. The two of us were playing on what we all assumed was a disused railway track. Suddenly my mother shouted, ‘Jump! Get off the track!’ She had seen an express train coming down the track. Thankfully, we didn’t shout back, ‘Don’t threaten us. You can’t scare us.’ If we had done, I would not be in a position to write this now. We both jumped off the track.
The command arose out of a mother’s love for her children. God’s commands arise out of his goodness and his love for you. They are given for ‘your own good’ (Deuteronomy 10:13). See his goodness. The warnings of Jesus about the coming judgment and how to be ready for it come out of his love for you. In all the passages for today we see that obedience is the way to experience his goodness and be a magnet for his blessing.
The presence of GodPsalm 43:1-5
Like many of the great men and women of God down the ages, the writer is struggling with spiritual depression. He is ‘downcast’ (v.5). His soul is ‘disturbed’ within him (v.5). Jesus himself cried out, ‘Now my heart is troubled’ and ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow’ (John 12:27; Mark 14:34).
The psalmist is surrounded by an ‘ungodly nation’ (Psalm 43:1a), a ‘deceitful and wicked’ people (v.1b). He is ‘oppressed by the enemy’ (v.2b). There is something very real and authentic about the Psalms. Life is not easy. We may face battles, opposition and even depression.
The right response is to turn to God. Pray for God’s guidance, and his presence, his ‘joy and delight’ (vv.3–4). The focal point of God’s presence with his people at that time was the temple in Jerusalem. Built on a ‘mountain’, it was ‘the place where you dwell’ (v.3). In the New Testament Jesus is the temple in whom God dwelt in all his fullness (see John 2:19–21; Colossians 1:19).
On the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit as the way in which God now dwells in his ‘holy temple’ – both in the individual and in the gathered community. ‘Church’ should never be boring. It should be a place of joy, delight and praise.
At its heart, obedience is all about turning to God, trusting his goodness, no matter what the situation. What we need in our darkness is the presence of God – and you can trust that is ultimately what you will find.
Lord, please send your light and your truth; let them lead me into your presence (Psalm 43:3a).
The reward of JesusLuke 12:35-59
Life is a wonderful gift. You have been ‘entrusted’ (v.48) with talents and responsibilities. It really matters how you use these. The warnings that run throughout this passage about how you use your life are given out of love. Jesus warns of the coming judgment and how to be ready.
Jesus calls you to be ‘ready for service’ (v.35). Expect Jesus to return today. What a wonderful reward is offered to those who are ready: ‘It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes’ (v.37a). You will sit and eat with Jesus and he will serve you (v.37b). The goodness and grace of Jesus is almost unbelievable. He reverses the roles in a way that most human beings would never even contemplate.
Be ready for when he returns (v.40). Be like the ‘faithful and wise manager’ (v.42). You will be richly rewarded; ‘It will be good’ for you (v.43). He will put you ‘in charge of all his possessions’ (v.44).
There is a danger in thinking that Jesus won’t come yet (v.45), that we can carry on doing exactly what we like and that there will be plenty of time to put things right.
It is the fact that the master ‘is taking a long time in coming’ that deceives the unwise servant into neglecting his task and not acting as the master would want (v.45). To many people today, God seems a distant or irrelevant figure with little impact on their lives. This story is a warning to remind us that there will one day be a reckoning for all that we do, and we would be wise to act on that now.
Jesus says that if you know something is wrong and you do it anyway, that is worse than doing something wrong when you didn’t realise. But the latter is still wrong (vv.47–48).
Jesus calls you to obey and to serve him with faithfulness and wisdom. If you use what God has given you wisely, he blesses you by giving you more responsibility. The more that God has given you, the greater the responsibility to use it well. Jesus says, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked’ (v.48b).
If you have a happy home, a good education, health, friends, job, food, clothes, holidays; if you have access to the Bible, freedom to meet together and pray, and so on, then you are one of those to whom much has been given. And much will be expected.
Jesus himself did not have an easy life. He says, ‘I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!’ (v.50). Jesus lived under the shadow of the cross. He knew that he was going to have to suffer. When we know we are facing some difficulty or challenge in our lives, we often feel ‘constrained until it is accomplished’ (v.50, RSV). If we feel this with relatively small things, how terrible it must have been for Jesus as he saw ahead the horrors of crucifixion, bearing the sin of the whole world.
This would be the means by which Jesus would bring us peace with God. Yet Jesus says that at one level we will not always experience an outward peace. Rather, there will be division: ‘Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division’ (v.51). This division can even be with those who are most closely related to us. There may be division between those who are for Jesus and those who are against him.
Yet you are called to be a peacemaker. Always ‘try hard to be reconciled’ (v.58).
Lord, help me to be always ready for service and to make the most of everything that you have entrusted to me.
The strength of GodDeuteronomy 11:1-12:32
Jesus was not the first to connect love and obedience. The law of Moses was given by God out of love. This calls for a response of love: ‘So love God, your God; guard well his rules and regulations; obey his commandments for the rest of time’ (11:1, MSG).
Ensure that the words of God permeate your entire being. ‘Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you... Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night’ (vv.18–19, MSG).
Know, learn and teach God’s word and put it into practice in your life. Great blessing comes from living openly and honestly, walking in the light of God’s truth as he reveals it in his word.
He promises his blessings to those who faithfully obey the commands he gives – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul’ (v.13; see also vv.22,27).
Disobedience is very draining and destructive. I know that in my own life deliberate sin leads to guilt and saps energy. Ultimately, we end up miserable. Moses said in effect, ‘See his goodness’: ‘it was your own eyes that saw all the great things the Lord has done. Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength…’ (vv.7,8). Obedience brings the blessing of strength.
Make good choices. God says, ‘I’ve brought you today to the crossroads of Blessing and Curse’ (v.26, MSG). If you choose obedience you will be blessed by God; you will be a magnet for his blessings. Wisdom is choosing to do now what you will be satisfied with later.
The temptation is to disobey God because we see everyone around us doing that. Moses says, ‘Be careful not to be ensnared by enquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same”’ (12:30). He goes on to say, ‘Do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it’ (v.32).
Lord, thank you for all your goodness. Please fill me today with your love and strength, joy and delight, faithfulness and wisdom.
‘Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.’
Learn verses while you are young. (It is much harder when you are older!) I’m not sure we did a very good job of teaching the Bible to our children. Although, I did stick an occasional verse on the fridge!
But the verses I learnt when I was younger, I’ve gone back to again and again.
Verse of the Day
‘Send me your light and your truth, let them guide me’ (Psalm 43:3, paraphrase).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.