Good – by Pastor Greg

“And Jesus said to him, ‘why do you call me good? no one is good except God alone.’” Mark  10:18

We use this word a lot. We say things like, “that was a good meal” or “we are looking forward to some good weather.” We know what we mean but do we know what we are saying? The good meal was satisfying, it was flavorful, it was pleasing to my senses and there was enough of it! All that in one word, good. We say the weather is good when it is the right temperature, the sun is shining and the wind was not too strong or absent. Now where I grew up in Northern New England, when you wanted to step up the meaning a bit you would say, “that meal was wicked good!”  Meaning it wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill good, but rather the Red Sox just won the world series good! There are many things we would say are good, but where does all this goodness come from?

God is good.  We say it often and we mean it.  He is good and He IS good ALL the time. But what does it mean that God is good? Goodness is an attribute, a characteristic, an aspect of God’s essence. “Good” is that which is morally honorable, pleasing to God and beneficial. God is the source of all that is good in both the moral and the material. Since goodness is an aspect of the character of God, it is constant and stable, not wavering or shifting. 

We see the outward manifestation of God’s goodness in the very beginning. Genesis 1:31 states, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” What God had made, God saw was agreeable, pleasant, excellent and rich. In other words, it was all that it should be, having come from the Creator God who is good. 

As reborn image-bearers of God we too can display the goodness of God. There is a quote that states this well: “Blessedness does not lie so much in receiving good from and in You (God), but in holding forth Your glory and virtue; that it is an amazing thing to see Deity in a creature, speaking, acting, filling, shining through it; that nothing is good but You, that I am near good when I am near You, that to be like You is a glorious thing: This is my magnet, my attraction.” – Valley of Vision. For Christians, we are exhorted to prove God’s will or put His will to the test.  Since He is good, His will is also good. We are to put His will to the test even when it goes against my will. My mind doesn’t always think the way God thinks. I must have it renewed and thus be transformed into His image more and more. When I do that, I then see more clearly how good His will really is. 

We are also told to “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9b),  to do it (Gal. 6:10), to follow after it (1 Thess. 5:15), to be zealous of it (1 Peter 3:13), to imitate it (3 John 1:11), and to overcome evil with it (Rom. 12:21). It is more than just doing good things but being changed by spending time with the One who is the source of all goodness.

Jesus had an encounter with a young man who was quite wealthy. This man called Jesus a “good teacher”, which is a true statement. But Jesus wanted to get to the heart of why this man had come to Him with his question. Jesus states in Mark 10:18 that only God is good. In other words, only God is the true source of all that is good and that it is He whom this young man was addressing. Jesus wanted this young man to see that living eternal life was more than simply doing good things. It is giving oneself to the fountain of all good and surrendering my will to His. 

God is good and He desires to share that goodness with me, and then through me to others. 

Life Together

We are looking forward to returning to more of our  activities and fellowship very soon. Planning for our “new normal service” began last year – a new vision for how to better be the family of God in our worship and fellowship. We have prepared a video to help us all see what our new Sunday timeframe and worship elements will be, Lord willing, starting after Easter. This will be a gradual building of our new format, as more join us in person and we (prayerfully) reach more in our community to come worship and serve with us. We welcome your encouraging comments and suggestions as we move forward.

– Pastor John & Pastor Greg

Patmos Journal – #8

May 6, 2020

Prayer from Patmos

…for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.  Acts 4:27-30

Reading at Acts chapter 4, you come across these verses amid the prayer of the believers who are gathered under escalating persecution. Peter and John had just been dismissed from an interrogation. These two men lead in the emerging church, writing what is to be inspired scripture, and will continue to suffer greater things for their faith–martyrdom for one and exile on Patmos for the other. Here, the Jewish council had reviewed their activities, and threatened with a cease-and-desist order; no more of this Jesus talk or attributing to Him the working of miraculous things…

Where the chaffing for me really ramps up is not by the ignorance and blindness of leaders in the show-of-force meeting, but in the gathering of the believers with Peter and John upon their release, and what transpires there. We’re reading what transpires there…it is prayer.

I project our present day back into this first-century event, and imagine the response if such a rights restrictive power-against-the-people ruling should occur today. There would be a rush to demonstration marches, penning of snappy chants, public wielding of firepower, passionate and profane venting across every media platform, rampant t-shirt and hat sales, defiant posturing, and probably someone’s going to have their sofa torched.

You understand, I’m just imagining. These would be expected responses from the unregenerate who only know earthly kings and always oppose power, until they wield the power. We should perhaps grant the understanding that God’s people would not respond in such manner to the overreach of a government wanting to be the only voice heard.  By example, that might-is-right approach was the situation in Jesus’ day, and He did not lead a rebellion, but a rebirth to all who would deny self, take up their cross daily, and follow Him.

It’s the time of year for having our National Day of Prayer; the first Thursday in this month of May. The roots of this national observance go back to the days of the Continental Congress, and a long line of observances mark the 245 years since its inception. Gatherings of all types in myriad locations are focusing this year on praying for “God’s Glory Across the Earth.” The theme verse is from Habakkuk 2:14. That may not mean much, but coming from an obscure minor prophet who details how God can and does use a wicked nation to punish His disobedient people, it should not be lost on us.

In Acts 4, the church did not plot overthrow or revenge. They did not ask God for ease, comfy days, powers that were sympathetic to the faith, or lightning to consume the wicked “them.” They knew God was using even the hardened to accomplish His will. What they desired and asked for was the continued, confident communication of the gospel through them. That is, they desired strengthening to be faithful in their call, as they knew God would be God in conducting His business.

I find with this Day of Prayer, more a heart’s desire for revival in our land, than perhaps I have ever desired before.

We have sought God’s blessing while continually dismissing His will, His Word, and His ways from our national life. We yearn for ease of life for pleasures and recreation, while accepting abortion, trafficking and vices of the unsaved with nary a tear.

The first church asked for strength to continue on in the strong testimony. Perhaps our prayer should be first for our return to the testimony. A return to “business as usual” seems clearly out of alignment with God’s will for us.

I don’t mean to sound hypercritical or above the argument. I have seen the coolness in my life. The desire for “normal” days and events that are easily planned, managed and resultantly explained. The crying out for natural rhythms rather than supernatural power. In God’s scale, I am found wanting. Where are you?

So I do pray. I read this Word. I strive to listen for God, so that in my quietness I may discern His speaking, rather than dwelling on my many words. I find it hard to cheer about a National Day of Prayer, when it should be a daily thing for this nation, once blessed in the providence of God, and now just like the other nations that squandered their invitation to make His glory known.

This I know: God’s purposes will not be thwarted. He will be exalted in all the earth. One day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord of all. Some will declare this in great joy, others will admit this in deep anguish and conquered surrender. I want to make His will my priority, for the days as always are evil, short, and foreordained by His immutable counsel.

And this I know: I cannot pray for the “them” revival until there is the “me” revival. And I cannot pray for the unsaved to respond to the gospel, if I am not living out the proof of its residence in me, displayed before this world in its present darkness.

And this I know: The fervent prayers of the righteous are very powerful. The self-righteous only pray to themselves.

Pray, friends, without ceasing. God will do mighty things, in us, and throughout this world.