Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Goodness of God

Recently I attended "A Night of Hope" in Washington, DC featuring Joel Osteen. This was the first time I heard Pastor Joel live. Listening to him minister from the heart without time restrictions gave me a greater appreciation for his ministry. It grieves me how some religious folk criticize Joel Osteen for being too positive. One website labeled Pastor Joel a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (Matthew 7:15) Yet as I heard one evangelist point out, “Wolves cannot be shepherds. They are among the sheep.”

Many of us often hear the phrase “God is good…all the time.” Sadly, a lot of individuals don’t really believe that. A few preachers think their calling in life is to thump their Bibles and yell at people they think are going to hell. But ministers who lack compassion and do not speak the truth in love may cause sinners to be even more resistant to the gospel!

Romans 2:4 says that it’s the goodness of God that leads one to repentance. The truth of God’s goodness can be found throughout the Bible. Here are a few more examples…

“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’” - Exodus 34:6

“And now, LORD, You are God, and have promised this goodness to Your servant.” - 1 Chronicles 17:26

“The goodness of God endures continually.” – Psalm 52:1

”Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” - Psalm 118:1

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” - Isaiah 61:1 (later referred to by Jesus in Luke 4:18)

Many people ask how God can be so good when there is much evil in the world. The reason is because there’s a devil that comes
“…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. (John 10:10) Yet God can turn negative situations around for good…

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” - Genesis 50:20

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28

When the Holy Spirit convicted me to get my life right with God in March 1991, I decided to talk with my sister and her husband knowing they were committed Christians. Tanya and Greg cleared up many misunderstandings I had about Christianity. They didn’t lead me to salvation by pointing their finger at me but showed the love of Jesus Christ through their actions and asking me to pray with them.

Certainly there are times when sin must be confronted (see Jude 22-23). But to be effective soul winners, we must always share the gospel with sinners in love not condemnation. Remember the word gospel itself means “good news.”

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17

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