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“God is Good”

What comes into our minds when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.
A. W. Tozer

As Christ-followers, we believe is that God is good.

That statement is far more than a simple cliché: it is a critical dividing line!

This belief distinguishes angels from demons. The confidence that God is good separates joy-filled believers from joy-less believers, and victorious Christians from defeated ones.

From the beginning of human history, we have been tempted to doubt the goodness of God.

Even when we recognize God’s goodness as a fact in our theology, we often struggle to trust that goodness as a reality in our daily lives.

We know that “God is good” does not mean that He grants our every whim like a genie in a magic lamp. But what does it mean?

Here are several realities created by the abundant goodness of God.

1.  “God is good” means that every drop of suffering that we yield to Him will gain a far greater weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). Ultimately, God redeems all suffering that is given to Him. Our redeemed suffering will bring a joy and inner thriving to us that will overflow our pain.

“God is good” means that God knows how to turn our suffering inside-out into well-being and delight.

The LORD your God turns curses into blessings for you because He loves you.
Deuteronomy 23:5

“God is good” means that God will take the ashes of our lives and replace them with the beauty of Abundant Life. In exchange for the despair and heaviness of our hearts, He gives us the oil of gladness (Isaiah 61:3).

2. “God is good” means that if we could see now what God sees, we would not change one thing in what God is doing, how He is doing it, or when He is doing it. We would not resist Him. Instead of grumbling, protesting, or dragging our feet, we would join Him wholeheartedly!

If we could see now what God sees, we would rejoice that He is working perfectly in our lives. And someday, when we do see all that God has done, we are not doing to be disappointed! We are going to be overwhelmed at the splendor and excellence of it all. 

3. The goodness of God means that we always have reason for joy. We can always go forward with hope. The goodness of God is greater than our greatest sorrow, and His goodness is deeper than our deepest disappointment.

4. “God is good” means that God is fully attentive to us, His children. He is always motivated by absolute love; He is never limited in His strength or ability; and He is always guided by perfect wisdom. Without fail, God loves us well.

5. “God is good” means that God does not lie. He keeps His promises. Whether we are single or married–whatever our circumstances are–God is not late. He is never negligent or forgetful.

6. “God is good” means that God does not react to us out of fatigue, exasperation, impatience, wounded ego, defensiveness, spite, or misunderstanding. God responds to us in wisdom and love.

7. “God is good” means that we can cast ourselves on His goodness, trusting His commands, and trusting our well-being to Him. We can trust Him in the frustrations, disappointments, and sorrows of life. As we focus on treasuring Christ, we allow His goodness to be comfort, sweetness, and strength to us.

"God is good"

The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.
Psalm 35:27, NIV

8. “God is good” means that if something will  truly bless usthen we will have it! It is the heart of God to maximize our forever joy and to nurture our well-being. God does not withhold blessing (Psalm 84:11).

"God is good"

God is always way ahead of us when it comes to blessing us! God’s desire to bless us is greater than our desire to be blessed. When we are yielded to God, any temporary lack in our lives is always making way for something greater.

9. The goodness of God shields us (Psalm 31:19). In our marriages and families, we are surrounded by things that are not good. We feel knocked down at times by the things that people say or do that are not good. But God’s goodness stabilizes us. His goodness protects us so that our hearts stay clean and our spirits stay healthy. The goodness of God keeps us from sinking into bitterness or discouragement.

10. “God is good” means that when we suffer according to God’s will, God makes it His suffering, and He carries the weight of it (Matthew 11:28-30).

"God is good"

11. “God is good” means that even though we do not know exactly why God allows certain things, we do know that there is an answer! There is a good answer that will not only make sense to us but which will fully satisfy us and cause us to rejoice. Sometimes it is enough just to know that there is such an answer.

12. “God is good” means that God will maintain His excellencies and glories as a perfect God. We are utterly dependent on Him, so it is wonderful to know that He is committed to maintaining His strength, His wisdom, and His holiness.

"God is good"

LORD, we are in awe of You! You are far greater than we can know, not just in wisdom and knowledge, but in utter goodness.

We delight in your goodness, Lord!  We celebrate your abundant goodness (Psalm 145:7). Your goodness is the song that dispels the dissonance of evil.

Lord, today we trust Your goodness. We rest in Your goodness. Like Your people in Nehemiah 9:25, we revel in Your great goodness.

In the Name of Christ we pray. Amen.

**This material first appeared on the Manna For Marriage prayer call on June 13, 2019. The recording may be viewed HERE.

Blessings to you,
Tami

A Cure for Loneliness

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.
—Albert Schweitzer

We have all experienced the ache of loneliness.

It can cut to the deepest core of our being. It can be intensely painful.

Relieving our loneliness is much harder than we expect. Just being surrounded by people does not cure loneliness. Having crowds around us can sometimes make our loneliness feel even more intense.

loneliness

And being married does not necessarily cure loneliness. In fact, the loneliness that can occur within marriage can be especially painful.

When we can’t cure our loneliness, we try to distract ourselves from the pain. Many people hope to gain relief through alcohol, drugs, immorality, or other unhealthy choices. But these are only temporary escapes, and they often cause even greater loneliness.

World-renown apologist Ravi Zacharias¹ points out that there is only one lasting cure to loneliness:

worship.

What an incredible truth!

Loneliness is separation. We can experience separation physically, socially, and spiritually. This loss of connection can be devastating and crippling.

This explains why resentment is toxic to us. When we are bitter, we experience separation from another man or woman, as well as from God. Failing to forgive brings the pain of loneliness and isolation.

Image a relationship spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, there is complete isolation, total separation, and all-consuming loneliness.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is ultimate relationship. This is the place of true worship.

Presentation1True worship is not a one-way activity. Pursuing false gods, such as pleasure or status, is one-way, false worship. Words of praise spoken without interaction are empty.

True Worship

This is relationship at the fullest. As an expression of knowing God in spirit and in truth, we worship Him, and we yield to His knowing us fully.

There is no loneliness in that.

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Blessings to you,
Tami

Be sure to join us on Thursday for the prayer call: http://www.mannaformarriage.com/prayer/


¹Ravi Zacharias on “Just Thinking”

Knowing Who You Are

If you are trying to build up your value, or if you are working to create a satisfying identity, you can lay those heavy burdens down.

identity

I listened to my friend recently as she lamented that her sense of identity had seemed to unravel like yarn being pulled from a sweater:

“I  thought I was doing great. I was getting stuff done and feeling rather talented. But lately, I have been feeling completely incompetent. Maybe even worthless.  I’m overwhelmed with demands that I can’t meet. I can’t even keep my closets organized!”

We all need reminders of our true identity and worth. If you feel that a messy closet—or a messy life—is messing with your value, here’s some great truth for you:

Your value is built in.

You are a masterpiece, bearing the fingerprints and signature of God. You are created in His image to reflect His beauty and strength to others. You are created in His image in order to enjoy Him with true delight and pleasure. 

Your identity is not found in your good looks or your talents or your personality or your accomplishments.  If you are in covenant with Christ, then you have the most fantastic identity possible:

“I am His.”

You belong to Christ as His beloved. You are His.

identity

“I am His.”

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
(Isaiah 43:1, HCSB)

You are deeply desired, passionately pursued, forever cherished.

“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17, NIV, NLT)

CQCSWILE04

You belong to One who knows you—the real you. He knows everything about you; and in the midst of all the knowing, He loves you. He is unfailing in His commitment to you, and He is unwavering in His devotion. He is your intimate friend, your Gentle Shepherd, and your awesomely perfect God.

“My beloved is mine and I am his.”
(Song of Songs 2:16, NIV)

“I am His.”

All the circumstances of your life are just props for this great Love story. Messy closets, difficult relationships, fussy babies, demanding work assignments, physical challenges, financial pressures—all of these are backdrops for living out the truth that you are His beloved.

Made in His image, you can reflect Him in your circumstances. Your goal is no longer to control circumstances or to impress people. God has established your value, and He is the One who controls the details of your life for you. You can focus on being impressed with Him. He is the One who will make your name great (Genesis 12:2), and He is the One who will share His glory with you (2 Thessalonians 2:14, Romans 8:17).

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Deeply and perfectly loved by Him, you can walk through this day with the goal of loving Him back, following His guidance. That might mean cleaning a closet. Or it might mean shoving another stray shoe into that closet and just trying to get the door to close, for now.

But your value is unchanging: you are priceless.

And your identity is solid: you are His.

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Don’t forget to join us as we “Fight on Our Knees” every Thursday, praying for our marriages and families. You can join online or by phone. You will be in “listen only” mode, so don’t hesitate to join us. The call lasts only 15 minutes. Click HERE for more information, or visit the “Prayer Call” page on MannaForMarriage.com.

Also, here is a coupon code (15% off) that you can use on every book on MannaForMarriage: RF2D3P97
Click HERE to visit the book page on MannaForMarriage.com.

Is God’s Will for You a Mystery?

Sometimes, God’s Will can be a real mystery to us.

At other times,  it can seem rather mundane. But we can learn from several fascinating stories how to push through the mysterious and mundane into the marvelous!

Kings have dreams.

In ancient Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. When he awoke, he called all of his wise men and advisers. He said to them, “Tell me my dream. Tell me what it was, and then tell me what it means.”

Of course, no one could tell the king what his dream had been. Even when threatened with execution, the counselors could not tell the king what he had dreamed.

This impossible request reminds me of the game that my youngest child invented when she was a preschooler. When we were at the pool one day, Grace announced, “I am going to go under the water and think about a song. When I come back up, you tell me what I was thinking!”

God's Will

The rest of the family thought this was hilarious, which only encouraged Grace in her unusual game. However, we soon discovered that it was not as difficult as it could have been because Grace’s mental collection of songs was apparently limited to “Happy Birthday” (her most popular choice), “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and an occasional “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Grace’s game was not very hard, but King Nebuchadnezzar’s challenge was truly impossible! His astrologers and sorcerers had no clues. This was no game at the pool; it was a life-or-death matter.

One of the king’s wise men was Daniel, who actually was a wise man and who knew what to do. He prayed to God, for he understood that “God is a revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:29, NIV).

Sometimes, we are in a similar situation. The King of Kings has a “dream” for us, so to speak. We understand that God has a plan for us, and we say, “God, if You will just tell me what the plan is, I will do it.” But we can’t figure out what this great mystery is!

We may be struggling with a career decision or a relationship challenge. Certainly in marriage, we face some mysteries! The hearts of our spouses—and even our own hearts—are deep mysteries, indeed. We may be saying, “God, I want to do what You want to me to do in my marriage; but God, for the life of me, I cannot figure out what that is!”

God reveals mysteries to those who seek Him.

But our King is not like King Nebuchadnezzar because our King loves to make known His dream to His people. God does has a dream for your life. He does have a plan for your marriage today, and He is not going to keep it hidden from you! Instead, God promises to be the Revealer of mysteries, and He will show you what you need to know for today.

I notice that Daniel did not learn what the king’s dream was until the very night before his scheduled execution. He had only a few hours to get this right! That is relevant to us, too. God does not usually show us the five-year-plan that we would love to see, but He always gives us the wisdom and the knowledge that we need for today. Always.

Notice Daniel’s prayer:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his. …
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king. (Daniel 2:20-23, NIV)

God delights in answering our prayers for wisdom. (See Proverbs 2:6 and James 1:5.) If we ask God to reveal the mysteries of His will for us, we will be able to pray this same prayer that Daniel prayed. We can say, “Wow, God! You are going to show me deep and hidden things that I would never be able to know on my own. You will give me wisdom to know how to love my spouse well, and You will give me the power to carry out what You ask me to do.”

That is awesome! We have great confidence that our King not only has a dream, but that He reveals it to us at the perfect time.

We can lose that confidence, however, when God’s instructions to us are not what we expect. Sometimes we ask God to reveal His will, He tells us what to do, and then we respond like Simon Peter did one time.

Keep doing what God tells you to do.

Crowds of people had gathered beside a lake to listen to Jesus.

Then [Jesus] sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:4-5, NIV)

I can identify with that response! Sometimes we ask God for wisdom, He tells us what to do, and then we say, “Lord, I have done that! I did that all night long and caught nothing!”

Maybe you are saying, “God, I did that all year long!” or “I did that for the past decade! I worked very hard, and I am exhausted. I tried doing what You said to do, but I caught nothing. Nothing has changed; nothing is working.”

As we listen carefully to God, we may hear Him say, “Go back out there. In fact, go out even deeper.” That instruction seems to indicate a level of commitment. Perhaps God is asking us to throw ourselves back into working on our marriages, to keep “putting down the nets.” Perhaps we are to go even deeper—that is, we are to commit ourselves to a greater extent than ever before.

And then do it some more.

We sometimes say, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” That is certainly true in many situations, but spiritually, that statement does not always apply because we often do not see what is happening in the spiritual realm.

Jesus once told a story about a widow who persisted in her legal appeals to an unjust judge. (See Luke 18:1-8.) This hard-hearted man refused to help, but the widow kept going back to him. The Bible doesn’t say that she finally came up with a new approach, wore a different dress, or thought of a new thing to say. She just kept “putting down the nets.”

God's Will

And then … the breakthrough came. It came not because the widow did something different; it came because she kept doing the same thing!

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Do you remember Naaman, who had leprosy? (You can read his story in 2 Kings 5.)  He dipped down into the waters of the Jordan River six times–and six times, nothing happened. Naaman did not see a little bit of improvement after the first dip into the river, and then a bit more improvement after the second dip. There was no visible progress at all! Naaman kept doing the same thing because God told him to do it. And then … God performed the miraculous. Naaman dipped down for the seventh time, and this time, he stood up as a completely healed man.

naaman

This is exactly what God does in our marriages sometimes! God says, “Get back out there, and see what I am going do.” And we obey for the same reason that Simon Peter obeyed:  “Because You say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Peter was saying, in other words, “I am not doing this because it seems smart to me, or because I figured it out. I am doing it simply and entirely because You tell me to do it.”

throw net

That is a good attitude for us, too, in our marriages. When we know that God has told us to keep on doing what we have been doing, we say, “Lord, I have done this already, but because You say so, I am going to keep doing it.”

When Simon and the other fishermen obeyed Christ, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and their boats began to sink! Simon was awestruck. Everyone was amazed.

net full

If we are faithful to do what God tells us to do, we are going to be astonished. We can trust God’s instruction to us even though it seems that we are just doing the same thing  … and then doing the same thing again!

You are going to be amazed!

But if we will persevere, God will overwhelm us with spiritual fruit. We are going to be amazed at what God is achieving through our persistent, ordinary obedience. If we trust and obey, we are going to be astonished. We are going to overflow with joy because of what God accomplishes through our obedience.

Let’s ask God to reveal the mysteries of His will. 
Let’s do whatever He asks.
Let’s be amazed.

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“Is God’s Will for You a Mystery?”  is a transcript of last week’s prayer call. Every Thursday, we gather by phone or online to “fight on our knees” for our marriages and families.

You are invited to join us!

The call lasts only 15 minutes. For more information, click HERE for the prayer page at MannaForMarriage.com.

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Photo credit:  “Smiling Little Girl Swimming” by David Castillo Dominici

Merry Christmas!

Christmas

God saw
that His creation,
though beloved still,
was beautiful no more.

Broken,
it was
riddled with rebellion
and fractured with hatred;
and the great heart of God was
broken.

Like a tear,
the immense love of God for the people of Earth welled up
and spilled out,
descending
like a brilliant star
through the universe
before appearing
as a baby in a bed of straw.

And this was
Christmas.

Christmas

This God who loves us
loves us enough
to enter our sorrow and make it His own
that we would be His own
and that our comfort would be
this God-with-us.

As we behold Him
unceasingly
may we adore Him,
this Christ of Christmas,
this very Glory of God.

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Book Sale

Through the end of December,  the code  RF2D3P97 is valid for a 15% discount on any book purchased through the Books page on the Manna for Marriage website.

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Merry Christmas, everyone! 

I pray that the God of all comfort, Jesus Christ, will be more precious to us than ever before during this Christmas, and I pray that we will treasure Him as never before in the coming year.

Blessings to you,
Tami