Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: good

Is God a good boss or a bad boss?

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of good bosses throughout my career.  I’ve had my share of lousy ones, too; but looking back, my list of bosses is full of people who used their authority well.

So, what makes a “good boss”?  Someone who is involved, but not overbearing.  Someone who puts in at least as much effort and care into their position as they expect me to put into mine.  Someone who takes an interest in developing their employees.  And while this last item may not be at the top of everyone’s mind, we want a boss that, in fairness, holds their people accountable for their responsibilities and actions.

For a “good boss”, we work in ways that we never consider when we have a “bad boss”.  For a “good boss”, we aren’t afraid to bring up both the problem and our suggested solution.  We put in the extra time at work because we know our manager is putting in the time as well.  We seek out her opinion and want to hear how she will grow us.  We put our best efforts in, because we know that he is appreciative and will reward our efforts.  We wouldn’t consider giving this kind of effort if we are managed by a “bad boss”.  We may be forced or coerced into doing this occasionally, but volunteering it?  Not a chance.

But how does this ideal compare with how our modern culture portrays – or even we sometimes think – about God?  Have you ever been asked these questions?  Perhaps you’ve wondered them, too:

·       If God really cared, why do bad things happen?
·       Is God even paying attention?
·       Why is God letting people get away with their selfishness and evil actions?

These are hard, real questions.  And it’s ok to ask them…no need to watch out for lightning strikes.

However, I want us to look at the sentiment behind these questions – do we think God is a “bad boss”?  Are our assumptions about God getting in the way of how we see Him? 

·       Do you think God is at work in the world?
·       Do you think God is interested in how you learn and grow?
·       Do you think God holds people accountable?

Did you answer yes or no?  What are you basing your answer on?
Did you answer I’m not sure?  Then let me give you a sampling of verses to consider:

When Jesus was asked why He had the authority to heal people on the Sabbath, He gave this response:

John 5:17
Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.”

When discussing how He cares for His people, Jesus said:

John 10:10
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

When writing to believers, Paul had this stern warning for them:

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

How do these few verses affect the way you perceive God?  If you’re still unsure, that’s ok…but don’t stay there.  Pursue God.  Search the Scriptures.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Because when we see God as He truly is – a “good boss” – then our attitude, actions, and aim in life changes greatly.  But if we believe that God is absent and uncaring, we will miss out on the fullness of life He has to offer – the kind that only a “good boss” can give.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The Teacher Test

Lots of people claim to teach and preach for God.  But how do you know if what they’re saying is actually from God?

One test could be to measure how much Scripture is quoted during a sermon.  The more the better, right?  That would make it easy…if they only quote one verse, we should be suspicious…but if they quote many verses, then their teaching must be “good”.  But that doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

Another test could be to gauge how we feel after listening to a sermon.  We know that the Word of God should inspire us, right?  So, if we leave feeling inspired and motivated, then the message and the messenger must be “good”.  But then doesn’t seem quite right, either.

When he wrote to encourage and direct Timothy in his mission to the Ephesian church, Paul repeatedly addressed the topic of false teachers.  Closing off the previous section’s teaching on the church’s support for widows, honoring elders, disciplining elders, and the slave-master relationship, Paul says:

1 Timothy 6:2-3
Teach and encourage these things.  If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words.

Did you catch Paul’s “Teacher Test”? 

If what that person teaches does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching the promotes godliness, then we should not be listening to them.  We need to keep this in mind:

Since the aim of a Christian’s life is to be like Christ, any teaching that doesn’t match up with what Jesus taught will not make us more like Him. 

That statement is so simple, we don’t even bother to think in those terms.  However, when we forget why we need a constant relationship with Jesus, we tend to let the Christian life make us comfortable.  God richly blesses us in many ways, but our selfishness still drifts us toward a life of ease. 

There are many consequences to focusing on getting to the “good life” instead of aiming for the “Christ-like life”.  Paul will deal with several of them as he closes out his letter.  The one he points out here is that false teachers will come sounding “good”, but they will end up pulling us away from our aim of being like Jesus.

Our Teacher Test isn’t to count the number of verses or rely on our constantly changing feelings.  Taking what is taught and comparing it to sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ will show us if our teacher is pointing us in the right direction.  Every time we’re presented with a new Bible teaching, we need to be asking “Does this teaching promote god-like-ness?”.

We must be alert in this.  Don’t go on auto-pilot just because someone claims to have a message from God.  Our relationship with Jesus depends on it.

Keep Pressing,
Ken
 

It's all good

It’s all good!

I might be giving away my age here, but that phrase became pop culture slang in the middle of my teenage years.  Typically said with twang that made the “all” sound like “awl”, the person who used the phrase was telling everyone that they were not going let a situation bring them down or derail their direction in life – even if the circumstances or news was really bad.

As cool as we thought we were for saying it, we didn’t realize that the Apostle Paul said it almost 2000 years before we did.

While instructing Timothy on how he needs to lead the church in Ephesus, Paul informs him of the following:

1 Timothy 4:4-6
For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.  If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.

Did you catch that?  Everything God created is good.  Going back to original creation and the Garden of Eden, at the end each day, God looked at what He created and saw that it was good (See Genesis 1).  Despite the ways sin has corrupted the world, we can still approach everything through the lens of the word of God and by prayer.  When we use these two tools, we can see God’s original design and intent for our lives. 

Paul wants the believers in Ephesus to know this, but he also knows that they must be reminded of it.  Why does Paul tell Timothy to point these things out to the brothers?  Because he knows that the troubles of this sin-soaked world will skew our vision.  We must keep coming back to God’s word and prayer if we’re going see properly.

Can I be honest, though?  Sometimes I tire of hearing that message, even though I know it is right.  It happens to all of us.  Our sin-nature gets emboldened, and we resent the messenger who reminds us of our need for God’s word and prayer.  Being resented can be difficult for our church leaders, even though they are correctly doing the things God has asked them to do.  Paul knows this and encourages Timothy:

if you point out these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus

Paul uses the same word for good here that he did earlier.  So he’s essentially saying that as good as God made the initial creation and design, that’s how good of a servant Timothy will be when he carries out his mission and points the believers back to the importance of God’s word and prayer.

So we should ask ourselves:

Do I see today as something good?
Do I see my home, my family, my work, my food, and my responsibilities as something good?
Am I thankfully receiving everything from God, seeing it all through the lens of His word and prayer?
Am I resentful when someone reminds me see life through this lens?

Despite what sin-soaked mess comes our way, when we see this world from God’s vantage point, we can honestly say

It’s all good.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Celebrate good times

At 40 years of age, Moses was on the run.

He had killed a man, and Pharaoh wanted Moses dead for it.  So Moses fled hundreds of miles east to the land of Midian.  One day at a well, Moses came to the rescue of 7 shepherdesses who were being prevented from watering their flocks.  In gratitude, their father invited him to a meal.  The dinner event began the relationship between the two men, with Moses marrying and starting a family with Jethro’s oldest daughter.  During the next 40 years, Moses and his family stayed near and worked with Jethro’s family – Moses was actually shepherding Jethro’s flock when God met him in the burning bush to appoint him as the one to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt.

Now let’s hit fast forward...Moses has successfully led the nation out of slavery.  Egypt has been soundly defeated by the plagues God had sent and their military was obliterated during the Red Sea crossing.  However, before they meet God at Mt. Sinai, there is a family reunion. 

Before we read about Moses and Jethro, let’s stop and think about their relationship.  Moses arrived at Jethro’s house as a man who was hunted and looking over his shoulder.  Moses had grown up in Pharaoh’s palace, the richest of the rich in all of Egypt.  The Bible doesn’t mention the extent of his Egyptian education and training, but it’s not too much of a stretch to think that Moses was a little out of place when it came to rural life.  Over forty years’ time, Moses learned the ropes of leading and shepherding.  Little did he know, God was using his time under Jethro’s supervision to prepare him for the task at hand.

With this in mind, let’s look at their meeting.

Exodus 18:7-12
So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down, and then kissed him.  They asked each other how they had been and went into the tent.  Moses recounted to his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardships that confronted them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them.

Jethro rejoiced over all the good things the Lord had done for Israel when He rescued them from the Egyptians.  “Blessed is the Lord,” Jethro exclaimed, “who rescued you from Pharaoh and the power of the Egyptians, and snatched the people from the power of the Egyptians.  Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because He did wonders at the time the Egyptians acted arrogantly against Israel.”

Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in God’s presence.

This meeting was a joyous occasion.  You can see that they were excited to see one another, and they were excited about the things God had done.  It is a great moment when a mentor can truly celebrate with his protégé about the success God has had in their lives.  I’m certain that evening was full of “remember when” stories, with Moses thanking Jethro for his help all those many years ago, and with plenty of rejoicing over God’s part in all of it.

As mentors, we need to make sure we’re celebrating the successes of our protégés.  As someone being mentored, we need to make sure we’re telling our mentors about the victories God has won in our lives.  A public celebration will serve as an encouragement to both people and give God the proper recognition He deserves.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Is God good?

I just stared at him blankly.  No one had ever asked me that question before.

I had just finished sharing a brief version of my life story, my journey with God up to that point in my life.  I had talked about being raised the church, accepting Christ as my savior at eight years old, and listed off the major difficulties I had either caused or someone else had caused me to live through.  I had also discussed how I saw God at work in those situations and in me during those times…and then the leader of the small men’s group asked me a follow up question.

Ken, it’s great that you recognize how and when God has worked in your life.  But I need to ask you…Is God good?

My mind swirled with this question as the other guys in the group stared back at me, waiting for my answer.  I stammered an answer that God is God, and what He does is what He wants to do.  The group leader wouldn’t let me off that easy, though.  He pressed in again:

Ken, I didn’t ask if God was in charge.  I asked you if He is good.  Do you believe that God is good?

Although he didn’t bring up this specific passage, the group leader was asking if I viewed God the same way that the author of Psalm 119 did.  Look for yourself to find how the author viewed the goodness of God:

Psalm 119:65-72
Lord, You have treated Your servant well, just as You promised.
Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on Your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.
You are good, and You do what is good; teach me Your statutes.
The arrogant have smeared me with lies, but I obey Your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are hard and insensitive, but I delight in Your instruction.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.
Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

The benefit of hindsight allows the psalmist to say that God had treated Your servant well, just as You promised.  Even though the author went astray and subsequently was afflicted and humbled by his errors, he was able to recognize God’s purposeful movements in his life.

Not only did he acknowledge to God that You are good, and You do what is good, his next response is the proof of his understanding – teach me Your statutes.  When we truly believe that God is good and that He has promised us good, we are drawn to Him and we want to learn from Him.  We naturally lean into those whom we believe are for us and on our side.

That’s what the men’s leader was trying to get me, and the rest of the group, to understand.  When we are able to tell God You are good, and You do what is good – that is when we are ready to lean into God and let Him speak into our lives.

So I’ll put the question to you – Is God good?

Keep Pressing,
Ken