Ain’t God Good 9/13/98

Psalm 86:1-5
Page 874 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST whispered words of encouragement in the ears of His disciples and the world overheard Him. On the Mount of Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount He spoke of happiness. For clarity of understanding He spoke of seven facets of a relationship He guarantees will result in a fulfilling and gratifying life. Seven times He said “blessed” are you. In the language of the day the word translated “blessed” was MAKARIOS. It can be translated “blessed, congratulations, or happy.” MAKARIOS had long been used by the Greeks to speak of the blissful and blessed state of their gods. Christ now says in reality you can have true happiness like the Greeks only imagined their gods to have.

The word spoke of a state of being not dependent upon externals. The ancient name of the Island of Cyprus was Makarios. The island was thought to contain everything necessary for a good life. The climate was mild. Soil was fertile and growing conditions ideal. Fresh water was plentiful. In effect, the island was self-contained. This is a picture of what the word really means. In using it Jesus was saying “I can put within you everything necessary to a joyous and productive life. This joy is within and not contingent upon externals.”

This provision He offers every follower. Why then do so few seem to be enjoying it? It is because we have inverted the standard. We have grown to believe happiness is dependent upon externals — things. Having done so we have failed to develop the internal attributes resulting from applying God’s Word.

Recently my dear brother in Christ, Jerry Clower, went to be with our beloved Lord. Jerry had lived in preparation for that moment. When he confronted Christ he wasn’t meeting a stranger.

One of his recordings was made here at Roswell Street Baptist Church. He gave it the title of an expression he often used: “Ain’t God Good!” That “ain’t” good grammar but it is good news. Our text revolves around such good news.

Does it seem to you that you live in a world depicted by drawings seen in some biology books in which a small fish is about to be swallowed by a larger fish which also is about to be devoured by an even larger fish which is in danger of being swallowed by an even larger one. The picture continues with each fish getting bigger. You are always the smallest fish.

Does your life seem like an eight-track tape in a CD world?

Are you like Alice in Wonderland when she had to run as fast as she could just to stay where she was?

Life is such a rat race that they even have cheese flavored tranquilizers.

Someone asked: “What do you think of civilization?” The answer, “It is a great idea. Why doesn’t somebody start one?”

At times it seems we are in a deep forest being pursued by persons whose hands and heads have outgrown their hearts.

In such a world we need to know well the Good Lord.

Without Christ as your guide, all the world can offer you is “cures that don’t cure, blessings that don’t bless, and solutions that don’t solve.” (G.K. Chesterton, God is our Refuge…)

What’s a Christian to do in this mad house?

Realize you are going to have trouble. It never leaves you once it finds you. Acknowledge it will either make you better or bitter. You alone make the choice. Therefore, rely on:

With words I can show you what God’s character is like. It is revealed in this story as told by the late Dr. A. J. Gordon. As he came out of his church one day he noticed a young boy with a cage of small field birds. Gordon asked, “What are you going to do with those birds?” The lad’s freckled face lit up as he said, “Look here, mister,” as he pulled on the wing of one, “I like to make them cry out. I’m going to have some fun torturing them some, and then I am going to feed them to my cat.”

Gordon replied, “Son, I’d like to have those birds.” The boy responded, “You really don’t want them. They ain’t good for nothing.”

Gordon and the boy finally agreed on the price of $5.00.

When the boy left Gordon opened the cage door, but the birds refused to move. He finally nudged one out the door and soon the others followed. Gordon said that experience reminded him of a Chinese legend.

One day Jesus was out walking and he came across Satan who had a cage full of people. Jesus asked, “Satan, what have you?”

Wryly Satan replied, “I’ve got the world. I have all mankind in this cage.”

Jesus asked, “What are you going to do with them?”

Satan sneered, “I’m going to promise them everything. Then I’m going to break their hearts and eventually damn their souls to hell without God’s love.”

Jesus said, “Satan I would like to have them.”

Mockingly Satan said, “Jesus you don’t want them. They’ll steal Your money. They’ll desecrate Your day. They’ll blaspheme Your name. They’ll break Your promises. They will break Your heart. You don’t want them.”

Jesus said, “I know the number of hairs on their heads. I know their names. I know their thoughts and I want them.”

Satan taunted, “You’ll have to pay for them.” Jesus said, “I’ll give you gold, the gold of all the universe.”

Gleefully Satan replied, “No, no, no. That’s not enough.”

“I’ll give you wealth untold – pearls, rubies, and all the mountains and all the oceans of the world.”

“That’s still not enough,” said Satan.

“I’ll give you the diamonds of every island and continent.”

“That’s not nearly enough. I want more,” derided Satan.

Then Jesus said, “All right, Satan. Name your price.”

Satan’s lips curled in a snarl as he said, “I want the gold of Your heart, Jesus. I want the diamonds of Your tears. I want the rubies of Your blood. I want You, Jesus. I want you on a cross. But you won’t pay that price.”

Gently, without a word, Jesus began to lay aside His regal robes and make His way to earth.

To understand God’s character keep this story in mind as you reflect on Romans 8: 32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

That is the character of the God who has promised you MAKARIOS.



We all need forgiveness. General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, “I never forgive and I never forget.” Wesley replied, “Then, Sir, I hope you never sin.”

Never in modern America has the secular press given forgiveness such headlines. Never has forgiveness been more needed by more people. The slippery slide of sin that has led to this was greased by our language. For years the operative word in America was “character.” Words revealing character, good or bad, were used to speak of persons. Words such as “integrity, high morals, honest, trustworthy, loyal, dependable.” Every so imperceptibly the operative word changed to “personality.” Instead of referring to persons with character trait words personality describing language was substituted. Words such as “self- confident, assertive, introspective, self-styled, cool, or with-it.”

Then the avant guard of morals began to tell us right and wrong, good and evil were not separate categories of conduct but relative terms based on ones own subjective experience. Sin was thus easily excused.

Forgiveness is the antidote for this moral malaise. Forgiveness is therapeutic. God intends it to cleanse the soul as well as purge the conscience.

It is renewing in its relationship with the Lord and restoring in human relations.

Karl Menninger, the famed psychiatrist, and founder of the Menninger Clinic, said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75% of them could walk out the next day. It is therapeutic.

We must not forget there are prerequisites to forgiveness. They are: CONTRITION, CONFESSION, AND REPENTANCE.

Contrition means it is more than merely saying, “I’m sorry…” That may only mean, I’m sorry …. I got caught.” That is remorse. Judas had remorse but not repentance.

Contrition means to share God’s broken heart over our actions.

Confession means to agree with God about it and admit it as wrong.

Repentance means to turn from it and turn to the Savior.

Peter’s sin of denial of Jesus was just as bad as the sin or betrayal by Judas. Judas was remorseful, Peter was repentant.

Many love to rely on the story of the woman caught in the act of sin who was brought to Jesus and He said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee…” That is beautiful. However, we must not forget the rest of the story. Jesus continued, “Go and sin no more.” Translated: “Quit your habitual sinning in this manner.”

Other accounts of forgiveness involve Moses and David.

Moses was instructed in a time when water was desperately needed to speak to the rock of Miraba and it would give water. Moses disobeyed and instead of speaking to the rock he struck it. He repented and was forgiven. Wonderful story!

David committed two horrendous sins. He set-up a young loyalist named Uriah to be murdered and he also committed adultery. Two for one. He repented and was forgiven.

The natural consequence of sin is often overlooked in the stories of these two monoliths. Moses repented and was forgiven but he wasn’t allowed to enter the land of promise.

David repented and was forgiven but not allowed to build the temple. Solomon, his son was given that privilege.

They had disqualified themselves for these roles by their own sinful conduct.

Christians sometimes get confused at this point. They equate forgiveness of sin with acquittal by the law. They are not the same. Forgiveness is an act of grace. Acquittal is an act of law and may not apply even when sin is forgiven.

Simply stated there is a natural consequence to our actions.

HIS MERCY – Vs. 5b. You may have messed up your life. This is God’s Red Cross station for you. God is ready to forgive. Therefore, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16).

A mother pleaded with Napoleon to have mercy on her condemned son. The Emperor said, “He doesn’t deserve mercy.” Replied the mother, “I know he doesn’t deserve mercy. If he did it wouldn’t be mercy.” Mercy with its twin sister grace are unmerited favor given sinners.

A man wanted to treat himself to a shave by a barber. This almost lost art, he heard, was still performed in a local barber shop by a young woman named Grace. After the shave he was astounded when told it was $35.00. Nevertheless, he paid up and thanked Grace.

The next morning he looked in the mirror and didn’t need a shave. In disbelief this continued for two weeks. He returned to the barber shop and found his pastor there. He pulled his pastor aside and asked if he had ever gotten a shave there. Sure enough he had. The man explained he had not needed a shave since getting shaved there. The pastor said, “There is an easy explanation. Once shaved always shaved when you have been shaved by Grace.”

Once our Lord saves us we have been saved forever but stand in the need to perpetual forgiveness.

HIS POWER – Vs. 10. Power is the ability to achieve purpose. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6: 10).

“You will be filled with His mighty glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens–Always full of the joy of the Lord” (Colossians 1: 11 TLB).

HIS UNDERSTANDING – Vs. 15. Notice these traits of His understanding in this one verse: “compassion, gracious, longsuffering, mercy and truth.”

This is a display of some of God’s goods for you. Don’t be like a window shopper who APPRECIATES but does not APPROPRIATE.

His Word was never meant for our scrutiny, or mere study, but our support and instruction.

III. GOD’S CALLING Vs. 11 “I will walk in thy truth…”
David prayed, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” He wanted every fiber of his being united in reverence to God’s name. Rivet your attention on Him.

Never let the spotlight go off Him from the moment you awaken. Keep Him at center stage of your thoughts from the instant the curtain goes up on a new day.

Let your heart be united in Him. A divided heart is never at peace. The heart can never be united in sin. The Holy Spirit, in love, keeps pulling at it.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of a divided personality in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Tragically the story ends with the triumph of evil. You make the choice of which prevails in your life.

What makes you eternally significant is what you chose to do or refuse to do. You make the decision. As we decide our lives are formed and our eternal destiny is determined.

[Hold up a seed and remark:] The content of this seed can be determined clinically. Basically it consists of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, etc. An artificial seed can be made using these components. However, one thing would be missing — the life principle. It must come from another source. One’s life needs the super-additive called ETERNAL LIFE.