God is a Good Father

God is a Good Father. We trust Him through all of life’s circumstances because God is good. This gives us faith for the miraculous and hope that the best is yet to come.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8 (NASB)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

The greatest pronouncement in history happened when the angels hailed Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. They proclaimed God’s ultimate intentions—peace on earth and goodwill toward all humanity (see Luke 2)! And this proclamation echoes through the ages. It shakes the earth and should shift the perspective we hold toward God Almighty, our Good Father and His purposes for us on this earth.

The Conflict of Believing in a Good God

In his book, God is Good, Bill Johnson writes:

There’s no question that God can turn any situation around for His glory and for our benefit—this of course includes the most evil conditions known to humanity around the world. But that is the testimony of His greatness and His redemptive purpose. It does not represent His design. To attribute evil to Him tragically undermines our purpose on the earth, as it cripples our ability to re-present Jesus as the manifestation of God’s goodwill toward men. Our boldness to declare and demonstrate who He is in a given situation is seriously impaired if we’re not confident of what He is like.

Many people struggle with the concept of a Good God allowing evil to exist in the world. As if He designed it and allowed it as part of His plan for humanity and the earth. We take up arms in anger against Him for allowing bad stuff, or we roll over and accept all the bad stuff as “God’s will” for our lives. Wrong answer.

Bill Johnson also writes that any parent doing to their children the things we attribute to God would be arrested! And the idea that He would “allow it” instead of “causing it” is still the same. If parents intentionally allow bad things to happen to their children, they are just as responsible as if they did it!

So, how do we change this twisted perspective of God? How do we truly begin to see Him as our Good Father? To answer these questions, we really must examine what we believe about God and look for the truth the Bible reveals about His nature. And the fullest, truest nature of God is expressed through Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 helps us have a godly perspective to consider the questions from the last paragraph. It teaches that we have a new, transformed mind, and we can have a changed perspective about the world, God, and His goodness.

A Changed Perspective

To many, the Old Testament is a record of God’s wrath and judgement on a fallen creation and a sinful and depraved humanity. We look at the story of the flood and say, “See! He wiped out everybody on the earth with a huge flood because He was angry!” We look at the children of Israel and God’s commands to them to wipe out nations because of His judgement and we interpret that to mean God judges us harshly for our failure to be perfect. We read of Job’s suffering and find ways to attribute the suffering and pain he experienced at God’s authorization as a reflection of God’s will to allow suffering and pain in our lives.

But this perspective is incomplete. At a word, God could remove all of humanity from the earth just as He demonstrated was possible in the flood. But He doesn’t, and He won’t! Truly understanding this requires a changed perspective on our part. We have to look at the biblical record differently. We must step back and see the bigger picture of eternity and the merciful and loving gift God gave through the sacrifice of His only Son (John 3:16). As Bill Johnson writes in his book, God is Good, “…[I]t would be a mistake to ignore eternity, as eternity is the cornerstone of all logic and reason.” It is eternity that sets the tone and determines the measure of God’s goodness and our understanding of His nature.

The amazing thing is that God wants eternity to break into our lives now. His intention is for us to experience the fullness of His goodness daily—starting now. He doesn’t want, or even need us to wait for eternity to experience the scope of His goodness.

Psalms 27 captures the idea of experiencing God’s goodness today so beautifully! The psalmist writes about his complete trust in God, his value for God’s presence, his commitment to obedience, and the secret of his strength—his trust in God’s goodness.

Acting on a New Belief

So, the writer of Psalms 27 expects to see God’s goodness today—right now! Not in some vague eternal future. His idea of experiencing and living with and in God’s goodness starts in the present and continues every day thereafter.

What does that mean for us? We can’t just stop with a changed belief. We have to work it out in our lives starting in the present. This new belief doesn’t become a new reality until we begin to act on what we believe. Just as the fruit on a tree will positively identify what kind of tree you see, how we behave will reflect the changed state of our hearts and minds. Our behavior reflects our belief.

Our first challenge then is to see God differently—as a Good Father who gives good gifts. It is our experience of Him, our ability to count the blessings He gives to every person on earth, that helps us to shift our focus of God and begin to see Him differently.

Psalm 34:8 and James 1:16-18 reveal that every person on earth, whether they believe in God or not, experiences blessings from God. God is a refuge that brings happiness and He gives good gifts (like sunlight, rain, and the very air we breathe)!

Our second challenge is then to begin living the reality of this changed perspective. We must live like God is truly good. We live accepting and believing that His very nature is one of goodness, and that the enemy of all is the one who brings troubles and trials. We live acting on the fact that God gives good gifts and blessings to the whole world and particularly to His children. We live like Jesus lived—fully alive to the reality of the goodness and greatness of a loving and merciful Father!

Matthew 7:7-12 and Matthew 22:34-40 display a picture of God’s goodness reflected in our very lives. And it is capped off by an observation on how to live the reality of God’s goodness expressed in our lives. Because of God’s goodness, you can reflect Him into the lives of those around you today. Perhaps you can think of someone in your life who could use a touch of God’s goodness—think about that person and imagine where and how you can bless them with a gift of godly goodness today!

The Father is the Destination

In this way the Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, like two people talking to each other. Then Moses would come back to the camp. But his young assistant Joshua, Nun’s son, wouldn’t leave the tent. – Exodus 33:11

I grew up in a Christian home. I was surrounded by music, stories, and events that focused on God. I asked God to forgive me and be my savior and Lord when I was 5. So, my first encounter with God was very plain, it was child-like, it was simple. It carried no deep theological understanding or radical spiritual transformation—it was natural and easy.

Even at that young age I wanted to get into His presence. I remember praying for God’s forgiveness and for Him to take charge of my life (be my savior and Lord) every night. I didn’t realize that I just wanted to get on His lap and stay there. I didn’t know how to articulate that, and my parents didn’t know how to explain it to me. They just knew that I only had to be saved once, but, without understanding it then, I knew I needed to be saved—I needed to snuggle on Daddy’s lap—every day, all the time. I needed His presence then, and I need His presence every day now.

When you encounter God, you enter His very presence. The Bible teaches that you must seek His face first (relationship and encounter), not His hand (the things He does in our lives and the world). When you seek His face though, you see the working of His hand, and your faith grows! It is this place of encounter with God that you learn to see, hear, and feel His presence.

Seek His Face

Just as there is a place for encounter, and a response to God’s calling into encounter, God’s tangible presence is also there in your encounters with Him. He is calling you to be with Him, to hang out with Him, and to know who He is and what He is like.

Exodus 33:12-23 – Moses Pleads with God

The Israelites had just been caught worshiping the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain talking with God. Moses was frustrated and concerned that God would forsake them for breaking the promise already, so he pleads with God to give them a second chance. God agrees out of His infinite mercy and grants Moses a request.

So, Moses asks for something audaciously—at least for a human asking the Almighty God. He asks to see God’s face, to behold His glorious presence. God reveals Himself to Moses because he asked first for God—God above and before any other consideration. He spent so much time in God’s presence that the Israelites asked him to cover his face because it glowed as it reflected God’s glory. He sought God’s presence regularly and experienced the power of God’s hand at work in his life and in the fledgling nation of Israel.

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YOU EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF GOD’S HAND WHEN YOU SEEK HIS FACE—YOU ENCOUNTER HIS VERY PRESENCE.

God Works in Community During Encounter

God’s presence is many faceted—He is a triune God, three-in-one. And that is what makes experiencing His presence so unique. There are many ways to experience His presence. He is the Almighty Father, Comforter, Counselor, Friend, and Brother (to name a few)—experiencing any one of those aspects, let alone all of them, can be an overwhelming experience. Regardless of these many facets, God always works in community with Himself and with you for your good.

Matthew 3:11-17 – Baptism of Jesus

John knew that God’s presence was coming in a new way on earth. He baptized as a symbol, a precursor, for what God wanted to do through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He preached the imminent appearance of God’s Kingdom on earth that would be carried and made real through Jesus’ collaborative ministry (He did what he saw the father doing by the power of the Holy Spirit).

In the baptism of Jesus, you can see a demonstration of God’s manifest presence. Jesus, God in the flesh, was anointed by the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove while the Father spoke a blessing of love and joy over Jesus. All three persons of the godhead were present and active to launch the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth.

1 Peter 1:2-5 & 2 Corinthians 13:13 –  A New Birth, a Living Hope

God the Father, through the work of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus, brings you into relationship with Him. He collaborates with you to make you into something new. An encounter with Him is life changing and results in a bond of fellowship between you all.

When you encounter God, it is an opportunity for you to be remade. His loving presence can be experienced through fear and trembling, extravagant joy and laughter, quiet introspection, weeping, and many other means. It will not leave you unimpacted, but for it to truly bring change you must choose to participate. Allow yourself to experience what He reveals and be remade into a new creation with an intimate fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

JESUS IS THE WAY. THE FATHER IS THE DESTINATION. (JOHN 14:6)

Choose Your Destination

You choose. You participate. You are the seeker. Just like Moses, seek God’s face—ask audaciously for His presence. Be like I was as a child, and climb in Daddy’s lap every day, no matter what it takes. Seek His presence above any other consideration. Just be—be in His presence!

Choosing to Meet God

In this way the Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, like two people talking to each other. Then Moses would come back to the camp. But his young assistant Joshua, Nun’s son, wouldn’t leave the tent. – Exodus 33:11

Every day we make dozens of choices. We choose what to eat, what to wear, how to get from here to there, and much more. Often those choices seem trivial and involve very little thought. Most are not even intentional but are impulsive and reactionary. But some of the choices we make affect our entire life—they shape and change our future. Of course, some of the biggest choices—the choices that impact our future the most—involve relationships.

I was never great at choosing friends. Mostly that’s because I grew up as a military brat. Every few years it was a new town and a new school. Friendships were temporary and never seemed to stand any test of time or travel. When I made friends, it just seemed to happen with very little of choosing involved.

But God is different. He wants a relationship with you and me! Building this relationship takes time and effort. Encountering God isn’t a chance occurrence or random event. Just as He seeks you out, you must seek Him as well.

God Chooses to Meet with You

God often arranges places for you to meet with Him. He chooses a place with impact for your life. He draws you off the normal paths of life to encounter Him in a powerful way. He calls you to stand on holy ground—He calls you to meet Him face to face.

Moses’ normal routine in Exodus chapter 3 was to graze his flock of sheep at the edge of the desert on God’s holy mountain (Mount Horeb). God sent a messenger of fire to catch Moses’ attention. He called to Moses and spoke from the midst of the flame, and Moses answered. When Moses responded and entered God’s presence, the place was declared holy. This was just the beginning of encounter.

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Saul’s normal routine in Acts chapter 9 was hunting down believers in Jesus. He had special authority and orders from the priests in the temple and zealously pursued them. He was on his way to Damascus one day and God sent a light from heaven that surrounded him. Jesus spoke from the midst of the light, and Saul answered. Saul fell to the ground in fear and trembling at the majesty of God—he was in God’s presence, he was on holy ground. This too was just the beginning of encounter.

GOD WILL ALWAYS CHOSE TO ENCOUNTER YOU NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN LIFE. YOU MATTER TO HIM!

You Choose to Meet with God

You also have a choice when encountering God. Will you choose to step into the encounter? How will you respond to the encounter? These questions will help you understand that your relationship with God is participatory. It doesn’t just happen to you. While you are meeting God, He is meeting you.

After Moses encountered God at the burning bush, his life was changed forever. God raised him up to be a leader of an entire nation. It also helped Moses realize that he needed to continually meet with God—to re-encounter God regularly.

In Exodus chapter 33, Moses made a practice of setting aside a specific place to meet with God regularly. He pitched a tent. Everyone saw God’s presence at the tent when Moses met with God. It was such a holy, powerful place of encounter, that Moses’ aide Joshua didn’t want to leave—he stayed in God’s presence as long as possible.

In Acts chapter 9 you can see that even Saul was transformed by his encounter with the risen Jesus! After a three day fast, his sight was restored—scales literally fell from His eyes. He changed his whole purpose in life. He stopped persecuting those who were following Jesus, and he started to speak in support of Jesus. He boldly declared what he once thought blasphemous, that Jesus was the Son of God.

Saul spoke with such conviction that he baffled the Jewish leaders in Damascus. He grew stronger and stronger as he shared his encounter with Jesus so that others could learn to encounter Him themselves. He became so radical, so on fire from his encounter, that the Jews even hatched a plot to murder him. Saul eventually changed his name to Paul, and he wound up writing the majority of the New Testament.

What will you choose? Will you choose to make a place to regularly encounter God? Will you choose to change and seek regular encounters with God?

AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD DESERVES A RESPONSE. WHAT WILL YOURS BE?