THE MIGHTY RUSHING WIND – PART 1

We have had a number of significant storms in the past month, with very heavy rains, some hail, and extreme, sustained, wind.

Our yard is quite wooded, and we can see the wind even when we can’t hear it because of the trees swaying in the breeze.  When strong winds come, though, it is as if the trees are doing a stationary dance in praise to God, while bending and swaying to the will of His Hand.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12 ESV

 

When you watch the tree branches swaying in the wind, it is not difficult to imagine that they are clapping their hands in praise and glory of their Creator, the Almighty God. 

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8 ESV

Jesus said these words when He was telling to Nicodemus that he must be born again to see the Kingdom of God. 

We know that the wind is present when we see the trees swaying.  Then, too, we hear the sound of the leaves as they are driven in all directions when the wind increases and its force is felt by even the strongest of trees.   

When I hear the wind like this, I recall Scripture telling us that the Apostles heard the Spirit of God at Pentecost, and the sound was like a mighty rushing Wind.

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.”

Acts 2:1-5 ESV

God’s Spirit is characterized as a mighty wind in this Scripture text.  The Greek word used for “wind” is transliterated as pnoe, and it means “breath, breath of life”.  So Luke is saying that the breath of life that comes from God filled the house … it was His Spirit. 

In Acts, the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the ability to speak in languages that they had never learned, languages that the people from “from every nation under heaven” who were in Jerusalem would understand.  The apostles were given this ability so that they could effectively witness to the foreigners of Jesus, the Messiah, the One who rose from the dead and who lives in heaven, the One who could cleanse them from sin and who would give them life eternal.

The apostles’ message that day accomplished something that transformed the known world – it made the Gospel of Christ known worldwide.  An example of this is found in the fact that Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) was the pastor for the church in Colosse, a church to which Paul addressed the letter to the Colossians, but there is no record that Paul ever visited this church.  The people who traveled from Jerusalem to other cities and regions started churches and spread the witness for Jesus Christ throughout the known world.

The application for us? 

Have you been touched by the Spirit of God?  Has He breathed life into your heart so that you can receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and King?  Have you committed your life to Him?  If so, then you have the power of the Holy Spirit resident within you and you can use that power to witness to the miraculous works that Jesus has performed in your life.

Next time you feel the wind blowing in your face, or the next time you see the wind blowing the trees around, or the next time you hear the sound of the mighty rushing wind, think of your God and His Spirit that came to this earth to take up residence in your heart and in mine.

Let the wonder of God’s creation remind us to give praise to Him for His wonderful works to the children of men.  Psalm 107.

 

Father, thank You for caring so much for us that You gave us Your Spirit.  Thank You for blowing Your breath on us so that we can then breathe out Your love to those around us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We praise Your holy name and may we give glory to You in all that we do.

GOD’S ARTISTRY – A TESTIMONY TO HIS CHARACTER

 

Throughout the Southeast United States we have been experiencing record-breaking heat at a time where the calendar would suggest that we should be having much cooler temperatures.  And we need rain!  

fall-colors-in-east-tennessee
Fall colors in the mountains of East Tennessee.

However, while the need for rain is certainly significant, there is a blessing side of the situation.  The leaf-bearing shrubs, trees and vegetation are so colorful that they create a scene that exceeds any picture that an artist’s pallet would create.  Because we have not had rain or wind, the leaves have remained on the trees and the colors have retained their brilliance much longer than in recent years.

east-tennessee-vista-with-colorful-leaves
Fall colors along the roadway.

East Tennessee is always beautiful with the mountains and the gentle rolling hills … the majority of which are covered in a wide variety of trees.  Now, however, God’s pallet of colors is on vivid display in the hills and valleys of the area.

neighborhood-fall-leaves
Neighborhood trees on colorful display.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

Paul in Romans is noting that the human race has no excuse for denying God’s power because it is so clearly on display in His creation.  Simply put, creation evidences God’s attributes that are invisible to us, His eternal power and His divine nature, His goodness and His beauty. 

In fact, Scripture has much to say about the beauty of God and we find that beauty is one of His attributes, an attribute that is evidenced not only by His creation but also by His directives regarding worship due to Him.

When God’s people were in the wilderness, we read that God directed the design of the tabernacle, the place where He was going to be with His people.  It was to be made with gold, with purple cloth, with all assortments of gems, jewels and craftsmanship.  It would be dazzling in the sun and would reflect God’s beauty and glory to all who looked at it.  In fact, God directed that this beauty extended even to the clothing that the priests were to wear:

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. …  “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty.

Exodus 28:2, 40.

David, in the Psalms, speaks of the “beauty of the Lord” in a number of places, but here are two examples:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 96:6

But there is beauty in God’s creation not only on a panoramic scale but on a small scale as well, and not just when the leaves turn colors.  Think about the the beauty and variety of apples.

carvers-orchard-10-2016-apple-basked
A bushel of apples from the orchard.

Consider too the variety of winged gourds.

carvers-orchard-10-2016-winged-gourds
Winged gourds directly from the farm!

We won’t even begin to think about the variety of flowers, trees, animals, fish … people!

 For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!

Zechariah 9:17a.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love [goodness] endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble … Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love [goodness], for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Psalm 107:1-2, 8

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”   Tell others of your relationship with this wonderful, loving, God of creation Who is the very definition of goodness and Who has extended His unspeakable grace and love in sending Jesus Christ, His only Son, to be our Savior and Lord. 

When you look at the beauty of creation this autumn, let it remind you of the glory of our God and of our Lord Jesus. 

Let it remind you of the beauty of our omniscient and omnipresent God who love you and who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atoning sacrificial Lamb so we could have life eternal through His name.  John 20:31.

Let it speak to your heart and soul and mind, and let your mouth sing praise to Him for His goodness to the children of men.  

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

Here is John Rutter’s beautiful arrangement of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” as sung by The Cambridge Singers.  

 

 

 

Father, forgive me when I get so focused on the issues in the news, the distress of others, the materialistic culture around me … that I forget that You are my Father and I have no reason to quake.  Forgive me when I look at the beautiful colors in your creation and only see dead leaves on the walkway.  Forgive me when I see only sinful people when I should be looking at people with your eyes of love and compassion.  Forgive me when I fail to tell others of your steadfast love and wondrous works to the children of men.  Give me strength, dear Father, to following your commands through my Lord and Savior, your Son, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, GOODNESS part two

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 18

 GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD

PART TWO

 God’s goodness is expressed in the very first reference to God in Scripture.  In Genesis 1 we read of the creation done by God simply at the power of His words. 

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  An God saw that the light was good.

 

Genesis 1:3-4.   This continued through creation and then, in verses 26-27, 31 we read: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

 

Have you ever worked hard to create something and then looked at it and saw the imperfections, the mistakes, the “oops” that no one else would see, and then say to yourself, “it’s nice” or “it’s fairly good” or “not bad for a first attempt”. 

 

That’s not what happened in Genesis 1 – God created the world and all there is in it and when the Triune God was done on the sixth day, He looked at his completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and it included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him.  God is Good and we were created in His image. 

 

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!  In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 31:19-20

 

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

 

  • God’s goodness is shown in His long-suffering, forbearance and slowness to anger that continues toward persons who have persisted in sinning.

 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

Exodus 34:6

 

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 

Psalm 78:38

 

Theologian J. I. Packer says that the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

  • God’s goodness includes His glorious kindness and generosity that touches all His creatures.

 

In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer calls Psalm 107 the classical exposition of God’s goodness.  The psalmist begins with the call to give thanks for God’s goodness. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.  Vs. 1-2

 

The psalmist then identifies four problems from which God has given aid to Israel. 

  1. God redeems those who are helpless from their enemies;
  2. God delivers from “darkness and the shadow of death” – Hallelujah –notably reference in the text is even made that this was brought about because of the people’s rebellion against God and yet he delivered anyway;
  3. God provided healing for diseases that He had brought upon the people to discipline the “fools” who disregarded him; and
  4. God protected those who traveled by sea when storms arose that would have sunk their ship but He intervened and stilled the storm.

 

Looking at the psalm, each of these situations and rescues concludes with the same refrain: 

“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” 

 

Psalm 107 is not the only place where we are told to sing God’s praises for His goodness in creation and the history of His people. 

 

In Psalm 136 we find verses that sing of God’s goodness with each verse ending with the refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever.”   Verse 1 begins the psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” and the last verse commands that we “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 

So we know God is Good … and we know that we are not good apart from Jesus.  So, what are we to do?

 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: 

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

 

We are to do works that are good so that we give glory to God.  We reflect His glory and tell of His goodness when we magnify His great name before others.  That is our purpose in goodness before men. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

So, what good works do we do?  How do we let our light shine before men?  How do we give glory to God?

 

There are multitudes of ways that we can perform good works through the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus Christ to us.  Here, however, we will be looking at 1) generosity and 2) appreciation of excellence and beauty. 

 

  • Regarding Generosity —

 

Our doing good freely should be done liberally and bountifully.  We are not to be skimpy givers, but we are to be open-hearted and open-handed.  See 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11.   In verse 6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly; and conversely, if they sow bountifully, they will reap bountifully. 

 

We will have a desire for the good will of others.   This is an imitation of the love and grace of God and of the love of Christ which desires the good of men.  See Luke 2:14.

 

We show our willingness to do good to other simply by doing it!  Where there is power to act, the act will always follow the will.  Scripture speaks of doing good as the evidence of love.    I John 3: 18-19.  

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  Hereby we know that we are of the truth.” 

 

We will seek opportunity to do good to the soul and body of others.  Our benevolence should be universal, constant, free, habitual and according to our opportunities and ability, as we follow the commands of God.  To freely do good to others is to do to them as we would have them do to us, that is the enactment of “the Golden Rule.”  To freely do good to others encourages us to remember how kind God and Christ have been to us and how much we have received from them, every moment of every day. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

 

  • Regarding appreciation of what is good, true and beautiful:

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says “One thing that comes with the fruit of goodness is a new appreciation for what is good, true and beautiful.”

 

We have already spoken of God’s beautiful creation. In Exodus 28:2 God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments:

 

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.

 

Note that Aaron’s garments were to reflect God’s glory and beauty!  We know the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were pinnacles of beauty and the directions for their building did not come from designers or architects but directly from God. 

 

Another example of the appreciation of beauty as coming from the Goodness of our Creator God is the work of the composer Johan Sebastian Bach. 

 

Bach composed his music as an apologetic for the existence of God.  Pointing to the order of creation and the beauty therein, Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the period known as the Enlightenment, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and there was no need for God anymore.  Although born in 1685 and living only until 1750, Bach’s witness for God is far from silent in our own day!

 

 Bach himself said:

 

“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” 

 

Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth.  It wasn’t to make lots of money or to feed the musician’s ego or to be famous.  Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others.

Listen to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” as composed by J. S. Bach and as performed by the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.

 

 

But Bach’s music goes far beyond merely reflecting God’s orderly creation – it contains the message of the Gospel when used by the Holy Spirit. 

C. S. Lewis opined that the world does not need more Christian literature – it needs more Christians writing good literature or more Christians composing good works of music or of art. When we produce art that is good; art that reflects a biblical world view, its richness will endure through the ages.

 

Does your experience with the Fruit of the Spirit of Goodness give you a new appreciation for the good, true and beautiful?

 

God is Good

 

  • His goodness underlies his love, his redemptive acts and his securing of our eternal blessings.
  • His goodness is evidenced in creation, and in truth and all things beautiful.
  • May we give our best to the Lord and may we do good for Him, whether it be in acts of benevolence for others or in writing or composing … whatever we do, may it be to the Glory of God for He alone is Good and his Goodness extends to all generations.

 

Take some time this week to listen to some beautiful music or look at some beautiful scenery and let your Spirit soar as you glorify your God in meditation.  Do some good act of benevolence for someone anonymously and let the Spirit work His will in both the recipient and you, the giver. Daily, praise the Lord, for He is Good.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.