I wrote this psalm in March this year... it has become an anthem, a life-song, echoing in every step I take...
Praise be to God
Who has delivered my soul from religion
Praise be to the King
Who has delivered my heart from politics
For Pharisees had leavened my bread
And Herod baked his plot
Innocently I walked into the snare they had laid
Their poison flooded my mind
Their lies infected my soul
My strength failed me and my dreams died
But praise be to God who restores my hope
To the Lion of Judah who renews praise on my tongue
Herod and the Pharisees are exposed
Their agenda made plain for all to see
Their snares become like dust, their lies shrivel like autumn leaves
But I, I dwell in the Presence of The Lord
On His Throne of Grace I rest between His shoulders
Both now and forevermore.
What a wonderful subject… God’s goodness. His goodness is the very essence of His nature; it is the texture of His love, the disposition of His face towards His people. Every morning, in any moment, we can lift up our eyes and know He is smiling at us. God is not just always good, he is ONLY good – only, always, ever good. It is His will to bring good into every situation, into every person’s life. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:45)… it is His goodness that leads to repentance (Rom 2:4), that He’s holding back Jesus return so that more would turn to Him (2 Pet 3:9)… He works all things to the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28)… He gives us seed to sow out of the goodness of His grace, and He is good to His word – it WILL produce a harvest (2 Cor 9:10; Isa 55:10; Lk 8:8).
Some people say that God brings sickness or suffering into your life to discipline you. Or that he allows sickness so that you can learn things, to develop or refine your character. You know, for God to put sickness on you would mean that Jesus wasn’t wounded enough for you… for it’s by His stripes that we WERE healed (Isa 53:5; 1 Pet 2:24). What father would put cancer on his child to teach them a lesson? And if we believe God is allowing a particular sickness, how can we pray for healing or take medicine for that matter? No, it is always God’s will to heal – it is His GOOD, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2).
Some say that it is to discipline us, punish us, when we sin. Some even go so far as to say that God brings natural disasters, like the tsunamis in Indonesia, as an act of judgment upon those nations. What they fail to understand is that for God to punish or judge anyone for their sin would mean that Jesus didn’t satisfy His wrath. The punishment that brought us peace was upon His shoulders (Isa 53:5). God judged the sin of every man, woman and nation in Jesus’ flesh. He poured out the wrath that all that sin deserved on Jesus. He is no longer angry. His wrath has been satisfied. His goodness is just, it is not a whimsical emotion or capricious mood. His goodness is not based on our performance, but finds its full expression through the just sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf (Col 1:19-20). The Father is now able to pour out the goodness of His nature on all people. At the birth of Jesus the angels sang, “Peace on earth and goodwill to man!!” (Lk 2:14) It is the unhindered display of the goodness of God that will bring people to Him.
All the years of the Mosaic law restrained his nature. Under the law He had to judge sin. Judgment and wrath brought some people to His kingdom out of fear… but most mocked and ridiculed. But now, ah but NOW, His goodness is revealed to us in the perfect Son of God. Unbelief in the goodness of God is our problem. All creation declares His goodness, ushering us into the reality of His nature: He is GOOD and His love endures forever (Ps 100:5).
Some time back I read an amazing comment about worship in a book by Rick Joyner. Rick was describing a vision he had received from the Lord. He spoke about how there are myriads of angels worshipping the Lord day and night – glorious worship that we humans long to hear. And yet, He stopped and listened with the greatest tenderness to the broken worship of a few believers on earth. The often broken attempts at worship by human beings, who see only glimpses of His glory, are worth an infinite amount more than the worship of angels who see the fullness of His glory all the time. I’ve never forgotten that.
Worship is not the singing of songs. Worship is not even a life of good works or holiness. True worship is not based on performance, self-righteousness or theological cognizance. No, true worship is what is happening continually in the spirit of a believer. It is the source, the foundation, the soil, out of which everything grows and is made manifest. It is possible to sing a slow ‘worship’ song and not be worshipping. It is very possible to be doing all the right things and not be ‘worshipping’. Conversely it is possible to be singing a pop song and be worshipping. It is very possible to be getting some things wrong and still be worshipping.
God is not looking for a people who are trying to be free from sin, trying to be holy or obey His laws. He is longing for relationship. Relationship and worship are inextricably linked. We cannot relate to God on the basis of the law, law-keeping will hinder worship more than anything. God no longer relates to us on the basis of the law, He relates to us on the basis of what Jesus has done on our behalf. This revelation of being free from the law liberates the believer to express the worship that is unceasing in his/her spirit. And this worship, that comes from a liberated heart, results in all kinds of glorious, effortless fruit unto God.
As Matt Redman wrote in a song, “Worship comes from seeing You.” We cannot worship in spirit and truth while we are still behind the veil. We are hindered in our worship to the extent that His goodness is veiled to us. The veil of the law has been torn so that all who believe can look fully, boldly, confidently in the smiling, glorious Face of Jesus.
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
2 Corinthians 3:13-18
“…and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”