Walking in the Goodness of God
Walking in the Goodness of God
by Lonnie Lane
As periodically happens, just as I’m writing an article someone sends me an email that speaks to the topic of the article. A precious woman I have become friends with wrote of an illness she was recently experiencing, saying that she had been told by a “prophetic friend” that the devil will attack your body as you’re ministering for the Lord as she was moving forward with a significant project for the Lord. I have to admit, I got angry. Not at her certainly but at the devil for his lies. One of satan’s lies is to make us think he has more influence in our lives than he has a right to if we belong to Yeshua. We walk with God, not the devil.
To walk with God is to be aware of His presence, and to take great joy in wanting to please Him, not to avoid His displeasure but to bless Him in response to His goodness toward you. Walking with God means to stay conscious of His presence in your daily life, to keep Him in your thoughts and heart. It means that He’s on your mind off and on throughout the day and that you’re likely to chat with Him about whatever is going on during the day. At least that’s how I see it and I know I’m not alone. He’s my companion during my day. My best friend. Decisions of any consequence are deferred to Him for His input or leading. Joys are considered as coming from Him (because they do!). Problems are opportunities to find out new revelations of how we can trust God to untangle them and to deepen our relationship with Him as He further purifies our character. It’s not that He is a part of my life, He IS my life! To walk with God is to have Him be integrally integrated into the fiber and fabric of your life. It may not be that way at all times, but should we stray, Yeshua is “the Way” (John 14:6) back to God.
The first person in the Bible who “walked with God” was Enoch (Gen 5:22-25). The Bible says “Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah.” Evidently not one person in the world
“Problems are opportunities to find out new revelations of how we can trust God to untangle them and to deepen our relationship with Him…”
was walking with God other than Enoch. Most of us are pretty much surrounded by fellowship of some kind. Imagine you’re the only person you know who loves God. Makes me want to ask how Enoch found his way to God? No one prayed for him, or witnessed to him, there was no Bible study he attended, no Christian radio to play worship songs to him during the day. Nothing! Just him and God. Well, something must have happened to Enoch after his son was born because that’s when he apparently started living closely with God as he evidently had not done before. Maybe the arrival of his son was such a miracle to him that he started thinking about God. I had that experience myself when my youngest daughter was born. I hadn’t taken God very seriously until then but her little life was all so perfect, it caused me to think there must be a God. Maybe that’s what happened to Enoch. Guess we can ask him when we get to heaven, but I have a feeling it won’t matter much then.
It seems we can safely say that Enoch was different than everyone else on earth at the time. The Bible says it clearly enough: “Enoch walked with God.” He did so in such a manner that he not only loved God, he had to have trusted God. We can only love God as Enoch did when we see God as good. Otherwise, why would you? Somehow Enoch beheld (which is to look and see and understand) God in His true nature and character. It had to happen over a period of time. You don’t get to know anyone, let alone God, in a short time. He walked through his life with God for many years, at least after his son was born. Whatever depth of relationship Enoch had with God, it was so meaningful to God that Enoch was ‘raptured’ “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (:24).
“Was not” means he was gone. No longer there. Vanished. Either God told Moses who wrote the Genesis account or somehow it was conveyed to his family, but however it happened, we are made aware that he didn’t just disappear because a bear ate him or something; God took him! It could be that Enoch lived such a sinless life that he would have just kept on living since “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). If Enoch managed to live a sinless life, perhaps he would never have died. So maybe God said, “Enough already,” and just took him home. Many believe that the church will one day be ‘raptured’ away from the earth but I wonder if that might not be a people who are walking with God so closely that God will be moved as He was by Enoch and simply take them (us) home to heaven a people so imbued with God’s goodness that their only desire is to walk as closely with Him as possible in great love and trust. Perhaps there’s a rapture message in the way Enoch walked with God that we should pay attention to.
While I’m wondering, I wonder what effect Enoch being airlifted out of life on this planet had on his son, Methuselah. Methuselah lived longer than any other man on earth, 969 years, even longer than Adam. He too was evidently walking in righteousness with God to have lived that long. Like father, like son.
So how shall we live, those of us who desire to “walk with God” as Enoch did? One thing comes to mind: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Though the verse is in the context of practical needs, I think we get to fill in the “these things” with what we desire to be “added” to our lives from God. Coming to know the fullness of His goodness would be something I’d like “added” to me. I’d also like “added” to me to love Him with all my “heart…soul…mind…and strength” (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:37). Talk about freedom. Yeshua loved God like that and was He free? You bet. To the end. Free to choose to love and obey Him, free to lay down His life for others. That’s Yeshua kind of freedom. That will only make sense to you by the Spirit of God.
Loving God is about caring about His purposes, His Kingdom and His righteousness. Actually, this takes a lot of pressure off of us. When we live for His pleasure, the Holy Spirit helps us and allows us to feel His joy when we’re walking with Him this way. And since God delights in delighting us, we know He will bless us abundantly, so we don’t loose out when we’re living for Him. On the contrary. He does “exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or think” (Eph 3:20) and all out of His goodness toward us.
When we come to the place of trusting God fully, we can lean the weight of our lives upon Him. We no longer live independently but live in concert with His will. Our trust is wholly in Him to lead us, to guide us, protect us and help us in any and every way. When our faith is in Him for all that, since God responds to our faith in Him, we can be pretty sure He’s there for us. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). I ask you, is there anything in that verse that’s outside of “in Him”? If these words are the truth, then living independent of Him is living in less than what He in His goodness has provided for us.
We also see that “Yeshua went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the enemy” (Acts 10:38). Where people are unloving, or poverty or sickness dominate a life, it is not coming from God. True we have an enemy, an enemy, the same enemy God has. That’s why he’s our enemy, because He’s God’s enemy and we’re God’s. But God has provided a way for us to live above the suffering, with our eyes on Him, trusting that He will bring us through victoriously and with purpose. What the devil has always meant for evil, God has always turned to good (See Gen 50:20). Why? Because God IS good and the devil isn’t.
In the midst of any suffering, God’s thoughtfulness, His caring, and the sense of His being there and His power are always with us. In the three decades I’ve walked with God, there’s not been one day when He didn’t make Himself known to me somehow. I’ve often wondered, He’s invisible. How does He do that? I don’t know but He does. And none of us is insignificant to Him. He has His eye upon each of us as we walk before Him. He will lead us and guide us, keep us from temptations, and deliver us from evil (see Psalm 23). I didn’t always know of His goodness as I do now but what a relief it was to learn to trust Him. And yes, that trust does cause me to love Him more. Love indicates trust because in love we open ourselves up to the loved one, the other person. We drop our defenses and lower our boundaries to let them fully into our souls and hearts. That’s true love. Anything less is less than real love, God’s kind of love.
Love and trust must go together or the love is diminished to the degree the trust is lacking. For us humans, for love to be really experienced it must be reciprocal. If we love someone who doesn’t love us back, to trust them would be foolish. They evidently don’t trust us to open themselves up to us. That can be pretty painful. But with
“He never leaves us no matter how much we ignore or abuse Him. He’s still there, still wanting to help, even still vulnerable to us hurting Him.”
God He is always there for us. Someone once called God the ultimate co-dependent Person. He never leaves us no matter how much we ignore or abuse Him. He’s still there, still wanting to help, even still vulnerable to us hurting Him. I didn’t always think God could be hurt. I thought He was above that. After all, doesn’t He already know what’s happening? But then I heard His voice calling out to Israel to return to Him, and saw verses that said how much we (Israel) hurt Him, even broke His heart: “Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me” (Ezekiel 6:9). Can you hear the pathos of God in those words? God hurt like a betrayed spouse. If that’s ever happened to you, you know how deep the pain can be. Consider that God is fully in touch with His emotions, not damaged like we might be and numb to life’s hurts. He’s in pain here. He’s so good that He, Almighty God, allows Himself that kind of vulnerability to us. Amazes me.
But, thank God, He doesn’t just give up on us. He never has. He has a plan and in His Sovereignty, it will be fulfilled. It’s up to us to choose to be part of His plan. We can opt out of it but you don’t really want to go to where that will take you. It’s true that things don’t always go as we expect, but God always has a program to bring correction or adjustment when things go awry. No matter what, His goodness still prevails. God is always about bringing about the stability of goodness and love. He adjusts circumstances and brings about miracles and does things supernaturally to provide and protect. If we were all together and could tell stories, I’m sure almost all of you would have some story of how He protected you from something harmful, or you found yourself on the other side of a problem that had overwhelmed you. I love hearing those stories. Next time you’re together with friends, ask everyone to share their stories of what God has done for them.
I almost always ask the ladies in my Kosher Gospel group if anyone has something to share about what God’s done for them in the past week or two. There’s always someone, or several someones with a “praise the Lord” story to tell. Not only does it bless those who hear the stories, but it helps us to become more alert and aware to be looking out for God’s blessings, big or small, that He does for us all the time. Ask God to sensitize you to His goodness. Stay thankful for the thoughtful things God does for you. Keep a journal of them. He’ll do the unexpected. You never know what adventure you may have right before you.
There’s an old Jewish proverb that says, To save one person is to save the world. Those of us who walk with the Lord become instruments of His goodness. In some small or big way, we too become people who contribute to saving the world when we walk with God and manifest His goodness to others. It becomes habit forming; addictive. You get to feel God’s joy in being His arms to hug, His voice to encourage, His whatever!
So what do we know about God’s goodness? Well, He can’t lie and He doesn’t vacillate: “He will not lie or change His mind” (1 Sam’l 15:29) So we never have to be concerned there are hidden motives or deception coming from God. No one can ever “say he’s… being tempted by God” (James 1:3) but God “provides a way of escape” from temptation (1 Cor 10:13) so we know not to interpret temptation as God leading us. Nor do we have to fear Him the way we fear something terrible happening if we are seeking to walk with Him in obedience. I remember at one time experiencing a lot of fear, more like anxiety. I was confused at that time as a young believer as to whether God was telling me to do or not do this or that. I wasn’t sure which side of the fear He was on, the do it side or the don’t do it side. But He finally spoke to me and told me that He does not lead by fear.
While we may lose our peace about something that is out of His will, raw abject fear or anxiety is demonic and not from God. But I had to learn that. I used to read the verses that said, “Fear not” and because I didn’t know how not to be fearful, I became more fearful because I was afraid He’d be mad at me for being afraid. Helloooo? Anyone relate? Let it now be known: God does not torment His people. The devil does that. Fear is a demon and we really can rebuke it. The devil has us convinced that the fear is in us, but it comes from him. Therefore we can refuse it by focusing on God’s goodness and His love and His acceptance of us. He will in no way refuse anyone who comes to Him.
“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). In my fearful days I also used to despair at that verse thinking that I had to somehow come up with perfect love for God in order to be free of fear. What a relief to learn that I can only let Him love, even Himself, through me. He does the loving. I do the trusting, and then the love will come. God has told us, “submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The surest remedy for fear is to trust in the goodness of God and to focus on Him and His caring heart for you.
The question now presents itself as to how sure are you of His love? We recently went through an exercise in our church during which we closed our eyes and we each told the Lord how much we love Him. Then we each asked Him to tell us how He feels about us. Then we were quiet. After a short time, we went around the room as various people shared what they heard the Lord say to them. Just about everyone heard Him speak to them, and to those who did He said He loves them in some way. To one He made her know that His love is not like the love of people toward her, but He loves her with His whole heart, which to her meant that He loves not only her completely but when He loves (any of us) it is with His whole heart. Some additionally heard that He desires that they spend more time with Him, that He has things to share with them they haven’t yet known. To another He said He wants to make the Cross more personal to them. One lady confessed that He told her she was “hard headed” which she admitted to. We have to be willing to hear correction too if we want to hear from Him, but it will be said lovingly, couched in His love for you. Always.
The exercise proved to us that God loves us, each one of us. When you know someone loves you that much, you can trust Him. We trust to the extent that we love. Or better said, We can trust God to the same extent we can rely on His love for us, which is entire. His goodness is surely confirmed. I encourage you to do the same exercise. Do it with a group of your friends and share what He tells you. He wants us to know His love for us. After all that John knew about Yeshua, after a lifetime of living for Him, He summed up all that God was to him with these words: “God is love!” (1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love implies God’s goodness. If someone really loves you, they’ll be good to you. If that isn’t happening in a relationship you’re in, maybe you should look elsewhere for God’s kind of love. As we receive of God’s Spirit and He pours out His love in our hearts (see Romans 5:5), we are able to love other people in an unselfish Jesus-kind of love that brings great joy in the giving as well as receiving the same kind of love.
Well, what about my friend who sent the email about the devil attacking when you step out for God? I think I’ll just share with you what I basically responded to her:
“I don’t think that’s anything new, that the devil wants to stop us from ministering. But I’m inclined not to give him any P.R. or credit for sickness or anything else. He doesn’t direct our lives, God does. We live under God’s protection and under His will and His goodness. I wouldn’t want to emphasize satan’s attacks but rather focus on praise and worship of the Lord. If we stay in praise and in thanking God for His goodness and His protection of us, and keep thanking him for his promises to us, we don’t leave room for the devil to fill our minds with fear or doubt or to believe his attack is our plight. I heard just last night from an Iranian Christian, a wonderful man of God, who says he thanks the devil for reminding him who he is in Christ, for reminding him how Jesus defeated satan at the cross, how he was made a public spectacle, how dumb he is because if he’d known he would be defeated he wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. He said the devil doesn’t stick around to hear that kind of talk.
“I was told as a new believer 34 year ago that satan would attack me anytime I tried to do something or minister for God. But she didn’t tell me about the goodness of God or what God would do to protect me or what God has provided for me. Took me years to get over that fear. I hate knowing believers suffer under that lie. The devil doesn’t run our lives. If we’re under some ailment, yeah, the devil may be in it because he’s the author of sickness, but we don’t stay there. God is our healer, our provider, in Him we move and live and have our being. So we need to declare who God is and forsake thinking that the devil has any right to attack us because we’re doing something for God. Staying in praise, declaring out loud (or singing) who God is and His attributes goes a long way to put our focus where it belongs so we can stay in His peace.”
What kind of God would we be serving if He just stood by, looking down on us saying “Tsk, tsk, such a shame, they’re being attacked by the devil” and did nothing to help us. I actually believed that for years. So I’m thinking maybe I wasn’t the only one who was ever mis-taught about the devil’s supposed power. I had more faith in the devil to hurt me than in God to protect me. I finally had to repent of that once I saw the truth. It’s satan’s lie that it’s our plight to have to put up with his attacks. We don’t. God is good and we’ll get what we believe Him for. If we trust and believe in God’s Word about His goodness, His goodness will be poured out all over us. We must come out of agreement with the lie that satan has any place in our lives as Believers. We know he’s there but Yeshua is Lord of my life, not him, not ever.
As I was about to end this article another email from my friend popped up in response to my tirade against the devil’s lies. I’ll end with her words here:
“Thank you! I loved your letter and I broke out into tongues when I got to the end! I really needed to hear your perspective and it straightened out my confusion on the issue. You are right. My old denomination (the ones who taught me) taught us to believe the lie that satan has the right to attack us when God sets our feet on a mission, but I am now refusing it!”
To God be the Glory! I love you, Lord. You are sooooo good.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.