Monday, April 03, 2006




Every year billions of dollars are spend on people getting makeovers. One of the latest things in skin surgery is to have a "Harrison Ford" scar. But the focus in our culture so often is what you look like - what your skin looks like, are your muscles toned, is your hair styled, are your contact lenses the right shade? There is something else deep within that makes people attractive - magnetic. It's called Character. A German motto says this: When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." Character is what you are in the dark. It's what you do with your fast-food garbage when you are driving along a deserted road at night.

Tonight we come to the character value of Goodness. Did you know that Goodness is a pretty hard value to pin down?

Moral values are about equivalent between Christians and non Christians. Moral purity, about same as among non Christian crowd. “Feb 12 Evolution Sunday in USA to celebrate birth of Darwin. We must not let Intelligent design in to churches.” Stanley Fish, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Chicago (a “Big Gun” in higher education) was talking about the role of higher education on students in our day. This is a direct quote of what he said:

“You might be able to make them (students) into good researchers. You can’t make them into good people, and you shouldn’t try. You ought to aim at making them smart. You might be able to make them able to get rich. Don’t aim at trying to make them morally good.” Fish wrote article: “Aim Low.” I think he’s doing a pretty good job.

Good.. relativism!

Good! What is good… pain versus pleasure.. Stuff versus poverty.

“good” has lost its wonder. How was the movie? It was good. Not great.

We write books called From Good to Great, because good is OK, but not really exciting. And that’s why one of Jesus’ most striking conversations centers on this word—“good.”

A man comes up to Jesus one day—this is recorded in Mark, Chapter 10:

Good teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Why do you call me good? No one is good but God. And you notice that he doesn’t deny being good; he points out what’s being talked about. Then he begins to define “goodness.”

You know the commands: Don’t murder; don’t lie; don’t cheat; don’t steal. And the man says: Teacher. All these I have kept since I was a boy. I grade surprisingly well on the morality factor. I’ve been good. I clear the “goodness bar” pretty easily. And then Jesus says, just as this man is about to walk away:

just one more thing. Do any of you remember watching an old TV show called “Columbo?” Columbo was a cop who was a lot smarter than he appeared on the surface. His zinger, when he was going after somebody, was always this line: Just one more thing. So here Jesus says: Go sell everything you have and give the money away and come follow me. At this, we are told, the man’s face fell, and he went away sad because he had great wealth. He wanted to be good, but he didn’t want to be that good.

Jesus says there is such a thing as transcendent goodness. It is woven into creation and, deep in our hearts, we know.

C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, describes one of the ways that we know about what he calls “the Law of Human Nature.” Now, how many of you have ever been in an argument or seen someone else in an argument? Lewis says that when people argue, they don’t just say: I’ve got a personal preference here. I could be wrong.

They say things like: This is not fair. Come on. You promised, or I was here first.

They say things that reflect that we have this inextinguishable sense of the way things ought to be—of what is right and what is wrong. We want justice. And we’re actually quite passionate about it!

Lewis says: The reality is that any time you see anybody argue, what you see is a conversation that reflects an innate sense that there is a way that things ought to be.

There is such a thing as “right” and such a thing as “wrong.” We may not always agree on the details, but everybody carries with them a sense of “ought-ness.” Where does that come from?

Immanuel Kant said that this is one of the proofs for the existence of God. You know what is good. You know what is right and wrong. You can only know it deep down because you are conscience of a standard outside of yourselves. And that standard is the goodness of God!

1. The Source Of Goodness.

The Psalmist puts it like this: Taste and see that the Lord is good.

He has never made a wrong call. Lord God Almighty, true and just are all Your judgments.

The writers of Scripture never stopped wondering at the sheer goodness of God. When a mind is spiritually sane and right, it is filled with thoughts about what a good God God is.

God has never held a grudge: For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting.

When we read our Bibles we see the goodness of God repeatedly.
In Jeremiah 31:14 - God’s people shall be satisfied with the goodness of God. Or Psalm 25:8 - Good and upright is the Lord. And Psalm 33:5 - The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
And did you notice that the QUANTITY of God’s goodness is stressed here. "The earth is full of God’s goodness." This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and declare to you, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” He’s never had a dark thought, said a dark word, or done a dark thing. That’s our God. Do you ever wonder what God is like? God is light. God never aims low. Goodness exists and God defines the category. He is all good all the time.

Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came, and then morning: the sixth day.

Goodness is not only a characteristic of God like patience is but it is a basic attribute of God. Louis Berkhof says "we speak of something as good, when it is ideal in all its parts" and "God is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word '"God'".

2. The Soiling Of Goodness

Genesis 2:8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. 9 The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the midst of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

3. The Restoring Of Goodness

Accredited Goodness. 2Cor 5:21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Acquired Goodness Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

Actual Goodness Acts 6:6 Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty.

A. Live Consistently

“Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Dan. 6:3

“They could find no corruption in him (Daniel), because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Dan. 6:4

When parents drop off their kids at a baby-sitter, they will say to the kids: Be good.

Do you think that ever makes a dent? Think any kid’s ever said: Well. I was going to stick a spaghetti noodle up my brother’s nose, but Mom said, “Be good,” so I guess I won’t. It’s just something parents say. Except once… More than ten years ago, I saw a documentary where an old woman was being interviewed. She was about eighty years old, had white hair and was wrinkled. She was being interviewed because when she was a young girl, she had been on the Titanic. She and her mom had climbed into a lifeboat, but her dad stayed on the ship—on the Titanic—and he knew he was never going to see his daughter again. He knew he would die, and she would grow up without him. He stood on the deck of that ship, and he looked at his little girl, and he said the last words he would ever say to her: I love you. Be a good girl. Be a good girl.

It had been eighty years, and she said there had never been a day in her life that she didn’t think about those words. They weren’t just words, because he gave his life for her, and because she had seen what Goodness looked like.

B. Commit Openly “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Dan. 6:10

I learned of a Lost & Found column in a newspaper. It read like this: Lost. Dog. Brown fur. Some missing due to mange. Blind in one eye. Slightly arthritic. Limps due to a recent automobile accident. Answers to the name of “Lucky.” As the one from whom I heard that said, when you think about it, that dog is lucky. Someone wants and loves him. We are “lucky,” too, for with all our un-goodness, God wants and loves us. With our blindnessess and limps and those “mangy,” unattractive things about us. God loves us with an unconditional, undeserved, unlimited love. And when we trust our lives to Him, and obey His standards, we become really and truly “good.”

C. Confess Regularly

Daniel 9 is a prayer of confession. Daniel takes to himself the sins of his nation and confesses them before God.

“If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn. 1:9

Cleanse us from unrighteousness. The Lord will help us clean up our act as we confess to Him these issues of sin in our lives.

4. The Struggle For Goodness

1Thess 4:1Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must • walk and please God—as you are doing—do so even more. 2 For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, 4 so that each of you knows how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.

PURSUE GOD'S STANDARD "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word." Psalm 119:9 Myth: The Bible is outdated and irrelevant. Fact: God knows best.

"For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)

1. Monitor my media intake. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." Matthew 12:35
TV - even prime time shows are filled with examples of implied sex outside of marriage.
Internet - people who would never walk into a shop that sells pornograhy are now bombarded by e-mails trying to entice them to view pornography in the privacy of their home.

2. Manage my thought processes. "Finally, brothers, whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8

3. Make no excuses. "No temptations has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
Myth: Lust will spice up my life. Fact: Lust will poison my life.

RUN FROM TEMPTATION "Flee from sexual immorality." 1 Corinthians 6:18a

Recognize what tempts me. "Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall." 1Cor 10:12 Choose friends carefully. "'Bad company corrupts good character'" 1 Corinthians15:33

Establish protective guidelines. "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity." Ephesians 5:3
Myth: I can handle temptation. Fact: Flirting with temptation will take you down.

INSULATE YOUR MARRIAGE "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." Hebrews 13:4 "Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love." Ecclesiastes 9:9 "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband… Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time… Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:4,5

A fellow named David Kupellian has researched a book called The marketing of evil. He has indicated that our society is on downward trend morally because of the market driven forces of advertisers.

‘When you've got a few gigantic transnational corporations, each one loaded down with debt, competing madly for as much shelf space and brain space as they can take," says NYU Communications Professor Mark Crispin-Miller, "they're going to do whatever they think works the fastest and with the most people, which means that they will drag standards down." "It's a blizzard of brands, all competing for the same kids," explains Rushkoff in "Merchants of Cool." "To win teens' loyalty, marketers believe, they have to speak their language the best. So they study them carefully, as an anthropologist would an exotic native culture." "Today," he discloses, "five enormous companies are responsible for selling nearly all of youth culture. These are the true merchants of cool: Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Universal Vivendi, and AOL/Time Warner.”

TALLY THE COSTS "But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." Proverbs 6:32

1. Physical Cost - diseases - some are untreatable, some are deadly.

2. Spiritual Cost - your Bible reading, prayer time will diminish.

3. Emotional Cost - crushed self esteem, guilt, suspicion.

4. Final Cost - God standards have not changes.

"God will judge the sexually immoral" 1 Corinthians 10:13

Myth: It's not that big of a deal. Fact: The stakes are very high.

67% of teens say they wish they had waited. Sexual activity prior to marriage not an act of love, an act of lust. Love does not take pleasure in unrighteousness. No immoral behaviour is the product of love.

YIELD TO GOD "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life." Romans 6:13

"I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness ." Romans 15:14

One hot summer evening this man was walking on the boardwalk by the Ocean. In front of him was a little girl, at most she was six-years-old. She was carrying a tube of paper topped off with a fluffy pile of cotton candy, the pink stuff that is mostly air but takes up a lot of room. The cotton candy was a couple of feet high and about a foot wide. He laughed when he saw the oversized treat. "How can a little girl like you eat all of that candy?" I asked. Without a moment's hesitation she answered me, "Well, you see mister, I'm really much bigger on the inside than I am on the outside." --Tony Campolo, Everything You've Heard Is Wrong

Matthew 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

God wants to make your life an impact. He wants to preserve society through you.

4. The Standing For Goodness Gal. 5:22, Dan. 1:1-21

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22 “I will walk in my house in the integrity of my heart.” Psa. 101:2 (NASB)

Goodness = Integrity as a lifestyle!

May God fulfill your every desire for goodness. (IIThess.1:11)

Romans 15:14 "I am convinced my brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness..."

3 Areas of Goodness Every Person Should Model:

Inward Integrity “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.” Dan. 1:8a

Outward Integrity “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Dan. 6:4
Henry David Thoreau was the rugged New England individualist of the last century. Thoreau was once jailed because he refused to pay a poll tax to a state that supported slavery. Soon his close friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, came to visit him, peered through the bars, and asked, "Why, Henry, what are you doing in there?" "Nay, Ralph," Thoreau replied. "The question is, What are you doing out there.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Nate Saint's son, Steve, was asked: "So you've had a history of reconciliation [with the Waodani] over the years, but there wasn't a specific moment of reconciliation?" He replied:

It was a developing thing, but I think that the point of reconciliation really was with Mincaye [the man who killed Steve's father] and my Aunt Rachel. In her journal she once wrote, "Tonight when I was sleeping in the hammock I heard a noise. Somebody was walking around in the dark." Mincaye called out to her and squatted by her fire, wanting to talk.

He said, "You said that Waengongi, the Creator, is very strong."

Aunt Rachel said: "Mincaye, he is very strong. He made everything here, even the dirt."

Mincaye said: "You said that he could clean somebody's heart. My heart being very, very dark, can he clean even my heart?"

Aunt Rachel said, "Being very strong, he can clean even your heart."

She wrote that Mincaye got up and walked away, but that the next morning he came back excited. He said: "Star, what you said is true. Speaking to God, he has cleaned my heart. Now it's waatamo—it's clear like the sky when it has no clouds in it."

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