God is good.
When I say “God is good,” I mean at least three things:
1. God isn’t mad at you.
2. God is for you, not against you.
3. God wants to bless you in every area of your life.
God is good.
And because He is good, He relates and responds to us based on His character, not our behavior. That’s good news… especially for someone like me.
God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace. —Psalm 145:9 MSG
Pay close attention to the word “suffused.” It’s a great word. Everything God does is “suffused” – that means “overspread” with grace.
Poet Robert Louis Stevenson described it like this: “There’s nothing but God’s grace. We walk upon it. We breathe it. We live it and we die by it. It makes the nails and axles of the universe.”
You woke up this morning! That’s grace!
You take a breath! That’s grace!
A friend encourages you! That’s grace!
Someone smiles at you! That’s grace!
My grandson is happy to see me! That’s grace!
You walk around or jog outside! That’s grace!
You take your smart phone out and access your online version of God’s Word! That’s grace!
You walk into church where someone who cares about you says, “Hello!” That’s grace!
Every day — every moment — is filled with one gift of God’s unconditional, extravagant and amazing grace after another.
Our God is a God of POWER! He has power over nature and circumstances. When seas and rivers needed to be crossed, He didn’t send a team of engineers to build a bridge, He just blasted a hole in the Red Sea and the Jordan River to bring His people out of danger and into their promise (Ex 14; Josh 3).
When God’s people were hungry and needed food, God didn’t open up a McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A, He just dropped loads of manna on the nation of Israel or multiplied a few biscuits and sardines from a kid’s first century Happy Meal and fed a crowd of at least fifteen thousand (Ex 16; John 6).
When Israel’s army needed more daylight to seal a military win over a coalition of Amorite kings, God didn’t send a container of flashlights with Duracell batteries, He just told Joshua to speak to the sun, “Sun stand still!” and somehow miraculously “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky” and God extended Daylight Savings Time and gave His people victory (Josh 10:12-14)!
When a storm threatened to take the lives of the disciples, God didn’t send out the coast guard, He spoke to the storm and it immediately settled down (Mark 4:35-41).
And, when Peter was put in jail and scheduled for execution by an evil dude named Herod, God didn’t send in Seal Team Six to bust Peter out of jail. He sent an angel — probably a first class private — who woke Peter up from a sound sleep and said, “Get up! Put some clothes on! We’re blowing this joint!” (Acts 12).
I love the fact that Acts 12:5 says that Peter’s release from prison was in response to the church going into “…a season of intense intercession.”
But while Peter was in prison, the church went into a season of intense intercession, asking God to free him. —Acts 12:5 TPT
The phrase “intense intercession” in The Passion Translation has a little mark beside it that indicates that the Greek phrase literally means, “to stretch tight in prayer.” The VOICE translation reads, “…the church prayed constantly and intensely.”
It emphasizes both the QUANTITY of the prayer offered —they prayed a lot. This wasn’t a “one and done” prayer. They prayed CONSTANTLY!
It also emphasizes the QUALITY of the prayer — it was focused, passionate and intense. This wasn’t an “I lay me down to sleep, pray the Lord my soul to keep” sort of prayer!
The first century church was FOCUSED!
“Focused on WHAT?” you might ask. I don’t believe they were focused on the problem. I believe they were focused on the character of God: He’s good — He’s not mad. He’s for us, not against us! He wants to bless us!
I believe they focused on God’s promises! Promises like, “No weapon formed against us will prosper…” (Isa 54:17)
Sometimes we get so focused on our PROBLEMS and our PAIN that we forget to focus on GOD! Instead of telling GOD about how BIG our PROBLEMS are, we may need to start telling our PROBLEMS how BIG our GOD is!
The church was not only FOCUSED in prayer, but they were INTENSE!
What does intensity look like? It looks like Rachel in Genesis 30:1 when she looked at Jacob and said, “Give me children, or I’ll die.” That’s INTENSITY! Jacob looked back at her and said, “Do I look like God?”
Intensity looks like Moses when He says to God, “If your presence doesn’t go with us, call the whole trip off now. I’m not taking another step without you!” (Ex 33:15)
It looks like this church in Acts 12 that said, “God, Herod just executed James. We’re not letting another leader go out like that. We’re believing you for a breakthrough and breakout for our brother, Peter. His story isn’t going to end in execution. It’s going to end in redemption!” The church went into a “season of intense intercession!” “…the church prayed constantly and intensely…”
INTENSE PRAYER IS DESPERATE PRAYER!
It’s prayer that doesn’t look to God as our LAST RESORT, but looks to God as our FIRST RESPONSE! It’s prayer that gets determined like Jacob and says, “I refuse to let you go until you bless me” (Gen 32:26-27).
INTENSE PRAYER turns off the TV. Lets Netflix go on vacation. Gives up Talenti Salted Caramel Ice Cream… not because this stuff isn’t good, but because it wants God even MORE!!! Because it realizes that desperation and intensity are an INVITATION for God to show up and show out!
When the church went into a season of intense intercession, God dispatched an angel to Peter’s prison cell! Chains fell off! Prison guards went into a daze. Prison doors flung open! Peter and an angel went on a prayer walk to Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark, and interrupted the church’s prayer gathering!
I don’t know what circumstance or situation you’re facing, but I do know that our God has power over nature and circumstances!
Maybe it’s your time to enter into a season of intense intercession.