Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Faithfulness of Our God in Fearful Times

It is no secret that we are living in difficult days! Wars and rumors of wars! The economy always on the brink of collapse! Every time we turn around someone is sick, the “c” word (cancer) plagues our society! But through all these fears there is one thing that every Christian can rest on! One thing that we can remind one another that can bring peace and comfort in the most difficult times of life. The one thing or one truth of God’s Word is that Our God is Faithful!

We would look to examine this phrase in the light of Scripture to encourage and remind ourselves just who this God is that we serve! There are many attributes of God! He is Omniscience, meaning that He is all knowing! He knows the past, present and future. He knows every detail about each one of us! He is also Omnipotent, meaning that He is all powerful and able to fulfill every promise! He is Omnipresent which means He is everywhere, we cannot be out of His reach! The Bible also teaches us that our God is also Immutable which is to say He does not change! In addition to these four attributes of our God He is Truthful! He cannot lie, what He says He will do, He will do!

So having these five attributes before us, sort of as the foundation of who God is, when we add His faithfulness to conversation, we must just pause and stand in awe of who He is! Instead of worry we ought to worship!

The exact expression “God is faithful” first occurs in Scripture when the second generation of Israelites were about to go into the promise land (Deut. 7:7-9)! The first generation failed to obey the Lord and wandered in the wilderness for forty years as a result of their lack of trust! But this second generation was reminded “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” God is the faithful God!

But what does this word faithful really? What are we saying when we declare “God is Faithful”? The word has several meanings. It can mean to be trust worthy, dependable, consistent, constant, firm, loyal, steadfast and stabile! In other words, everything that God has promised in His Word will surely come to pass!

When we apply this to Lord no wonder Jeremiah would declare: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ’therefore, I hope in Him” (Lam. 3:21-23)!

This man, who was called the weeping prophet, knew that the faithfulness of his God was his confidence, the very foundation of his hope and it caused him to rejoice! Knowing that our God is a faithful God saves us from despair and gives us courage to press on, affecting our faithfulness to Him! In fearful times Jeremiah relied on the faithfulness of His God. In times of failure we can cling to our God because as Paul affirmed, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2Tim. 2:13). Arthur Pink eloquently said, “Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His being.” The Lord is clothed with His faithfulness as Psalm 89:8 declares; “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” The Psalmist was so occupied with this that in the same Psalm he sang, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens… And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints” (Ps. 89:1-2, 5). In another place David could say, “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep” (Ps. 36:56). We can never understand the greatest of our God, but we get glimpses of that greatest and one of the ways He makes this known to us is through His faithfulness in our lives. His faithfulness endures to all generations (Ps. 119:90).

We could look and so many different ones in the Word of God whose lives were changed because of the faithfulness of our God. But I would like to look at how His faithfulness endures to us today.

First of all, He is faithful through His Word. We have already seen that God is truthful; He is not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19) and in fact He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The Psalmist could say, “Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful” (Ps. 119:138). We can rest on His word because, “He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:23).

He is faithful in preserving His people. Paul said, “so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:7-9). Later to the saints at Thessalonica he said, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

Our God is faithful in disciplining us when it is needed. May our attitude be that of Psalm 119:75, “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” We read in Hebrews 12 “whom the Father loves He chastens (disciplines or trains).” There are times in our lives that God the Father must discipline us because He loves us and because He must be faithful to us! This is what is meant in Psalm 89:32-33, “Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My loving-kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” But God never afflicts us without cause and is always righteous during this training process!

The Lord is faithful to us when we are tempted. Paul could declare, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). In His faithfulness He has and will always provide us a way of escape! Joseph Scriven put it this way, “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged- take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness- take it to the Lord in prayer.

Our Lord promises to be faithful to forgive us when we sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). This forgiveness is based on the finished work of Christ who is our propitiation for our sins. He Himself is our Advocate with the Father, because He is Jesus Christ the righteous!

Seeing then the Great Faithfulness of our God, what impact should this have on our lives? How should His faithfulness affect our living for Him?

First, it should give us sense of peace and assurance knowing that whatever He called us to do He will empowers us to do it and that He is always in control (2 Pet. 1:3, Rom. 8:28). Knowing that He is faithful also reminds us that He will meet our every need (Mt. 6:33, Phil. 4:19). Psalm 91:4 reminds us that “He will cover you with His pinions (feathers), and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” (NASB).

Just as He is faithful to us, we ought to be faithful to Him, even though our faithfulness is never true faithfulness because it vacillates so much, but it ought to be our goal! He has given us so much and 1 Corinthians 4:2 reminds us that “it is required in steward that one be found faithful.” We are to be faithful in:

Our speech in being His witness here; “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies" (Prov. 14:5) and “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health" (Prov. 13:17). But there are times when concealing a matter is important as well, even that can be an act of faithfulness, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Prov. 11:13). We are to be faithful in helping another brother or sister see their error according to Proverbs 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” 

Scripture also reminds us that we are to be found faithful serving the Lord until He returns, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing” (Mt. 24:45-46). The Lord challenges us in Luke 16:10-11, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” 

We are to be faithful with our spiritual gifts as seen in the Lord’s words in Luke 19:17, “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” Paul would add, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Our service here is to the perfect Servant of God who is called the “faithful and true” four times in the book of Revelation (3:14, 19:11, 21:5, and 22:6). It ought to be the heart felt desire of every Christian to hear those lovely Words roll from the lips of Him who was the Faithful and True One, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Mt. 25:21).

I would like to close with a quote from A.W. Tozer from his book The Knowledge of the Holy;

“Upon God’s faithfulness rest our whole hope of future blessedness. Only as He is faithful will His covenants stand and His promises be honored. Only as we have complete assurance that He is faithful may we live in peace and look forward with assurance to the life to come.” 

Tozer goes onto to say, “Every heart can make its own application of this truth and draw from it such conclusions as the truth suggests and its own needs bring into focus. The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is faithful. He will ever be true to His pledged word.”

By Tim Hadley

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