God’s faithfulness

God’s faithfulness shown in creationGreat is thy faithfulness

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Gen 8:21-22.

When Noah and his family came out of the ark after the flood had destroyed all other living things, Noah built an altar to the Lord. Its purpose was twofold: it was certainly meant to express his gratitude for their deliverance; but it was also an act of atonement (as demonstrated when we are told that the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma). Although human nature has not been changed by the flood (God says in 8:21 that the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth), Gods attitude to it has changed. Atonement through sacrifice is possible, securing a peaceful relationship between the Lord and humanity. And God promises that he will never again send another flood to wipe out humanity. Not only that, but he promises that while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Many of us know the old childrens chorus So when you see a rainbow, remember God loves youand our hearts are cheered when we see a rainbow as we recall Gods promise to Noah and we remember that God loves us. I remember at the time when Alan and I were moving back to N.Ireland after 17 years in Switzerland, saying all our farewells to old friends and plucking up the roots we had made there, it was hard. And it seemed that each time we looked at the sky, there was a rainbow. It was as if God was saying Remember, I love you.

But actually these verses mean that our hearts should be cheered at the turn of each season and at the turn of each day – for God has said that While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Each new day and each new season demonstrate the fact that God has kept his word and the promise that he will keep his word.

So whether we look back to the past or look forward to the future, God is faithful. Maybe it’s easy when you look back to see that God has been faithful to you. It can be harder to look forward and trust him do his faithfulness. But his faithfulness in the past reassures us that he will be faithful in the future too. We can trust him because faithfulness is part of his character.

God’s faithfulness shown in his character

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:21-23

Chapter 3 of Lamentations has one speaker –  a man who has seen affliction(v.1), a man who has endured suffering and has experienced Gods faithfulness. The language he uses is strong:

He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light (v.2); He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago (v.6).

And it gets even stronger:

He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.(v.16-18).

When did you last hear someone in church use language like that about God? I daresay that, if we did, we would be quick to tell them in some nice polite kind of way that they shouldnt talk about God like that. But here it is in the Bible, which is so honest about human suffering. While this passage is called Great is Your Faithfulnessin the ESV, it is called God locked me up in deep darknessin The Message.

It is only after the speaker talks in such honest, forthright terms of his suffering and of how he feels God has crushed him that the promise of hope comes:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (v.21.23).

This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the speaker makes a conscious decision to turn from his suffering and to  think about the steadfast love of the Lord instead. He calls to mindthe steadfast love of the Lord – and therefore he has hope. Some of you have heard me talk about my depression or have read my articles about it – and it was a dark place. Many of these words could have been used to describe it. It felt like I was alone in a cold, dark place. It was impossible to see any light at the end of the tunnel. But, as I often say, at times like that we need to force-feedourselves Scripture, to do as this speaker in Lam 3 did and turn from our suffering to look at God instead and remember his promises. We may not be able to read our Bibles much, we may just be able to cling to one promise. At my worst, I could only repeat to myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But that was enough to get me through those dark days.

His mercies are new every morning– there we are with that thought again: each day presents another opportunity to experience Gods grace.

Great is his faithfulness– Gods covenantal fidelity and personal integrity remain intact no matter what happens.

Maybe you are in a good place right now and it’s easy to thank God for his faithfulness. Maybe you are in a dark place now. Maybe you can identify with the speaker in Lam 3. Will you decide – like him – to turn your mind from your suffering and look at Gods faithfulness? Will you choose to believe in the steadfast love of the Lord for you? Will you ask for the grace to see each new day as a reminder of his faithfulness?

Gods faithfulness means that he will keep his word – on everything. We talk about someone being a man of his word or a woman of her word. God is a God of his word. He will keep all of his promises. He will do as he says. Which promise of the Lord do you need to recall today and trust him to keep for you?

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus Phil 4:19

So, whatever your needs are today, you can depend on the faithfulness of God. Just tell him what you need and he will be faithful to provide for you. It may not be exactly what you ask for – because he knows best what we need. But because we can also rely on his steadfast love, we can trust him to know best what we need – and to provide it. Which needs are you going to bring to God today and trust him to meet?

God’s faithfulness shown in salvation

But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost (that is, completely; or at all times) those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Heb 7:24-26

The book of Hebrews demonstrates how Jesus is superior to angels and to the Mosaic law. In chapter 7, the writer talks about Jesus as our great high priest and compares him to the Levitical priesthood.

The Levitical priests were many in number – Jesus is one.

They were temporary – Jesus is permanent and eternal.

They were sinners who had to offer sacrifice for their own sins – Jesus is holy, innocent and offers sacrifices only for others.

They had to sacrifice daily – Jesus sacrificed once for all.

They offered sacrificial animals – Jesus offered up himself.

They entered the holy places through a man-made tent by means of the blood of animals – Jesus entered the holy place of the presence of God by means of his own blood.

Because of all this, he is able to save to the uttermost (that is, completely; or at all times) those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. He is faithful in his salvation – our salvation is complete. We wont have to look for another Saviour, the way the OT Jews had to go back every year to ask for more sacrifices to be offered on their behalf.

Unlike the OT priests, he has no sin of his own that he has to deal with first. He is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

And we know that his sacrifice has been accepted by God the Father because we read in Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.

It is complete. Maybe you need to remember that today. Maybe you have been having doubts about your salvation, about whether you can keep it or not, whether you are going to make it to the end or not. Or maybe you are not sure that you are a Christian, not sure that you can trust God. The salvation he offers is complete and it is forever. You can trust him, not only to save your sins today but to save you forever.

So lets remember that he is faithful in creation – remember that each new day and each new season is a sign of his faithfulness.

He is faithful in his character – so he is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can count on him always being the same.

He is faithful in our salvation – so no one can add to it or take away from it.

Here are beautiful words from a song written by Sara Groves:

Morning by morning I wake up to find

The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine

Season by season I watch Him, amazed

In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways

All I have need of, His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain

He did not recycle to bring me gain

I can’t remember one single regret

In serving God only, and trusting His hand

All I have need of, His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song

The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long

God has been faithful, He will be again

His loving compassion, it knows no end

All I have need of, His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful

He’s always been faithful to me

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