What a Faithful God 1. Always Trustworthy
Deuteronomy 7: 9
For the next 6 Sundays we will be looking at what the Bible says about the faithfulness of God. In order to orient our thinking in the right direction, here are 5 Scriptures that introduce the topic: Exodus 34:6—"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.’" Deuteronomy 7:9—"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." Isaiah 49:7—"This is what the Lord says—the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’" 1 Thessalonians 5:24—"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." Hebrews 10:23—"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Let’s isolate the key phrases: "Abounding in love and faithfulness" "He is the faithful God" "The Lord who is faithful" "The one who calls you is faithful" "He who promised is faithful" The Ever-Faithful God Many other verses might be added to this list to bring home the point that God is faithful. "God is still God, and God can always be trusted!" But is it true?
Who or what can we trust? We live in an era of planned obsolescence. We buy a car knowing that it will last 3 or 4 years. We buy new clothes knowing they won’t last more than a year or two. It’s worse with computers. Add to that the uncertainty of life. Companies downsize. Bosses say, "Let’s talk about your future because it’s not here." Friends move away, marriages dissolve, children leave home, and our health doesn’t last forever. Friends and loved ones pass away. We live in fear of cancer or a sudden heart attack. In this world of ceaseless change, God is the only constant. As Moses declared, "He is the faithful God." That’s an important word for today. How many people do you know who do exactly what they say every single time? How many people do you know who do exactly what they say every single time and do it with such thoroughness and perfection that you never have to worry about anything they say or do? How many people do you know who no matter what the circumstances and no matter how they feel will always do exactly what they say every single time and do it with such thoroughness and perfection that you never have to worry about anything they say or do because you know if they say it, they will definitely do it without fail, without change, and without excuse? We all know some reliable people who seem very dependable to us. But in the end, the question is not about reliable or very dependable people. It’s really not about people at all because no person could meet all the qualifications of the last question, which is really about God. He alone is 100% faithful 100% of the time. A World of Broken Promises We live in a world of broken promises. Leaders pledge peace and secretly make plans for a war. Marriages end over trivial disputes. Presidents wag their finger and say "I didn’t," knowing full well that they did. "Is there anyone out there who is what he claims to be?" If you’re looking in this world, the answer is no. But if you look outside this world, you discover that God is what he claims to be. Numbers 23:19—"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind; does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" John 17:3—"The only true God." 1 Corinthians 1:9—"God … is faithful." 1 Corinthians 10:13—"But God is faithful." 1 John 1:9—"He is faithful." 1 John 5:20—"Him who is true." These verses establish that God’s faithfulness is not some minor or secondary part of God’s character. To say that God is faithful goes to the core of who God really is. He keeps his word because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be God! All that God does rests on his faithfulness and every blessing we receive comes because he is faithful to keep his promises to us. If God were not faithful, we could not be saved, would not dare to pray, would have no sure hope for the future, and would go down in death in desperate fear wondering if God will keep his promises. But we live in faith and die in hope precisely because our God is faithful. With that as an introduction, let’s think together about 3 specific implications of God’s faithfulness.
1. Every Word He Says is True
The Bible contains several words for truth - Hebrew word “emet” - means stability, firmness or certainty. English word "amen". Every time we say amen we are really saying, "It is certain" or "Yes, it is absolutely true." Therefore, to say "God is true" is the same as saying "God is faithful." Here’s a simple definition: God’s faithfulness means that because he is the truth, everything he says and does is certain. That means he is 100% reliable 100% of the time. He says what he means and means what he says and therefore does everything he says he will do. He does not fail, forget, falter or vacillate. If he says it, he means it, and you can stake your life upon it. Where will we find the true words of God? In the Bible. God has given us an entire book filled with his words. If that be so, then our job is read that book. Study it. Memorise it. Learn it. Build your life upon it. We are to love God’s Word to the point that his words flow through us like the blood that flows through our veins. God says "Amen" over every word he speaks. This means that we can trust the entire Bible because it all comes from God. Whether we read in Genesis, Joshua, 2 Kings, Ezra, Lamentations, Luke, Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, 3 John or Revelation, we can trust what we read because God is the ultimate author and every word he speaks is true. Here is a second implication of God’s faithfulness …
2. Every Promise Will be Kept
Because God is faithful, he keeps every promise he makes. Have you taken the time to trace God’s promises through the Bible? If you haven’t, I recommend that you begin underlining every promise you find. When did God make the promise? To whom was it given? What were the conditions? How was it fulfilled? How does it apply to us today? There are thousands of promises covering every situation we face—including salvation, the forgiveness of sin, prayer, marriage, children, disappointment, insecurity and a whole host of other issues. You might want to buy a Bible promise book at a Christian bookstore. There you will find hundreds of promises listed by category. 2 Corinthians 1:20 - "no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God." Message -first phrase - "Whatever God says gets stamped with the ‘yes’ of Jesus." When God the Father makes a promise, God the Son says from heaven, "Yes, it is so." God the Holy Spirit writes the promise in the Word and then applies that Word to our hearts. So all 3 Persons of the Godhead unite in bringing God’s promises to us. That’s why when we read a promise of God, we can truly say "Amen." If God has said it, we can count on it. Joshua 21: 43 – 45 - What a grand statement that is. If we go back and read Joshua carefully, we see how God kept his promises: —Not quickly (it took seven years) —Not without a struggle (there were many battles) —Not without some failure along the way (the sin of Achan in Joshua 7) —Not without some loss of life - But what God said, he did. No one could have said in advance how it would happen. But it did. In the end the Israelites were totally victorious. No matter what mountains may loom before us today, God is still God, and we can trust in him. Do you feel squeezed by your circumstances? Dwell much on the promises of God. Read the promises. Write them down. Put them where you can see them in the morning when you wake up. Tell them to your friends. Most of all, repeat the promises of God to the Lord when you pray. Stand on God’s promises—and do not let yourself be moved. Not only is every word true and ever promise kept. Because God is faithful …
3. Every Trial has a Purpose
Nothing happens by chance to the children of God. I have observed that when hard times come, we tend to think that God has forgotten about us or that what has happened is a mistake or has no purpose. I have seen that God’s people can endure almost anything if they know there is a reason for it. Consider these 4 truths from Scripture: A. He knows what I am going through—Job 23: 10, "He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." B. He uses my trials to help me grow—Romans 5: 3 - 4, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." C. He calls me to rejoice in my pain—James 1: 2 - 4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." D. He invites me to submit to my faithful Creator— 1 Peter 4: 19, "Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." A small boy was flying a kite high in the sky when it drifted into a cloud and disappeared from view. A passerby asked the little boy what he was doing. "I’m flying my kite," the child responded. The man, looking up and seeing only the cloud, said, "I don’t see any kite. How do you know it’s still there?" "I don’t see it either," replied the boy, "but I know it’s up there because every once in awhile there’s a tug on my string." Many Christians feel God has disappeared just when they need him most. Take heart, child of God. Just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he is not there. Keep holding on to the Lord. He is faithful even when you cannot feel his presence. Hang on, and sooner or later you will feel the "tug on the line" that lets you know he is still there. How faithful is God? He is so faithful that anyone who seeks him can find him. Faith is a gift, but even a gift must be opened to be enjoyed. As we exercise our faith, we begin to discover more and more about God’s purpose in our trials. With that thought we bring this message to an end. But stay tuned because next week we will discover how God is faithful to his children in the moment of temptation. Until then remember that because God is faithful … Every word he says is true. Every promise will be kept. Every trial has a purpose. O Lord, teach us to trust when we cannot see. Help us to hold on to the rope of faith until we feel the tug from heaven that tells us you are still there. Amen.