God is Faithful
We’re in the middle of a theme at Festival, the theme is God is …? We’re asking the question what is God like. Because it’s a really important question not only for the sake of “oh isn’t that interesting, wouldn’t that be good to know”. It’s one of those questions that I think everyone at some point in life asks. Or maybe they start before this question “is there a God?” but at some point you end up having to come up with some sort of definition to begin to grow in your understanding of what God is like because that affects everything we do. All our lives flow out of this understanding, this relationship of and with God. Which is why I think it is so important, so I’m really enjoying the theme and I hope you are too and finding lots of opportunities to reflect and perhaps have some really good conversations about this. My prayer for you is that your understanding of God would just grow and grow and grow.
So today is Remembrance Sunday where we look back and remember, and are thankful for those that gave their lives for our freedom in the various wars that have happened in the past. It’s a really good time to reflect on our freedoms and to acknowledge the sacrifice that others have made for us. It makes us more thankful in the moment that we’re in, even in the midst of Covid and restrictions, I’m so grateful for those that have gone before and especially those that fought and have given their lives so that we can experience freedom.
And in thinking about Remembrance Sunday and our theme, I really felt on my heart that I wanted to talk about the faithfulness of God. Actually God is faithful. It’s part of who he is, it’s one way of understanding who he is like. I wonder what words come to mind when you think of faithfulness. I think of words like loyalty, friendship, it makes me think of something solid, secure, always there, dependable, reliable. It’s such a great word isn’t it. This is what our God is like. He is faithful. It’s so built into his character, when you begin to experience God you’re always going to experience something of his faithfulness. Which is so different to the world and the lives that we live and experience with each other – we’re not always that faithful but God always is. In his faithfulness he is challenging us to be faithful, to be loyal, to offer those hands of friendship to each other, being there for one another, doing what we say we will do. Those sort of things are conjured up in faithfulness.
Here’s what some people in the past have said of God’s faithfulness . I’m a big fan of quoting Spurgeon, a great preacher. He described it like this: God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips and acts with a hand that never fails. It’s a lovely way of describing God’s faithfulness. He is trustworthy, that’s another good way of describing faithfulness. You can trust God, he is trustworthy. You have this sense in the way Spurgeon has talked about it here, this continuity, this consistency. God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips and acts with a hand that never fails. I do love that description.
Here’s another, this is a lady called Corrie ten Boom. She passed away in the 1980’s. Her life is significant, especially so today, because of her experience in the second world war. She was a Jewish survivor of the concentration camps. Her testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness when you know and hear what she went through, that she could still life after that, praising God, being grateful to who God is and magnifying God for his faithfulness. That’s a great testimony. Here’s how she viewed God’s faithfulness: in God’s faithfulness lies eternal security and you can see that she has her eyes on the future, eyes on heaven. She grounds it completely in God’s faithfulness that’s how important God’s faithfulness was to her because it helped her see and understand that out of that makes her future in God secure, God’s faithfulness is so important for us to try and grasp hold of.
Here are some great verses from the book of Deuteronomy. 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 commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9) . I really love this verse, I love the way it emphasises that the Lord your God is God. I like the fact we have the word “the”, he is “the” faithful God, not he is “a” faithful God, one among many. This is it, He is “the” faithful God. He is keeping his covenant, that’s His promise, of love to a thousand generations. Again faithfulness is about being trustworthy, doing what you say you’re going to do, being there always, coming through when you promise. God does that to a thousand generations for those that love Him and keep His commandments. Be encouraged today that God is the faithful God. You can trust Him with your life today.
I was struck by the old old hymn. I’ve got this song book here. There was this insurance salesman, believe it or not, in America in 1923, he penned the words of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. I thought it was going to be some great artist or orator. I love the fact that his name is Thomas Chisholm, he was 57 years old in 1923, an insurance salesman. Have a listen to how we reflected on God’s faithfulness
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
And here’s the chorus
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!
Perhaps for many there will be some familiar words, it’s a familiar hymn. Why don’t you dig out an old hymn book and read the rest of the verses. I just love hearing people’s reflections on God’s faithfulness, it’s so encouraging. Just like that chap, our insurance agent, wrote and penned the words for a great song, there are plenty of song writers in scripture that spoke of faithfulness. I want to introduce you to a fairly unknown songwriter, his name is Ethan and he was known as Ethan the Ezrahite. His song is Psalm 89 and in this psalm he talks about God’s faithfulness, he mentions God’s faithfulness at least 10 times. He sets off his psalm with this first verse.
I will sing of the lord’s great love for ever with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations
(Psalm 89 v1)
You might be thinking “Tim, why have you chosen such an obscure person as the backdrop for speaking about God’s faithfulness?”. I guess Ethan the Ezrahite is slightly obscure, you can see his name at the beginning of Psalm 89 describing the song. I like the fact that he speaks about faithfulness 10 times in his psalm. Here’s what I do like about him, have a guess what his job was. Again a bit like Thomas Chisholm who was a life insurance salesman, Ethan had quite an unexpected job. Just like I thought the writer of Great is thy Faithfulness would have been a great composer or songwriter or artist, what do you think Ethan’s job was? There’s a clue on the screen, Ethan’s job was to play the cymbal, that’s what Ethan did. Day in, day out his job in the temple was to play the cymbal. If I had thought ahead a bit, I could’ve brought a cymbal with me or even a triangle. I feel it’s in the realm of that sort of instrument. I’m being a bit of a snob here, it’s not a piano or a violin, you hit it just like a triangle. This was Ethan’s job, day in day out, he played a cymbal. I think that says something about his attitude towards faithfulness which I believe came from this understanding of God because he talks about faithfulness so much in his song. Check out Ethan, see where else he has been mentioned. And here’s what’s amazing about Ethan, which is incredibly inspiring. Ethan the cymbal player, in the book of 1 Kings we read about the wisdom of the mighty and clever Solomon and interestingly the writer in 1 Kings, to make the point that King Solomon was really really wise, who did he compare him to? He says that Solomon was even wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite. Even wiser than the cymbal player in the temple. I think that says something about the value of faithfulness and particularly God’s faithfulness. Ethan the Ezrahite was the benchmark of what wisdom was in that part of the old testament. King Solomon was so wise, he was wiser than this guy.
So, let’s look at this first verse quickly and let’s look at three things that speak of God’s faithfulness that Ethan the Ezrahite highlights.
The first one is this. I will sing of the Lord’s great love. God’s love. Whenever I contemplate God’s faithfulness, whenever you do any studying about it, it doesn’t take long to understand that God’s faithfulness is really connected with his love. His love is lasting. His love goes deep and wide. His love reaches even me and even you. Faithfully. God’s love isn’t just a flippant thing, it’s not intermittent. God is faithful with his love towards you and me. If you don’t feel loved today take it from me that you are loved because God’s faithfulness means that He loves us all the time. Whether we feel like we’re being loved, whether we feel like we deserve it or not, whether we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. God’s faithfulness is testimony to the fact that He loves you today, He loved you yesterday and He’ll love you tomorrow. Whenever we start contemplating the faithfulness of God, the trustworthiness of God’s, the fact that he has always been there, will always be there, you can’t help but to start to think about His love which is always there for you too. Ethan highlights that in the opening line: I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever. God’s faithfulness is also testimony to his great love.God’s faithfulness is testimony to the fact that He loves you today, He loved you yesterday and He’ll love you tomorrow. Click To Tweet
Here’s the second thing, it says with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known. God’s faithfulness not only needs to be proclaimed. You can know God’s faithfulness, that means that you can experience His faithfulness, that means His faithfulness is to be lived, it’s to be experienced and perhaps you’ve not contemplated that before. Maybe life has thrown lots of unfaithful stuff at you, that you find it hard to believe that you can know someone who is really really faithful come what may, despite who we are, despite our experiences, the things that we get up to, the way that we are so often unfaithful. You can know God’s faithfulness today. You might be going through challenging circumstances, hear it from me that God is with you in those circumstances because God is always faithful, He’s there with you. Perhaps you can’t see him, it doesn’t mean that He’s not there, it just means that you can’t see Him. He’s there because He’s faithful. He’s promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. Maybe you’re praying for something in your life and you’re hanging on to God’s faithfulness, that’s the thing to do because he is trustworthy. And because of his faithfulness, I believe you will see his hand at work in your life.Perhaps you can’t see God, it doesn’t mean that He’s not there, it just means that you can’t see Him. He’s there because He’s faithful. Click To Tweet
I would like to pray at this moment about that. I wasn’t planning on doing that but I sense that I should do just that. Wherever you are, let’s just bow our heads together for a moment:
Oh Lord I’m really just struck in this moment by knowing your faithfulness. Thank you that you see us as we are and you see what we’re working our way through and Lord we proclaim your faithfulness in every situation today and we trust in your faithfulness. Lord we bring our lives to you afresh and there are some things that Lord, it’s like a heart cry, we really need to see your faithfulness. I pray that would be our experience over the coming days and weeks. That we would know your faithfulness with what we’re going through. God, I thank you that Ethan shows us that faithfulness can be known.
In Jesus name, amen.
Faithfulness can be known, we’re also told to make it known. Let’s be people of testimony who share in our stories how God has worked and is working in our lives.
My final point about verse 1, we could go all 52 verses, we could do one a week. Through all generations again this is just adding more credibility to God’s faithfulness that we only have to look back and see his hand at work. In past generations, in our generation today, God is at work. And He always goes ahead of us, so in future generations God is faithful too. I quite enjoy studying and looking at history and I think it’s because I’m growing in my understanding that history carries the memories of God’s faithfulness. I love reading old books and looking at old stories because they capture something of the testimony of a memory of God’s faithfulness in the past. But God is faithful now in this generation and I think we’re called to proclaim his faithfulness in this generation. I’m full of hope as we look to the future that God is faithful there too. This is poignant too for remembrance Sunday, we can be thankful for what God has done on our behalf in the past. For keeping us safe, for being with us, God is faithful through all generations.In past generations, in our generation today, God is at work. He always goes ahead of us, so in future generations God is faithful too. Click To Tweet
That’s Ethan the Ezrahite in verse 1. Let’s read that verse from Deuteronomy: 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 commandments. I hope today you grow in your understanding of how God is faithful. I come back to whatever you are going through today. Just remember that He is faithful, He is trustworthy, He is solid, He is sure, He is secure, He is for you not against you and you can rest in Him because He has got you in His hands.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.