Sunday, February 22, 2009

Faithfulness: a gift of the Spirit

Faithfulness of the Lord.

This is what He does. This is who He is. Faithful. He is Faithful. It is His Character.

Isa 49:7b
This is what the LORD says—
"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."

Isa 55:3
Give ear and come to Me;
hear Me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
My faithful love promised to David.

He is a God of a history of being Faithful!

One of our favorite hymns of all time is Great is Thy Faithfulness. We sang it at our wedding and also during sadder times. The truth remains the same.

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 will be.

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!

This word, FAITHFULNESS, is one of the fruit of the Spirit that we read about in Galatians 5:22-26.

Someone said once that the dog was Man’s best friend. His faithful buddy throughout life. We hear stories of faithfulness in friendships, in songs and in literature as well.

Mankind have a powerful tendency to be faithful to what they think is truly important, be it a family name, spouse, friendship, political party, employer, school, athletic team or even certain things like a make of automobile.

William Barclay writes in his commentary on Galatians, "This word (pistis) is common in secular Greek for trust-worth-iness. It is the characteristic of the man who is reliable" (p. 51). Again, dogs can be reliable but there is a huge difference here.

Other synonyms include dedicated, steadfast, devoted, dependable, accurate, true, conscientious, dutiful, careful, and thorough.

Faithfulness does not appear in the New Testament King James Bible in English but it does in Greek, I am told. The opposite Faithless means "not keeping faith; dishonest; disloyal; unreliable; undependable; unbelieving." Its synonyms include doubting, treacherous and unscrupulous. Clearly NOT a good human feature.

Not too long ago, a person's word was his bond, and mere handshakes sealed major business agreements. Historians say that faithfulness was such a hallmark of the Roman Republic that not one divorce occurred in its first seven hundred years! In the last 50 years our world has seen a devastating, family-destroying rise in the divorce rate that threatens the very stability of our society.

Faithlessness is playing a major role in this destruction. People are without natural affection and traitors to their marital contract. Child abuse is becoming ever more prevalent. Athletes seem to break contracts almost at will. Manufacturers lie about what is really in their products, and workers cheat in the quality of their work.

Faithlessness is rising to its peak because of self-centeredness, the grand-daddy of irresponsibility. It is the spirit of this age, but we have cause to resist it by what God has given us in His revelation-the Bible. God-centeredness in our lives is the answer to faithlessness and irresponsibility. But God-centeredness is not cheap, and few are willing to pay the price: their lives!

Look in the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-28.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

Even IF He does not rescue us, this will not change our heart on Who He is! No matter, if not here-than in the hereafter. His promise to be with us stands any test the King will throw at us! And either way, we will never worship anything less than God. You can burn us but He will remain on the throne. No other gods except the God of Creation!

Do you have that confidence in Him?

In the NT, this word takes different forms. 2 Timothy 1:12
“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day”.

2 Timothy 2:13
if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

We can fully trust Him all the way to death simply because “He cannot deny Himself.” God’s very nature, His Character has no room for anything but faithfulness. It follows His Own Law. He cannot turn from that—even a little, even the smallest degree.

But when we move along in life, we find that we run both cold and hot, and drop below our best standards. Even then, He remains faithful. Wonder of wonder. He stays the same.

Why? Because He IS Faithful. WE CAN TRUST HIM!

In the New Testament, we can find many examples of our ‘roles’ in the Christian walk to be faithful. Showing ourselves to be faithful in service, faithful in prayer and faithful in attitude.

Philippines 2:1-8
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Rom 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Rom 3:3-4a
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! …

1 Cor 4:2
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

How? By keeping connected to the vine! AND keeping an active faithful life!

Ps 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your Name be the Glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.

Ps 117:2
For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.

In all things, no matter what is going on in your life, He remains Faithful! He always will be Faithful. Always will! Now, our ROLE is to trust Him. Even that is a gift from His Heart to us who believe.

Praise the Lord.

Next week is Communion Sunday and the topic will be Self-Control. How often do you need self-control? How many times are we in need of this Fruit of the Spirit? Come next week and seek His Heart together with others on this Walk of Faith.

May His Grace fill your hearts with His joy!

Comments from readers...

Thanks to Andrew for his comment on my last blog. Andrew said...

Always a favorite note of encouragement, in addition to Psalm 42. I'll be praying for you and your family, here and abroad.

Feel free to add any more comments as you see fit. May the Lord guide all your hearts in Christ Jesus.