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The Southgate Christian Fellowship

Message Centre

God's Faithfulness

Reading
Lamentations 3:1-26  1I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 2He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; 3indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. 4He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. 5He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. 6He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. 7He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. 8Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. 9He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. 10 Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, 11he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. 12He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. 13He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. 14I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. 15He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall. 16He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. 17I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18So I say, "My splendour is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD." 19I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." 25The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

 

Pain, disappointment, sadness and depression are a part of life. We all have to face them at some time or other in our lives, and some would seem to suffer more than others.

That’s s good opening statement for this morning! But, here’s something interesting…

A few years ago the Health Education Authority - Government Body - produced a report saying that religion is good for one's sanity. They said the New Testament describes many instances of the healing power of Jesus and the ‘positive effects of His ministry on those who were willing to listen’.

The Health Education Authority describes mental health as ‘The emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others' dignity and worth.’

It’s good that Christianity is acknowledged and has found acceptance and credibility in this area, at least in the past.

So yes, as the report says… Pain, disappointment, sadness and depression are a part of life. But we of all people are in a good position to combat it.

 

In the midst of despair

Lamentations 3:1-26 is perhaps one of the most depressing passages in the whole of the Bible. Jeremiah is in despair over the state of his countrymen, Israel, but in the midst of this despair, Jeremiah clung to God’s faithfulness. He saw a ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him. He said…21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Jeremiah knew from personal experience about God’s faithfulness - he had a testimony. God had promised that punishment would follow disobedience, and it did. But God had also promised future restoration and blessing. Jeremiah knew that God would keep that promise also.

 

Our God is Faithful

Like Jeremiah, we too need to remember that we have a God, a Heavenly Father who is faithful.

It may not seem that way at times.

God’s ways of expressing his faithfulness are sometimes unexpected and bewildering, looking indeed to the casual observer and in the short term more like unfaithfulness. But those who have trusted God through times of difficulty can testify to his faithfulness and the way he provides and brings us through.

Like Joshua as he reviewed his life, they can say… “every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Josh. 23:14-15).

God’s faithfulness, along with the other aspects of his gracious goodness that we find in his Word, is always solid ground on which to rest our faith and hope. Indeed it is the only truly solid ground.

 

God's faithfulness is found in:

1: Creation and the natural world

After the flood in Noah's time, God said
to Noah… "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you. This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth"
(Genesis 8:21-22; 9:9,12-13).

Here, God promised Noah, and all future mankind, three things:

1: A flood will never again destroy the earth.

2: As long as the earth remains, the seasons and day and night will always happen.

3: A rainbow will be the visible sign to all when it rains that God will keep his promises.

And he has!

There may be local tragedies around the world
but God has kept this promise.

2: God's faithfulness is found in his unchanging character

God is not a man like us that he should lie. As Samuel said to King Saul… "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."
(1 Samuel 15:29) 

Therefore, as a result of God's unchanging nature:

3: God's faithfulness is found in his unchanging Word

Peter said… For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever" (1Peter 1:24-25)

4: God's faithfulness is found in his promise keeping - always yes in Jesus

St Paul says… For 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 (2Corinthians 1:20).

 

Our God is Faithful

So, the question is, if God is faithful in creation and the natural world because of his unchanging character, can he any less faithful in keeping his Word and promises to his people?

Agreed, sometimes it doesn’t seem like that. Sometimes it seems all hell has been let loose and we cry ‘where is God in all this?’

Indeed, it's one thing to know that God is faithful and that he is always there for, us but in a difficult circumstance it can be hard to trust God. That’s why Jeremiah’s example is so helpful… 21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.

What can you call to mind? What is your testimony of God’s faithfulness in past times of testing?

Do you come to God in the small things each day or just when you’re in a crisis?

Remember Paul's advice to the Philippians... "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition (supplication - crying out to God), with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
(Philippians 4:6-7).

When, in every time of anxiety, even the ones when we ‘don’t need God’, we give our anxieties to God and seek his help, we will be building up a history, or ‘His-Story’, testimonies to God’s faithfulness.

Was Goliath the first giant David had killed? No he had grown from a young shepherd trusting God to deal with the attacks on his father’s sheep, so when the Philistine giant came along David has a history, a ‘His-Story’, of God’s faithfulness.

Don’t wait for a crisis before trusting God’s faithfulness. That might be too late! Not because God isn’t faithful, but because your relationship with him might be low and your faith weak.

Cliff Richards said, ‘the more we depend on God, the more dependable we find he is’.

But, don’t forget, we need each other and the prayer and practical support of God's people. We can’t always do it on our own. That’s why the writer to the Hebrews encourages us to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25) 

He also says… Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

In the midst of the most desperate situations we have a Heavenly Father who is faithful and whose love for us never fails.

  

Here are some scriptures that show God’s faithfulness to people...

I will bless you:
"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2) 

I will not fail you:
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)

I will heal you:
"Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. (2Kings 20:5) 

I will guide you
I will instruct you
I will teach you:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalms 32:8)

I will deliver you:
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." (Psalms 50:15) 

I will satisfy you:
I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. (Psalms 132:15)

I will help you
I will strengthen you
I will uphold you:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

I will hold your hand:
"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6) 

I will not forget you:
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15) 

I will comfort you:
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." (Isaiah 66:13) 

I will restore:
But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'(Jeremiah 30:17) 

I will forgive:
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34)

I will be your God:
You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:28) 

I will put my Spirit within you:
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:27) 

I will save you:
I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. (Ezekiel 36:29)

I will love you
I will manifest myself to you:
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)

 

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