If you would come in to my home, we have a foyer. And at the very end before you go anywhere, there is a picture that hangs. And as you get a close-up, we happened to take a good one. It’s about a year old.
The pastor’s family. Everyone looks nice and happy and each one of my sons and daughter, they have married well and they are all walking with God and they are raising these kids and you would just think that that stereotypical, God must bless pastors and their lives are pretty easy and wonderful and things just turn out right.
That’s not why it’s at the hall. It’s not so much for other people but every day I have to walk past it. And this picture for me is a reminder of the greatest trophy of God’s grace is what He did in that group of people.
My wife and I neither grew up knowing God. We both came to Christ as adults. Both of us came from alcoholic families with fathers who were deeply wounded from World War II. And it produced some very unhealthy things.
We came to Christ and by God’s faithfulness, some people came into our lives and helped us get into the Scriptures and gave us good counseling and we did life in community and little by little we changed and we grew and then we got married. And we thought, Wow, this is going to be great. I love God, you love God, first generation.
And then after about six months we realized that we couldn’t communicate, we didn’t know how to resolve conflict, and we both had boatloads of baggage from alcoholic families.
By God’s grace He brought a professor and a counselor into our lives and we started going to marriage counseling and He began to heal us.
Well, Theresa had been married before, before she was a Christian. And when he found out that she was pregnant he left with another woman that he had been seeing. And I just couldn’t figure out how to love my wife because it was like BBs off of a tank. The way she saw herself from her background and being rejected and abandoned is that she saw herself so negatively and I saw her as beautiful and godly.
And then I saw God’s faithfulness where, again, we got some help and we dug into some books together and I watched God begin to heal her.
Well then these were twin boys. I got to adopt them, a great privilege, when they were five and a half. And so they had this overachieving, workaholic, over-the-top dad who was way too hard on them.
And my one son was, just because of his early background, very fearful. I had to make him learn to ride a bike. The other had a four-year rebellion that was the biggest heartbreak of our lives.
And the one who was afraid of people is now a physical therapist and has the best people skills in our family of loving people. And the one who we thought, Will he ever come back to the Lord? is now writing music that the world sings.
My other son, his senior year he had a pornography problem. And it happened “by accident,” it really did. And it was hidden for a year. And he took some major steps and still all the passwords, his wife keeps. He’s a pastor now.
My daughter was a lot younger. She is six years younger than my youngest son who is six years younger than the older boys. And she grew up with this psycho dad who is really intense and a very loving mom. And so she got a little bit perfectionistic.
And so my one son didn’t like school and then he lied about it most of the time. Does this ring true? Anybody else have family like this? He’s a pastor now. And my daughter, somehow, got thinking that she probably needed to do really, really well. So when my one son got a B, I took him out to dinner to celebrate. And when my daughter got a B, I took her out to celebrate for a different reason. It was the first one in, like, nine years. All As. I said, “You need to lighten up.”
At the very end of the little story in the book that we are reading, The Real God, I write this, “When I was a young dad, I dreamed of having three sons and a daughter who would grow up, marry well, walk strongly with the Lord. I longed to be a great example, to work really hard, and do it right, whatever that meant. Yet, as I look back now, I see it was our brokenness, our struggles, our insecurities, and our fears that drove us back to God’s Word, inspired us to claim His promises, and caused us to pray and seek God in the midst of those very difficult times with dependency.”
In a word, our family and our family picture are nothing more or nothing less than the faithfulness of God.
And the reason I wanted to show you this is because this is our last session on God’s attributes. And to me, this is a trophy. If God had a mantelpiece, this is a trophy. But it’s not my trophy. It’s His trophy.
This is what God does with people who have messed up backgrounds, who make big mistakes, who struggled with sin, who had problems in their marriage, who really wanted to do it right but often found they didn’t do it right but had one passion in the midst of it all to say, Lord, we don’t know how life works but we want to break the cycle of our backgrounds and we want to pursue you with all of our heart and we experience forgiveness and healing and restoration, and often three steps forward and two steps backward because God is faithful.
The Lord’s mercies, His kindness never ceases. His compassions, His heart, His tenderness never fails. Great is His faithfulness.
And so in our final session together, it’s going to be a bit more devotional. I have given you notes and you can track with it. But I want to talk more about when and how to experience God’s faithfulness and review some of all the attributes.
Three observations that you already know but because I like to be logical I wanted to give them to you. Observation number one is: All of us depend on something or someone to hold us up inside. We all do. For some, it’s your mate or a relationship, a job. For some it’s how you look or how much money you make or how successful your kids are. But we all have something or someone – it can be money, it can be fame – that hold us up inside.
Then what we know is when that something or someone is coming through for us, we have a sense of satisfaction and optimism and things are going well. When that something or someone doesn’t come through for us we have anxiety, we have no peace, we have fear, and often, despair.
And all I want you to know is that there is no one and there is nothing that can come through for you one hundred percent of the time except the Lord Jesus Christ.
So if you put your hope in a job or in a mate or in kids or in money or how you look or whatever it is you are a blink away from that completely changing. And so your life goes up and down with circumstances and relationships. And so the key or the secret to life is to find someone who will come through for you one hundred percent of the time in any and every circumstance.
And I just want to tell you, the real God, His faithfulness is that is what He will do. His mercies are new. His loyal love for you in the midst of your hurt, your pain, your weakness, your sin, your failure. If you would, out of this study, say, I am going to pursue, I want to make knowing God the most important thing, I want to get close to Christ, I want my life to revolve around what His Word says, I want to be wise and do life His way, I will tell you there is a friend with supernatural power who is fully God and fully man, who rose from the dead, who will never, ever let you down.
As you open your notes, let’s define faithfulness so we are all on the same page, the dictionary says it’s steadfast in affection. I like that. Steadfast in affection. He’s in love with you. Allegiance, loyalty.
When we say, “God is faithful,” we mean He is dependable, trustworthy, staunch, resolute, constant, reliable, true to one’s word, keeps His promises, always comes through.
And then you ask yourself, Well, how can God be faithful all the time? And it allows us to do something that is really important. Because if you’re not careful, you can think of, Okay, we talked about His holiness and we have talked about His love and we have talked about His justice. But those things operate all together in unity, simultaneously, in harmony with one another.
God can come through for you and me one hundred percent of the time because He is all-powerful. He never encounters anything that can thwart His plan or His purpose. He can come through because He is holy. He is pure, He is full of integrity, He is unable to lie. He is absolutely unapproachable light, He always does the right thing.
He can come through because He is eternal. He is not affected by space or time. He sees the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. He can come through because He is omnipresent. Nothing can ever happen outside the sphere of His influence. And, finally, He can come through for you because He is immutable. He never changes. He is consistent. God never has a bad day. You never go to Him and pray and He goes, You know, maybe later. I’m having a really rough day. His love, His justice, His kindness, His compassion one hundred percent of the time.
A.W. Tozer writes in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, “All of God’s acts are consistent with all of His attributes.” And then I put it in bold because this is one of those sentences that it’s so profound it hurts my head. “No attribute contradicts any other, but all harmonize and blend into each other in the infinite abyss of the Godhead.”
The infinite abyss, His love, His majesty, His power, His goodness, His holiness in the infinite abyss. This God who spoke and galaxies, billions of them come into existence. And, yet, says to you and me, I want to be your friend. And I will never, ever leave you and I will never let you down and anything that I have ever said, any promise I have ever made I will guarantee, based on My character and My track record that I will be with you. It is absolutely amazing.
So what I want to do in our time is talk a little bit about, intellectually and biblically, well, how has God revealed that? But I want to spend the great majority of our time on how that faithfulness impacts the deepest struggles and challenges of our life.
So let’s talk about: How has He revealed His faithfulness? First, by creation. Psalm 119:89 and 90 says, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations. You established the earth and it stands.”
My dad was a science teacher and I had many majors in college and science was one of them. And I liked the physical sciences and you learn about the planets and you realize this planet of ours is going around the sun, I think it’s twenty-four or twenty-five thousand miles and hour. It’s crazy.
And then we are spinning around very fast. And, yet, year after year, thousands of years after thousands of years, we go around the sun within a fraction of a few seconds exactly the same. Exactly the same.
When our atomic submarines, because of the magnetic pulls of the earth want to come up and they have got those really powerful rockets inside of them and they can’t be off, they have to surface every ninety days and they put up an antenna and what do they do? Lock on to the North Star because the North Star is more accurate.
We call it “science” because what we have learned is these things are predictable. They are the same. And so we say, Oh, that’s Mother Nature. That’s the first or second law of thermodynamics. And we observe all this consistency and God would say, Well, you can observe it. But it’s there and it’s consistent because I hold it together by the word of My power. I am the Creator and the Sustainer of all life.
Second, it’s through people. God shows His faithfulness through, He made promises to Abraham and the patriarchs. Abraham, He said, “I am going to make you a great nation.” Now, can you imagine this one, little nomad guy running around in a tent – four thousand-plus years later, the nation of Israel? It has endured.
Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell can’t prevail against it.” And so you have got twelve, little followers and one betrays you and you start this big movement with one hundred and twenty people and you are going to change the world?
You had never traveled forty, fifty miles beyond where you were born and you are living in a world where there are two billion followers of Christ and law and culture and all of history is defined by the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He, if we had time, I could pass microphones around and you could tell me about how He has been faithful to you. I could tell you of a time when I prayed for one of my sons in the ICU just before he went into surgery and God healed him.
I could tell you about times in my marriage when I thought, There is no way this is going to work, and crying out to God and the lights coming on. God is faithful to His people.
Third, He is faithful by virtue of His character. If you want to know what the Father is like, the Son is like, the Scripture is absolutely clear. The Old Testament picture of God the Father, classic verse, Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should repent;” or change His mind, “has He spoken, and will He not do it? Or has He said it, and will He not bring it to pass?”
In other words, God is always consistent and faithful. If He speaks, if He promises, one hundred percent, He does it.
The Sprit, we talk about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control. The character of the Holy Spirit develops faithfulness because it is the very character, it’s the fruit of God the Spirit.
Or Jesus. You could read the entire New Testament and you get to the end and He came as the Savior but the whole book of Revelation, the theme is He is going to come back and judge righteously. He is going to make things right. And at the very end of history we have the Conqueror, the Righteous Judge on a white horse and He has a robe and on His robe has two words, and on His thigh, are you ready for the words? “Faithful and true.” He could have chosen any words. He wants you to know: You can depend on Me.
And, finally, I don’t know about you but I did not grow up ever reading the Bible, I didn’t understand it. But His Word is true. You can depend on the promises in Scripture.
On the last night, Jesus prayed in John 17, “Father, sanctify them,” or, “set them apart,” or, “make them holy, these followers now and followers in the future, make them holy by Your truth; Your Word is truth.”
In Deuteronomy it says, “God keeps,” or, “is faithful to the covenants that He makes with us to a thousand generations.” In Hebrews it says, “Let us not sway,” or, “swerve,” or, “fall away, for He who promised is faithful to us.”
And then we have, in Christ’s first coming, hundreds of very specific predictions. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, “He will be born – Bethlehem.” “Of a virgin.” This is what will happen. Hundreds of specific prophecies, all for you to say and to learn, God is faithful to His Word.
So that’s the intellectual, biblical basis for trusting God’s faithfulness. What I want to do now is talk about when it really matters. I have got to have that because I am not going to throw my brains in the trash. But the fact of the matter is, the final one, I think, is most important to digest and to apply.
God shows us His faithfulness in the way that He shapes our life. The way He intervenes in our lives when we are weak, when we are tempted, when we sin, and when we utterly, utterly fail.
It’s when you feel like you don’t deserve it. When I feel like I could go back to this picture and I could go through seasons where my wife and I just sat up in bed and cried over one of our kids and thought this was never going to work.
I have had seasons where I have been so mad at her and thought, This marriage will never work and I am going to hang on to Your promise because I don’t have any other option. And God worked in our lives.
The apostle Paul was having a conversation with God in a moment of weakness. He had some physical issue that God allowed Him to have, a thorn in his flesh he called it. Some people think malaria, some people think an eye disease. Personally, I think it was a bad back. Constant pain.
And God speaks to Paul. After Paul asked, God says, “No.” Paul asked, God says, “No.” The third time God says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you. For power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
And then look at this crazy application, “Therefore I am well content,” literally the word is: I will delight in. It’s a choice. “…with weaknesses,” plural, “with insults,” plural, “with distresses,” plural, “with persecutions and difficulties,” – why? “…for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
What you need to know and the reason I showed you that picture is this is a testimony, not of a family or of a marriage or of a man. This is the testimony of struggling people that didn’t know anything. God was faithful in our weakness.
In my weakness I wanted to bail out of my marriage. In my weakness I wanted to knock one of my kid’s heads off because he made me so crazy. In my weaknesses I struggled with lust. There wasn’t even the Internet back then. Praise God. Praise God. But there were four girls to every guy. And I struggled and struggled and struggled.
In my weakness God met me. See, when we are weak, we tend to run and we want a silver bullet or we will find that person or we go eat or we open the refrigerator and put something into us that we know is not good for us. In our weakness we try and fill the holes.
And here’s the deal: God is faithful. If, in your weakness, rather than running to shopping or to work or to prescription drugs or to focusing on your kids or focusing on your work defining who you are going to be – in your weakness say, God, here’s His promise, I will sustain you. My power is perfected in weakness. And your prayers are, I can’t do this.
I remember a little rhyme that my wife learned from some lady. It goes something like, “When you say, ‘I can’t do this,’ God says, ‘I never said you could.’” And then He says, “But by my strength, I promise you always can.”
And God wants to meet you in your weakness. He wants to shape you. He wants to change you. Your character gets changed in weakness.