The Faithfulness of God
From the series God As He Longs For You To See Him
When life gets hard where do you turn for hope and comfort? Chip reveals the truth about God’s faithfulness in times of trouble and why understanding this attribute of His character will change how you think about security and trust.
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About this series
God As He Longs For You To See Him
How would you describe God!? Awesome? All Powerful? Creator? While we cannot know Him exhaustively, we can know Him truly. And God longs for you to see Him as He truly is. This fascinating series studies seven attributes of God. As you begin to see God for who He really is and what His true desires for your life are, it will change the way you pray, the way you live, and the way you think about the world around you.More from this series
Someone has, I believe rightly, said that hope is the oxygen of the soul. It’s a great picture, isn’t it? Hope, that the certainty, the belief that maybe it’s hard now, but someday, and some way, and hopefully in the near future, things are going to change. Hope is oxygen for the soul.
Once in your mind’s eye and in your heart and your soul you begin to think, The darkness that I am in, the situation that I am in, the circumstances that I am in are so impossible, they can never change, then your soul will shrivel up.
And I will tell you, I have watched it happen in the last couple of years. My wife’s mother died very unexpectedly. She had heart surgery, open heart surgery, it went well, she had been married sixty-two years, there were some complications, ninety days in and out of intensive care. And she and her husband are old school. Like, old school married, old school stuck together.
And they did everything together. And there was this invisible bond. They could sit at the supper room table for an hour or two and not say a word and both get up and think, Boy, that was a great time! And I guess that happens somewhere after fifty years, I’m not sure, I don’t know.
And it was an amazing thing that he would not leave her side, to the point of the detriment of his health. He traveled back and forth, she had multiple surgeries afterwards. And then a little over two years ago, she died.
And I watched a man, unfortunately, whose hope was in another human being. And when that other human being was removed, his hope was gone. I don’t mean he didn’t have a little. It was gone.
This is a guy that is in good shape, or at least he was. He probably lost thirty pounds. He is a guy that is the grandfather that would walk in and has a special chicken recipe and wants to take all the kids and get them in the shopping carts and is the guy who is just Mr. Making-everything-happen.
And he went home and he stared at the wall for weeks. We sent letters that never were opened, we sent a little DVD or CD of my children trying to encourage him and their grandmother before she died, and he didn’t have the will to open it, to even listen to it.
Flowers came that he just set on the outside porch. For weeks he turned his face to the wall. He didn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, and still has never slept through the night in the last two and a half years.
He is up about one thirty every night after lying in bed restlessly for weeks, then turned into months, and now for a couple years. He stopped cooking, everything he used to cook, he gave away. Everything he did, everything in her room is the same. He has not moved anything.
And he sits at a kitchen table early in the morning and has a sister that he can go visit two miles away, and he sits and stares and then someway in his mind, to have any kind of fun or enjoy life, somehow twisted in his mind, it would be betraying Thelma. He has not watched a minute of TV and will sit in one of those recliner chairs, staring in the distance as the blur of the TV, off to his right, will play to produce sound to kill some of the deadening pain of his loneliness.
It is one of the most tragic things in all the world when you see someone who has lost all hope. My wife sent him this bulb that went into the ground and became a flower and she did it a couple of years ago and it is just like the Lord in His grace and of course we have been praying like crazy and granddad, you try and have a conversation on the phone, and there is no hope. No one knows what I am going through. You don’t understand the love that we had.
If you have been around people like this, once they get this in their mind, it’s like a recording and you can ask them about the weather, ask them about tomorrow, and they push a button and the same recording of this hopelessness gets repeated over and over and over.
And so my wife had sent this bulb and you ladies would probably know, I don’t understand how they can be in the ground and not come up for a year and then they pop up or something. I have no idea how it works.
But in the sovereignty of God, and it was given to her mom, out of the blue after she died, he comes out and this flower comes out of the ground. And it brings back all these memories.
And so we go and visit him and it’s an amazingly beautiful thing and we talked to him a little bit later. And a couple days after we left, do you know what he did? He went out and he took some scissors and he cut off the beautiful flower and threw it away. And I said, “Granddad, why did you do that?” He said, “Because it’s too painful to see something beautiful that reminds me of my wife.”
What is the source of your hope and what is the source of mine? And I think you’ll agree with these, they are kind of common sense. The first one is: We all depend on something or someone to hold us up inside.
Believer, unbeliever, every human being, regardless of background, there is something that holds you up inside, something that holds me up inside. Every person on the earth, there is something that holds them up inside that says, I have a reason to go on.
The second observation is that when that something or someone is coming through for us, we experience a sense of peace, of satisfaction, an optimism about the future. If it’s your job and your job is going well, life is good. If it’s your family and your kids are healthy, life is good. If it’s your success and what you do or your work or your painting or your art, life is good.
When whatever you are trusting to hold you up inside – a thing or a person – is coming through for you, guess what? Life is good.
Third observation: When that something or someone fails to come through for us, we experience a sense of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and ultimately despair. And, by the way, the way you always know what is really holding up your life inside is how you respond when it gets removed.
And so it seems to me, if those basic, logical observations about life are true, that there is one final observation. It seems that then the secret to a life of unending joy and peace is to find something or someone who will come through for you one hundred percent of the time, in any and every situation.
Now, would you buy that? If we all are trusting in or asking something or someone to hold us up inside and when it does, life is good; and when it doesn’t it just literally pulls us apart and wrecks our life, it would seem then, if we could find something or someone who would come through for us one hundred percent of the time, regardless of our circumstances, then we would always have hope.
Listen to what Jeremiah says after lamenting. If you read chapter 3 of Lamentations and you want a good, biblical picture of clinical depression, I’ve done a lot of study in that area, Jeremiah is clinically depressed. He has the physiological issues going on, the psychological, the emotional, the spiritual. He is down, dooby-doo-doo-down, there is no hope. When the last words of Jeremiah are, “My life is like chewing gravel,” some of you have felt that.
And then he comes full circle for his hope and he says in Lamentations 3, verses 21 to 24, “Yet, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!”
This is appropriate self-talk. When you’re losing hope, you have to sometimes look in the mirror, look at that person in the mirror, pull that person out of the mirror and shake them! And talk to yourself.
And so Jeremiah says, “And so I said to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait.’” And the word wait here literally means I will trust or I will hope in Him.
I want you to know that God wants to come through for you one hundred percent of the time. And the biblical word for Him coming through for you, regardless of where you have been and regardless of what you have done is the word faithfulness. He will be faithful.
That means He will not let you down. He will be your hope, He will never change, He will always understand, He will always love, He will always encourage, He will always support, He will always guide, He will never, ever, ever, ever leave you or forsake you.
And every promise He has made, you can know for sure, He’ll keep it. The way He treats you today, you can know, through all eternity, He will treat you in that way forever because His character demands it.
And what I want you to do is do a little study with me to look into what it means when we say, “God is faithful,” so that as you leave this place you can say to yourself, I may fail, my heart and my flesh may fail, I may blow it, I may get out of here and take one, two, three, four steps forward and then, oh my, how could I have done that again? Why did that come out of my mouth? Why did I click that computer screen and look at that? Why did I blow up with my temper?
And then rather than going downwardly and thinking, Oh, that whole time of learning about God is a waste. You can stop and say, Wait a second. Though I was faithless, He remains faithful. And He is going to give me what I need.
So let’s look at what faithfulness is all about. The definition of faithfulness: It’s steadfast in affection or allegiance, or the idea that He is loyal. It’s firm in adherence to a promise or in the observance of a duty. That means God is conscientious. Given with strong assurance, that’s the idea of faithfulness, it’s binding. True to the facts, to a standard, He is constant. God is loyal, He is constant, He is conscientious, and you can know for a fact that whatever He says to you will be binding.
For me, sometimes synonyms, this is what God is, this is His faithfulness. It means that He is dependable, He is trustworthy, loyal, staunch, resolute, constant, reliable, true to one’s word, He will keep His promises, consistent to His character, someone who will come through for you.
And you say to yourself, Well, how can you know that’s really true? There are so many circumstances, not only in my failure but there are people who do terrible things and I’ve got baggage and I’ve got memories. How can I know for sure that God will really be faithful?
And what I want to suggest is that God will be faithful one hundred percent of the time because His faithfulness is in conjunction with all the other of His attributes. He will be faithful one hundred percent of the time because He is all-knowing.
You see, He is never going to get caught off guard with your circumstance. So He can be faithful! He is going to be faithful because He is all-powerful. He will never encounter anything or anyone that can thwart His plans or His purposes for your life. Think of that.
He is faithful because He is holy. He is pure, honest, full of integrity, unable to lie, therefore, He is always consistent with His character and His Word. Unlike any other human being, God will never tell you something and then say, “Oh, just kidding.” Or He’ll never tell you something and say, “Well, I tried to keep My word.” He is holy, He is pure, if He says it, His character demands He must come through.
He is eternal. He is not affected by space or time. He knows the beginning from the end. And because He is omnipresent, nothing can happen outside the sphere of His influence.
Finally, He is immutable. Think of this. The word literally means to not change. He never changes, He is never different than He is now, He is never in a bad mood, He never has a bad day. Isn’t that refreshing?
God will be faithful to you because He is all-knowing, all-powerful, holy, eternal, omnipresent, and immutable. And in light of those, I love what Tozer says. “All of God’s acts,” you knew I’d get back to Tozer, right? I took a one-session break, we’re back to A.W.
“All of God’s acts are consistent with all of His attributes. No attribute contradicts any other, but all harmonize and blend into each other in the infinite abyss of the Godhead.” Is that an awesome sentence?
“All of His attributes harmonize into the infinite abyss of the Godhead…God, being who He is, cannot cease to be what He is…and He is at once faithful and immutable, so that all of His words and acts must be and must remain faithful.”
I want you to remember, if you don’t remember anything about His faithfulness, is that God is one hundred percent faithful to His Word, to His promises, to His people, to His character, because He cannot be otherwise. This isn’t about, I hope God will try to be faithful to me. I hope He doesn’t have a bad day. He will never let you down, because He can’t be otherwise than who He is.
And your “success,” your hope, your future, your plans, the deepest issues in your life that need to be worked out – it’s not going to be rooted in your faithfulness or your self-effort. It’s going to be you resting and trusting in His faithfulness to do in you and then through you what you can never do on your own. And that’s why understanding God’s faithfulness is so critical.
How has He revealed His faithfulness? Now, this one, I have to say, was a bit of a challenge because if you would get a concordance and just plug in the word faithful; plug in the word faithful, small print; plug in the word faithful, very, very small print; plug in the word faithful, man, if there is one thing, if you had never read the Bible in your life and someone said, “Okay, your job, I’ll give you five thousand dollars, read through the Bible, circle the word anytime faithful comes up,” you’d feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth it’d be so much work.
And so how do we get our arms around God’s faithfulness? One option, I could say, “Okay, hey, I’ll tell you what. Are you all ready? Lean back in your chair.
I Corinthians 9: “God is faithful through whom you were called;” I Thessalonians: “Faithful is he who called you and He will bring it to pass;” Lamentations 3: “They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness;” Psalm 89: “For He said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up forever; in the heavens you establish Your faithfulness.’”
Another verse, “Your faithfulness also surrounds you.” I’m not sure that would be that helpful, would you? But what I can tell you, I can machine gun off in rapid fire more verses than we have time to hear about, about the faithfulness of God.
And in like manner, are some of you seeing a pattern about how God reveals Himself? Has anyone started to think, Let’s see, how has God revealed His, and you’re thinking, You know what? I bet we’re going to end up in creation again. Mm-hm, that one keeps coming up. I bet it’s going to be through people. Mm-hm, that keeps coming up. I bet providence, his sovereignty, that keeps coming up. I bet it’s going to be through His Son, right?
See, that’s how God reveals Himself. He reveals Himself through creation, He reveals Himself through the natural order in the world, He reveals Himself most clearly, always, through His Son, and He reveals Himself through the work of His Son.
And I have lots of verses, but I want to do something because I don’t think you have an intellectual problem with His faithfulness. I could be wrong. So I have a section. I have seven different ways here that God is faithful.
And I’d like to take just eight minutes max on the first six. It’s going to be kind of intellectual data. It’s very important. But I want to spend almost all the rest of my time on number seven, because number seven is about how you experience His faithfulness.
And you know when you need to experience His faithfulness the most? It’s when you are feeling the lowest. When you, in some relative way, in your life, feel the way my father-in-law has been feeling for two years. We are now seeing the little ebb of light, he actually came to visit us. He actually told a joke last time. I heard him laugh for the first time in two and a half years.
But there are some of you that have been through very, very difficult and painful experiences.
There are some of you that struggle, and when I say, “clinical depression,” everyone laughs and you think, Heh, heh, funny. They don’t know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and there is no light at all. And you try and do the right things and you’re on all the right medication and you have seen therapist after therapist and you get little windows of relief, but it’s just dark.
And some of you feel boxed into a life of a broken relationship in the past or a marriage that didn’t work or a singleness that deeply you despise inside. And you shove work and food and music and some fun and then you find yourself in those little, lonely quiet places, right? Just you with you.
And the moment you do, it just feels like the light just runs out of the room and it gets dark, dark, dark, dark, dark. And God wants you to know, it is then that you need to know the most that He is faithful.
And so I want to spend almost all of our time talking about how to experience His faithfulness. But I don’t want to do that to the exclusion of the objective teaching of Scripture that He is faithful.
So if you will pull out that pen, then let’s walk through six specific, clear ways that He demonstrates His faithfulness to us. And then we will jump in and do a little bit of work on the other side.
How does He reveal His faithfulness to us? Number one: His creation. Psalm 119:1 through 6. We have looked at it previously. “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” you have the picture of the stars and the created order. Multiple Psalms.
Did you ever think about all these planets and all this order and how consistent, how consistent, how consistent it is? You realize that when we wanted to develop time, the atomic clocks are based on what? What is happening in the solar system.
That you realize that within an entire year, I forget, I read this statistic. It’s less than a fraction of a few seconds the world spins and goes all the way around the sun within a fraction of a few seconds exactly the same. It’s an amazing thing of how, in its orbit and how it turns.
And so what we do is we see all these things that are repeated, repeated, repeated and we say, “Oh, wow, well that’s the second law of thermodynamics,” as though there are these invisible laws that pop out of here, pop up here.
No, that is Jesus holding all things by the word of His power. Science really is the ability to observe things that are repeated to such a degree that we can make predictions. I has happened this way, this way, this way, this way so it operates in such a fixed order that we can predict that these planets, this cell, this bacteria, these chain reactions will occur in certain ways and we call this “science” and we were taught this about the physics. And these are the laws of “nature.”
All I want you to hear is: All science does is document and qualify and then quantify the faithfulness of God in creation.
I will tell you, without even knowing you, the deepest, most precious, intimate moments you have ever experienced with the very real God of the universe, and His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, have been in the deepest, darkest moments you have ever experienced.
And in your brokenness and complete inability, if you didn’t turn away in bitterness, and if you just let your tears flow and if you cried out to God and the situation is impossible and the ol’ light that is coming at you, you’re certain is a train coming down the tunnel, in your absolute brokenness, those are the windows of time in your life where God has showed up the most. Where you have had experiences with Him you cannot explain.
And what Paul is saying is, “God will be faithful in the midst of the darkness.” Pain, injustice, insults, persecution. He is saying, “I now understand,” I remember that life with God, the first two chapters of Genesis is a perfect environment, and after chapter 21 of Revelation, there will be a new heaven and a new earth and I was made for eternity, dropped in time, but I don’t live in view of time. I live in view of eternity and the reality of time. And in a fallen world, the most high servants of God, who want to honor Jesus, there is this plan to make me like His Son.
And in a fallen world there will be persecution, difficulty, trouble, insults, weaknesses, thorns: physical, relational, emotional, and personal. And that God wants you to know, “I’ll be faithful to you.”
Joni Eareckson Tada is one of my heroes. Just one of my heroes. Her story, if you don’t know it, is she dove, as a young girl, broke her back, paralyzed, tells her story in multiple books. But she paints with her mouth, she gets wheelchairs from people all over America and takes them all over the world, she has encouraged and loved more people than you could ever dream.
Now, let me ask you. Has her accident and her pain and the weakness shrunk her impact and experience of God or expanded it? I don’t know her very well. We have been in a few occasions where we have done some things together and we have had a chance to talk a little.
And you look into someone’s eyes and you see some stuff. And she just is so honest, she said, “It’s not any easier today than it was twenty-five or thirty years ago. I need as much grace today as someone else puts on my makeup, as someone else clothes me, as someone else gives me a bath. And then now, by His grace, I can actually drive the van.” And she said, “But every single day I have to go get a fresh resource of power. I look so forward to heaven when I can run and I can jump and I can play. But this is God’s calling in my life. And I wouldn’t substitute the sweetness of my relationship with Him and the millions of people that it has impacted.”
God wants you to know that if you will quit asking and demanding that He always deliver you out of things and if you will cooperate and believe He will be faithful, He will take you through them. And what happens when He takes you through them, something happens in your heart that I don’t understand. But He makes you tender.
People that have suffered much are sensitive. People that have suffered much, they pray differently than the rest of us. People that have suffered much have compassion for other people that some of us just walk by. People that have suffered much understand what the cross really means. And they just have this heart for God and this concern for people that it happens, not because they read the Bible, went to seminary, have a lot of degrees, and are a big hot shot and have it together. It’s because God’s power has been perfected in their weakness.
The second way that God shapes our lives and where we lean on His faithfulness is when we are tempted. And, by the way, here you need to very much remember that being tempted is not the same as sinning. Tempted means there is a piece of chocolate right in the center and I’m on a diet and I don’t have to be on a diet, God has revealed to me, for this season of my life, there’s nothing wrong with eating chocolate cake. And I have had it before and, boy, it was good.
But for this season in my life, right now, God has made it really clear to me that I need to exercise discipline in this and I have said, “Lord, it doesn’t seem like a big thing to other people but I am going to choose not to do that.” And then I come to one of these things.
And I walk by the table and everything in me says, You know what? I have these impulses. I want chocolate cake, I want chocolate cake, all I can think about is chocolate cake. I hope it’s not out tomorrow. I want chocolate cake. You know what you are? You are tempted. Welcome to the NFL of life.
But you haven’t sinned. Sin is you pick up the chocolate cake, you still haven’t but you’re in bad shape. Sin is, for you, “I ate the chocolate cake!” And I use the chocolate cake because it’s a non-emotionally threatening example. Because some of the chocolate cake is pornography for some people in this room. And some of the chocolate cake is the flirting or the affair that you either are in or have been in. And some of the chocolate cake, for some of you, is the toys that are newer and better that you are sedating your pain with.
And some of the chocolate cake, for you, is you eat and then you stick your finger down your throat, and you throw up. And some of the chocolate cake are the seventeen hobbies that you are doing: softball league, this, this, this, and this, because you are going to prove you are a real man, you’re really significant by what you are doing.
And some of the chocolate cake is working eighty hour weeks because you don’t want to face life and you can make a lot of money and impress a lot of people. And all of us have temptations in the chocolate cake of our lives.
And often we get defeated because we think, I am lured to it. That’s the temptation. But sometimes when we are tempted, as we are tempted, what God wants us to do, and I have watched Christians since I have lived there for most of my Christian life, or a part of it, I spent all my time being down on myself because, I want the chocolate cake! Well, I’m tempted! I haven’t sinned.
But then just because I want it, “Oh, I’m a terrible person, what kind of Christian would want chocolate cake?” And then fill in, instead of “chocolate cake,” some really nasty stuff.
And listen to God’s Word, “No temptation has taken you, but such is common to man.” This isn’t unique. See, those are the excuses we make. No one knows, I’m drawn, there is a magnet inside of me drawn to that chocolate cake and I can’t quit, I can’t quit, I can’t quit. Liar, liar, liar.
“No temptation has taken you but such is common to man, but God is” – what is our word? “faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,” but with the chocolate cake, with the porn, with the relationship, with the money, with the materialism, with the ego issue, will provide a way of escape, that you might be able to endure it.
See, God is going to show His faithfulness, not just when you are praying for the big deal and you make the big deal. Not just when you’re asking for the relationship to be reconciled, Ahhh, it’s reconciled! Not just when one of your kids turns a corner.
He is going to show you His faithfulness in the midst of your pain and your weakness and then He is going to show you His faithfulness when you are tempted and if you could believe and say, “Oh, God! Everything in me wants to go to this. Show me now the escape route. Is it getting the computer out of my house? Is it breaking off the relationship? Is it getting a different job? Is it finding an accountability partner? God, show me the way of escape.”
And you know what He says? “I will never let you down. Every single time you are tempted in every area of your life,” He says, “I will show you the escape.”
Isn’t that awesome? See, some of us spent all of our time, I’m not strong enough, I’m not strong enough, we’re trying to live the Christian life out of willpower. It was never intended. You will lose that one.
It’s like playing tennis with Andre Agassi, and if you’re like me, bam! The ball just keeps coming. You’re going to lose that one every time.
And when you do lose it, are you ready for this? We have weakness and in our weakness you know what happens sometimes? I go for a pseudo-love. I’m tempted, right? I don’t trust God’s faithfulness. So I am tempted and then sometimes when I’m tempted, I don’t take the way of escape and you know what I do? I eat the chocolate cake. And then I feel such shame and I feel so dirty and I feel so bad and then I start beating up on myself.
And I think, Boy, maybe I’m not even a Christian. I went through that for the first few years. And then, I’m a terrible person, then, God could never use me. And then I try to pray and I felt dirty and I felt shameful and I can’t even forgive myself. And on and on and on.
And here is God’s faithfulness. “When you are weak,” His faithfulness says, “I will give you grace to go through it. When you are tempted,” His faithfulness says, “I’ll provide an exit if you’ll just take it. But even if you blow it,” I John 1:9, “If you agree with God, if you confess your sin, I am faithful and just to do two things: forgive your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”
Is that an awesome Father? But what do we do? We focus on the temptation, we focus on our weakness and our circumstances, or we focus, I have sinned, I have sinned! And then we have this amazing pity party, I’m a terrible person, God could never forgive me.
And then, depending, I have this deal where if it was a little sin, you had to feel bad for about an hour. If it was a medium-sized sin, most of a day, possibly two. If it was like, I know this is wrong, I know I should never do this, I’m going to do it anyway and God will forgive me later, that’s scary theology. I’ve done it. And then there is such overwhelming shame, I’ve got to feel really bad for maybe a week.
And whether is a day, a minute, or a week, we take ourselves out of the game, we basically say to God that His forgiveness is not valid, and there were probably some people He wanted to get loved through you, but since you or I were in our little pity party for our hour, in our little pity party and shame that, I can’t forgive myself, I know God has forgiven me.
That is such bad theology. That is terrible theology. That is the most arrogant statement, almost, in the entire world. And, of course, I have done it. You see, if God says that if you agree with Him and own it and repent and say, “God, I’m sorry, I did that. I know it’s wrong. Will You forgive me?” And He says, “I promise, I am faithful to do” – what? “take it as far as the east is from the west and then cleanse you,” does God keep His promises or not? Yes.
So I confessed, what happened to my sin? God remembers it no more! But then I come over here and say, “But I can’t forgive myself.” You know what I’m really saying to God? “You know, I really appreciate that deal You did, where You gave Your Son, Jesus, to forgive me and I’m sure that was really good for most people’s sin, but that wasn’t quite enough for me.”
See, it’s, “I don’t believe. I don’t believe when You say You are faithful, I don’t believe when You said You forgave me. I am unwilling to accept it because I want to dwell on my sin. I want to keep myself the center of attention.”
I want to moan around because there is something wacko in the human brain and psychology that when we can punish ourselves for what we have done wrong, Oh, I just feel better about being a bad person because I whip myself up, up, up.
And I am useless to God, in my shame, instead of saying, “God, I don’t feel forgiven. I can’t imagine how You could. But you know what? I don’t live my life on the basis of feelings. Your Word says that if I confess, You will forgive. Your Word says You will cleanse. God, I accept, by faith, You don’t remember this anymore. Now I am on a new plan and a new way to walk with You.” Do you see how He wants you to experience His faithfulness?
See, His faithfulness isn’t some nice song about, [sings] “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,” it’s a great song, but we get it in that ethereal, There’s this God out there somewhere who is going to be faithful to take the big ship of His Church into heaven someday, some way.
I’ve got news for you. He wants to take your little rowboat in the storms of life and get you through it today. And He is in the boat with you! That’s what faithfulness is all about.
Finally, some of us get beyond just sinning. You just get so discouraged. You blew it weakness, okay; you were tempted, you gave in, okay; you have sinned and I got to the point where I was in college, I was a Christian about two and a half years, maybe two. I didn’t grow up as a Christian. And I had a, in the old school, what did they call it? A besetting sin. Okay? You sin, you say you’re sorry, I’ll never do that again, two days later, you do it again.
You sin, you say you’re sorry, I’ll never do it again, you do it just the next day. You sin, you say you’re sorry, I’ll never do it again, wow, two weeks, you do it again. You do it again. You do it again. And I got where, after being a Christian two years, I thought, You know what? I’m embarrassing God, and I almost didn’t become a Christian because of all the hypocrites and I am one.
And I remember vividly taking my Bible like this and I had one little poster that said, “To God be the glory!” in my dorm room. Big witness, right? Took it, I took them both and I just shoved them in the bottom drawer and I said, “God, I’m out. I’m done. I quit. I quit. Here’s my jersey, here’s my team ring, I’m done. I can’t do this. I’m out. Done. Okay?
“Tell You what, thanks for the Jesus stuff, I gave it my best shot for two years, maybe there are some people that can live this, I can’t. It doesn’t work for me or I don’t work for You. I’m not blaming You, I just can’t do it. But I am sick and tired of telling You I’ll never do something and doing it. Never doing something, doing it. And I can’t stand me. I’m tired of shaving and looking at the guy that I shave every day. So I’m done. I’m not going to fake it. I’m just done.”
II Timothy 2:11 through 13 speaks to this, “Here’s a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign. If we disown Him, He will disown us;” and so you get the idea, right? You die with Him, great; born again, live with Him. If you walk obediently, you endure, you’re going to reign, get rewards with Him. If you disown, in other words, if you’re disobedient, He will withhold His blessing. God doesn’t bless unrighteous living among His children.
And so you’re thinking of boom to boom, boom to boom, boom to boom. So then you get to the last one you figure, “If we are faithless,” I’m thinking, He’ll be faithless too. But that’s not what it says. Look at what it says. “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”
I mean, when you don’t make it through weakness, when you give in to temptation, when you get into sin that is even habitual and you get to the point where you just want to quit and you try and quit, I quit the Christian life! And then I’m walking down a few hours later and a verse pops into my mind.
Hey, hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Knock that off! And then I meet some Christian and they talk to me and want to encourage. “Look, I’m not on the team anymore. Don’t give me that Jesus stuff. Arm around me, pray for me. I don’t need all that.” And then I went and sinned. I feel as guilty and bad and convicted as I did when I was on the team!
Now, wait. Yo! Hey! I’m done! I turned in my jersey! Didn’t the word make it up there yet? And I remember hearing in my heart and my mind Revelation 3:20. “Chip, remember at that camp when you prayed to receive Christ? And you never heard that verse about, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’” Yeah. “And remember the promise if you would open the door of your heart?” Yeah. “Your part was to open the door of your heart.” Yeah. “And then I said I would come into you and I would live with you. Do you remember that part?” Yeah.
“And then it would be a relationship, we would actually eat together and do life together.” Yeah. “Chip, when I make a commitment, I can never break it. You asked Me to come in, I came in, even when you are faithless, I remain faithful. Now, you can get more spankings, I can orchestrate this life in such a way to help you understand how much I love you. I don’t want to.”
And you know what? The lordship of Christ, when you sell out one hundred percent, He becomes the Lord, the CEO of your life, you are looking at the most non-noble, lordship commitment you have ever seen. I backed into it, literally, Well, if you can’t lick ‘em, I guess you join ‘em.
My life is miserable, He is not going to leave me alone! He is faithful. And I thought, If God is going to be faithful, at least I wasn’t stupid. I thought, I think I’ll live life His way. I think I’ll get on the team.
Anybody here, down in your heart of hearts, feel like you have just been faithless and God could never use you? That He could never really forgive you? What He brought you on this day to hear: God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent, or change His mind: has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not bring it to pass?”
And He has spoken. In your weakness, He will give grace. In your temptation, He will provide a way of escape. In your sin, He will be faithful to forgive and to cleanse. And in your faithlessness, He remains faithful. Is that awesome, awesome, awesome, or what?
I want to give you what I call a to-go package. We have taught this but I want to give it to you on one page so that you can pull everything about His faithfulness together. How do you respond to His faithfulness? Number one, put your past behind you. Put your past behind you. If you confess your sin. It’s lingering and I don’t know what it is or who it is or what the issue is. You can, this day, put your past behind you.
I agree with you, God, about this sin. I’m getting off this: I don’t have to forgive myself, You have forgiven me. I am going to believe that, by faith. I’m going to draw a line in the sand. This was the old life, this was the old issue, today, forgiven. Put your past behind you.
Second, bring your present problems, pains, and failures to Jesus, today. We always somehow think, I’ve got to wait until I’m doing a little better to come and really talk to Him. And just the opposite is true. “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” You come and it’s not just come, but let’s get hooked up. Let’s start living together.
The picture of the two oxen: Jesus under this yoke, you get in this yoke, “I’ll give rest to your soul.” For some of you, that’s what it is. You’re pulled in so many different directions. Just come, Just come, Lord. Like Paul did! I think that’s what Paul did. “The thorn, the thorn, the thorn, the thorn!” And finally he just came, just with a submission, “Do whatever You want to do.”
Three, put your hope for the future in the One who will never let you down. Let Him be the oxygen of your soul. Jeremiah says, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Let not a wise man boast in his wisdom, or a strong man boast in his strength, the rich man boast in his riches; but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness, on the earth: for in these things I delight,’ declares the Lord.”
Place your hope for the future, not in success, not in money, not in marriage, not in a future mate, not in your kids turning out right, not in a ministry going the way you want. Put your hope in the One who will never let you down! One hundred percent of the time. Christ.
And then whatever ministry flows out of that, whatever finances flow out of that, whatever relationships flow out of that, great. But they can’t be your hope, because they will fail you.
And finally, tell someone each day how God has been faithful to you. Just find ways to tell people about the faithfulness of God. And tell them what He is doing in your heart, in your life.
I love what the Psalmist says here in Psalm 89:1, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known to,” – whom? “all generations.”
Some of you that have kids, let them hear, let them hear, let them hear God’s faithfulness on a daily basis as you tuck them into bed. Let them hear, get around that supper table and talk about God’s faithfulness. It’s okay to let them hear you share a little bit on your pain and how God holds you up inside.