Faithful God

November 2, 2014    Lamentations 3       Faithful God 

 

     In the country of Armenia, in 1988, Samuel and Danielle sent their young son, Armand, off to school. Samuel squatted before his son and looked him in the eye. “Have a good day at school, and remember, no matter what, I’ll always be there for you.” They hugged and the boy ran off to school.    Hours later, a powerful earthquake rocked the area. In the midst of the pandemonium, Samuel and Danielle tried to discover what happened to their son but they couldn’t get any information.   The radio announced that there were thousands of casualties.   Samuel then grabbed his coat and headed for the schoolyard.   When he reached the area, what he saw brought tears to his eyes. Armand’s school was a pile of debris. Other parents were standing around crying.    Samuel found the place where Armand’s classroom used to be and began pulling a broken beam off the pile of rubble.  He then grabbed a rock and put it to the side, and then grabbed another one.  

      One of the parents looking on asked, “What are you doing?”  “Digging for my son,” Samuel answered.   The man then said, “You’re just going to make things worse!   The building is unstable,” and tried to pull Samuel away from his work.   Samuel set his jaw and kept working.    As time wore on, one by one, the other parents left.    Then a firefighter tried to pull Samuel away from the rubble.  Samuel looked at him and said, “Won’t you help me?”   The firefighter left and Samuel kept digging.     All through the night and into the next day, Samuel continued digging.   Parents placed flowers and pictures of their children on the ruins     But, Samuel just kept working.   He picked up a beam and pushed it out of the way when he heard a faint cry.   “Help! Help!” Samuel listened but didn’t hear anything again.   Then he heard a muffled voice, “Papa?”   Samuel began to dig furiously. Finally he could see his son. “Come on out, son!” he said with relief. “No,” Armand said.   “Let the other kids come out first because I know you’ll get me.”   Child after child emerged until, finally, little Armand appeared.   Samuel took him in his arms and Armand said, “I told the other kids not to worry because you told me that you’d always be there for me!”    Fourteen children were saved that day because one father was faithful.   Forty five thousand people died in that earthquake and 500,000 were left homeless.    Six people lived for 35 days in the bottom of a 6 story apartment building that collapsed before they were rescued. 

       What does it mean to be faithful?  The dictionary says adhering firmly and devotedly as to a person or idea.   It means having or full of faith and worthy of trust or belief, reliable.    It means consistent with truth such as a faithful production.  It is also defined as practicing members of a religious faith.   The father in this story was faithful.   The father went against the odds and against those around him.     It also speaks of people who are faithful.   He speaks of people who will take risks for God and for folks who will not give up.   The illustration also speaks of others who give up too soon.   It speaks of those who will not take a risk and granted some risks are not worth taking. This story speaks of the character of our God.   God is so persistent and patient with us.   He works with us our whole life.  God is 100% faithful all the time and there is no shadow of turning with God.   He does not waver and God does not give up and quit.  God does not quit because of the cost.    I think the cross is a statement about that.  

     Let’s consider some verses on God’s faithfulness.   Rev. 19:11 "He that sat upon the white horse was called faithful and true with justice he judges and makes war."    God is faithful even in his justice.   “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9.    Jeremiah wrote, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.   Great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 Thomas Chisholm in the late 1800’s was inspired by these verses to write the song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  Paul wrote, “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  2 Timothy 1:12.   It is good today and it will last to judgment day.  Great is your faithfulness.   “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 24-25.   I Thessalonians 5:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.   2 Thessalonians 3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.   God’s faithfulness provides a shield around you against Satan. 

       An awesome verse is 2 Timothy 2: 13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.   When I was a young man I rebelled against God and wanted him out of my life but you know what he stood faithful to me.  God was faithful to me when dear ole dad had me volunteer draft.   God was faithful to me when I was in Viet Nam.  He was faithful to me when I was out in the sticks supporting the 173rd airborne brigade and they took just about every man they could from a base camp because of the battle up north.   The enemy had overcome a group of the rangers and the enemy was going through and shooting the wounded.   Word came that the Viet Cong were going to overrun the base camp I was in which was loaded with food and equipment and weapons.   We had 20 men left in the whole base camp and the decision was made if we were attacked and lost they were going to shell it and blow everything up.   Nothing happened and I was pulled out the next day and through many events God has led me here.

      .  He has also been faithful in your life.  God was faithful to the Children of Israel when they wandered in the desert for 40 years.  He was faithful to them when they were enslaved in Egypt for many years.   He was faithful to them when they sinned against him and God allowed their enemies to defeat them.  We see over and over again in Judges where they would sin and then be defeated and then they would repent and God would come through for them.  God was faithful to his people even when they sinned.   He is faithful. 

     Many times we get so frustrated with life.     Early this year someone with a big heavy truck came and turned around in the church driveway.  Well the truck was so heavy that it broke the blacktop up in part of our driveway.  The first thing I do is get mad and then after a season I begin to think why did this happen.  Well the Lord wanted me to meet Larry who does paving and who knows Jesus.   God had a plan and God worked his plan.   God wanted the whole area in that section to be worked on and we are blessed with Larry and Mabel presence in church.   God is faithful to us in the hard times of life.  He is there and shares our pain. 

    A big part of being faithful is doing what you say you will do.   A man named Russell Edward Herman left trillions of dollars to thousands of people he’d never met.   What was the catch?    Russell Edward Herman didn’t have trillions of dollars.   He was just a simple, poor carpenter.    While the wild, wild will of the late Russell Herman never paid off for his “beneficiaries,” it certainly enlivened conversations.   For example take the tiny Ohio River town of Cave-In-Rock, for example.    Herman bequeathed $2.41 billion to them.  Cave-In-Rock’s mayor, Albert Kaegi had this to say, “It’s an odd thing to happen, isn’t it?”     While the will would never pay off, the mayor had no trouble imagining uses for the willed imaginary monies.    Russell Edward Herman had great intentions, but he lacked the resources needed to make them a reality.    When you enter into an agreement with someone it is good to have the assurance that they can do what they say. 

      The power and ability of God to deliver on His promises are unlimited.   God keeps his word.  God is faithful.   You can count on God.    If you served God your whole life and was martyred for Jesus and found out heaven was not all that God had promised that would be a huge let down but that will not haven because God always delivers.   It is worth knowing God.   The prophetic words of the bible of God have always been fulfilled even thousands of years after they were recorded.   Our God is an awesome God.  He is faithful and reliable.   God is trustworthy.   God keeps his word not my wants and wishes but His word.  Faithful can be defined as “firm in adherence to promises”.   That sounds like God.  Think of all the people who have lived their whole life to get more toys, money, liquor whatever and arrive and find that it means nothing or they die regretting how they lived.   They look back with shame and regret.   One pastor told me that he did a funeral and the only thing that everyone said about the man was he liked the bottle.   That was his life.  How sad it was not family or God or work but the bottle. 

      One of the great and wonderful promises of God is that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness I John 1:9.   Jesus paid the price for my sin and your sin.  We can be clean before God.   We do not have to fear judgment day.   We can stand before him clothed in righteousness.   We do not have to carry a load of sin that pulls us down.   Consider David’s words in Psalm 32.  Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.     Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.    When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.     For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.    One way that we can know that we are Christians is that when we sin we do not feel good inside.  The Holy Spirit in us fights and resists sin.  It can create a war within us as David found out.  David confessed and repented and walked in God’s blessing and favor and we can do the same.  God is faithful to forgive us of our sins.  God is faithful and does not allow temptation to overcome us.  He is the faithful God.    

       The story is told of a young man who was an atheist and was training to be an Olympic diver.  The only spiritual influence in his life came from a Christian friend who tried to share the gospel with him whenever he could.  The diver wasn’t very interested in spiritual matters and made that known loud and clear.   One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended.  The lights were all off, but the moon was bright, so there was plenty of light to practice his dives.  The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow was in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally asked Jesus to come into his life.  As the man stood up on the diving board, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on.  The diver gasped in horror ­ the pool had been drained for repairs!   

How do you think this young man felt about his salvation?   I think it was meaningful to him and I suspect that he was thankful for forgiveness.  

     God is faithful and God is working his miracles all the time.  He is moving and working and doing his thing, his holy righteous wonderful thing which is awesome.   He is very involved in your life.  He is working and moving in this church and in your life.  He is faithful even when we are not.   He is in us and working when we think of him and when we do not think about him.  What a great God.  You can trust your sin to Him.   You can trust your life to him and on this earth and for eternity.   Great is your faithfulness.