Being ‘Faithful’ [v188]

OCTOBER 2014

Being ‘Faithful’

Do you know someone that made it to 100 years old? Well, I have and do know a few—especially the ones at my church, who were ‘born into’ it when it started in 1914!

Well, the reason “Deep Thoughts” is so late this month is that I produced a centennial video showing the ‘major’ things my church has been involved with since 1914—which was shown at their celebration banquet just last weekend (and I spent every waking hour, other than work, for the 6 weeks prior to the banquet putting it together).

[ If you’re interested, you can see the video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvwZGXB6APk ]
 

One hundred years is a long time for anything to ‘stay around’—especially an organization.

In 2011, USAtoday created a list of the public companies that were over 100 years old—there were only 468 companies—compared to the many millions that have seen the ‘light of day’ in the past 100 years (and some of those on the list have ‘closed their doors’ since 2011!).

[ Article:
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2011-06-15-ibm-corporate-longevity_n.htm
List:
http://i.usatoday.net/money/_pdfs/11-0615-centurions.pdf ].

In 2013, Forbes Magazine stated that, according to Yale lecturer, Richard Foster, “The average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 Index has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century. While successful companies lasted an average of 67 years in the 1920’s, they typically exist for only 15 years today.”

[ http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2013/04/10/staying-in-business-forever-how-to-create-a-100-year-company/ ].
 

So, 100 years is a substantial achievement—and it takes a commitment to ‘BEING FAITHFUL’ to an overarching goal and uncompromising guiding principles.

Like any ‘secular’ organization, my church also has a list of “guiding principles” that essentially has had the same ‘essence’ over their 100 year history. They are: “To be a community…”

… of intentional prayer [Isaiah 56:7]
… encountering God in worship [Psalm 100:4]
… sharing the Good News of Jesus [Acts 22:!5]
… developing devoted followers of Christ [Matthew 28:19-20]
… serving spiritual and physical needs of all [Acts 1:8 / Proverbs 14:31]
… having joyful fellowship with believers [Acts 2:44]
… nurturing youth and children [1 Timothy 4:12]

Wow…that’s a pretty ‘tall order’ to try to accomplish! Well, the thing is, it’s not something that they expected to be ‘pulled off’ by their own ‘human’ effort. In their case, they have depended a lot upon God’s “faithfulness” over the last century.
 

So, in general, what does it mean to be “faithful”? Well, one probably thinks about things like being ‘steadfast’, ‘dedicated’, ‘dependable’, and worthy of ‘trust’. Thousands of years ago, in Bible times, it meant to ‘prop up, ‘stay’ or ‘support’. When applied to individuals, it means a person can safely ‘lean upon’ another.

Well, this sort of ‘fidelity’, or faithfulness, is used in both the Old and New  Testaments to describe God’s unchanging relation to the world, and describes the thoroughly ‘grounded’ relationship that Israel and Christians are to have with Him and one another.
 

So then, why would someone put their trust in ‘Someone’ they can’t see, touch, or talk to? Well, at least for me, I look at their ‘track record’ to determine if what they say ‘lines up’ with what they have done.
 

In the Bible, God has made many promises—and here are a few significant and ‘recognizable’ examples:

More than 4,000 years ago, God promised (in Genesis 8:21-22),that He would “Never again 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.” Every year that comes furnishes a fresh witness to God’s fulfillment of this promise (and I’m, for one, very ‘happy’ about that!).

God promised Abraham (in Genesis 15:13-16), that he could “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves and afterward they will come out with great possessions.” Centuries passed and Exodus (chapter 12) tells us the rest of the story:

“During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.’

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. ‘For otherwise,’ they said, ‘we will all die!’ So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians…Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come” [Exodus 12:31-36; 40-41].

God then miraculously ‘assisted’ the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea, but because of their distrust and disobedience after that supernatural event, they found themselves wandering in the desert—for 40 years! [ Because they became convinced they could not oust the current inhabitants of the ‘Promise Land’, and for their lack of belief in God’s word—even though God told them that they would be victorious—they wandered in the desert until all of the unbelieving generation died off ].

Keep in mind that this was no small group of people. We are told that 600,000 men, besides women and children came out of Egypt. A conservative estimate might be around 3 million people. So, where are they going to get what they needed to survive in the desert? Hmmm…seems like a truly desperate situation. But, God was ‘faithful’ and provided for them:

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” God faithfully provided for them—not for days, weeks, or months, but for 40 years—and He will do the same for you, too!

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul and a boatload of people found themselves in a terrible storm. Paul received a message from the Lord that all would be safe if they stayed with the boat—and that’s exactly what happened (Acts 27):

“Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.

When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.

The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely” [Acts 27:33-44].
 

There are many, many more examples (more than 30,000 in the Bible) of how God has made many promises, and has KEPT EVERY ONE OF THEM!

So, God will surely carry us through the storms, but only if we don’t ‘abandon ship’!
 

Let me give you three practical ways how you can ‘experience’ God’s great faithfulness in your life:

1. When you ‘struggle’: All of us experience hard times in our lives. Some of you are struggling with sickness, financial pressure, grief, or even depression. Let me suggest that when your mind is flooded with difficulties—choose to focus on God’s love, mercy and faithfulness! He does not promise to prevent problems from coming into our lives, but He does promise to go through them with us. God is faithful, and He will always be there for you!

2. When you are ‘tempted’: Some of you are faced with some incredible temptations on a daily basis. Did you know that because God is faithful, He will always provide a way out for you so that you do not have to give in to them? 1 Corinthians 10:13 will encourage you in this: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

3. When you ‘mess up’: Would you be ashamed for others to know everything you’ve said, done and thought in the last seven days? Or the last three months? Or the last five years? If you know yourself at all, you know how much you mess up and how desperately you need God’s mercy. 1 John 1:9 explains God’s mercy: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
 

To say that God is faithful is to say that God is committed to you. He is steadfastly devoted to you and is looking to pull you out from under the ‘rubble’ of your life. Because He is faithful, He protects you as well.

I heard of a true story 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!

Let me suggest that God has been faithful to us in so many ways—even when we don’t see it. Some of you are standing on that proverbial ‘diving board’ today, and you’re headed for trouble unless you turn your focus to the ‘Cross’ where God’s faithfulness was fully demonstrated. I encourage you to do so today!
 

God has said that He will do a number of things for us. Here are just a few examples:

“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].

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” [Thessalonians 3:3].

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” [1 John 5:13].
 

Let me share with you four ways through which you can receive God’s promises:

1) The Bible is the treasury of every one of God’s promises.

2) Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Abraham waited 25 years–until he was 100 years old–between God’s original promise and the birth of Isaac). [It’s hard to wait for me sometimes. I get really impatient with a 30-second ‘download’ on my computer!]

3) Hebrews 10:36 teaches that obedience is a key to obtaining God’s promise: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

4) Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” By faith, as hard as it is, we trust in the invisible God, our loving Father, and we stand on His promises. Being a person of faith doesn’t mean we never doubt, it just means that we believe more than we doubt.

Whatever it is that we need, God is able to keep His promises. When you and I learn to trust Him according to His promises, our lives will never be the same!
 

I really like how the poem by Annie Johnson Flint, called “What God Hath Promised,” explains God’s promises:

“God hath not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know, toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear, many a burden, many a care.

God hat not promised smooth roads and wide, swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep, never a river, turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.”
 

As I mentioned already, my church, Faith Covenant, has been celebrating its ‘centennial’ in 2014, and they selected the following Scripture as a reminder of what the previous members did, and a ‘guide’ for them in the next 100 years:

“I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations” [Psalm 89:1].

Well, it just so happens that the next verse [Psalm 89:2] ‘ties into’ what I’ve been talking about here: “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”
 

Again, “faithful” is defined as a “firm adherence to promises.” So, what should our hope be for living? Well, this question was answered in the last part of the verse in Lamentations 3:23: “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS.” This should encourage us since the prophet Jeremiah was ‘rocked’ by the limitless supply of God’s grace offered to him, and whatever ‘hard things’ we go through, we must never doubt God’s faithfulness! If God sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, He can do it for you, too!

The secret of living a life that makes a difference is realizing that it is not what you do for yourself, but rather it is what you allow God to do for others ‘through’ you. This is how my church wants to make a difference in this world—and how they want to leave a lasting impact.

Songwriter Steve Green put it this way:

“Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!”
 

So, God is looking for “faithfulness,” and that’s what my church is striving to accomplish. They believe God has entrusted them to the ‘work’ of His Kingdom, and they want to be found ‘faithful’ when Jesus comes back to earth to take His “bride” (believers) back to Heaven.

[ The ‘message’ given at the Banquet by our denomination President, Gary Walter, and the sermon given the next day during the Sunday service by our conference superintendent, Garth McGrath, both had the theme of “faithfulness.” If you are interested, they can be viewed here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiWCCcoZ_Jg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbr5ZVHN_0I ].
 

My church is trying to ‘live out’ Matthew 24:45-46: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”

Whenever God gives us a responsibility, let us accept it and do our best at it. Treat each small task as important and demonstrate that God can depend on us. So then, one day, we are going to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
 

Jesus said, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” [Revelation 2:10. One purpose of this ‘newsletter’ is to encourage the faithful Christian to remain faithful and committed to the Lord, and also to help the Christian who is weak in the faith to become “even more diligent to make your calling and election sure” [2 Peter 1:10]. This is also trying to encourage those who are not yet ‘believers’ to honestly consider the claims of Jesus—to determine if they are true, and if they can put their faith ‘in’ Him.
 

It’s one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a divine truth, but another to act on it. So, I hope and pray that you can find the faith and courage to place your trust in a ‘faithful’ God!
 

[ Excerpts from: Brian Bill; David Owens ]
 

RESOURCES:

“Paul and the Faithfulness of God”
by N.T. Wright

Paul and the Faithfulness of God is the most anticipated contribution to biblical studies in recent memory. The fourth volume in Wright’s magisterial series Christian Origins and the Question of God, this book is destined to take its place alongside the other volumes in the series as an indispensable and key text for biblical scholars.

Drawing on a lifetime of historical and biblical study, Wright brings the many facets of Paul’s life together in order to paint a detailed portrait of Paul himself, his thought, and his experience in the first-century Roman world. Wright carefully explores the whole context of Paul’s thought and activity–Jewish, Greek and Roman, cultural, philosophical, religious, and imperial–and shows how the apostle’s worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many-sided complexities of first-century life that he and his churches were facing. The result is a study whose scope is breathtaking in its complexity, and yet accessible and readable from the outset.

While certainly engaging the primary sources and technical aspects of Pauline studies, Wright also provides thorough review of the vast secondary literature. In doing so Paul and the Faithfulness of God proves itself to be well-rounded and profoundly compelling account of the man who became the world’s first, and greatest, Christian theologian.

http://www.christianbook.com/paul-faithfulness-christian-origins-question-vols/9780800626839/pd/626831

—————-

“Relentless Love: God’s Faithfulness in the Face of Human Failure”
by Lisa Harper

If you are honest enough to admit that you aren’t perfect, this book will guide you to a Redeemer whose love for you isn’t bound by your behavior. If you need to know that God’s love will remain steadfast and true – no matter what – this book is for you. He is pursuing you at this very moment. Are you ready to be found? Open the pages of this book, and open your heart to His Relentless Love.

http://www.christianbook.com/relentless-gods-faithfulness-face-human-failure/lisa-harper/9781582292502/pd/92502

—————-

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Devotional
by Our Daily Bread

This daily devotional, selected from the pages of Our Daily Bread, encourages you to spend time daily in the Word, praying and reflecting on what the Bible has to say for your life. The year’s worth of readings focus on the theme “great is Thy faithfulness,” a fitting topic for our current times.

http://www.christianbook.com/daily-bread-great-faithfulness-print-edition/doris-rikkers/9781572937536/pd/937536

 

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[P.S.: If you would like to investigate what the Bible says about how faithfulness ‘works’, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q11_d5_1of10.html

 

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v188) for OCTOBER 2014

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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FIND US FAITHFUL

We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us, let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

[ Steve Green – Album: “People Need The Lord” ]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eERKnxzNzwg

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THE POWER ABOVE
(A parody of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News)

The power above is a glorious thing
Baby, one man’s weakness is another man’s strength
Change your heart through a little white dove
The Holy Spirit—has the power above

Thumb through the Bible, and it’s quite clear
You’re stronger and smarter when you have God’s Spirit
If you have Him, good—if you don’t, then why?
The power above can give you a whole new life

And you don’t need money, only faith
Don’t need to sweat it ’cause the price is paid
Yes, all of a sudden in a room sometimes
Then a mighty wind blows by
That’s the power above, that’s the power above

The fruit of the Spirit it’s not grapes of wrath
It’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness
And goodness, gentleness, self-control
That’s the power above in the world below

And it don’t take money, only faith
Don’t need to study hard to find these traits
Your soul is a garden—it can bear fruit sometimes
That you’ll find in Galatians 5

The spiritual gifts God prepared
Yeah, for you to share
In First Corinthians (Chapter 12)
You’ll find a list of them
And with a little faith, hope, and love
You’ll feel the power above
Feel the power of above
Can you feel it?

And you don’t need money, only faith
Old Peter said it back in Acts chapter 8
He’s talking to Simon, he talks to us still
You don’t need nothin’ to be filled
Be filled with power, be filled with power above
Got the power? Get the power above
Be filled with power above
Be filled with power above
Be filled with power above

[ApologetiX – Album: “Wise Up and Rock” ]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLSWK6cz3cc

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IT IS WRITTEN

It is written by your Spirit
every truth to light our way;
we receive it with thanksgiving,
it has led us to this day.
We, your family, sons and daughters,
learn to trust and know your voice.
Gentle Shepherd, always faithful,
in your love we now rejoice!

It is written, we your children
will be met with times of pain;
lonely darkness, only silence,
thirsty souls in search of rain.
You have called us
through these deserts
and may yet another day;
but we fear not, you are faithful,
and have always been our stay.

It is written, we your people
will convey your love and grace;
joy and laughter, sweet communion,
filling hearts within this place.
‘Tis your Spirit overflowing,
ever constant through the years;
gently healing, lifting burdens,
warming hearts and drying tears.

It is written: just one Gospel
has the power to cancel sin!
Trusting in our risen Savior,
this our refuge, only Him.
Keep us always near you Jesus—
rugged cross and empty tomb.
You have called us, you have freed us,
and we live our lives in You!

[Jerry Jacoby – Faith Covenant Church’s “Centennial Song” ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rchyEWgGXCY

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DEEP THOUGHT(s):

“Being faithful in the smallest things is the way to gain, maintain, and demonstrate the strength needed to accomplish something great.”
[Alex Harris]

“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”
[ Confucious ]

“Faithfulness is not doing something right once, but doing something right over and over and over and over.”
[Joyce Meyer]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“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” [ Lamentations 3:22-23 ].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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One Response to “Being ‘Faithful’ [v188]”

  1. The ‘Fruitful’ Life | LIFE'S DEEP THOUGHTS Says:

    […] FYI: This previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post presented a more in-depth discussion about faithfulness: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/being-faithful-v188/ […]

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