March 21 – Faithful – Picture This…

Read Psalm 36:1-12

Try to picture what the David portrays as he describes invisible traits like love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice as if they were visible, tangible entities.

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens” – Imagine the love of God for people as if it was piled high upon the earth and extending to the very dwelling place of its divine source.  It is like a fog that you can’t escape.  That is God’s love for you.

“your faithfulness [reaches] to the skies” – Picture God’s faithful to be like the blue sky on a cloudless day.  His commitment to you and to the promises He has made continue endlessly, without interruption as far as you can see…and even to where only faith takes over in the unseen and unknown.

“your righteousness is like the highest mountains” –  Visualize the pure righteousness and holiness of God as if it is a mountain that dominates the horizon.  After all, it is the tallest mountain to which our attention is drawn.  Don’t forget that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to you at salvation in exchange for your sin (2 Cor. 5:21).

“your justice [is] like the great deep” – Envision yourself out in the middle of the Atlantic with five miles of water beneath you.  That is the picture of God’s justice.  It is endless.  You cannot fully plunge the depths of His justice.  This is a justice that will one day be the rule rather than the exception on the earth.

The psalmist wanted these word pictures to help us understand God and His character.  He wanted us to stand in awe of this God of grandeur.

Years ago, the band Third Day put some of the words of this Psalm to song.  You can check out their song by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i59u7ipQ81Y.

Steve Kern

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March 20 – Faithful – He is Gracious and Faithful

Read Deuteronomy 7:1-26

I am not much of a sports fan.  I don’t really follow a team in any sport.  If I do, it is enough to catch the final score.  That way I do not appear to real sports fan like a completely uninformed person from another planet.

I suppose, if I were to become a sports fan, I would select a team leading their league.  Why invest my energies in a lost cause or an underdog?  (Sidebar:  I guess I wouldn’t be a Browns fan!)

Based on that same logic, I suppose that I never would have chosen the nation of Israel.  But God did.  It wasn’t that they were the biggest and strongest with a proven track record.  No, our Heavenly Father chose them, without logical reason, out of grace.  Moses makes that clear in verse 7 and 8.  They were not the largest nation…not the “favored team.”  The truth is, when He selected them, they numbered only two, Abraham and Sarah.  His choice of them was seemingly arbitrary, independent of anything they had done.  Nevertheless, He placed His love on them.

To be sure, Israel and the church are different entities.  But our experience of grace is the same.  If you are a Christ follower, don’t forget that your Father’s selection of you is no different.   There is nothing that you brought to the table that made you appealing to God.  Still, He loves you.

But Moses also reminded the nation chosen out of grace that God is a faithful covenant keeper (v. 9).  The promises made to Abraham more than 400 years before would be kept to the future thousandth generation of those who love Him.

He will be faithful to you as well.  He will never abandon you.  As one who began a work in you, He promises to bring that work to completion at the return of Christ (Phil. 1:6).

This gracious, faithful God is One who yearns for and is deserving of our complete devotion.

Thank you, God!

Steve Kern

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March 19 – Faithful – He Remains Faithful

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-26

Over the years, I have witnessed some “worship wars.”  That is not a modern day reality show, whereby worshipers are judged with regard to sincerity, quality, and biblical accuracy of their worship.  Instead, it has been people at odds with one another over music style, instruments, volume, and more.  Thankfully, there is no single musical style that exclusively pleases God.  And thankfully, tension is relieved at Grace by offering two different venues with two different styles.

Ever wonder what songs were used in the first century church?  It is safe to say that this predates songs like “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” and the use of electric guitars.  Occasionally, the Scriptures let us listen in to some of the lyrics.  In fact, many theologians agree that 1 Timothy 2:11-13 represent words to a Christian song, with which the early church was apparently familiar.  Of special interest to us are the words that remind us of God’s faithfulness in verse 13:

“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NIV)

Before we consider God’s unconditional faithfulness in claiming His children, let me point out that there are promises of God that are conditional.  For example, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)  Did you notice how my forgiveness is contingent upon my confession?

Meanwhile, aren’t you glad to know that God’s faithfulness in claiming Christ followers as His own is not contingent upon the degree to which we are fully surrendered and obedient at any point in time?  He remains faithful to us in spite of lapses when we are unfaithful to Him.  His faithfulness is not a wishy washy uncertainty that should cause you to question, “Will He stand by me as one of His children?  I mean look at what I have done/thought/said?”  Thankfully, He is forever faithful in spite of our faithless moments!

He is a faithful God!

Steve Kern

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March 18 – Faithful – Faithful in the Fine Details

Read Matthew 5:1-20

It would be easy to overlook the reminders of God’s faithfulness in today’s reading.  These verses are just an excerpt from what is probably the most well known of all of Christ’s sermons, the Sermon on the Mount.  The words that I want you to focus on come after those first verses we have come to call “the Beatitudes,” where Christ speaks of blessing extended to those who demonstrate godly character.  The words that should catch our attention come after that oft-cited and critically important reminder that we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”

Our focus is on the last four verses of your reading (vv. 17-20).  Here, Jesus connects the faithfulness of God to the Word of God.

First of all, Jesus Himself points out His own faithful commitment to the Word of God (Law and Prophets, v. 17).  Although His coming marked a new day in the eternal plan of God, He did not throw out what God had promised before.  No, He came to fulfill it.  In fact, passages like John 19:24 point to specific details related to Christ that “happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”  Jesus was personally faithful to the Scriptures.

Verse 18 in our passage points beyond Christ’s personal commitment to fulfill promises related to Himself.  It reminds us that God will faithfully carry out everything found in the Law…down to the “jot and tittle” elements.  God was committed to every word, letter, and even portion of a letter.  He will dot all of His “i’s” and cross all of His “t’s” in doing all that He has said.

Finally, verse 19 challenges us to have that same faithful commitment to His word.  Those who teach, should teach it all with earnestness.  And, everyone of us should submit ourselves to every part of His word.

In other words, God will faithfully keep His promises, will we?

Steve Kern

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March 17 – Faithful – Time Lapse Faithfullness

Read Exodus 1:1-2:25

“God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” (Exodus 2:24 NIV)

God remembered His covenant!  That, my friends, is a mark of His faithfulness.  But it is not as if the covenant had been made the day before.  No, God had extended a promise to Abraham more than 400 years earlier (Gen. 12:1-3).  It was a promise that theirs would be a great people with a vast number of descendants.  According to this promise, other nations would either be blessed or cursed according to how they treated God’s people.  And this promise also guaranteed the people a specific tract of land.

Chapter 1 of Exodus certainly points to the multiplication of the people.  Verse 7 says, “but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.” (Exodus 1:7 NIV)  In spite of the attempts of the Egyptian leader to squelch their growth, they continued to multiply.

But a closer look at the covenant reveals two problems.  First of all, they were filling the wrong land.  God had promised them land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, not to the southeast in the area of the Nile and land of the pyramids.  God’s people were in the wrong land.  Secondly, the Egyptians were beginning to treat God’s people with hatred.  God had clearly said that He would curse those who cursed them.  The Egyptians were deserving of divine punishment.

But, no fear, our faithful God had not forgotten His promise.  Even though more than 400 years had passed…even though His people had shown no desire to return to the Promised Land after the famine in the days of Joseph…God remembered His promise and was about to fulfill it.  He would use plagues of punishment on the Egyptians in order to release His people to begin their journey to their land.

Your faithful God will never be delinquent on a single one of His promises to you.  He will always remember.  Even if days, weeks, months, or years pass without a sign of His action, He will one day step into your situation to fulfill His promise.

Which of His promises are you banking on?  Even if He delays, He is faithful!

Steve Kern

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March 16 – Faithful – Minimal Faith in a Maximally Faithful God

Read Genesis 17:1-18:15

“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” (Hebrews 11:11 NIV)

Really?  Sarah considered God faithful?  She really believed that God would bring a baby boy from her aged body and from the seed of her even older husband?  “Faith” is not the one word descriptor I would have placed over her life.  On the contrary, after years of barrenness, she and Abraham had done several things that seem to depict more doubt than faith.

  • After years of waiting, Abraham initially concluded that a servant in his house would become his heir. But God’s plan was different.  Although Eliezer seemed to Abraham to be the closest thing to a son he would ever have, God assured him that a son would come from his own flesh and blood (Gen. 15:1-5)
  • Next, Sarah’s doubt became obvious. She suggested that Abraham sleep with her slave Hagar in order to build a family.  Perhaps she thought that she was the problem.  But, even though Ishmael would give rise to a nation, that nation would not be God’s chosen people (Gen. 16:1-4; 17:15-18).
  • Finally, when God confirmed that Isaac was to be born to the aged couple, they both laughed. In their minds, they were both too old to bear children.

Even though doubt seems to have characterized her, still, at some point, Sarah’s doubt must have turned to faith.  Or, perhaps, mingled with her doubt was a glimmer of faith-filled hope that said, “Wow!  Maybe God will keep His promise!”  While I am not sure how much faith she had, Hebrews tells us she possessed at least some!  That is encouraging for people like me who sometimes find themselves waffling between doubt and faith.  Perhaps it is, as has often been suggested, more the object of faith than overwhelming quantities of it.  After all, faith the size of a mustard seed is all that is required to “move mountains” (Matt. 17:20).

And, more importantly, the God…your God…who is faithful, keeps His promises!

Steve Kern

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March 15 – Faithful – Great is Thy Faithfullness!

Read Lamentations 3:1-66

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.”  (Lamentations 3:21-23)

If you have not personally been to Jerusalem, you have likely seen pictures.  There are Jewish men and women standing on either side of a divider in their traditional garb, perhaps just inches away from or maybe even with their heads resting against a wall…the Wailing Wall.  Some hold prayer books.  Some place slips of paper with written prayers into any available crack and crevice.  They wail and cry out for God’s intervention on behalf of His people…some of them do so while reading from the book of Lamentations.

Even if you haven’t been to the Wailing Wall, you too have likely cried out to God in a situation of despair.  Jeremiah, the author of the book, had certainly done so.  Because of the sins of the nation of Israel, God had used the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem.  While his fellow countrymen were carted off into exile, Jeremiah remained surrounded by rubble and ruins.  And yet, in the midst of his cries to God, this weeping prophet reminded himself of great truths about the Father.  In spite of the circumstances and ruins surrounding him, he called to mind the very things of which we need to often remind ourselves.

  • God’s great love is like a protective boundary around us.  Because of that love, we may be in the words of Paul, “pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  (2 Cor. 4:8, 9)
  • God’s unfailing compassions are available to us every day.  It is as if there is a fresh batch of them every day.  There is no risk of the supply being exhausted.
  • God’s great faithfulness is real even when we stumble.  In fact, in our worst moments, when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).

You probably recognized the words of the verses cited above.  They were the inspiration to a great hymn of old.  More importantly, they are an expression of God’s faithfulness for today.  Pause and remind yourself of His love, compassion, and faithfulness.  They are bigger than your situation.

Steve Kern

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