I’m preaching on God’s faithfulness in a couple of weeks and this is what has first come to mind.
I most often associate faithfulness with devotion, loyalty, and promises kept or fulfilled. A long-term relationship or marriage.
What promises has God made? In the Old Testament he made lots of promises first to Noah then to Abraham and his descendants. But even before that there was an implicit promise to Adam and Eve that he would protect and provide for them, be in relationship and would be co-creator with God, provided they trust him implicitly.
After the fall, Abraham and Sarah were an old childless couple yet God promised to them that their descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky, that they would be blessed, and they would be a blessing to the whole world. Later, God promised those descendants that they would be his people and they would live in a land of their own.
That was all in the Old Testament, but what promises has God made to us, today? The New Testament confidently asserts (in 2 Cor 1:20) that “no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ’. In other words, Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promises. Those things that were promised to his people in the Old Testament come to us through Jesus. What does this mean? All the benefits of being ‘God’s people’ come to those who identify with him. This does not mean that Christians will get an easy life – nowhere does God promise health, wealth, prosperity. Even happiness and the absence of suffering are not promised to us. But we go get guidance, comfort, forgiveness, mercy – all those things associated with a relationship with God, as well as hope and a purpose. But we do get a promise that He will never let us go:
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (1 Cor 5:21-22)
There is also a startling promise which I came across in my devotions this morning from 1 John 5, echoed from elsewhere, that all we ask for in God’ will will be given to us.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
Being in tune with the will of God is one thing, and this comes out of close relationship with him.
I like the passage from Jeremiah 29 when he is writing to the newly exiled Jews in Babylon. There are some false prophecies flying around that say that the Jews will be back in their land within a couple of years. Jeremiah corrects them and gives them a message of hope. They will be back, but not soon. But God has not forgotten:
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jer 29 10-13)
He has plans to give hope and a future, plans to prosper. They will seek with all their heart – perhaps a new thing – and He will reveal himself. In the meantime (v5-9) they are to settle down, build houses, work hard, get married and raise their kids, and seek the best for the place where they are living. Above all: Pray to the LORD.
This strikes me as being not dissimilar to what we are to do in the here and now – seek the God’s best for the place we’re in, contribute to it, pray and remain faithful. And in that God promises that when we seek him, we will find him.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matt 7:7-8)
And now for some Martyn Joseph: