April 30, 2019
Rich Nathan
Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy Faithfulness

When I was a young leader, I used to be incredibly impressed by people’s gifting. What an incredible preacher! I wish I could preach like that. She’s amazing—what a talented singer! What an extraordinary writer! What a gifted prophet!

I still love gifting. But the longer I’ve been in ministry, the more I find myself admiring people who simply show up. I love faithful people who serve in quiet, out-of-the-spotlight ways—teaching our kids week in and week out, opening their homes for small group, helping people with their marriages, teaching English as a second language in our Community Center, mentoring children in one of the elementary schools, handing out groceries at our food pantries.

Over the years, I’ve met dozens and dozens of people who are super-excited about Vineyard Columbus and seem to be everywhere for about six months or a year. Then they are never heard from again.

But people who show up to counsel financially struggling people year in and year out, people at Lane Avenue who have been carrying in chairs and setting up for seven or eight years every Sunday morning, people in Baker’s Delight who bake cookies and cakes every week for our various ministries and for our Monday night services—they are the people that I respect most in the church.

To use a baseball analogy, the people I admire are the Cal Ripkens of the world. Ripken was a baseball player who set the record for consecutive baseball games played at over 2,600 games. From 1982 to 1998—16 straight years—Cal Ripken never missed one game. Other players sat out because they were tired, because they were hung over, because they were hurt. But Cal played every game, whether he felt good or bad, whether his back hurt, whether he sprained an ankle, or was tired—he played and he played.

There are literally dozens of verses in Scripture that assert that God is faithful, and therefore can be trusted.

Psalm 33:4
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 100:5
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Lamentations 3:22-23
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

In the darkest days of Israel’s history, the prophet Jeremiah wrote the Old Testament book that we call Lamentations. Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, had been sacked by the Babylonians. The king and most of the people were dragged into exile hundreds of miles away from the Promised Land. The Temple, the center of Jewish life, was burned to the ground. The Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments was stolen, never to be found again. The presence of God left Israel. Tens of thousands of Jews were slaughtered. The economy was not simply in depression; it was non-existent. There weren’t farmers to farm the fields anymore. There weren’t craftsmen to build anything. Just a few refugees were left in the Promised Land, scrounging for food and shelter. Jeremiah experienced an ancient Holocaust.

What did Jeremiah do? He wrote a series of laments that were collected in this book of Lamentations. He poured out his complaints to God. But in the middle of Lamentations, even in the darkest days imaginable, Jeremiah rebuilt his faith upon the bedrock truth of God’s faithfulness.

Jeremiah wrote:
Lamentations 3:21-24
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

How has God been faithful? In thousands of ways but I’ll mention just one: in forgiving us!

1 John 1:9 says this:
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

We all struggle with lingering guilt, even after we’ve confessed our sins to God and ask him to forgive us. We all have had times where we’ve wondered, “Are we really forgiven by God?”
The Apostle John says God would not be God if he did not forgive those who have trusted in his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus paid for our sins by taking our sins upon himself, dying in our place on the cross. God’s forgiveness is rooted in God’s justice. Since the penalty for our sins has been paid by his Son, it would be unjust of God to require payment again from us. Moreover, God is also faithful to forgive the sins of those who have trusted in his Son because he has promised to do that and God does not lie!

We never need to wonder whether God will forgive us if we confess our sins. If God did not forgive the sins of those who turn to Jesus, he would not be the faithful and just God who is revealed in Scripture.

God is faithful to forgive those who confess their sins. And God has been faithful in our history and in the giving campaign we recently completed called The Story Continues! As a church, pray that we will experience thousands of new stories of the faithfulness of God!
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