To the beloved people of God, who, at this present time, have forgotten prosperity and whose souls are removed afar off from peace. To those whose hearts cry out even now, “My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord.” Whose remembrance is of their affliction, misery, wormwood and gall of present circumstances, and their hearts humbled within them. May this message put you in remembrance of, and establish you in, the gracious truth that, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” great is thy faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23) May the faithful God make you to soon hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
The testimony of the writers of the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments abound with a single theme: the faithfulness of God. No time is wasted in dwelling on the unfaithfulness of man, for every believer is well aware of the deceitful and desperately wicked heart within; and when walking under its influence and dragging its heavy chains of unbelief, his only hope is in the faithfulness of God. We are often defeated by a morbid introspection of the heart and mourning over our unbelief, our failure and sin, when the source of victory is not to be found in our hope of perfect obedience, but in the perfect faithfulness of God to us. We seem to forget that if we should succeed in doing all those things commanded us, an honest heart would still force us to say, “We are unprofitable servants…”.
Therefore, this message will be of no profit to those who are satisfied with their own steadfastness and fascinated with their own faithfulness; but it will gender hope to the soul who languishes in his lethargy and will, by the grace of God, move him to worship and praise the faithful God who keeps him in all his ways.
When the heart is painfully aware of its own unworthiness and filled with doubt that God will hear and undertake in its deepest trial, doctrine cannot afford the heart the rest it desires and longs for. This is the time for testimony. Testimony of past experiences, when time after time God brought delivering grace into the midst of impossible circumstances in our lives. It was the remembrance of God’s great faithfulness that brought courage to the heart of Jeremiah when his strength and hope had perished from the Lord. It was the constant rehearsal of God’s past faithfulness to Israel that caused the Psalmist to walk once more in the light of His countenance.
If the disciples had considered the miracle of the loaves, their hearts would not have been hardened by fearful unbelief in the midst of the contrary winds that threatened to destroy them. Remember, it was the faithful God who first revealed Christ to you when you were dead in trespasses and sins and on your way to eternity in hell (Matthew 16:17); and it is by His continued faithfulness that He will meet your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, and faithfully perform the work of grace He has begun in you until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:19,; 1:6)
“And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:29 – 31)
The believer’s needs are not all of a spiritual nature, nor are they entirely material. Being body and soul both, there are many “things” of this present life necessary to his welfare. In these “things” our Father delights to show His great faithfulness; and strange as it may seem, I have found that He especially delights in doing exceeding abundantly above all that I have asked or thought at the height of my own unfaithfulness to Him. This He does to ever remind me that every good and perfect gift comes from Him and that it comes by the purest grace, not depending upon my works or faith.
I see this in Elijah, who slept under his juniper tree in unbelief and fearful defeat; yet, the faithful God would not let him go hungry because of his unfaithfulness, but sent an angel to bake him a cake and set a cruse of water at his head. So abundant was the supply of his physical needs, that Elijah went 40 days and nights in the strength of that ministry. This was not the first experience of this nature for the prophet; for the faithful God sent His ravens morning and evening throughout the long exile at the brook Cherith with bread and flesh for His hungry servant. When the brook went dry, God faithfully commanded a widow to take the last handful of meal in her barrel and the little oil remaining in her cruse and bake Elijah a cake. This she did, wondering where the next meal for her and her son would come from, only to find the hand of the faithful God upon the barrel and cruse so that it failed not. Elijah’s life was one long testimony of the faithfulness of God to meet every material and spiritual need for His own name’s sake; and when the prophet was old and tired, God picked him up at Jordan and gave him free transportation to heaven by a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11)
Elisha caught his mantle, stood on Jordan’s banks, and called upon the faithful God to meet him in his need. The waters parted at the touch of the mantle; and crossing over he soon found all “things” provided by grace; for, a great woman was constrained to feed him and prepare a special chamber that he might have a place of rest. (2 Kings 4:8-11)
Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness of Sin because of unbelief; yet the faithful God fed them, and cared for them, and caused neither their clothes or shoes to wax old. (Deuteronomy 29:5)
When a widow couldn’t pay her dead husband’s debts, and his creditors threatened to take her sons as bondmen, the faithful God caused a pot of oil in her house to multiply until all her neighbours’ vessels were filled. So gracious was the supply of her material needs that she sold the oil, paid her just debts, and there was still enough left over to keep her and her children. (11 Kings 4: 1 – 7)
When Paul was enroute to Rome and his ship was wrecked in a fierce storm, he found himself stranded on the island of Malta among barbarous people, without provisions or help. The faithful God prevailed upon these heathen to show him no little kindness, kindle a fire to warm him and receive him into their homes. When he left, weeks later, they honoured him with many honours and laded him with all necessary things for his journey. (Acts 28:1- 10)
When 5,000 hungry folk found that the day was far spent and they had been too interested in the Word of God to think about food, the Lord Jesus took a little boy’s lunch, blessed and broke it into enough for the multitude and 12 baskets of left-overs. (John 6:1-13)
When Peter couldn’t pay his taxes, due to lack of funds, the Lord Jesus Christ provided a coin in the mouth of a fish swimming in the sea and caught by Peter’s hook. (Matthew 17: 27)
So faithful is God in providing every need of His own that He remembers to clothe the lilies, and Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of them. He feeds the ravens who never sow, reap, or build storehouses; and He never forgets a single sparrow that falls to earth. It would require a large volume for the personal testimony of this writer alone to record the faithfulness of God in meeting the material needs of a large family; but truly I can say, “Amen”, to David when he testified: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25)
“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High; To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” (Psalm 92:1-2)
When the believer is walking in the sunshine of fellowship with the Lord, his heart is filled with praise for His loving kindness; but it requires the deepening shadows of the night experiences to magnify His exceeding great faithfulness to us. Gethsemane and Calvary’s long night were necessary before the faithfulness of God in resurrection could be seen. Only in the long nights of suffering, sin and unbelief in our lives, is the faithfulness of God made clear to our poor hearts and we learn that “God giveth songs in the night.” Consider then with me:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Paul must have felt that he had more than he could bear, when God allowed a messenger of Satan to buffet him. When this thorn cut deeply in his flesh, he cried three times in prayer to God for deliverance; but God did not remove the thorn, but revealed to Paul the way of escape He had made. This escape from the unbearable circumstances of his suffering was through the all sufficient grace of God. By this means, God, in faithfulness to Paul, made the strength of the Lord Jesus perfect in him, filled his heart with pleasure and glory, kept him from being exalted above measure, and caused the power of Christ to rest on him. Surely he could say with the Psalmist, “…thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75)
Joseph must have often thought his troubles were unbearable, when first he was rejected of his brethren, put in the place of death in the pit, sold into slavery in a strange land far away from home and loved ones, only to be falsely accused by his employer’s wife and cast into prison as a common criminal. How heavy his chains were, and how much heavier must his heart have been, as he sat in the gloom of that prison with not a hope for the future. But witness the faithfulness of ‘God in the life of Joseph. It was his contact with the butler, made while in prison, that placed him on the throne of Egypt and eventually restored him to the arms of his father and brethren.
Jacob surely must have considered his cup too bitter to drink, when the bloody garment of his beloved son was offered as mute evidence of Joseph’s tragic death. The scriptures record how he refused to be comforted and vowed to go down to his grave in mourning for his son, as he rent his clothes, put sackcloth upon his loins and bitterly wept under a temptation that had taken him, that was more than he could bear.
No escape was to be seen in the sore famine that next came into his land and threatened his life and the lives of his sons. In desperation he sent his sons into Egypt to buy corn, only to have his sorrows multiplied by Simeon’s imprisonment and the demand for Benjamin to be brought to Egypt. Jacob wept that he would be brought gray haired to his grave with sorrow. It was not until the daybreak of Jacob’s long night of trouble that the shadows fled away and he saw that the hand of his faithful God had overruled it all for His glory and Jacob’s good. In all of his sufferings, God was faithfully bringing Jacob to the glorified Son on the throne, who was the source of all nourishment and life. Oh, dear reader, hear now this testimony of God’s faithfulness, and know that if the cup of your suffering seems to be more than you can bear at this moment, it is because God is driving you to the blessed Son on His throne, who wants to nourish you and give you of His life.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Think of the great weight of sin that was lifted from your heart, when you came to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. All of the years that the locust and the cankerworm had eaten were restored by the faithfulness of God in the blood of the everlasting covenant. Your sins, that were once scarlet, were made white as snow, and though they were red like crimson, they were made as wool. All were cast behind His back, carried as far as east is from west from His presence never to be remembered against you again.
But, dear reader, think of the times since you were saved that you have come to Him for forgiveness of sins in your heart and life. Day after day and night after night, and still He forgives you and cleanses you without a word of condemnation. The great faithfulness of God in the forgiveness of sins is seen in the picture of the Lord Jesus rising constantly from His place of communion to lay aside His garments and take a towel to gird Himself like a slave, that He might take the water of His word to wash the defiled feet of His own! See Him now, as He wipes them with the same towel wherewith He was girded, that they might have a continual fellowship with Him. If man, in faithfulness to his brother, is to forgive his sin 70 times seven in this world, how much more will the faithfulness of God in the forgiveness of the sins of His people be seen? How precious to know that every morning, His compassion for us poor sinners is as new as it was the first day we came to the Lord Jesus for salvation, and the blood on the mercy seat in heaven as fresh as though it was sprinkled there today! This is the sure promise of the Word of God (Lamentations 3:23, Hebrews 10:19-20) and the certain evidence that God is faithful to Himself and to us. Dear reader, is your heart made heavy by the conviction of sin? Come boldly to our Father by the precious blood. He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Cast yourself upon His great faithfulness, crying with the poet:
“Here I rest, forever viewing,
Mercy poured in drops of blood:
Precious drops, my soul bedewing,
Plead, and claim my peace with God.”
“If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” ( 2 Timothy 2:13)
“When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust,
When nothing seems sure but that God still lives,
This is the time to trust”.
But, what if the heart can’t trust? What if the heart is filled with unbelief and the promises of God seem empty and meaningless? What if we cannot find it in our poor wretched hearts to believe God, claim His promise and rest in His faithfulness? What then? Who shall deliver us? Thank God, He will!
May I share with you this personal experience? A few years ago, during a serious illness, I passed through some troubled waters that were new to me. For the first time in my Christian experience, I could not pray, for no words came and worst of all, there seemed to be no desire in my heart toward God. I tried to read God’s Word and the promises were empty and there seemed to be not a word of personal hope for me. My wife could not comfort me, the counsel of brethren was meaningless, and I felt myself slipping lower and lower into a bottomless pit of spiritual despondency. For days I was sure that this was the end of my ministry. I was sure that I could never teach or preach again. To add to my sorrow, my wicked heart convinced me that if I couldn’t pray, read God’s Word, teach or preach, then my blessing, joy and fellowship in the Lord would be denied me. I cannot explain to you how He did it; but in spite of this cesspool of unbelief, He restored my soul, comforted me with His rod and staff, anointed my head with oil until my cup ran over, for the faithful Shepherd could not deny Himself. Had He not promised me: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”?
Now, here the testimony of His Word on this subject. Israel murmured in unbelief against the Lord. Certain that the Lord meant to kill them in the wilderness, they would have gladly returned to Egypt if they could have found a leader. But, the faithful God, who could not deny Himself, rained manna from heaven every morning, and brought water from the flinty rock, watched over them at night by a pillar of fire, and led them by day in the cloud. He destroyed their enemies, bore them up on eagle’s wings, and brought them unto Himself, and all of it in spite of their unbelief.
Read the thrilling story of the Emmaus disciples. Here were two disciples who could not find it in their hearts to believe the Word of God. Jesus called them “fools and slow of heart” because of their unbelief. See them going down the road of life sad, trying comfort one another, not conscious of the Lord’s presence, and wrongly accusing Him of being a stranger to their problems, and ignorant of the things that so burdened them. If restored fellowship depends upon their faithfulness, they are destined to walk the lonely road to Emmaus forever without the joy of His presence; but the faithful Shepherd, who cannot deny Himself, meets them in their need and in their unbelief; He ministers the precious Word of God until faith is kindled anew, and they are brought into new communion with Jesus in the breaking of bread. See them now! With eyes opened that they might know Him, and hearts burning within, they rise up the same hour and go out to tell others that they have seen Him and that He has made Himself known to them. They had not prayed, read the Word, nor confessed their sins; but the faithful God, who called them into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ, delivered them from the blindness of unbelief by the faithful ministry of the Lord Jesus in their lives. Were it not for this in our times of doubt and unbelief, we would never trust Him again.
We often testify to the deliverance of God in our lives in response to our prayers. I often wonder if God is really glorified, or our faith instead? It is true, thank God, that He has often heard my supplication and answered out of heaven in response to my cry for help; but it is also true, bless God, that He has more often answered in response to my unbelief. When I could not cry, He has answered. When I could not believe, He has been faithful. Let me show this principle from the scriptures. In Mark 4:35-41, we have the account of the storm that endangered the ship in which the disciples and the Lord Jesus were sailing. The original text hints at a hurricane that arose; the waves beat against the ship and soon began to fill it with water. The disciples, seeing this danger, awakened the Lord Jesus, who had been sleeping on a pillow, to accuse Him of not caring whether they perish or not. What bitter, black unbelief!
Had not His word been, “Let us pass over unto the other side”? Here, under the spell of unbelief, these disciples are afraid, not aware of His presence with them, and boldly slandering His love for them by accusing Him of caring not whether they or die. Dear reader, you and I have done as much against the blessed Lord and, thank God, He has done as much for us as He did for them. I call your attention to the fact that He was awakened and stirred to undertake for them in response, not to their prayer of faith, but to their cry of unbelief!! He plainly said they had no faith and were fearful, yet He delivered them by rebuking the hurricane, muzzling the sea, bringing a great calm into their hearts and lives, and demonstrating for us His faithfulness in meeting the unbelief of our hearts with His grace.
My heart has been blessed by the story, in John 21, of the unsuccessful night of fishing engaged in by Peter and six others, including John. The original language of this account leads us to believe that their intention was to desert the Lord and return to the fishing business permanently. Only a few days away from Calvary and here they were, ready to return to the old life in unbelief and discouragement. They went fishing in the flesh and accomplished just what the flesh can accomplish … nothing! As they approached the shore the next morning, an apparent stranger directed them to cast their net on the right side of the ship. They did and were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. They soon recognized the Lord and came to shore to find … what? Jesus, ready to deny them of their needs in punishment for their unbelief and disobedience? No, miracle of grace that it was, they found a fire of coals to warm them in their coldness … the dear Lord Jesus fixing breakfast to meet their hunger and standing ready with His fellowship to restore their wayward hearts!!
“Come and dine,” the faithful God cries, and withholds not a single blessing from His erring children, for He is faithful and cannot deny Himself. Only eternity will fully tell this blessed story; for, when we are come to Zion’s shore to meet the Lord Jesus in the morning, we will not only find that He waits to warm us, feed us, and to fellowship with us forever, but like the disciples of old, we will also find that we have brought fruit with us that we did not catch ourselves, but was placed in our nets by the faithful hand of the Shepherd. With Peter, we will be forced to say, “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee”!
One day, dear reader, heaven will be opened and the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed to the world in all the glory of His Father. His eyes will be as a flame of fire, and on His head will be many crowns. His vesture will be dipped in His own blood, now on heaven’s mercy seat, and out of His mouth will go a sharp two-edged sword, as He rides triumphantly upon His white horse. His name is called the Word of God; but Revelation 19:11 assures us that some will call Him “Faithful and True.” Those who call Him by this precious name will be the armies of heaven that follow Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean; for their very presence will testify to the faithfulness of God that brought them to such a high and holy calling. Surely the word of the Psalmist was prophetic, when he wrote: “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5)
In that day, His faithfulness shall be fully known; for we shall realize for the first time that throughout all our days here below, it was He who met our every want, made us to lie down in green pastures, led us by the still waters, restored our souls, led us in paths of righteousness, took our fear away in the valley of the shadow of death by His presence, comforted us by His rod and staff, prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies, anointed our heads with the oil of His Spirit, caused our cups to overflow with His joy, followed us all the days of our life with His mercy and goodness, brought us into the house of the LORD to dwell forever, and did it all FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE! Surely heaven shall resound with the doxology of the saints, as they shout, “Great is thy faithfulness”!
“The Faithfulness of God”
Published in 1964 by the Gospel Book Room, P. O. Box 161, Belprie, Ohio 45714
Web site typist: Deborah Cooke