Devotional for Thursday, May 7, 2020
Lamentations 3:23, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. (Heb. 11:1) We know that faith is essential to salvation as the human response to the gospel along with repentance. The Bible is clear that faith is the crucial ingredient to separate the sinner from the saved. But how do we consider faith as a fruit of the spirit?
We understand it better in the context of sustaining faith. Whereas initial faith and repentance is the essential response to the gospel for the sinner to be justified, declared righteous before God. Sustaining faith is required to live a life of sanctification, being set apart for holy living by God and the Holy Spirit. Whereas the word there in Galatians is literally, “faith”, it seems to better understand the concept as “faithfulness”.
Faithfulness is the characteristic of the believer who returns to the Lord of the Promise again and again…after trial and tribulation, after periods of doubt and despair, after times of frustration in the ministry, after seasons of envying the worldly life.
As with all the fruit, we must look to God to fully understand the concept of faithfulness. No greater passage in the Bible illustrates God’s faithfulness than Lamentations 3:22-23, “The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, Great is Your Faithfulness.” (NASB)
God had sent His people into exile, and Jeremiah records an entire book filled with mourning over the judgment on Jerusalem and Judah. Yet, in the middle of his cry of despair there is a ringing forth of hope. This is not a wishful hope, but a hope of assurance and knowledge in the very character of God.
To what or for whom is God faithful? We sing the famous song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and often internalize those glorious lyrics on a personal level. But is God’s faithfulness fully understood on an individual level? In a sense, no. God’s faithfulness, actually, is best understood as being infinitely and omnipotently loyal and devoted to His PROMISES and divine plan of REDEMPTION and GLORY.
That is the substance of Jeremiah’s praise in Lamentations 3. Jeremiah can have confidence in the future of his people, because God made a promise to have a plan and a hope for His people in exile. The decrees of God were not thwarted, even though he had to punish a generation.
That is the meaning of Hebrews 10:23. We can hold fast the confession of our hope without faltering, in full assurance of faith, because He who promised is faithful. God will never go back on His promise.
That demonstrates the type of faithfulness that we are to have in our discipleship. We should be INTENSELY loyal to the promise God’s redemption in our lives. We should be completely DEVOTED to the work of the church, who remains the only earthly vessel used of God to carry His gospel forth to the nations.
May our lives be marked by the type of faithfulness of the paragons of faith in Hebrews 11, who “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own…They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
Faithfulness responds to the enticements of this world, “You are not my home, I am but a pilgrim on my way to my own country.”
Faithfulness responds to the call of the flesh, “The life in the Spirit brings life, not death.”
Faithfulness responds to the lies of the evil one, “Jehovah has promised good to me, and He who promised is faithful. So, I will believe in Him, not you!”
Faithfulness responds to the Lord, as the father of the demon-possessed boy did in Mark 9, when we are tinged with doubt and despair, when we don’t have the answers, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” It is in this declaration that we realize – Faith is a Gift of God, a true fruit of the life in the Spirit. Just simply believe and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you and build a sustaining faith that will withstand any storm of life.