Lucia's Blog: GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS
Google Logo
Image Caption goes here.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, November 17, 2016

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

"Remember mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope.  It is of Jehovah’s 
lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions
fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."
Lamentations 3:19-26


We have recently elected a new set of leaders for our country, who have made many promises. Will they keep their word or falter like so many before them? I don't know about these men, but I do know that our Lord Jesus will not fail us. This is a good time to remember the beloved words of Jeremiah.

As strange as it is to find a beautiful flower on a dessert cactus, it is likewise strange to find such a beautiful HOPE in the midst of such ugliness and despair, in the Book of LamentationsLamentations 3:19-26 is one of my favorite passages of the Bible because it underlines some precious and powerful principles about the God we serve and the life He gives us to live.  These verses teach us about God's steadfast faithfulness, love, mercy, and forgiveness.  The song, Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of my all-time favorites.  It is dear to my heart because of its message about our Jehovah God's faithfulness toward us day in and day out, no matter what our circumstances might be.  All He asks is that we be faithful to Him as well.  Our God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.  The providential care of our God is amazing!

The author of this beautiful song wrote,

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


When we think of faithfulness, we think of one who is firm in his faith, committed to obeying God, steadfast and reliable.  In the Bible, when we think of people who represented faithfulness, the Prophet Jeremiah quickly comes to mind.

Jeremiah is the author of the Book of Lamentations. He is also referred to as the "weeping prophet." The Book of Lamentations was written during the time of the Babylonian invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem.  The book portrays an unending sadness and profound depression. It speaks of Jeremiah's sorrows amidst the tragedy that took place in the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. These were times of mourning, despair, and weeping.  As we read through the pages of the book, we observe the terrible sufferings that the Israelites had to endure in the hands of their enemies, the Babylonians, and King Nebuchadnezzar.  Yet, in the midst of so much chaos, despair, and mourning, Jehovah God called on Jeremiah, His Prophet, to record all the events and bring honor to His name.  He, Jeremiah, knew that God was a God of mercy and compassion. He stood in the gap for his people and urged them to repent and return to God. Jeremiah knew what God would do for His people and himself.  He was aware that God was faithful and that He would do what He said He would do.

In Jeremiah 1: 5-6, God told Jeremiah,

"5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord Jehovah! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am a child."  

Isn't it something that God's Word calls on us to do things that are difficult, impossible without His help?  However, it is then that we learn that what is impossible for men, is possible with God's help. For with God, all things are possible!

It is precisely here in Lamentations that the Prophet remembered that though he is a man of constant sorrows and afflictions because of God's rod of wrath, there is still hope. Jeremiah knew that God was His portion. Therefore, he had hope. He knew that God was faithful and merciful.  He knew that God was still God.

Let us consider some of this precious man's background:
  1. The northern kingdom (Israel) had fallen because of their lawlessness (apostasy, idolatry).
  2. Jeremiah's message to the Southern Kingdom (Judah) was that they too were going to fall for the same reasons and should submit to the Babylonians as slaves.
  3. God strengthened Jeremiah for this painful labor.  He told Jeremiah, "I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land."  (Jeremiah 1:18).
  4. God put him over nations and kingdoms "to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."  (Jeremiah 1:10, see chapters 46-51).
  5. Though God appointed Jeremiah to the nations, he did not want to minister. (Jeremiah 1:5-6)
  6. He was called to preach nothing but the Judgment of God over the nationsJeremiah 1:9-10.
  7. He reminded them of God's rules and pleaded with the people to repent of their wickedness, but they refused to believe him and repent.  (Jeremiah 2:13,32;8:7, 18, 9:1; 11:3-5).
  8. They trusted in the Temple.  They would say peace, peace and there was no peace, (Jeremiah 7:4; 8:11).
  9. They trusted in men rather than in God, turning away from Him, (Jeremiah 17:5).
  10. The people fought and plotted against Jeremiah, but the LORD was with him to protect him, (Jeremiah 1:19).
  11. They would say, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”  (Jeremiah 18:18; Mat. 5:11; James 3:9).
  12. They would accuse him of being a bigot like so many do to us today when we take a stand for righteousness.
  13. His so-called friends were his enemies, (Jeremiah 9:3-5; 11:19; 20:10).
  14. His once-trusted friends mocked him, throwing his own words back at him, saying, "terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!"  (Jeremiah 20:10).
  15. He was beaten and put in stocks, (Jeremiah 20:2; 37:15-16).  
  16. He was forbidden to have a wife for himself or have any children, because the sons and daughters born in that place were going to die of diseases, and they were told not to lament their deaths, Jeremiah 16:1-13; 17.  As a result of this, he became familiar with loneliness.
  17. He was a man of deep sorrow.  He wept and mourned openly about the sins of his people, (Jeremiah 9:1).
  18. Because of his severe message of God's Judgment toward his people, he endured depression.  His people would not take heed to his message.  He was so weary and frustrated that he tried to escape the burden of it, (Jeremiah 20:9).  It must be hard and discouraging to proclaim the Truth and Judgments of God and have no one to take heed to them and convert his heart to the LORD.  In Jeremiah's case, he preached for a period of 50 years without converting or saving a single soul (that we know of).
  19. He suffered unmerciful injustice and imprisonment at the hands of King Zedekiah.  The king did not approve of Jeremiah's preaching, (Jeremiah 32:5).  This poor man of God was still suffering in a dungeon when the Babylonians invaded the city.  Notice that he had already prophesied this, (Jeremiah 32:2).
  20. Despite all this, he would compassionately exhort his people, (Jeremiah 8:18; 9:1).
  21. Indeed, he was a tenderhearted man like Elijah. He is an example of how Christians ought to be.
  22. After Jerusalem fell and many of his people were killed or taken captive into exile, he did not rejoice saying, "I told you so."  He instead was broken in heart and deep despair, mourning with the remnant that was left behind.  He fell into deep lament and sorrow with them, (Lamentations 1-5).  This brings tears to my eyes!

Indeed, this precious man of God endured a life of turmoil, desolation, despair and sorrow.  The Prophet Jeremiah was overwhelmed with discouragement and affliction. He began to curse the day he was born and wondered why he did not die before birth inside the womb. This is what he says: “Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow so that my days have been spent in shame?” (Jeremiah 20:18).  Do you think this is an exaggeration? Not at all! We read in chapter 20 that the chief officer had him beaten then placed him in stocks. He may have been tortured with such a device that caused his body to bend double.

Imagine this happening after he was beaten!  Why did he suffer all this? Was he guilty of any crime? Absolutely not! He had simply declared the Word of God. He did what was right, but in return, what he received was punishment. That hurt him, no?  His prayers were full of loneliness and complaints: “O LORD, Thou hast deceived me and I was deceived; Thou hast overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me.... for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long.” (Jeremiah 20:7-8).

His constant loneliness and rejection caused him to be discouraged.  He felt alone, useless, hopeless and discouraged, (Jeremiah 15:19). Jeremiah was emotionally spent, confused, even to the point of doubting God, (Jeremiah 15:18), but God was not done with him.

From his life, we can find comfort in knowing that even great prophets of God like Jeremiah experienced rejection, discouragement, and disappointment as they walked with the Lord.  This is a normal part of growing spiritually.

We can plainly see a discouraged man in despair and anguish. Have you ever felt this way when you were tried, tested and low, feeling as low as you can get, sunk in the mud?  Yet Jeremiah obeyed even when he could not understand the purpose of God's commandment.  He obeyed because of his great faith, humility, compassion, courage, and perseverance, (Jeremiah 20:9,11).  He remained faithful even when he stood alone (like Noah, Joseph, Daniel and many others) in the midst of so much turmoil.  He rose above discouragement and despair!

Imagine living a life of rejection, hatred, mockery, imprisonment, indifference and profound sorrow after seeing his beloved city, Jerusalem, being plundered, desecrated and destroyed into nothing.  Imagine experiencing the horrible results of war, the brutality of the invading enemies and the pangs of hunger.  Still, Jeremiah stood tall amid the debris of the city and the dead bodies, while the city burned, lifting up his voice in praise to Jehovah God for His great, unfailing faithfulness toward His people.  I am getting emotional again! 

How was this possible?   How could Jeremiah still hope in His Jehovah God?  In the faithfulness of his great God?  The answer is not complicated.  Jeremiah knew very well Who his great God was. Jeremiah knew that his great God would still be a merciful and faithful God to those who seek Him and wait for Him, (Lamentations 3:21).

Like Jeremiah, we all go through turbulent times when things are difficult, hopeless, and filled with despair.  Everything seems to fall apart or collapse, but it is during these trying and difficult times that we need to remember that blessed assurance of God's faithfulness toward us.  The word "faithfulness" of verse 23, means "firmness, fidelity, steadiness, steadfastness."  This word "faithfulness" portrays a God on Whom we can totally depend.  I am sure that no matter what storms, trials and valleys of life we might face, God will be there to prove His faithfulness and steadfastness to you and me.  In few and simple words, we can count on Him!

Jeremiah acknowledged that true contentment is found in walking God's old paths.  "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'"  (Jeremiah 6:16).  The old path was, of course, the Mosaic Law.  For us today, the old path is the New Testament, the Law of Christ which was delivered to us nearly 2000 years ago.  Indeed, true contentment is to live in submission to God, (Matt. 11:28-30).  Most of God's promises are conditional, (Jeremiah 18:7-10).  Most of God's promises are conditioned upon one's obedience to God's commandments, (Deut. 28).

Let us examine in more depth Lamentations 3:22-26 and try to understand why Jeremiah was able to proclaim:  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Though God's people (the Israelites) went into captivity and punishment, it was to be temporary since there would be a restoration!  Our God is always faithful to His faithful children.  This ought to be the great motivator of our hopeLet us consider the precious words of Lamentations 3:22-26 that teach us about the great, unfailing and faithful God we serve.  


  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GRACE:
"It is of Jehovah's lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed." (Lamentations 3:22a)
Notice that the word "lovingkindness" is mentioned over 30 times in the Old Testament.  It is a very meaningful word that carries the idea of love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, and devotion.  This word portrays God as the Divine lover of all men.  In the New Testament, it is found as an equivalent for God's love and grace. 

Jeremiah seems always to remember that it was by God's grace that He brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery.  Likewise, it was also God's grace that had kept them, the Israelites, a redeemed nation in spite of their failures and wanderings.

Let us consider some amazing thoughts about God's Grace:
    • God's grace saves us from the penalty of sin:  It was only through His grace that we were able to be made alive since we were dead because of sin and His wrath was upon us, (Ephesians 2:1-4).  But God being rich in His mercy and grace, sent His only begotten Son, our Lord, and Savior to be our guilt offering, dying that cruel death on the cross.  Our Lord came in the Person of the Lord Jesus to die for our sins, (Phil. 2:5-8).  He came to draw us to God that we might be saved, (John 16:7-11, John 6:44).  Jesus, our Lord, came to seek and save that which was lost, (Luke 19:10).  He came to offer salvation, (I Timothy 1:15, I Thess. 5:8-9).  It is God's grace, His mercy that saves us from His wrath, the second death, (Rev. 20).  God does not want that for us.  He wants us to be saved from sin through His Son.  This is the salvation that our merciful God offers through His Son Jesus under the Gospel of His Son, (Romans 5:9-10; James 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 1:10; Heb. 2:2-3; Titus 2:13-14; Rom. 6:23; Luke 1:77).
    • But God's Grace is Conditional:  We must meet all the conditions of the Gospel our of Lord to be forgiven of our sins.  Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him, (Heb. 5:9).  We have been exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil. 2:12).  It is true that our merciful God offers salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ to all of us but we must meet those requirements to receive salvation.  There is no room for disobedience; otherwise, we will not be saved, (James 2:14-26).  The conditions we must meet are: a) hear the Gospel, (Acts 11:14; I Cor. 1:18-21; 15:2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2:20); b) believe the Gospel, (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9); c)  repent of sins, (Acts 5:31; 2 Cor. 7:10)d) confess Jesus as Lord, (Romans 10:9-10); e)  be baptized for forgiveness of sins, (Mark 16:15,16; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3 and Acts 2:38) and finally f)  live a faithful life unto death, (Matthew 10:22; Acts 2:47; Eph.1:13; 5:23,25; 2 Thess. 2:10,13; Heb. 10:39; I Cor. 1:21; 15:2; I Tim. 4:16; Tit. 3:5; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 8:11-12).  His grace will be secured if we obey and meet all of His conditions or requirements.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable Grace!

  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN ALL HIS GIFTS:
"because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."  (Lamentations 3:22b-23)

The word "compassion" literally means "womb."  It means "to be moved in the heart out of love for another."  What this means is that God's grace give us the strength through counsel of His Word and His answers to our prayers.  It is actively working in our lives because we walk in the Light as He is in the light and we have fellowship with one another.  It is through the storms of our lives that His grace is carrying us.  He bears us through the dark valleys of sorrow and struggle.  We are not alone!  God's grace is giving us all that we need for the journey.  Consider how great God' gifts are:
    • His gifts are faithful:  God never promised us a bed of roses but that His grace would be sufficient for the need, (2 Cor. 12:9).
The word "grace" is not just "the unmerited love and favor of God toward sinners."  It means so much more than that.  It is "the strength of God through His Word and prayer to face all of the battles and to bear up under times of difficulty."

We can surely be confident that no matter what life sends our way, God will give us the necessary strength to face the trying and difficult valleys in our life.  Yes, you can trust Him!  Our God is greater, by far than any problem we might have to face.  He will take care of us.  We must always remember that "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Eph. 3:20).  Our God gives us the gift of His provision.  God wants to meet the needs of those who seek Him, (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25; Psalm 37:25).  He also gives us the gift of His Person and presence.  What that means is that He is reliable at all times and that He is also present at all times.  (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20).


  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GOODNESS:  
"Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."  (Lamentations 3:24-26).

The word "good" gives the idea of being pleasant, agreeable and excellent.  It refers to the character of God.
    • God is our Satisfier, (verse 24a).  He is described here as our soul’s portion.  This word means “share” or “booty.”  It also refers to the spoils of war.  Here, Jeremiah is saying, "In the battle of life, God is my reward, my share, and my portion.  He is what our soul needs to be satisfied."  (Psa. 103:5; Psa. 107:9; Rom. 8:28).
    • He is our Sustainer, (verses 24b-25).  Our God would never fail those who seek, obey and place their trust in Him, (Isa. 49:23; Rom. 10:11; Matt. 5:18; Psa. 119-89-90; Isa. 40:8).
    • He is our Savior, (verse 26).  In this context, Jeremiah is saying, "Those who wait upon the Lord will see Him bring them out of their troubles and trials.  He will not fail His children, but, in His time, He will deliver them from all their valleys."  God offers salvation through the sacrifice of Christ to all sinners.  God is our ultimate Savior.  A Savior that wants to rescue or deliver all from the peril or hardship.  God can deliver us from all of our problems that no one else can solve.  It is when we find ourselves powerless, hopeless, and helpless that we need a Savior.  He and no one else has the solution to our greatest needs:  a)  The Lord fed the 5,000, (Matt. 14:30)b)  saved Hezekiah, (II Chron. 32:22)c)  saved Israel when they cried out to Him by sending saviors, (Nehemiah 9:27)d)  saved Daniel from the lions, (Daniel 6:27)e)  saved Israel from their enemies, (Numbers 10:9); f)  saved Israel from the Philistines at Ebenezer and again at Beth-Aven, (I Samuel 7:8; 14:23)g)  saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians, (II Kings 19:34); h)  promised to save the Israelites from assault if they stood before the Temple, (II Chr. 20:9)i)  saved Noah, (Heb. 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5).

CONCLUSION:

In the Lamentations of Jeremiah we see that there is hope in spite of life's heartbreaking experiences. Though Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet, we notice that his bitter tears did not blind him but rather strengthened him with hope, love, and confidence that reminded him of the steadfastness and faithfulness of God toward His people even in the midst of horrible circumstances.  God continued to extend His mercy in the lives of His people even after their destruction caused by their own fault and rebellion.  Just as God's steadfast love and mercy never cease toward His children, so it must be among us Christians.  Love and mercy, compassion must never come to an end. They must be new every morning!

The message of the book of Lamentations is that although the people of  Judah had defied God, rebelling against Him for generations, He still was not through with them.  The candle had not yet burned out. The door had not yet closed. God was still reaching out to His people.  Notice what Jeremiah said in Lamentations 3:19-26 as hope reigned because of God's mercy, 
"19 Remember mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is bowed down within me.  21 This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. 22 It is of Jehovah’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  23 They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  24 Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  26 It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."

These precious words remind us of three things about the faithfulness of God:

1.  God's love will never change.  ("It is of Jehovah’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed").  Even when we don't deserve to be loved, God keeps loving us.  Often what we claim to be love is conditional and temporary.  For some, "I'll love you forever," means, "I'll love you until you disappoint me ... I'll love you until it becomes inconvenient ... I'll love you until it's easier not to love you anymore." Instead, God's love is unwavering.  His love is permanent, forever.  Take for instance the people of Judah.  They didn't deserve to be loved by God.  They were ungrateful and rebellious.  But God in His infinite mercy provided for them again and again.  What did they do instead?  Turned their backs on Him over and over.  Today is no different.  Today God shows His steadfast love and mercy through the Gospel of Christ.  "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

2.  God will be merciful to us ("because his compassions, mercies fail not.").  God is merciful to us and expects us to show mercy to others.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7).  To show and maintain a steadfast love for those that never ceases even when they sin against us, we need to keep in mind what James said on this subject:

"12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful."  

Mercy triumphs over judgment.  If you want God’s mercy, show mercy to others. Our hope is the mercy of God extended to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

3.  Every day is a new beginning. ("They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." ).   Our hope is renewed every morning.  Therefore, it doesn't matter what happened yesterday.  There is nothing we can do to change it.  It's gone!  Even though we messed up yesterday, we can say with confidence, "that part of my life is over, today I’m going to do better."  It will be wise to remind ourselves as much as possible that today we are starting with a clean slate and unlimited possibilities.  But, we must refuse to hang on to the past. We must let old habits die.  That is to say, we must break all connection to yesterday.  It does no good to wallow in the regrets of yesterday or coward in the fear of tomorrow.  Today is all that matters!!!  Thank God because we have today!  And with God by our side, every day is a new day!!

God will always love us, and nothing will ever change that.  He will always forgive us if we repent from the heart.  He will always pick us up when we fall if we humbly let Him.  He will always give us a second chance to get right with Him if we humbly surrender to Him.  Every day He gives us is a new day, a new life, a new chance or opportunity to be all that He wants us to be: to do all that we are capable of doing.  So when you find yourself struggling to stay on your course, to keep your commitments, discouraged by negative results in spite of your efforts, why not move forward and remember Lamentations 3:19-26 These are very comforting verses. Why not follow Jeremiah's example of great faith amid the wreckage of life?  He praised God in the midst of this wreckage.  Why not imitate his example of hope in God?  Let us never forget that we are His little children, His little lambs and that He can sustain us faithfully during our times of battles, struggles, valleys, storms, and trials.  He can carry us safely through.  
"25 Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  26 It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."  (Lamentations 3:25-25).

My hope is that we all may say as Jeremiah did, "Great is Thy faithfulness."
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  (Hebrews 10:23)

May we always remember that He Who has promised is faithful to all those who seek, wait, obey and trust in Him.


Luci