Faithfulness is never alone

Be-assured-that-whatever

Search for “faithfulness” in scripture and “steadfast love” is most frequently not very far away. Time and time again, the concept of faithfulness partners with steadfast love to create quite the dynamic duo. And it occurs to me that faithfulness without steadfast love would be quite unfulfilling–for both the faithful one and the receiver of the faithfulness.

Steadfast love is no ordinary love. It is consistent, unwavering, and never leaves. It is this kind of love that partners with faithfulness.

Imagine, on the other hand, a faithfulness not filled with love. Imagine someone sticking by you who also despises you. Would you really want that kind of faithfulness nearby? Or worse, imagine someone who sticks by you, but accompanied by a love that wavers. Sometimes they are there because they love you. Sometimes they are there out of sheer grit.

The latter is our kind of faithfulness, isn’t it? We fulfill our commitments, but not always with steadfast love. Thankfully, Christ is not the same as us. His faithfulness, His unwavering dedication to us, is always partnered with steadfast love. Know that. Lean into it. And be assured that whatever comes, the One standing with you loves you deeply.

Dipping into the Storehouse of God…

It was grocery time again, or at least that’s what the calendar said. But lessened energy kept me driving home instead of the store. And as I considered what to order in, my craving was doused by the realization that my new favorite restaurant is closed on Mondays.

So off to the kitchen to ponder the options. And the inventory list I started that morning calls my attention. Every once in a while I write down everything in the freezer and pantry. At times, I forget what is in there then find myself picking up pieces of meals at the store. The list this time held item after item of favorite flavors. With the craving for take out diminishing, out comes the butter, onions, garlic, and rice. The list of items available isn’t PB&J or a leftover turkey sandwich. It is risotto and seafood, steak and potatoes. The thought of takeout pales in comparison to what is already available to me.

And so I cook. And a podcast about God’s providence when we don’t see Him floats through my mind. On days when His hand may not be obviously seen, His storehouse still overflows. When the grind of faith seems to weigh more than the light burdening yoke Jesus describes, God’s pantry of blessing can be opened to refresh and re-energize.

Remembering that time He delivered a fishes-and-loaves miracle on the mission trip. Or when your friend closed their eyes in wonder at His mercy, overflowing to you and reminding you of the same. Or that prayer answered inexplicably beyond anything you could have imagined. when the support check came out of the blue. Or the car in the intersection missed you by a hair. The first feel of a clear breath after a long cold. Or a great nap after a long week. An author write a sentence that stops you in your tracks because that was *exactly* your thought.

There is a storehouse available to you. Remember His faithfulness. Open the doors of the pantry when the drag of daily life makes you wonder if His love has waned–it hasn’t. And opening the door of remembered blessing will overwhelm you with the true reality: God loves you and He has already magnificently blessed you.

Walk across the kitchen, open the pantry, and dig into the storehouse God already provided.

Digging out the roots of fear…

2014-1111 Jesus-says-not-to-fearThey say there are 365 mentions of “do not fear” in the Bible. I don’t know who “they” are or if they are correct. As many translations as there are, I can live with he generalization without nailing down the specific.

But it made me wonder why. Yes, God would know we would fear and He wanted us to know He knew, and to have a plan for handling the fear. But why would we fear? The list of situational reasons arises, yet the feeling that situations aren’t the deep reason lingered.

And as the day progressed with the thoughts flowing in and out of focus, I realized I have believed the lie that “once this transition is over….” insert desirable outcome here. There are logical cause and effect situations where this takes sense–you cannot graduate college if you do not first fulfill the requirements. So “once this Econ class is over, I will graduate” stands as a real, specific transition that ends. But does it? From one transition to the next, life continues to merge and mold and shape into something new or different or unexpected.

That is why we fear. We long for certainty, yet live in constant transition. God knew we would fear, so He told us not to fear. He gave us account after account of faithful (and unfaithful) living, showing His faithfulness, showing His hand at work. But in the magnificent what only He can accomplish, He took it even further. He came. He came and lived the life of constant transition. He lived in the dust and the grime and the struggle. And in the midst, He still said we could trust, He still told us we could set aside fear.

We can recognize fear for what it is: nervousness of the transition, of the unknown. Fear is the recognition of our limited selves and the unknown coming. Fear is understanding our choices have consequences. Fear is seeing that others’ choices have consequences for us as well. Ultimately, fear is the recognition that we lack complete control.

He says not to fear because He created us this way. He created us to need Him, to long for Him. He created us to need faith. We need to believe there is something greater. And we need to believe we don’t have the know it all. If you have ever seen an adopted child who came from a troubled home, there comes a time (hopefully), when the weight of responsibility that young one held in that former household releases. They see they don’t have to keep the world spinning and the lights on. They relax in the home of adoptive parents who carry those burdens for them. But some adopted children never let go of that responsibility. They carry the weight with them and start to worry about providing for this new family too. Seeing a 7 or 8 year old carry such burdens breaks my heart.

We are that adopted child. If you are in Christ, you are adopted into the family. And you have a choice to make. Will you continue to carry the full burden of responsibility, which leaves you living in fear? Or will you embrace the responsibility of the One looking out for you, releasing the need for fear into the faithful hands of the One Who sought you out to bring you to this new home?

Fear stems from a lack of control. God tells us to not fear for He is in control. Will you trust Him today to be that which He claims to be?

Chronological Bible: December 25, The Babe is faithful and just…

Read:

  • 1 John 1:1-5:21
  • 2 John 1:1-13
  • 3 John 1:1-14

“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, ESV

Sit with that verse for a bit. A direct cause-and-effect promise happens here, rooted in the character of the central figure.

Jesus is faithful. He does not stray from His promises. He is not reckless, nor is He careless. Faithfulness requires intimacy; it requires knowledge, and time spent together. Not from us, but from Him. His faithfulness endures forever. We need never fear that His faithfulness expires at midnight. For there is no midnight that will ever come that jesus will not be faithful to you.

Jesus is just. He knows the price of sin, and He demands that price be paid. But He doesn’t demand it of you; He demanded it of Himself. His justice does not “balance” His forgiveness. His justice is 100%, all the time. His faithfulness includes His 100% insistence upon justice.

The faithful and just One forgives, and He cleanses. The prices paid, He freely opens His arms to anyone who would believe. The sins are forgiven, the stain removed. The faithful and just One would rather pay the price Himself than have you not have the chance at being with Him.

If you don’t yet believe in Jesus as your Savior, what is stopping you? On this Christmas day, look upon the manger where the faithful and just One chose to come that you wouldn’t have to pay the penalty of your sin. Look upon His terrified but following earthly parents whose ordinary lives became extraordinary just because they followed God. Remember the star in the east, the angels’ proclamation. This God came to be your Savior. He is faithful. He is just. You can trust Him.

Chronological Bible: September 2, Removing obstacles to remembering God’s faithfulness…

Read:

  • Job 22:1-30
  • Job 23:1-24:25
  • Job 25:1-6

Chapters 23 and 24 strike me as an example of the troubled one’s prayer. There is much in Job’s heart and mind over which he feels confusion and even heartbreak. He wonders whether God is present and whether the Lord has turned His back. He sets out his concerns and gets them out of the way in chapter 23.

Then Chapter 24 comes and the tide turns. Without the obstacles of personal feelings and thoughts, Job reminds himself of Who the Lord really is. Verse after verse, Job declares the myriad ways the Lord shows HIs faithfulness to His people. These reminders appear all throughout scripture, from the rocks in the Jordan to the rocks next to the Jordan. Remembrances of all the Lord has done for His people.

He knows we need to remember. He gives moments or even items to help up remember His faithfulness. He knows our mortal minds get in the way, so He hears our concerns. He does not shrink at our confusion or condemn us for wondering at the events around us. As Job shows, sometimes you need to get the mortal obstacles out of the way in order to prepare your heart to remember God’s faithfulness.

If you need a reminder, first admit all that stands in the way. Prepare the way for the Lord to show you His mighty hand.