The Faithfulness of God

Have you ever taken the time to study and meditate upon the attributes of God? As rainbowbelievers, we often speak of, sing of, and mention His attributes in our prayers, but how often do we stop to think about what they mean?  One of the primary ways we “see” God is by pondering His nature.

One of my favorite characteristics of God is His faithfulness. To be faithful is to be steadfast and unchanging. James describes God in this way: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) A faithful person never breaks a promise but honors his word no matter what. David said, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises…” (Ps. 145:13)

The faithful do not quit, but finish what they start, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Faithful ones remain faithful even when others are not.  “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13) God not only acts in faithfulness, but His name is Faithful: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” (Rev. 19:11).

These are just a few examples of the faithfulness of our God. He is constantly working in each of us to conform us to this same image. May we be found faithful even as He is!

P.S. I will be having major surgery next week, so I’ll be taking a break from posting for a few weeks. May God bless you!

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Insights from John 15 – Spiritual Union

“Stay united with Me, as I will with you–for just as the branch can’t put forthGrapevines fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with Me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from Me you can’t do a thing. Unless a person remains united with Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, where they are burned up.”  (John 15:4-6)                                                                                                                                                                                          

There is an effort required in maintaining our union with Jesus. He commanded us to stay united with Him, indicating it is possible to leave that place of union, to disconnect ourselves from Him. However, He promises to remain united with us. I believe He is saying in effect, “I will do My part, if you will do yours.” Without continual union with Him there is no fruit, period. It cannot come forth; it is impossible.

Verse five was my life verse for several years, and the Lord still reminds me of it from time to time. From this, I have learned that the only thing the branch has to do is stay connected, or in union, with the vine. Fruit will come naturally, with no effort at all when we do that. Apart from Him, we can do nothing except utterly fail! We will never be literally apart from Him, for He has promised to never leave or forsake us. Through Him and His strength, we can do all things.

What does it look like to stay in union with Him? I believe it means we continually commune with Him throughout each day, talking and listening, as we would with a friend. We consider His thoughts and feelings when making decisions. We welcome His guidance and correction. We live with the sense of His presence – knowing He sees all, hears all, and knows all that we think, say, and do each day. Our desire is to please Him more than ourselves, and we live our lives accordingly. We will still make mistakes, but there will be no fear of punishment or rejection. Instead, we will repent in confidence that He knows our hearts and understands the weakness of our flesh. He is always for us, seeking to help us love and obey Him.

We can choose to stay connected to Him or not, and if we choose to disconnect, we will dry up like a branch that lies on the ground and dies. His life is our life, and if we do not draw from His life continually, we quickly become barren, with nothing to give. He desires that we bear much fruit for His glory. He will be faithful to do His part, and if we are willing, will even help us be faithful to do ours.

The Vanishing Virtue of Faithfulness

According to the dictionary, faithfulness means: strict or thorough in the Faithfulnessperformance of duty; true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant; reliable, trusted or believed; adhering or true to fact, a standard or original; accurate. It implies qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion; long-continued and steadfast fidelity to whatever one is bound to by a pledge, duty, or obligation; unswerving allegiance to a person, organization, cause, or idea. Unfortunately, this compelling virtue is becoming more and more scarce in our society and even in the Church.

It is not so surprising to see faithfulness vanish from our self-centered, self-serving society, but to see it diminishing in the Church is really inexcusable. Faithfulness is one of the foremost characteristics of our God. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Even creation is faithful (see Psalm 85:11). In Scripture, faithfulness is often mentioned in conjunction with God’s love (see Ps. 117:2, 138:2; Prov. 3:3, 14:22, 16:6, 20:28 for just a few). In marriage, and any relationship, the two go hand in hand. If you love someone, you will be faithful to them.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for their lack of faithfulness: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matt. 23:23)

He also said that if we want to be entrusted with more from God, we must be found faithful with the little we have: One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10-12)

Unfortunately, dishonesty and unfaithfulness seem to abound in every sphere and level of our society, from government, leaders in the Church, athletes, celebrities, the medical industry, business and marriage partners, parents, etc. The repercussions have taken a devastating toll on our society: a fatherless generation who distrusts and thus, disrespects authority, adulterous marriage relationships, even in the Church, people who go from church to church looking for leaders they can trust, a nation of cynics and skeptics who don’t trust or believe anybody anymore, even when they are actually telling the truth.

God’s people should be a reflection of His faithfulness to the world; however, we cannot do so apart from His empowering grace. We become faithful by meditating upon His faithfulness to us. Meditation upon His nature is the key to our becoming transformed into His image. If you want to be more loving, meditate upon His love. If you want more peace, meditate upon His peace. If you need more joy in your life, meditate upon His joy.

If you struggle with faithfulness, I encourage you to try this simple technique. Find the Scriptures that refer to His faithfulness and read, study, and meditate on them. List the ways and times He has proved His faithfulness to you and ponder them. Ask for His grace to enable you to be faithful to Him and to others, just as He has been to you. He loves to answer these kinds of prayers. Let us represent Him accurately; let us be faithful even as He is.

What is one way God has proved His faithfulness to you? Please comment below.

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive in the Wilderness

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. – Hosea 2:14

Have you ever been in a wilderness season in your walk with God? Maybe you’re in one wildernessnow. If you haven’t, chances are really good that you will. Not just once, but possibly several times. How do I know? Well, I’ve been through a few myself. And if you’ve read much of the Bible, you’ll notice most everyone God ever used had their own unique time in the wilderness, even Jesus. In fact, the wilderness is a common theme; the word is used over 270 times in the Old Testament alone.

The term can refer to a natural area of uninhabited land or pasture. The Hebrew word used literally means, a region suitable for pasturing sheep or cattle; an uncultivated place; not a barren desert. When used figuratively, it often depicts a place of barrenness and dryness, with little to no life or activity. Many times in Scripture it was a place of encounter with God, as seen in Hosea 2:14.

The Israelites encountered God as a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire in their wilderness wanderings. Moses encountered Him in the burning bush. David discovered God as his refuge during his years of running from Saul, hiding out in a cave. The Shulamite maiden encountered Him as a Bridegroom. There are many others as well.

So what does this mean for you and me? Why does God repeat this pattern so many times in Scripture? What are His purposes for these wilderness seasons in our lives? I’ve come up with at least 8 reasons God allows these times in our journey, based on Deuteronomy 8:2-9:

  • Reveals the hidden things in our hearts that hinder our relationship. (v. 2)
  • A time of testing our obedience to Him. (v. 2)
  • Humbles us, causing us to depend upon Him more fully. (v. 3)
  • Produces greater spiritual hunger. (v. 3)
  • We learn to hear His voice more clearly. (v. 3)
  • Proves His faithfulness to us. (v. 3-4)
  • Can be a form of discipline. (v. 5)
  • Preparation for a season of blessing. (v. 7-9)

Learning to understand God’s ways and purposes doesn’t always make these seasons easier, but we can learn to embrace them by His grace, when we realize the good that He wants to accomplish in our lives. I believe we can discover how to thrive in the wilderness, not just simply survive. How should we respond in order to do this? Here are a few suggestions that might help:

  1. Rather than run from the issues in our heart and soul, seek help and healing to get free. The more we are healed, the greater our intimacy with God can become.
  2. Seek His grace daily in areas you struggle to obey. Ask for help and prayer from those you trust.
  3. Humble yourself; trust Him to do what you cannot do. Let His strength come forth as you embrace your weakness.
  4. Make spending regular time with Him a priority. Increase that time as much as possible.
  5. Meditation in the Scripture is a great way to learn to hear His voice. Ask mature friends and leaders to help you if you struggle with this.
  6. Develop a daily attitude of gratitude. God deserves our gratitude, worship, and praise. Remember, grumbling and complaining cost some of Israel their promised land!
  7. Submit to His discipline. Repent, confess your sins to God and to trusted friends. Remember, He disciplines those He loves.
  8. Commit to continue this process when the season changes. Israel is one example of how quickly we can forget God during times of blessing and favor.

As we learn to embrace God’s ways rather than resist them, we can accelerate our spiritual growth. We can thrive, not just survive, in the wilderness.

What has God taught you in the wilderness seasons? I would love to hear your comments!

What is God really like?

Blue treeI believe the greatest need in the Church right now is the true knowledge of God. Our personal knowledge of God – what He is like, how He thinks, feels and acts, is the most important thing in our life. It determines how we relate to Him, to others, even to ourselves. If we see Him as mostly angry and disappointed with us or with others that is how we will treat both ourselves and others. If we believe He is demanding and perfectionistic we will demand the same standard of ourselves and those around us. If we view Him as loving and forgiving we will love and forgive ourselves and others. Our actions are always an indicator of what we believe, so if we treat others harshly, with impatience, intolerance, or any other negative way, it should be a clue that we are in need of a greater revelation of God.

Our personal revelation of God must come directly from Him. It must impact us at the deepest level of our being in order to transform our thinking and actions. We come to know Him just as we get to know people – by experiencing them (spending time with them, talking, doing life together). It requires a real relationship, day after day, week after week, year after year. Apart from this, we have no hope of ever knowing Him.

The good news is that God LOVES to reveal Himself to us if we will simply ask Him. Paul knew this when he wrote, “In my prayers I keep asking… the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you will have full knowledge of Him.” (Eph. 1:17) Usually He will choose one particular aspect of His nature to reveal to us in depth. For me it has been His faithfulness. Through many trials too numerous to mention here, He has demonstrated His great faithfulness time after time after time. He has done this so much that whenever I’m facing another trial, I know without a doubt that He will be faithful to carry me through it and it gives me great peace.

I have discovered that what He reveals of Himself to us is what He wants to form in us, for we become like that which we behold. And whatever part of Him we become like is what He wants us to display to those around us. He really, really wants everyone to know Him and we’ve been given the privilege of making Him known to a world who wants to know Him whether they realize it or not. We were made to know Him and will never find our true purpose or fulfillment in life until we do.

What aspect of God’s nature is He revealing to you? Leave a comment below.