Gripped By Faithfulness

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In this message, we learn that our unfaithfulness can never nullify His faithfulness.

Well, hey, friends. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you guys are here with us today. And if this is your first time, welcome to this place. And a few weeks ago, we had the crazy snowstorm that kind of bumped everything. And made everything a little bit chaotic and hectic. And so we kind of had to delay our series. And what I’d like to do today is I’d like to wrap our series called underrated. We were going through this a few weeks ago and we were just talking about things that aren’t valued in this world but that are significant in the Kingdom of God. So I’d like to pull it all together today. And I want to just start by asking you this simple question. When was the last time you wanted to quit something? When was the last time you just wanted to give up on something quick? Cash it in. Just say, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.” What was the last thing that you wanted to quit on? Maybe it was trying to keep a weed-free yard. I want to quit on that every single spring when it comes around.

Or maybe you wanted to give up on your New Year’s resolution. Or spending time at the gym. Maybe you wanted to quit on that activity that you’re spouse somehow signed you up for. Like, you don’t know how you got signed up for Zumba class but for some reason, you’re supposed to be there every week. Or maybe you want to quit on your job, at an assignment. Maybe you want to quit on your spouse or your kids. Maybe you want to quit on church or God. You see, we live in a world that is quick to quit and quick to give up. But we serve a God who never will. In fact, the entire bible can be summed up like this. The bible is the story of a faithful God being faithful to a faithless people. In fact, that’s the whole story of history. A faithful God being faithful to a faithless people. In fact, if we just start in the beginning of the bible, you start with the story of Adam and Eve.

God makes Adam and Eve. Man in his image and his likeness and he places them in the garden and gives them authority over the entire earth. And he only tells them there’s one thing that they can’t do, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And so what’s the one thing that they do? Eat from the three of the knowledge of good and evil. And if you and I were God in the moment, we probably would have just wiped out Adam and Eve, avoided the whole mess of all the problems that started from that point forward. It started with Adam and Eve 2.0. It’s probably what we would do but not God. Why? Because he’s faithful. So what does he do? He makes the first sacrifice of all time, the shedding of the blood. He takes animal skins. He covers their nakedness. And he tells them through their offspring eventually a deliverer will rise up to crash the head of Satan. And then we go on and we read through the bible and we get to Noah. And the wickedness of man is great. There’s rebellion and rejection against God. And again, if you and I were God, we would probably wipe out the entire earth but not God. Why? Because he’s faithful.

So he has Noah and in his family get into a wooden ark which is a picture of the wooden cross. And then he sends forth the flood which is a picture of water, baptism, cleansing, washing away of sin. And because he’s faithful, he gives Noah and his family another chance, and says, “Be fruitful. Multiply. Feel the earth and subdue it just like you did to Adam and Eve.” And then we keep reading. And we get to the Israelites. Four hundred years of slavery. And one day, God shows up and he pulls them out of slavery. And he says, “Come and I will be a father and you will be my sons and daughters.” And he brings them to the promise land. And he says, you will be my people and we will dwell here together. Only the problem in the promise land is that the Israelites start worshiping foreign gods, bale and Moloch and Asherah poles and sacrificing to foreign gods. And while they’re rejecting and rebelling against him, God doesn’t give up on them. He constantly is drawing them back together. And then we get to the New Testament. The gospels, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. God’s faithfulness was so great that he chose to come down. And he has literally stepped into this earth, bring grace and truth to move into our neighborhood. And even though Jesus walked through this earth and was rejected and not wanted and people wanted to get rid of him, he went all the way to the cross.
The ultimate sign of faithfulness that there is. And he died on the cross because he is faithful. And then we get to the New Testament church, the first century church, the epistles. And we see this little fledgling church that’s birthed out of the death of Jesus and they’re consistently drifting and dividing. But because God is faithful, he doesn’t give up and the spirit is drawing them together. And then we get to your story and my story. That if we would look at your life and my life, and we would recount the details, we would see a whole lot of unfaithfulness in our life. And yet a whole lot of faithfulness from God. In fact, the cry of God’s heart has always been 2 Corinthians 6:18. I will be a father to you and you will be my sons and daughters. But the cry of men has always been, We’ll do it our own way. We’ll do our own thing. But the good news is this, is that our unfaithfulness can never nullify his faithfulness.

That our unfaithfulness can never nullify, cancel, or change God’s faithfulness. In fact, 2 Timothy 2:13 says, If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. You see, in this series, underrated, we’ve been talking about things that aren’t valued in the world but that are significant in the Kingdom of God. And faithfulness would certainly be one of those. But you throw out the word faithfulness to the world and the world is going to laugh at you. The world wants nothing to do with faithfulness. They want fun and self and happiness. And while it’s underrated in the world, faithfulness can’t be overemphasized in the Kingdom of God. You literally cannot overemphasize the importance of faithfulness in God’s Kingdom. I mean, think about it. He’s a faithful God. Faithfully ruling his kingdom. He’s faithful to perform his word and fulfill his promises. He’s faithful to forgive us of our sins. And ultimately bring us home.

Exodus 34:6, is, The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He’s abounding in faithfulness. The bible says, faithfulness surrounds him, faithfulness goes before him, his faithfulness reaches to the skies. That’s why the psalm says, Great is your faithfulness, oh Lord. And so as people of the kingdom, we’re called to live in this faithfulness. And we’re called to be people that are faithful, that are committed. But here’s our problem, our problem is that unfaithfulness is enticing. Unfaithfulness is kind of intriguing. If we’re really honest, unfaithfulness is tempting. We want to see what’s on the other side of the fence. And in reality, faithfulness bores us. I mean, if you just flat out say it like that, “Faithfulness bores us. We are not inspired by faithfulness.” In fact, I’d go as far to say as this is I think, faithfulness is probably the most amazing and yet the least inspiring value in the Kingdom of God.

So really, it’s probably the most amazing and yet the least inspiring value in the Kingdom of God. Like when was the last time you were overly inspired by a sunrise? I mean the sun came up today, did you even notice it? Did you look at it? That’s faithfulness. The sun rises every day. Or how about this, the air, that there’s air right now for you to breathe in your lungs. When was the last time you were inspired by oxygen coming into your lungs? Probably not. But that’s faithfulness. Or the reality that your heart is beating right now where you are. You’re probably not inspired by it. But it’s faithfulness. Or the fact that God is here in this room with us. Maybe not inspired by it but that’s faithfulness. That’s faithfulness. And the reality is, is that we don’t really celebrate faithfulness. It’s kind of boring. Like the stay-at-home mom that faithfully stays home to raise her kids. Or the worker that gets up and goes to work every single day for the same job for 20 years and faithfully does his job.

Or the friend that’s there with you through thick and thin and never gives up. Or the person that comes to church every single week to volunteer and serve so that other people can meet God. We don’t celebrate that. We’re not inspired by that. We are not inspired by faithfulness. And yet, without it, we would absolutely fall apart. You see faithfulness is the essence of the Kingdom of God because it’s the nature of God. And so if you got your bibles, flip over with me quick to John chapter 6. John chapter 6 — are you with me so far in this? So it’s making sense. I know this is a topic we probably don’t like to talk about. Faithfulness, it can make us a little uncomfortable. But man, this is the very nature of God. In John chapter 6, let me set the stage of the story for you. Basically, Jesus has just multiplied the bread and the loaves to feed 5,000 people. So there’s this huge crowd around him after this miracle. And he is teaching them and he says something really hard.

He says, Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you. And when Jesus says that, everybody starts freaking out which rightfully so because it’s even a little awkward for you and I to hear it today. Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you. Well, what’s he talking about? He’s talking about his broken body and his shed blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. But he hadn’t gone to the cross yet. So they didn’t really understand it. So Jesus says, Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you. The people start freaking out. Picking up in verse 60, it says, On hearing it, many of his disciples said, this is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, Does this offend you? What if you see the son of man ascend where he was before? The spirit gives life. The flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit. And they are life.

Remember that the words of God are like the breath of heaven. So the reason you want to read your bible and hear his voice is because his voice is the breath of heaven in your life. It goes on, verse 64, Yet there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, this is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the father has enabled him. From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. So catch this, Jesus does this amazing miracle. He then says something they don’t understand. And a whole bunch of disciples say this is a hard teaching, we can’t understand it. And they turn and they leave. Now, think about this, this is disciples. Okay. This is not the crowd. This is disciples. So think of all they’ve see up until this point. In John chapter 2, they watched Jesus turn water into wine. And then in John 4, they watched Jesus save an entire Samaritan village. And then in John 5, they watched Jesus heal the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda.

And then they watched Jesus walk on water. They just saw Jesus multiply bread and loaves to feed 5,000 people. And now, he says one little thing that they don’t understand. And they turn around and they walk away. They give up on Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t give up on them. You see even though they’re walking away from Jesus, Jesus is walking to the cross for them. In fact, when Jesus gets to the cross and he says, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. These are the people that he’s talking about. We are the people that he’s talking about. You see even though, you and I give up on Jesus, he never gives up on us. Hebrews 13:5, he says, Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. And even though, you and I, we leave and forsake him. He will never leave nor forsake us.

Which if you’re honest right now, that’s incredibly humbling. To think of all of the unfaithful moments in your life, recently or years ago, think of all of those moments. All of the unfaithfulness of your life and yet he remains faithful to you. It’s amazing to me how little it takes for us to give up on Jesus. But how much he will tolerate without giving up on us. How little it takes for you and I to turn and walk away. But how much he will tolerate without giving up on us. And so it goes on. Look at verse 67, Jesus looks right at the 12. He says, You do not want to leave, too, do you? Jesus asked the 12. Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the holy one of God. In other words, Jesus looks at the 12 while everyone else is living. And he says, “Hey, you guys want to go, too?” And Peter looks right back at Jesus. And he takes a moment and he evaluates the landscape. In other words, he looks at the repeated patterns of behavior of Jesus’s life. He kind of goes through all of the experiences he’s had with Jesus.

You see, I think too often in our lives, we define people by anomalies, by outliers. Like if there’s a person that’s joyful all the time and then they have one bad day and they’re grumpy, it’s an anomaly or an outlier. Well, you and I, we can define that person by that outlier and say they are a grumpy person. No. They’re not a grumpy person. They just had a bad day. Okay. Well, the same is true with Peter. He evaluates the repeated patterns of behavior of Jesus’s life and he realizes everything Jesus does always leads them to life. So even though in this moment, this outlier, they don’t understand what he’s saying. It’s a little bit confusing what he’s saying. It’s a little bit uncomfortable. They’re going to choose to hang in there because the repeated patterns of behavior is Jesus is always bringing them to life. In other words, Peter looks at Jesus. And he says, Jesus it’s your faithfulness that’s giving us the courage to stay. And they stay. Because that’s what disciples do.

You see disciples are committed even when it’s hard and they don’t understand. The world is interested only when it’s fun and full of miracles. Disciples are interested when it’s hard. And they don’t understand the world only shows up. It’s only interested when it’s fun and full of miracles. And it’s really easy to say you’re committed. It’s really easy to say you’re faithful. But you only know you’re committed when you have to do something you don’t want to do. You only know you’re committed when it’s hard or when it costs you something. Until then, it’s just called enjoyment. Like, let’s all agree, no one would say, a couple on their honeymoon is committed. Anybody want to agree with that? They’re not committed at that point. That’s called enjoyment. It’s like the best week of your life. What are you talking about? That’s not commitment. That’s enjoyment or nobody would say a worker that’s starting his first day in a new job is committed. No. That’s enjoyable. You get your new workspace and you get to meet new people and get a new assignment. No one would say somebody that just got saved is committed to Jesus. No. That’s a glorious day.

You just went from death to life. That’s not commitment. That’s enjoyment. Commitment is after you’ve been married for years and the person becomes difficult and hard to love and is struggling. That’s commitment. Commitment is after you’ve worked in a job for a few seasons, and all of a sudden, your preferences are being challenged. And you’re asked to do some things you really don’t like. You’d rather do something else. And you stay. That’s commitment. Commitment is not the moment of salvation. It’s being obedient to do whatever Jesus asks you to do even when it’s hard. It’s easy to say “I’m committed.” But you only know you’re committed when you have to do something that you don’t really want to do. And what you and I have to remember is that commitment is always for our good, not His. I mean, think of the 12. They stay committed. They stay faithful. They stay in the game with Jesus. Think of what they got to experience from this point forward that everybody else missed out on. They got to watch Jesus open the blind eyes. They saw him raise Lazarus from the dead. They got to have Jesus.

Jesus washed their feet. They got to sit in the upper room and talk with Jesus and have this great conversation about the mysteries and the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven and that Jesus called them friends, and then they got to experience the resurrected Jesus Christ. You see commitment is always for our good. That’s why he wants you to stay committed in your marriage. Because no matter how hard it may be right now. God wants to teach you what true love is really all about. So I want you to be committed to him in finances and tithe and trust him because he wants to set you free from the love of money. So I want you to be committed in your disciplines of reading the word and gathering and worship and being in groups because he wants to reveal to you who he really is. That’s why he wants you to be committed to your assignment that you have in life because he wants to grow your character and show you what your purpose is. Commitment is always for our good. And the reality is that it’s really easy to do random acts of kindness.

Come on, let’s just be honest. It’s easy to buy somebody a cup of coffee at Starbucks, going through the line, and just say, “Yeah. I’ll pay you back.” It’s easy to do random acts of kindness. It’s hard to be faithfully committed. But it’s only through faithful commitment for a long time that we discover the true heartbeat of God. In fact, without commitment, we miss out on the greatest things in life. Are you with me so far? Does this make sense to you? You see, I think you and I, we underestimate the power of commitment. We forget what powerful commitment really is. I mean think of Jesus. His faithfulness is so great that it moves him to come to this earth and he comes. And he starts to redeem the world by going and picking 12 nobodies. He literally picks 12 nobodies. Tax collectors and fishermen and zealots. And these 12 nobodies are constantly letting him down. Whether it’s running the children off or not understanding his teaching or being full of fear and not having faith or wanting to call fire down from heaven to condemn people or stealing money out of a money bag or just denying Jesus to little servant girls. .

I mean, they’re constantly failing them. And in my mind, I got to think that at some point with some of these failures, Jesus God, I’ll just look and be like “Really? Like, really, Father? Like, you want me to change the world? And these are the best 12 people that you could give me for this assignment? Like, really?” And yet he never gives up on them. In fact, in John 17, at the end of his life, he says to the father, Father, I have not lost one that you have given me. In other words, I have been fully faithful and fully committed to them until the end. And you and I, we read the bible and we say things like this. We say it was the faith of 12 men that changed the world. But really, that’s wrong. It was his faithfulness. Not their faith that changed the world. It was the fact that he was always faithful and never gave up on them, and at some point, that created faith within them to be faithful back to Jesus.

You see what I’m trying to say to you is, Don’t despise small beginnings. Don’t despise small beginnings in your life. Jesus had small beginnings with 12 little ragtag disciples. And they ultimately changed the world. Don’t despise small beginnings. You and I, I think we overestimate how much we can do in a few days. We underestimate how much we can do in a few years. We overestimate how much we think we can accomplish in just a few days. But we underestimate how much can actually happen if we’re committed for a few years. Commitment to the right things for a long time creates profound results. Jesus was committed to the right thing. Twelve disciples for a long time, three years, and it created profound results. Our problem is we just give up too quick. A little bit of resistance. A little bit of obstacle. Just something in our path that makes us uncomfortable. And we’re out. We out. We say, “I’m gone.”

And so the question I would ask you is, is that thing that you want to give up right now in your life, is God asking you to quit on that thing? Or you’re just doing it because you don’t feel like it anymore? Are you quitting on that relationship or that assignment or that job or that person or that group or that activity? Are you doing it just because it’s uncomfortable? Because God is asking you to do it. I mean think of a farmer. A farmer takes the seed. He goes out and he plants it in the ground. And once he puts it in the ground, he’s fully committed to that seed. He has no other options. And so whether there’s plagues or storms or drought, he is fully committed to that seed. He stays faithful to it. And over a long period of time, he will reap an incredible harvest. You and I, we’d be really bad farmers because we’d go out and we’d plant a seed. And we’d come back the next day and there wouldn’t be bushels and bushels full of apples. And we’d be like, “It didn’t work, man. There’s something wrong with the seed. It didn’t rain.” And we just quit. And we’d leave because I think if we’re just honest with ourselves, we want results without commitment.

I want to lose 20 pounds without ever going to the gym. I want to be a spiritual giant without ever having to open my bible. I want great relationships without having to spend time with those people. I want an amazing church but I don’t really want to participate in it. Or how about this, I want a big faith. But I’m not really interested in faithfulness. Okay. It doesn’t work like that. There’s no shortcuts in the Kingdom of Heaven. But if we will take his paths of faithfulness, it will always lead us to abundance. You see what you and I have to remember, what we have to remember is that our faithfulness to the world is a reflection of his faithfulness to us. Our faithfulness to the world around us is literally revealing God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful world. Remember, you’re his representation on this earth. You’re here to represent him to the world around you. So however you live, you’re painting a picture of Jesus to those around you.

So whether you hang in there or quit. Whether you keep going or give up. Whether you follow through or not, you’re painting the picture of who God is to the world around you. And so I would say, you know, Dads, if you hang in there and you’re faithful to your kids and to your family, you’re showing your family that God is faithful. Students, if you keep going to that team, that practice, when it’s a snow day or you feel like quitting and you don’t feel going today but you go anyways even though you don’t feel like it, you’re showing your team the faithfulness of God. Employee, when you go to your job every day and you give a two-week notice at the end and you finish well and you do the right thing, you’re showing your employer and the people around you the faithfulness of God. So you remember, we’re called to bring heaven to earth. We are called to make the invisible, visible through the way that we live. And it’s revealing the faithfulness of God and the earth as part of our assignment by just living faithfully.

I mean no wonder Satan wants to attack faithfulness with everything he’s got because it reminds him of God. It’s the essence of the kingdom. It’s the nature of who the Father is. So he wants to attack it with everything he’s got. And so the question I would ask you is, your faithfulness to the world, is it a reflection of his faithfulness to us? The world is thirsty. An unfaithful world is thirsty. For the faithfulness of God to be revealed through us. And the reality is this, is if you have a hard time committing to other people and to other things, being committed, is because you don’t really believe he’s committed to you. Your faithfulness towards other people is always a reflection of how much you believe God is faithful to you. So what does that teach you about your view of his faithfulness towards us?

And I think in a lot of ways our problem is this, is we’re looking for something in the world that can only be found in Jesus. That’s why we go from marriage to marriage and job to job and activity to activity and circumstance to circumstance, a commitment to commitment because we’re looking for something in the world to satisfy in here what only Jesus can do. Okay. Now, do you remember the story in 2 Kings chapter 6. It’s this great story of Elisha and his servant. And Elisha and his servant are in this city. And the king and the Arameans wants to come and kill Elisha. He wants to destroy the man of God. So one night while Elisha and the servant are sleeping, the king of the Arameans brings, like, his entire army. So they surround the city, their soldiers and chariots and horses and warriors and commanders. I mean the entire city is surrounded by this enemy army that wants to kill Elisha and his servant.

And the next morning, they wake up and the servant looks over the wall and he sees this entire army surrounding them and he starts freaking out. And he goes to Elisha and he says, “Elisha, what are we going to do. I mean there’s this vast army surrounding us about to bear down on us. What are we going to do, Elisha?” And Elisha just smiles and he looks at the servant and he says, “Don’t worry. There are more that are for us than that are against us.” And the servant was kind of like, “What are you talking about? It’s just you and me. There’s just the two of us here. And an entire — what do you mean there’s for us than are against us?” And Elisha just kind of smiles and he just prays and he says, “Lord, would you open his eyes that he might see.” And in that moment, the servant opens up his eyes. And when he opens up his eyes, on the hills all the way around the city, he sees chariots and horses of fire. Everywhere he could see, he sees an army of fire behind this enemy army. In other words, the armies of God are revealed to him.

And he sees this massive force of the faithfulness of God marching down on the city to protect them. And Elisha and this one little servant and this faithfulness of the army of God wins this great incredible victory. And they destroy the Arameans. And when I read that story, I love when Elisha says, he says, there are more that are for us than are against us. In other words he says, God’s faithfulness towards us is greater than the faithlessness around us. God’s faithfulness towards us is greater than the fear within us. And so he prays and he says, “Lord, open his eyes to your faithfulness.” And that’s all we need to do. We, like that servant, we need to open our eyes to his faithfulness. I mean maybe you’re here and you want to quit. You want to give up. You want to cash it in. You feel surrounded. Enemies are bearing down on you. You can’t do it anymore. You can’t hang in that marriage one more day or stay in that job one week longer.

Or be committed to this thing anymore. You want to give up. You want to quit. You feel overwhelmed. You’re full of fear. Open your eyes to his faithfulness. You see his faithfulness is always there. We just don’t open our eyes to it. And what I love about Elisha, I mean, he’s probably one of the guys in the bible with some of the greatest faiths in all of the bible. And what I love about Elisha is he wasn’t focused on his own faith. He was always focused on the faithfulness of God. In fact, that’s what faith is. Faith is the belief in the faithfulness of God. That’s all it is. And people have big faith. They have big faith not because they’re looking at themselves. Because they’re always looking at the faithfulness of God. Romans 10:17, Faith comes by hearing. Hearing by the word of God. Jesus. In other words, the more I hear about the faithfulness of Jesus, the greater my faith will grow. That’s one of the reasons we gather in here and have the word of Jesus taught over us.

Because the more I hear about his faithfulness, the more my faith in him begins to grow in significant and profound ways. And the reality is that you always got to be focused on his commitment to you. Not your commitment to him. I mean, you remember Peter at the end of Jesus’s life? Jesus is about to go to the cross and he looks at the 12 disciples. And he says, “You’re all going to deny me.” Every one of you, you’re going to fall away and you’re going to deny me. And Peter very quickly said, “Not me, Lord. Not me.” And he points to the others. “Even if all of these fall away. Even if they all deny you, Lord. I will die with you, Jesus.” And Jesus, “Peter, even today, tonight, this very day, you’re going to deny me three times and to a servant girl.” And what happens? Peter denies Jesus three times and to a servant girl. Why? Because he was focused on his commitment to Jesus instead of Jesus’s commitment to him.

We need to focus on his faithfulness towards us. Not our faithfulness towards him. That’s people of big faith. And no matter how dark, how bleak, how many enemies are surrounding them, they are focused on his faithfulness towards us. Now, let me try to pull all this together for you. Okay? Let me close it and pull it all together with this. Do you remember Abraham and the covenant or the agreement that God and Abraham made in the Old Testament? Basically, one day, God comes to Abraham. And he says, “Abraham, I want to make a covenant or an agreement with you. I want to bless you to be a blessing and all the people on the earth will be blessed through you. And here’s the deal. I’m going to give you so many descendants. It’s going to be like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.” And Abraham says, “That’s a great deal.” And so what they would do in the Old Testament when they’d make a covenant, an agreement is they’d take an animal, they’d cut it in half. And they’d put pieces of the halves on both sides. And then the two people that were making the agreement would walk in between the two halves of the animals as a way to say, “We will stay within the boundaries of this covenant. And if we don’t then may that faith of that animal be the faith of us.”

So it always happened. Both of them would walk through together. Only in this occasion, only God walked through the two pieces of the animal. In other words, God says, “Abraham, I’m going to make a covenant with you. But this covenant is so important. It’s so significant that I’m going to make it with myself. It’s going to be based on my faithfulness, not yours. Which was a really good thing because it wasn’t long after that that Abraham has all kinds of issues. Not long after that that he takes his wife, Sarah, and because he’s afraid of this man, he pretends that she’s his sister and literally gives her to this man so this man doesn’t kill him. And then it wasn’t long after that that he takes his wife’s maidservant, Hagar, and he sleeps with her and has this son, Ishmael, which causes all kinds of problems in the days to come.

And then because Ismael is picking on Isaac, he finally sends Ishmael away so he becomes an absentee dad. And he has these moments of faithlessness and doubt. He has all kinds of issues. But the covenant wasn’t based on Abraham’s faithfulness, it was based on God’s faithfulness. God says, “I swear by myself that this will happen.” And so it was God’s faithfulness in the face of Abraham’s unfaithfulness that brought the blessing. Which sounds a whole lot like the gospel of Jesus Christ, doesn’t it? His faithfulness in the face of our unfaithfulness that brings the blessing. See, remember in the Old Testament, the old covenant, the old deal or agreement, the law, God basically comes to the people. This is religion. This is the Old Testament. He comes to people and says, “Hey. I want to be your God and I want you to be my people. And I will bless you and provide for you and protect you and keep you safe. And here’s the deal, we’ll just make an agreement. That will be my part. And your part will be to obey. If you do then I will. If you do all these things then I will bless you.”

And the Israelites say, “That’s a great deal.” So they shake hands with God thinking they can do it. And what happens? They fail miserably. Because you and I, we tend to have a problem with faithfulness. And so most of the Old Testament is God providing temporary solutions for the forgiveness of the people’s sins so the agreement could keep going. But they couldn’t keep their end of the bargain. That’s religion. You perform. If you do, then he will. How many of us still believe that about God? If I do, then he will. If I don’t, then he won’t. That’s the old covenant. But what you have to remember in the new covenant with Jesus, basically God’s faithfulness gets so great that it spills over into this earth. Jesus shows up on the earth. And God says, “Hey, let’s agree that that first deal didn’t work out all that well. Like, you were never able to keep your part of the bargain. It didn’t work all that well. So let’s do a new deal. A new covenant. A new agreement. And I still want to be your God and I still want you to be my people. Only this time, how about I’ll do my part of blessing you and providing for you and protecting you but I’ll also do your part. I will obey for you.”

And so Jesus comes to this earth. He walks. He lives as a man. He lives a perfect sinless life. He finishes the work which the father gave him to do. And when Jesus gets to the cross, it’s as if Jesus and the father shake hands and make an agreement that this covenant will be ratified forever and the gospel is now based on the faithfulness of God. Not your faithfulness or my faithfulness which means you are blessed and forgiven and loved and accepted based on his faithfulness. Not yours. Which means that your unfaithfulness can’t nullify his faithfulness. It’s based on what he did. And in a lot of ways, it’s kind of like an unfaithful marriage. It’s an unfaithful marriage and then there’s true reconciliation and repentance and brokenness of restoration. It was the faithfulness of the one in the face of the unfaithfulness of the other that creates a great and deep love in the heart. It’s the faithfulness of the one in the face of the unfaithfulness of the other that creates a great and deep love in the heart. You see you and I, we spend most of our lives searching for things, searching for something to satisfy that longing in our soul. And when we finally give up searching, we realize he’s still there. That he’s always been there and that he’s faithful.

And we realize that he was like the prodigal father standing on the porch looking out, waiting for you to come home with the light always on. He’s waiting for you to come home because of his faithfulness. And I think like sometimes we’re like a little toddler and we throw a temper tantrum. We want to live life our way. We want to do our things. We want to make it our way. We want everybody to get off. Let us do our thing. And we have this little temper tantrum in life. And we thrash and throw ourselves around and bang our heads. And we look silly and foolish. And while we have a temper tantrum, God just steps back and he lets us have our space to have our temper tantrum. And then we exhaust ourselves and we can’t do it anymore, God reaches in and he picks us up and he dries our tears. And he says, “I’m still here.” A faithful God being faithful to a faithless people. And when the faithfulness of God grips your heart, you can’t help but start living a faithful life.

So you close your eyes with me. And let me just ask you this simple question that I like to ask you is, what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you? In this time, in this place, in this moment, what’s he whispering in your heart? The reality is is that we struggle with faithfulness. We struggle with commitment. We make promises and we don’t keep them. We hang out with something until it stops meeting our needs or gets hard and then we bail. But the beautiful picture of God is that he never gives up on us. And that no matter how much unfaithfulness I have in my life, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.

And so my sense is for some of you here today, today is your day to finally receive the faithfulness of Jesus. You’ve been like that toddler screaming and crying on the ground. Let him pick you up. Let the love of Jesus overtake you and forgive all of the unfaithfulness, all the lack of the commitment, all of the brokenness of your life. Not because of what you have done but because of what Jesus did on the cross. A covenant, and agreement that God has made forever that cannot be broken because of his faithfulness. And then my sense is that there are some of you here today and you’re ready to give up. You walked in here today and today was the last day you were going to come to church. Today is the last week you’re going to be in that marriage. It’s the last week you’re going to go to that job or be in that activity. Okay. Can I just encourage you like Elisha said to his servant? What I want to say to you is open your eyes to his faithfulness.

In fact, Lord Jesus, I pray that you would open their eyes right now to the faithfulness of the goodness of God in their life. May they not see the enemy or the fear or the circumstances or the situations, but may their eyes be open to your faithfulness towards them. Lord Jesus, we pray that we would live in your faithfulness. And that because of that we would learn to be faithful and committed people because you are faithful and committed to us. We love you Lord Jesus. We are overwhelmed by your faithfulness. It is the essence of the kingdom. It is your very nature. And may we be amazed and inspired by it today. In your name we pray, amen.

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