Welcome to week 28 of our Believe Series as we unpack what it means to live out the story of the Bible to become like Jesus.
This is a 30 week journey taking us through what it means to Think, Act, and Be like Jesus.
It has often been said that actions speak louder than words. For believers in Christ this means our actions need to match our words, what we do needs to match what we say we believe.
Faithfullness is ....
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.
Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Now when we say God is faithful to his person we are referring to God being faithful, loyal, consistant with WHO He is, His character.
In other words as Num 23:19 says
God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?
In other words the very character of God is such that by his nature he tells the truth and doesn't lie. Character has to do with what something is like. A piece of wood has a different character than a piece of steel. A spider has different characteristics and thus a different character than a tiger. What you expect of a spider is NOT what you expect of a tiger.
And so what you expect of God is based on his character or your understanding of His character. What we see in Scripture is that God never deviates from his character. While you and I sometimes do - as children of God for instance we are not supposed to sin any longer, but we do - everytime we deviate/stray from God's character. This never happens with God, however, which is why he is so trustworthy. There are no cracks, gaps, fakes or posing in WHO he is.
Purpose has to do with WHAT God is all about. What He wants done in the world. Why he created it, etc.
God has a plan for his creation which he will certainly accomplish. It is carried out through the control of circumstances and his choice and use of people, and above all in the life, death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ.
Manser, Martin H. Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser, 2009. Print.
The LORD of Hosts has sworn: As I have purposed, so it will be; as I have planned it, so it will happen.
This is the plan prepared for the whole earth, and this is the hand stretched out against all the nations. The LORD of Hosts Himself has planned it; therefore, who can stand in its way? It is His hand that is outstretched, so who can turn it back?
I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it.
The LORD has prepared everything for His purpose— even the wicked for the day of disaster.
So what is God's purpose? Habakkuk sums it up nicely for us!
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD’s glory, as the waters cover the sea.
All through the Bible you see this idea talked about. God desires everyone, everywhere to KNOW Him, not just to know about him but to KNOW Him - to be saved, be a believer, be a child of God, be adopted into His family.
Not only does he desire you to know Him but He desires you to be made alive. All through Scripture, since Adam and Eve sinned we also see that God is busy bringing new life, restoration, wholeness and more to His creation. Romans 8 tells us the whole earth is broken and groaing and to be back together like Humpty Dumpty that fell off the wall.
Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all repeatedly talk about God's plan to renew ALL things - look what Rev 21.5 says
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
Ezekiel further provides a record of an awesome visionary experiene the prophet Ezekiel had showing had God would take a dead and destroyed people and renew them - even bringing them back to life!
Video: Dry Bones (1:50)
But HOW will God do this?
God's Plan has to do with HOW he carries out or accomplishes His Purpose.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Believe Video 28: Faithfulness (3:00)
Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.
Cf. further the demons who know who Jesus is but don't know His plans nor time-table.
When He had come to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met Him as they came out of the tombs. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What do You have to do with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul—but who are you?”
But WHO will God use to do this?
God calls out people. He chooses people like Abraham and David. But He's also looking for people who are willing to be fully committed (read that as faithful and loyal) to Him.
For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on.”
People who refuse to align themselves with God, to be faithful, loyal to Him, His Person, Purpose, Plan - are foolish.
But some people, the few (like the Marines, but better) the few, the faithful - are not foolish, rather they not only obey God but willingly volunteer to help him.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.
God sends people, HIS people to partner with Him in His plan to fulfill His purposes on earth!
God's People has to do with WHO He involves in His plans to accomplish his purposes. This is the relational aspect of God shining through.
You will lead the people You have redeemed with Your faithful love; You will guide them to Your holy dwelling with Your strength.
God's faithfulness, his hesed, to his people is famous. Even Rahab when she heard the Israelites were coming said
Before the men fell asleep, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. Now please swear to me by the LORD that you will also show kindness to my family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.”
Rahab had heard what God had done more than 40 years ago - remember after God freed his people from Egypt they were not faithful to him so they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness while the rebellious people died and then God continued his plan to bring them to the promised land. See God didn't change his purpose or his plan, but the people who did't want to follow his plan got destroyed in the process - while he continued to show love to those who were faithful to him. Thus I say
"God's coming through with or without you so get on board or get destroyed!"
Fast forward to the time of Jesus and we get to Simeon and Anna - two older saints in the Bible.
Remember Simeon and Anna - we talked about them a few weeks ago. God had promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died and on that special day God had him working in the temple when Mary and Joseph walked in with Jesus.
We've seen what God does. How He is faithful/loyal to his Person/Character, His Purpose, His Plan and His People. Now what about YOU? Are you faithful? Will you be faithful?
Be faithful to WHO God is, His Character.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
When you stay close to God, His Spirit will make you more like Himself. Your person will begin to look more like His.
But there's both God's work (which he promises to complete
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
and then there's your work - to listen and obey - that's your choice. And when you refuse you suffer and other people suffer too.
So first things first, be WITH God to become LIKE God and then you can begin working on ...
Be Faithful to WHAT God is doing and trying to accomplish in the world. So many people want God to just bless what they're doing but God has his own plans - we need to get on board with what he's doing - that's already being blessed.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
This is not a halfway commitment. This is complete faithfulness, complete loyalty to God and His purpose. Rememer, his purpose is to renew, remake all things and reconcile people to himself.
How is he doing that and how are you supposed to get involved with that?
Be Faithful to HOW God is accomplishing His purpose in the world. Since it is God's Purposes that we are considered with and His purposes will not be stopped it is important that we be on God's side. We don't ask God to get on our side - that's why debates and arguments about which sports team God prefers are dumb - if you have believers on both teams how can both sides be praying to win and God answer both positively? We miss the point. God's plan is about promoting His purpose and maybe that means you need to lose the game for same reason - now this doesn't excuse any laziness, etc. I'm just saying we're missing the point when we have all these Christian teams praying to win. God's plan is not a sports team - it's a church team! So let's get serious about the church team he has given us and let's get serious about being a team, a family with one goal - of accomplishing God's purpose. That's why our tagline at KCC is Fulfilling God's Purpose by Living God's Plan in God's Power.
The plan is for you to make disciples, to help people to become followers of King Jesus. Why? Because that's the only way they truly live.
Remember the dry bones of Ezekiel? Well, when Jesus talked with Nicodemus in Jn 3 he expected Nic to know about this Ezekiel and dry bones stuff - but he seemed like he didn't. Jesus said you have to be born again - you have to let God give you life because you're actually dead - but Nic didn't get it.
Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
A second birth? A new birth? How is this possible? Only with God!! A Spiritual birth, a renewing of life, a bringing back from the dead. See, Ezekiel's vision was a picture of the future plans of God. And us getting the HS is part of the future plans of our new life that never dies again. Now our spirit's get new life, later our bodies get new life.
So in the meantime what do we do? We help others find new life!
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God's Plan includes and involves God's People and to be faithful to God requires that we be faithful and loyal to God's People, the Church.
ILL: Vance Havner
God is faithful, and He expects His people to be faithful. God’s Word speaks of faithful servants, faithful in a few things, faithful in the least, faithful in the Lord, faithful ministers. And all points up that day when He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
What terrible times we have in our churches trying to keep people faithful in attendance and loyalty! How we reward and picnic and coax and tantalize church members into doing things they don’t want to do but which they would do if they loved God! The only service that counts is faithful service.
True faith shows up in faithfulness. Not everyone one can sing or preach, but all can be faithful
Morgan, Robert J. Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes. electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000. Print.
Be Faithful to the people God is involving in HIs plan, the relationships that are helping move God's plan forward.
And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.