Faith Fuels Faithfulness
God’s past faithfulness is a prod for my faithfulness. Faith fuels faithfulness. God has been faithful to fulfill His past promises, and His future ones will certainly come to fruition.
God’s Past Faithfulness
Mary recalled God’s past promise and praised Him for His present fulfillment (Luke 1:54-55). Zechariah remembered that God spoke “by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old” (Luke 2:70) and he realized that those promises were being fulfilled before his face. God kept the mercy (v. 72) and the oath (v. 73) He promised, and He delivered His people.
God kept His promise because He’s a promise keeper. He will keep all His promises. He does, in fact, give light to those who sit in darkness (v. 79) and He will yet give perfect and eternal peace. We know this because His word is true. He has kept it. Yes, in radical and unexpected ways—way surpassing what is suspected—He has kept it. Yes, sometimes it takes longer than fickle humans would like, but God always delivers on what He says.
Trusting God’s Faithfulness into the Future
God has been faithful in the past and He will be faithful in the future. So, I should therefore trust in His promises that are yet to be fulfilled. Just as Christ came, He is coming back! Although it’s true that He’s coming in a much different way and for a different purpose. But just as on a real day in history He came, so He’s coming back. And just as Jesus brought salvation and peace, so will He bring salvation and peace when He returns, but it will be of a different kind. The peace that Jesus will bring upon His next return will not be merely of the heart and of relationship with God, it will be whole—pervasive. God’s peace and glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Peace will be palpable. Every foe and woe will be vanquished.
So, amid a land of war and woe, and where the enemy reigns and claims his own, may I never weary or tarry or tire, because God’s promises are true. Though the battle may bruise and be scary, may I ever remember He has been faithful and true, and He is good. The reality is, soon every tear will be wiped dry, and the sun will eternally shine.
Perspective on God’s Promises
A failure of faithfulness on my part is probably a failure of faith. I have doubted God’s faithfulness. My faith faltered. I have thought of God as failing. But God has—over and over again—shown Himself to be faithful. God has not failed. My faith failed. Our faith is often frail.
When I see the past and the present with the proper perspective (one that takes into account the reality of God’s radical faithfulness), the future fulfillment of His promise is seen more clearly. That is, with faith—the assurance of things unseen. So, faith fuels faithfulness.
Prayer for Faith
So, here’s my prayer:
“God hedge me up with faith. Let me not see mainly my failings, let all be eclipsed by a vision of Your faithfulness. You have been good and faithful way beyond what I deserve. Help me see that, so I never desert in disbelief. The reality is You are good, have done good, do good, and will do good. Let the past pave the way for my future trust.”
The Bible on the Shortness of Life
What does the Bible say about the length of our days? It says are days are short. Here’s the Bible on the shortness of life:
“For we are but of yesterday and know nothing,
for our days on earth are a shadow.”
“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
“The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.”
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
What hope is there in the face of death? In the face of the shortness of life?
*Photo by Scott Rodgerson
Truth is a shape sorter
There is a certain way the world is, whether we like it or not. I think of a shape sorter for example. There are certain places where things fit and certain places where they don’t fit. A square is a square and goes in a square hole, not in a triangle hole.
We could imagine doing a shape sorter box blindfolded. It would be difficult. We would have to feel our way to what was right. And imagine if someone was getting in our face and trying to distract us and give us the wrong pieces to put in the wrong spot… It would be extra difficult. It would still be clear that there’s a correct place for the pieces—i.e. a correct way the world is to function—yet it would be difficult to make things function the way they are supposed to without the correct guidance.
We can try and go against this reality but it’s going to be problematic. Things won’t fit. People all the time say things like: “Have it your way,” “Make your own reality.” But that doesn’t mean you actually can.
In John 18, Pilate speaking to Jesus said: “What is truth?” Ironically, Pilate was talking to Truth Himself (Jn. 14:7). That was over 2,000 years ago.
The existence of truth has been questioned for a long time.
Pilate said, “What is truth?”
People today say, “We make our own truth…”
Deceit is the bastion of the wicked.
The absence of truth is a work of Satan. It is a work of darkness and brings darkness (and is itself a defilement). Satan is the father of lies and there is no truth in him (Jn. 8:44).
Satan is the archenemy of God. God hates untruth (Is. 59:4, 14-15).
When truth is not followed or truth is doubted it brings an avalanche of evil and destruction. Untruth leads to (or is) injustice. Untruth is far from the good of God’s character and design.
Thus, truth is vital. People are destroyed when they lack right knowledge (Hosea 4:6, 14).
Truth is the seal of the Savior and is (or should be!) the seal of the saved.
We must obey the truth (Gal. 5:7) knowing that the truth sets free (Jn. 8:32), sanctifies (Jn. 17:17), and purifies (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus, the truth must be preserved (cf. Gal. 2:5). Scripture, the truth, must be treasured (Ps. 119:105; Jn. 17:17).
The End is Near
There was and never will be a meaningless moment.
Our lives and our decisions matter eternally. They ripple through the corridors of time. There was and never will be a meaningless moment.
I was reminded of this truth recently by two things. One was an email from a missionary that was questioning the good that they, limited and challenged that they are, could accomplish. The second reminder came from one of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, Perelandra.
In Perelandra Elwin Ransom is sent to the planet Perelandra (or in English, Venus) to stop the Fall of that planet (parallel in some ways to the temptation of Eve in Genesis). Weston, the great enemy, possessed by Satan has now become the un-man. The un-man is seeking to cause the destruction of the beautiful and enchanting Perelandra.
Ransom upon seeing that he is commissioned to stop the un-man and prevent the Fall is crushed by the weight of it all as well as confused over why God doesn’t send some miracle. “He tried to persuade himself that he, Ransom, could not possibly be [God’s] representative” (p. 141).
Ransom questioned. “What was the sense of so arranging things that anything really important should finally and absolutely depend on such a man of straw as himself?” (p. 142). Yet that is the way things are.
“At that moment, far away on Earth, as he now could not help remembering, men were at war,… and freckled corporals who had but lately begun to shave, stood in horrible gaps or crawled forward in deadly darkness, awaking, like him, to the preposterous truth that all really depended on their actions” (p. 142).
Or think of Eve herself. She “stood looking upon the forbidden fruit and the Heaven of Heavens waited for her decision” (p. 142).
So, Ransom came to see that it is true, that “a stone may determine the course of a river” (p. 142).
He felt it megalomania to think that he himself is the way that God will work—work a miracle. Yet, “he himself was the miracle” (p. 141). He was God’s provision. The way God was providing deliverance.
“Here in Perelandra the temptation would be stopped by Ransom, or it would not be stopped at all… This chapter, this page, this very sentence, in the cosmic story was utterly and eternally itself; no other passage that had occurred or ever would occur could be substituted for it (p. 146)… Great issues hung on his choice… It lay with him to save or to spill” (p. 148).
As he saw his call, he also felt an unbearable weight. Then he felt the weight left. “He was in God’s hands. As long as he did his best—and he had done his best—God would see to the final issue” (p. 141).
God uses mere humans as His mouthpiece. God uses humans to do His will. What we do matters. It matters eternally.
Let me ask you, friends, what are you doing?
In Mere Christianity, Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Friends, our lives matter, our actions matter, our voices matter.
If we knew a millionth of the magnitude of our lives we’d be moved to wonder and crippled by the significance of it all. Our lives and our every action have significance because this world and this life is not all there is.
And for Christians, this is multiplied ten-fold. We are mouthpieces, ambassadors, commissioned by the one true God.
Friends, let’s live fierce purposeful lives because we have purpose. Our lives matter more than we can know.
Unrest and Our Rest
I have friends that are cops. I have friends that are black. I have friends that think COVID-19 is a hoax and friends that I couldn’t coax out of their house if I tried.
Friends, we are in a time of unrest; economic, social, political, and physical. I’m not trying to be dour or dark. I believe that is an accurate articulation of our current time. And yet people are pining for peace and rest.
Where is this peace and rest to be found?
Jesus purchased peace with God for us and will soon bring an eternal peaceful reign to the world but Jesus didn’t purchase a sleeping pill for the masses. And He doesn’t lull us to sleep. We are to neither be restless nor so settled that we don’t stir. We are to be a blessing to the cities and towns and villages that we dwell in even while we are exiles and sojourners here (Jer. 29:7). So, we are to care and be wise but thankfully our eggs are not placed in the basket of this world.
Jesus said. “Come to Me all who are restless and tired and I will give you rest for your souls.” Jesus doesn’t, however, call us to just rest and relax. He doesn’t call us to be lethargic but to love. And thankfully Jesus empowers us to do this. It is as we abide in Him that we bear much fruit.
The truth is, we are responsible to love and not just be lethargic to everything that’s going on. The truth is, we’re powerless but Jesus empowers us by the Spirit. The truth is, we live in a place that is very often godless and chaotic but Christ is the Lord. The truth is, many are restless but in Christ, all can find rest. The truth is, we need a savior, this world won’t change on its own.
Brutality to blacks is an unacceptable evil that Messiah Jesus will judge. Brutality to cops, looting of stores, disregard for people, and even property, is evil and will be judged. There will come a day of rest because there will come a day when King Jesus soon returns and puts a stop to the restless tyranny of sin and Satan’s reign (2 Pet. 3). Jesus will destroy the destroyers of the earth (Rev. 11:18).
Until then, the LORD patiently waits in love for people to repent (2 Pet. 3:9). And so, until that Day, let’s love and share the LORD’s love and lovingly fight for the cause of all those that are oppressed and hurting. And let’s show them that all hearts are restless until they rest in Him.
Let’s pray for people to find peace in the One that was oppressed and afflicted for them.
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations … For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy.” (Dan. 9:18).
C. S. Lewis on Longing
You can trace the theme of longing through most of Lewis’ writings. In some places, it is explicit in other places it is implicit. For example, Perelandra does not so much make an argument as much as make you desire and long to experience something of what Lewis wrote. When reading some of Lewis, we often find ourselves hoping what he writes about is true. Lewis’ argument is not really cognitive and logical as much as it is “kardialogical,” that is, reasoned from the heart. As Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.”
It is also important here to look at what Lewis meant by longing or desire. Lewis himself said, “From the age of six, romantic longing—Sehnsucht—had played an unusually central part in my experience.” Sehnsucht is a German term that communicates the longing that all of humanity has. It means “longing,” “yearning,” or “craving.” It is a way of saying, “something is intensely missing, there must be more.” Joe Puckett defines Sehnsucht this way:
The aching, and yet pleasurable, intense longing for a life that we cannot yet have but naturally and universally crave. It is the feeling of having lost something that we once had—giving us a sense of homesickness and discontentment with the less-than-ideal world we currently find ourselves in.
Lewis was specially equipped to discuss longing since from a very young age he had experienced such longing and had the ability to write about it with apologetic force in both narrative and essay form. My thesis is that Lewis is correct, our longing does point us beyond this world. Our longing ultimately points us to the Lord and His coming Kingdom.
Statistics and Comfort in Calamity
Photo by Ben White
Does the 2% death rate statistic comfort you? What does the Bible say about comfort during calamity?
Some sources are saying that the mortality rate of COVID-19 looks to be 2%. However, it is too early to say. The percentage will be bigger or smaller depending on various factors (such as the age of the people infected, access to the needed medical treatment, etc.). I think we should acknowledge a few things about the statistic. First, 2% looks like a small number. And it is. At least, relative to a larger number.
Second, to put it into perspective, 2% of the population of the world is around 140 million people. That, as we can see, is a lot of people. COVID-19 could rival the AIDS epidemic. Of course, it seems highly unlikely that everyone in the world will get the virus. But even a fraction of that number is a lot of people. And it’s important for us to see the numbers from this vantage point so that we don’t play the numbers down.
It is when we weep and howl in the agonies of distress that our rescue is all the more rejoiced in. When we see the contrast of our mourning turned into dancing and our ashes replaced with a crown, it gives us a picture of where we came from and what we deserve and what we get through the free salvation of Christ Jesus.
Ash Wednesday is a day of penitence but it leads to a party—new life in Jesus! We see our dire state and we see our sweet salvation!
Ash Wednesday is a type of looking down. Looking at ourselves, the state that we’re in. But we look down so we can have the right perspective as we look up and out to Jesus.
Ash Wednesday is a tangible and powerful symbol of our need. And when we know our need we rejoice in the One that comes for the poor and needy.