Tag Archives: faithfulness

Through the Bible, June 16

Reading: Zechariah 1-2

Summary: Two months after the word of the Lord came to Haggai, it came to Zechariah.  This prophet reminds the people in Jerusalem of their need for faithfulness to God.  They should not be like their fathers who had ignored (at best) God’s prophets and look what happened to them.

Devotional Thought:

Call Me Chicken

The ill-advised game of chicken—for ones who may not know—is a “sport” involving two speeding automobiles on a head-on crash course, each occupied by one or more thrill-seeking (read “foolish”) young people.  The “chicken” is identified as the one who changes course first to avert the collision.

Whoever makes the first move loses (???).  I suppose the only consolation is the fact that you’re still alive.

It’s a perverted value system that identifies winning with doggedly pursuing one’s present course despite the inevitable and undeniable negative consequences.

True in “chicken,” true in life.

God’s prophet’s message was pretty straightforward, “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 1:3; see also Isa. 31:6; Jer. 3:1, 22; Ezek. 18:20; Mal. 3:7).

It’s not just an Old Testament message, either.  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).  The prodigal’s father ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him when he saw his lost son returning to Him (Luke 15:20).

God will return to us when we return to Him.  When we move, God moves.  And we need—desperately need— God to move.  Because of sin, we can’t get all the way back to Him.

He’s ready.  He’s willing.  He’s waiting.

Go ahead. Make the first move and call me “chicken.”

My Delight is the Lord, August 28

Just Four Words

August 28, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 89

Quick, what four words best capture you? “Just four?” you may complain. I’m sure four won’t give the whole picture, but it does make one prioritize doesn’t it? Now, what about God? What four words best capture Him? I know, I know, the list of words necessary is endless, just as He is, but again, prioritize. How about these: righteousness, justice, steadfast love (yes, I now this is two words, but work with me here), and faithfulness? I’m not suggesting that this is the list, but it’s the four selected in this Psalm, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (v. 14). Ok, now here’s an important question, how well versed are you in these traits/qualities of God? Can we, in any meaningful way, think of God in these terms? We need not only to think often and deeply and accurately about God, we need to think of Him in the way He is presented to us. I’d say we all have some work to do here.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What two traits of God begin this Psalm? (v. 1)
  • What is the “council of the holy ones”? (v. 7)
  • What role does the moon play? (v. 37)
  • What is a possible historical setting for this Psalm? (vv. 38-45)

My Delight is the Lord, May 11

What Does Faithfulness Look Like?

May 11, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

 Scripture Reading: Mark 7:1-23

What does religious faithfulness look like? How do you know a follower of God when you see one? Jesus did not fit the bill in His day. He was criticized because His disciples did not participate in ceremonial washing before a meal. This was something the recognized religious leaders did and was a generally accepted practice (v. 3). This made Jesus and His followers “defiled” by the standard of accepted religious practice. Everyone has their ideas of what a “good” Christian is. Here’s the problem; those ideas become standards of behavior and measurements of assessment that very easily–and more often than not–supersede what God has actually said. That’s why in addressing this issue Jesus focused on “the commandment of God” (vv. 8, 9) and “the word of God” (v. 13). Jesus put nothing in “accepted religious practice,” but everything in God’s word. Shouldn’t we?

Questions to Ponder:

  • According to what did the Pharisees and scribes walk? (v. 5)
  • What two “levels” of faith are described in vv. 6-7?
  • What can make worship worthless? (v. 7)
  • What had these people done with God’s word? (vv. 8, 9, 13)

A Week in the Word, September 14-20

 

Theme: God — Steadfast Love

“The word…lies at the heart of the biblical revelation of God” (Wm. Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology, 58). It “is one of the riches, most theologically insightful terms in the OT” (Wm. Mounce, Expository Dictionary , 426).

That word is the Hebrew, hesed, and its meaning is difficult to capture with any single English word.  Yes, it is love, but it is more intense, deeper and richer.  It is variously translated as steadfast love, lovingkindness, unchanging love, everlasting love, covenant love, etc.  It is also, depending on the context, sometimes translated as kindness, faithfulness, loyalty, or mercy.

God is, on the one hand, power and might, He is holy and righteous, He is just and sovereign.  So much of what God is distances Himself from us.  He is far removed from what we are.  On the other hand it is His steadfast love that draws Him to us and bridges the gap.  It moves Him to bind Himself to us and show His mercy and forgiveness when that is not what the circumstance—His holiness and our sin—demands.

So, not at all strange is the close association of several other words and concepts with God’s steadfast love.  When we find the word is Scripture it is frequently coupled with words like truth, salvation, forgiveness, faithfulness, justice, compassion, redemption, and goodness.

Never are the words of Paul more meaningful, “That you…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:17-19).

 

Readings and Introductory Comments:

Genesis 19:19; 32:10; 39:21; Exodus 15:13; 20:4-6; 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18-19; Deuteronomy 7:6-13

In choosing a man (Abraham), and through that man’s descendants to work His divine plan for ultimate salvation, we should anticipate the appearance of God’s steadfast love.  It’s found explicitly in God’s dealing with Lot, Jacob, and Joseph.  And also with the chosen nation whom He delivered from bondage in Egypt, brought through the wilderness, and to whom He gave a land to occupy.

1 Kings 8:23; 1 Chronicles 16:34, 41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 6:14; 7:3, 6; 20:21; Isaiah 54:7-10; Jeremiah 3:12; 33:10-11; Lamentations 3:21-26; Hosea 11:1-4; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:12-13; Ezra 3:10-13; Nehemiah 1:4-6

The kings and prophets also knew God’s steadfast love.  As there were few monarchs who faithfully served God, few spoke of His lovingkindness.  Prophets were sent to His unfaithful people.  And, yes, they told of His displeasure and punishment to come, but they also held out hope because of His unfailing love.  He was not finished with His own.  Sure enough, those who led in restoring the remnant following captivity acknowledge God’s continued mercy and compassion.

Psalms 5:7; 13:5; 17:7; 23:6; 25:7, 10; 26:3; 31:7, 16, 21; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22; 36:5, 7, 10; 40:11; 44:26; 48:9; 51:1; 57:3, 10; 59:10, 16, 17; 63:3; 69:13, 16; 85:10; 86:5, 13, 15; 89:1, 2, 14, 24, 28, 33, 49; 90:14; 94:18; 98:3; 100:5; 103:4, 8, 11, 17; 106:1, 7, 45; 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31, 43; 109:12, 16, 21, 26; 115:1; 117:2; 118:1-4, 29; 119:41, 64, 76, 88, 124, 149, 159; 130:7; 136:1-26; 145:8; 147:11

When it comes giving praise and honor to God—as the Psalms so frequently and consistently do—no greater reason exists to do so than for His steadfast love. The sheer number of times His hesed is praised and honored ought to impress us greatly.

Most of these are one-verse references, but note especially the emphasis given in the references in Psalms 89, 107, 118, and 136.

 

Study/Thought Questions:

Genesis 19:19

  • What did God show Lot?

Genesis 32:10

  • Of what did Jacob say he was not worthy?

Genesis 39:21

  • Where was Joseph when God showed him steadfast love?

Exodus 15:13

  • What had God done with those he led in steadfast love?

Exodus 20:4-6

  • God’s steadfast love was motivation to keep what commandment?

Exodus 34:6-7

  • What does God do as result of His steadfast love? (v. 7)

 Numbers 14:18-19

  • What did Moses ask God to do based on His steadfast love? (v. 19)

Deuteronomy 7:6-13

  • What does God keep with those who love Him? (v. 9)

1 Chronicles 16:34, 41

  • What was to be done to God since His steadfast love endures forever? (v. 41)

2 Chronicles 7:3

  • For what reason did the people give thanks and worship the Lord? (7:3)

Isaiah 54:7-10

  • What will God have for His people with everlasting love? (v. 8)

Jeremiah 33:10-11

  • What does Jeremiah say will happen because of God’s steadfast love?

Lamentations 3:21-26

  • Why will I hope in God? (v. 24)

Hosea 11:1-4

  • How did God lead His people? (v. 4)

Micah 7:18-20

  • What will God do with His people’s sins? (v. 19)

Joel 2:12-13

  • Why are God’s people able to return to Him? (v. 13)

Ezra 3:10-13

  • What did the people sing? (v. 11)

Nehemiah 1:4-6

  • What does God keep with those who love Him? (v. 5)

Psalm 5:7

  • Where will the Psalmist go because of God’s steadfast love?

Psalm 23:6

  • What will follow me all my days?

Psalm 25:7, 10

  • According to what does the Psalmist wish to be remembered? (v. 7) And not according to what?

Psalm 32:10

  • Whom does God’s steadfast love surround?

Psalm 36:5

  • How far does God’s steadfast love extend?

Psalm 63:3

  • What is God’s steadfast love better than?

Psalm 69:13

  • In what activity does the Psalmist participate because of God’s steadfast love?

Psalm 85:10

  • Who meets?  Who kisses?

Psalm 89:14

  • What goes before God?

Psalm 103:11

  • How great is God’s steadfast love?

Psalm 106:7

  • What were demonstrations of God’s steadfast love in Egypt?

Psalm 118:1-4

  • What should be said? (vv. 2-4)

Psalm 136:1-26

  • What events are remembered in vv. 4-9?  In vv. 10-16?  In vv. 17-22?

 

Meditation Thoughts:

Why does God love us?

Do we feel compelled to deserve God’s love?

God’s steadfast love in the Old Testament is said to be the equivalent to His grace in the New Testament.  In what ways is that true?

 

Memory Verse:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23

Children’s Bible Stories or Foundations of Faith?

Did you attend Bible School as a child?  Did you learn about Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Moses and the Exodus?  How about Kings David and Solomon, Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah and Elisha, Jonah and the whale (?), Daniel and the lion’s den?

Is that what you think of them?  Children’s stories for a Bible class?

Not that that’s unimportant, but there is so much more to it.

Just how much more is demonstrated at the end of Joshua.  A marvelous testament to this great man’s influence and leadership is found in the observation that, “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel” (Joshua 24:31).

With that, listen to what followed: “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Israel went from faithful service to God to unbelief.  Did you notice what changed?  The faithful generation knew all the work that the Lord had done for Israel, the unfaithful generation did not.

Knowing the work that the Lord has done is critical for faith and faithfulness.

Teaching children the great stories of the Bible is critical.  Being reminded and hearing again and learning more about the great stories of the Bible is critical.

What may have started in a children’s Bible class must be revisited and refreshed and deepened and fashioned into the very foundation of a faith that lasts a lifetime.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE