Like Button

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
The immutable nature of God is a lost attribute to us today. It was easily forgotten in biblical times. Samuel had to remind Saul that God was not like us - not a man who changed His mind. (1 Sam. 15:27-29) In our ever-changing world and our shifting personal viewpoints we see God sometimes as capricious, unpredictable, certainly uncertain. We hardly know what to expect next, and we view each event as an obstacle. But God's faithfulness is a leading topic of Scripture. This hymn dwells on God's unchanging nature.

It is God's immutability that makes Him faithful, trustworthy. What God has purposed He will do. (Jer. 4:28) There is no promise He won't fulfill. God is completely reliable. With God, His immutability is absolute. There isn't a mere sense of faithfulness, but unwavering consistency. It is His unchanging nature that makes Him eternal. His constant nature ties into His omniscience, for God cannot change what He knows, since He knows all. His plans never fail because He is unchanging. The name "Rock" applied to God points to this attribute. (e.g., Isaiah 26:4) God is faithful beyond our comprehension.

God cannot change. That means nothing I do will cause Him to love me less - or more. His compassions never fail (Lam. 3:22,23), nor are they increased. My choices do not surprise Him, nor do my circumstances catch Him off guard. God is changeless.

"Great is Thy faithfulness." So immense is His faithfulness that I could never comprehend it. Every day a new aspect of His changeless perfection can be revealed new to me. He provides all I need, whether I know what that is or not. His constant care for me is part of His constancy. "Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me."
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Don't let the meter of the poem cause you to lose the meaning of the words. Summer, winter, spring, fall, these join with all nature in witness to God's faithfulness. The consistency of the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars - which operate with such precision as to be standards for accurately keeping time - join with all nature in witness to God's faithfulness. These and more all point to an marvelously faithful God whose attention to detail and our needs despite our sin condition clearly demonstrates His mercy and love, themselves unchanging.

Several hymns point to nature as proof of God's attributes (e.g., "How Great Thou Art", "Fairest Lord Jesus", etc.). Scripture itself concurs. (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20) This particular selection of natural occurrences is used as specific evidence of God's faithfulness. As day goes into day, season into season, as constant as the stars, as consistent as all of nature, so faithful is God. We never question whether the sun will rise tomorrow. It always has. It will again. God is more faithful than the rising of the sun. It is this faithfulness of God that enabled David to fight Goliath. When Saul asked David why he should be able to handle the fight, David pointed back to God's prior faithfulness. (1 Sam. 17:33-37) If God did it before, surely He could do it again. If God has ever cared for my needs, He will always care for my needs because He is faithful. If He has ever enabled me to do His will, He will always do so because He is faithful. Experience proves it. Nature proves it. God is faithful.

(A note of caution here. Two terms often misunderstood that I used in the last paragraph are the terms "my needs" and "God's will." We have an exceedingly skewed view of our needs that God never obligates Himself to meet. And God's will does not conform to our twisted viewpoint. It is an opportunity to revise my thinking when God doesn't meet my "needs," because clearly my idea of needs must have been wrong. God cannot be wrong, nor can He fail to accomplish His will.)
Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
Look for a moment at the blessings outlined in this verse. "Pardon for sin . . ." It isn't until we realize our true sin condition that this becomes such a big deal, but when we see God and recognize our utter hopelessness, this suddenly becomes a monumental blessing. My sin is pardoned! ". . . a peace that endureth . . ." God promises peace to those who trust in Him. It is a natural result of being in His Spirit (called the "fruit of the Spirit"). His peace, like His faithfulness, doesn't waver. It endures. Regardless of the turmoil that necessarily surrounds our lives, His peace is there. (John 14:27; Phil. 4:6,7; Gal. 5:22,23) "Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide." Imagine that! God, Himself, is walking beside me. Beyond that, He is within me! That is marvelous! His presence brings real joy ("cheer"), another natural result of being in His Spirit. His constant company serves as a beacon, my source of sure direction. What better guide in life than the Author of life? (For a shining example of joy in turmoil, see 2 Cor. 8:1,2) "Strength for today . . ." God promises us His strength. If God is for us, who can be against us? What cannot be accomplished when operating in the strength of the Omnipotent? (Eph. 6:10) ". . . Bright hope for tomorrow . . ." In a convoluted world of hopelessness and chaos, God provides a hope. God's hope is not mere wishing. His hope is a sure thing. It is only a hope because it is not yet accomplished in our experience, but God is faithful, and it is certain. Someday we will be with Him. What a blessed hope! (Heb. 6:17-20)

God's faithfulness extends to me personally. In fact, the awesome faithfulness of God is the assurance I have of salvation and heaven. The list of blessings provided in my relationship with God is guaranteed in God's faithfulness. Since He is unalterable, He will do them. In Christ, Paul says, God's promises are "yes" (2 Cor. 1:18,19). Pardon for sin. God's unfathomable peace. God's presence in my everyday life. (God's presence in my everyday life! That should give me pause.) Strength, His strength. (It is God who works in you both to will and to do His good works. Phil. 2:13) (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13) A hope. (This is no small thing in today's world, but hope brings endurance, the ability to bear difficult circumstances, and knowing God brings that hope.) "Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside." Why would a Christian's life be characterized by anything but joy in view of God's faithfulness and the absolute certainty of His blessings?

No comments: