Faithfulness

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INTRODUCTION:

Why do people want to buy Subaru’s or Toyota’s or Honda’s? Because they are known to be dependable, to stand up to the test of time.

Dependability sells. Six decades ago Timex sold watches on live national television by focusing on dependability. The announcer would do something outrageous like strap the watch to the propeller of an outboard motor and run the engine in a tank of water. He would then stop the engine, remove the watch, and hold it up for the camera. As the audience watched the second hand sweep around the dial, the announcer delivered the punch line. Well, let’s just watch for ourselves.

Video: Still Ticking – Timex
“Timex! Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

In the unpredictable days of live television, this stunt spoke volumes about the faith the company had in the watch’s dependability. It was their dependability at a reasonable price that sold millions of Timex watches.

But the darling of dependability has to be the ubiquitous [PICTURE OF THE ENERGIZER BUNNY] Energizer bunny. It keeps going and going, and going.

But how many times have we gone out and purchased something, only to have it break within a matter of days or in the first few uses? It seems that the expectation of dependability is depleting – that we have a hard time trusting that something or someone will be dependable. Because of that loss, we lose faith in the product or the relationship.

Over the past several weeks, we have been talking about the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-25.

Last week we talked about goodness – how did you live out goodness recently?

Let’s say together the text that we have been learning from.

22 Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) Read Out Loud
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

Today we are going to hear about the faithfulness. Many times, when we hear of faithfulness we think about us being faithful and practicing faithfulness. But we must not lose sight of where faithfulness originates and comes from.

God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to God.

Movement 1:

Faith is undoubtedly the most misunderstood fruit. The Greek term is pistis and it relates primarily to the believers complete dependence upon the work of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit are ethical virtues dealing chiefly with interhuman relations. It depicts loyalty, trustworthiness, and dependability.

“No church and no marriage can stand unless they are based on loyalty.” William Barclay, Flesh and Spirit, pg 110

Faithfulness is operating in the background of our lives, it operates behind the scenes.

How do we know that God is faithful?

The Bible tells us He is.

  1. 1 CO 1:9 – God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  2. PSA 36:5 – Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
  3. PSA 89:1 – I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.
  4. These among many other passages tell us that God is faithful.
  5. Many other passages speak of God as faithful in order to comfort and encourage Christians.
  6. 1 JO 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  7. 1 CO 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
  8. 1 THESS 5:24 – Faithful is He who calls you…

Another reason that we know God is faithful is that:

God model’s faithfulness

  1. DEU 7:9 – “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
  2. God has kept His promises.
    1. God made promises to Abraham concerning having many descendants even though Abraham and Sarah were very old and they had no children
    2. God kept His promises to David, Israel and Joseph just to name a few.
    3. God kept His promise to mankind that He made back in Genesis 3:15 where God promised that Satan’s power would be broken; this was accomplished with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
    4. God kept His promises that He made through the prophets. He kept His promise to Lot’s wife when He told them not to look back when they left Sodom and Gomorrah.
    5. God was faithful to Jesus. HEB 3:2 – He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.
    6. God did not send Him and then change His mind about what He was going to do.

C. Faithfulness is central to God’s character

  1. We find that faithfulness or trustworthiness is something that has to be a central part of who God is. What if you could not trust God to do what He says He will do?
  2. God exhibits His character as worthy of the love and confidence of humanity and assures us that He will certainly fulfill His promises as well as execute His threats against sin. His faithfulness covers “temporal blessings (1 Timothy 4:8; Psalm 84:11 Isaiah 33:16);
  3. Spiritual blessings (1 Corinthians 1:9)
  4. Support in temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) and persecution (1 Peter 4:12-13; Isaiah 41:10)
  5. Directing in difficulties (2 Chronicles 32:22; Psalm32:8); enabling to persevere (Jeremiah 32:40), andbringing to glory (1John 2:25).”
  6. 2 Timothy 2:13: If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful,for he cannot deny who he is.
  7. He told us that if we are immersed into Christ, that we would receive eternal life, that our sins would be washed away and that He would give us the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit.
  8. God’s word is faithful (1 Timothy 1:9). Jesus is faithful and trustworthy (Heb 13:8).
  9. The thing that stops people from giving their lives to Christ is fear. They are afraid that they cannot trust God to do what He says He will. If people KNEW FOR SURE WITH 100% CERTAINTY that God would do what He said He would do for them, there would be very few people who would turn Him down.
  10. God has to be faithful and trustworthy or else what would we base Him keeping His promises.

Movement 2:

Faithfulness is beautifully illustrated in the lives of 2 men in scripture; Joshua and Caleb. We pick up Joshua and Caleb’s lives as the children of Israel stood on the edge of the land promised them by God. Moses chose twelve spies to explore the new land. And whom did Moses select for this elite group of spies? The list is given in Numbers 13:4-16. The only two we have heard of are the two filled with faithfulness: Joshua and Caleb.

READ NUMBERS 13:1-2a, 21a, 23, 25, 27-28, 30-33; 14:5-10

Numbers 13:1-2 (NLT)
13 The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”

Numbers 13:21
21 So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath.

Numbers 13:23
23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs.

Numbers 13:25
25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned

Numbers 13:27-28
27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!

Numbers 13:30-33
30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” 31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. 33 We even saw giants[a] there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Numbers 14:5-10
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. 6 Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. 7 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” 10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle.

How could these two see the land and people so differently than the other ten spies? Joshua and Caleb’s secret was their faithfulness perspective rather than a fear perspective.

The fear perspective: This “good land” is populated by powerful people, some of whom are giants. It devours those living in it (13:32).

The faithfulness perspective: Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up (14.9). The KJV puts it: They are bread for us…we’ll eat ‘em up!

The fear perspective: But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there (Numbers 13:28).

The faithfulness perspective: Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them (Num. 14:9).

Joshua and Caleb saw the problems in the Promised Land. But their faithfulness was more powerful than their fear. Physical giants are no threat when God is on our side. High walls and thick gates are no barrier when God removes their protection.

The real threat to Israel was not the people of Canaan or their defenses. The most serious threat was the temptation to abandon God. Joshua and Caleb started and ended their speech in Numbers 14.9 with a warning: Do not rebel against the Lord…

Don’t be afraid of them!

You know, the greatest threat against Christians today is not…

  • A secular mindset
  • Hostility toward Christians
  • The immoral pollution pouring of the media
  • Drugs or alcohol or addiction
  • Political climate

The greatest threat that faces Christians today is the temptation to rebel against the Lord.

There was a billboard advertising the Hardrock Café. It was a mustard-yellow color and bore this simple message in bold letters: REVOLUTION, REBELLION, ANARCHY (Bring the whole family)

Rebellion is being glorified today but there is a significant price to pay for rebellion.
Look at Numbers 14:30, 34, 35, 37. It is…

  1. GENERATIONAL: Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness (Numbers 14:30).
  2. PERSONAL: You will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you (Numbers 14:34).
  3. TERMINAL: [Those who rebelled] will meet their end in the desert; here they will die. (Numbers 14:35).

THE CURE TO REBELLION IS FAITHFULNESS

Movement 3:

What was it that led to Caleb and Joshua’s faithfulness?

Faithfulness in scripture literally means three things. These three things are all characteristics in Caleb’s and Joshua’s lives and together they create a prescription for faithfulness.

1. CONVICTION

Joshua 14:6-9 is a record of what Caleb said 40 years after he took his stand as one of the 12 spies. 40 years later he gives us the first clue to the definition of what it means to possess faithfulness. I love the one phrase that Caleb used in verse 7: I brought him [Moses] a report according to my convictions (14.7).

Our convictions form the basis for our actions. If we don’t have principles we believe in, we sure aren’t going to live it them out.

If you don’t make up your mind, your unmade mind will UNMAKE you. -E. Stanley Jones

Have you nailed down your convictions? What do you stand for? Is the kingdom first in your life or are you playing games? Do the people at school, at work, in the neighborhood know what you stand for or are you sitting on the fence? What are the principles you are basing your life on?

Revelation 3:16 –
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Faithfulness starts with conviction. The formula for pistis thus far is…

CONVICTION + _________________ + ___________________ = pistis The second part of the formula for faithfulness is . . .

2. CONFIDENCE (Numbers 14.6-9):

I love the story of baseball great Ty Cobb. [PICTURE OF TY COBB] On his 70th birthday Ty Cobb was interviewed by Larry King on the “Larry King Live” show. King asked him: “What do you think you’d hit if you were playing baseball these days?”

Cobb, who was a lifetime .367 hitter, said: “About .290, maybe .300.”

King asked: “Is that because of the travel, the night games, the artificial turf, and all the new pitches like the slider?”

“No,” Cobb replied, “it’s because I’m seventy years old now.”

That’s the kind of confidence that Joshua and Caleb must have had. Forty years later, when God allowed the people to enter into the Promised Land, Caleb still asked to be given the hill country – the toughest land to take over; the land with the most fortified cities; the land with the biggest giants.

So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.
-Joshua 14.10b-12

What lies ahead and what lies behind are tiny matters compared to what lies WITHIN.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Only when we have a conviction that we know is in keeping with the Lord’s will, can we have a confidence that comes from the Lord. The Scriptural formula for pistis:

CONVICTION + CONFIDENCE + _____________________ = pistis Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance

about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Only when we have this holy conviction and holy confidence will we have the last part of the formula for faithfulness. The last part of the formula for faithfulness is…

3.COMMITMENT (Joshua 24.14-15):

There is a saying…Many people have the right aim
in life but they never pull the TRIGGER.

Commitment is a LINE you must cross . . .
it is the difference between dreaming and doing.

At the end of his life, in his last speech before the people that he led. Joshua brought faithfulness into focus:

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.

Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord.[nail down your convictions] But as for me and my household [confidence], we will serve the Lord [commitment]
-Joshua 24:14-15

Several years ago a young African Pastor who was enduring heavy persecution was kidnapped and never heard from again. While a missionary was cleaning out his humble dwelling he found this manifesto of faithfulness pinned to the wall of his tiny apartment.

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me – my banner will be clear.

Conclusion:

Luke 16:10 – “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

The Christian life is not some ecstatic, thrilling novel. It is living on daily basis in the little things of life.

Our lives proclaim the faithfulness of God by the way we are faithful to God. Not perfect but consistently. The disciples were not perfect, but they were faithful.

We tend to come to Christ and try to do our best to be a Christian. But that finds its roots in self instead of Christ.

To be faithful is to be people of…
CONVICTION + CONFIDENCE + COMMITMENT = pistis

Remember, faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the result of the Spirit’s fullness in our lives. We are not making the choice to be faithful. We are making the choice to be available to God’s redemptive work in our lives and the ability to be faithful grows out of that.

Have you been working to earn your salvation? Faith is abandoning the notion that we can do anything in our own strength and relying solely on Christ’s sanctifying work.

Our responsibility is to come to a point of asking God to purify us from all sin and fill us completely with His Holy Spirit. The Bible calls this sanctification:

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Faithfulness to God under test and duress and faithfulness to one’s fellow persons.

Jeremiah 29: 10-13: 10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

Faith is a matter of trust.

Story: Just Trust tattoo.

There is a man who got this tattoo on his arm. It says Just Trust. This man and his brother were adopted at birth by an older couple. When faced with the difficult circumstances of life, their mom would always respond with this phrase, “Just Trust”. As the older brother grew up and got out on his own, that phrase was ingrained in him as he began asking questions about his biological parents and faced his own struggles. As a young married father of 2 he went to school during the day and then went to work the night shift for several years. Even after finding stable employment he went through several layoffs and rehires as the company shifted. One of those moment happened when he had 4 kids, 2 in college and 2 in high school. He was laid off for 11 months. All the while this phrase “Just Trust” continued to come to his mind and impact him. God was faithful to provide and so was this man in placing his trust in God.

Faithfulness is having complete dependence upon the work of Christ.

Conviction? What do you stand for? What banner are you flying? Is the Kingdom first in your life or are you playing games? Have you ever come to the point of nailing down your convictions? Will you stand for Jesus?

Confidence? Are you living out your convictions, totally confident in the Lord? As you live each day, what is your confidence found in? Your know-how? The resources available? Or in an all powerful God that fills you with the power of His Spirit and sends you as His ambassador into the world to do His work?

Commitment? Have you committed yourself? Have you stepped over the line? Have you laid your life down? Have you picked up the cross? Have you submitted your life to the commitment to put God first?

Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life

Goodness