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THE FAITHFUL GOD
Intro: The book of Lamentations is a series of dirges, or songs of mourning, that were written against the backdrop of the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem. In the verses of this book, we can see the awful sufferings endured by the people of that city at the hand of their enemies. Still, even in the midst of all the pain and the turmoil, God had His man in Jerusalem to record the events and to bring honor to His Name.
The writer of the book of Lamentations is believed to be Jeremiah. He was known as the Weeping Prophet. A study of Jeremiah’s life reveals a portrait of unending sadness and deep depression. Allow me to give you some of the background for this precious man of God.
1. Received an unwanted call to minister - Jer. 1:5-6.
2. Called to a ministry of preaching nothing but judgment - Jer. 1:9-10.
3. He was forbidden to marry so that he might give himself more fully to his ministry of proclaiming the impending judgment of God - Jer. 16:1-13. As a result he was very familiar with loneliness.
4. He was a man of deep sadness and he wept openly about the sins of his people - Jer. 9:1.
5. He endured depression as the result of his message going unheeded for so long. He even came to the point where he tried to get out of the ministry, Jer. 20:9. His pain is understandable, because in a ministry that spanned some 50 years, there is no record of even one convert.
6. He suffered imprisonment by King Zedekiah because the king did not approve of Jeremiah’s preaching - Jer. 32:5. Even while the Babylonians are invading the city in fulfillment of his prophet declarations, Jeremiah is sitting in the dungeon - Jer. 32:2.
7. After Jerusalem falls and many have been killed or taken captive, the prophet does not gloat or take an “I told you so” mentality. Instead, he becomes broken with the remnant and enters into suffering with them - Lamentations 1-5.
After enduring a life like this; after being rejected, hated, mocked, imprisoned, ignored; after seeing his beloved Jerusalem ransacked, desecrated and destroyed; after experiencing the horror of war, the brutality of the enemy and the pangs of hunger, Jeremiah was still able to stand forth amid the rubble of the city and the bodies of the dead and lift his voice in praise to God for His great, unfailing faithfulness to His people.
How was this possible? Despite his trials and his troubles, Jeremiah had gotten a good grasp on the reality of just Who God is! Jeremiah knew that whether things went well, or whether everything fell apart, God would still be God and that God would be eternally faithful to His people, Ill. Lam. 3:21! Jeremiah was still able to find hope in a hopeless situation because he believed in the faithfulness of His great God.
Like Jeremiah, we all go through times when life seems to fall apart at the seams. When these times come we also need the blessed assurance that God is faithful! Thankfully the Bible gives overwhelming evidence of the unchanging faithfulness of our great God. Ill. The word “Faithfulness” in verse 23. This word means “firmness, fidelity, steadiness, steadfastness.” This word pictures God as One upon Whom we can depend. We can be sure that as we face the storms, trials and valleys of life, God will ever prove Himself to be steadfast and faithful to you and me. To put it very simply, you can count on the Lord!
I would like to take this passage and point out three precious words in these verses that tell us why Jeremiah was able to proclaim the glories of: The Faithful God. Notice what these words teach us about the great, unfailing faithfulness of the God of the believer.
I. v. 22a GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GRACE
(Mercies - This word is translated “loving-kindness” over 30 times in the Old Testament. It is a very expressive word that conveys all the ideas of “love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness and devotion.” This word pictures God as the Divine lover of men. It finds its New Testament equivalent in the idea of God’s love and grace. Notice a couple of quick thoughts about the amazing grace of God.
Jeremiah seems to be remembering that it was the pure grace of God that brought Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. It was also grace that had kept them a redeemed people in spite of their failures and wanderings. There is a word for us in this thought today.)
A. His Grace Saves Us – Only grace could have reached us in our lost, doomed condition, Ill. Eph. 2:1-4. We could not get to God, so God came to us! He came in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins, Phil. 2:5-8. He came in the Person of the Holy Spirit to draw us to God so that we might be saved, John 16:7-11; John 6:44.
B. His Grace Secures Us – Grace not only sought us out when we were lost in sin; grace keeps us in our saved condition. We are prone to failure. We are prone to spiritual wandering. If our salvation resented upon our ability to be faithful to the Lord, none of us would ever be saved. Thankfully, salvation is the Lord’s arena and not ours! We are saved by His grace and we are kept by that same grace, 1 Pet. 1:5; Psa. 37:23-24, 28; John 4:13-14. Thank God for His unfailing, unchanging, faithful grace.
I. God Is Faithful In His Grace
II. v. 22b-23 GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GIFTS
(Compassion - This is a word that literally means “womb”. It means “to be moved in the heart out of love for another.” This word is a picture of the grace of God actively moving in the life of the believer. You see, as we pass through our storms and our valleys, we do no do so alone! God observes our path and His grace gives us all we need for our journey. Notice two thoughts here about the great gifts of God.)
A. V. 23b God’s Gifts Are Faithful - (Ill. God did not promise an easier road, but He promised that His grace would be sufficient for the need - 2 Cor. 12:9. Think about Paul and his battle with that thorn in the flesh.)
Grace is usually defined as “The unmerited love and favor of God toward sinners.” It carries that idea, but this is a word that has come to mean so much more than that. It has come to refer to “the strength of God to face battles and to bear up under times of difficulty.”
With this in mind, we should always remember that regardless of what life sends our way, we can be confident of the fact that the Lord will give us the necessary strength to face the trying times of life. You’ll never face a situation as a believer that God will not give grace to help you make it through. Notice the promise given in Isa. 43:1-2.
1. The Gift Of His Presence - Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20. These verses, along with others reveal the great truth that God is always present with His children. Even when He cannot be seen, He is there. When you cannot trace God in your life, I challenge you to come to the place where you can trust Him.
2. The Gift Of His Performance - Eph. 3:20 - Focus on the word “able”! If this verse is to be taken at face value, and I am certain that it is, then it becomes plain that our God is greater, by far, than any problem we have, or will ever face. God is an awesome God and His children need to be remembering that great truth. God will take care of you!
3. The Gift Of His Provision - Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-33; Psalm 37:25 - These verses teach us the great truth that God is interested in meeting our needs. Please hear what the Lord said: Needs not Greed’s! God has promised to take care of His children, and He will! It may be that His idea of taking care is different than yours, but that is where faith in the trustworthiness of God comes in. We must come to the place where we are willing to trust the Lord to take care of us in any way that He sees fit. Notice the trust that Job had in the Lord - Job 13:15. I am sure that Job would have chosen another alternative than losing his children, his health and his wealth, but he is willing to trust the Lord through times that cannot be understood and that make no sense. What about you and me? Do we really believe that the Lord is absolutely faithful? Do we believe that He has our best interests at heart? Are we confident of the fact that God will indeed provide for our needs?
4. The Gift Of His Person - Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6. These verses reveal the truth about God nature that makes Him reliable at all times. That is simply the fact that He does not change! God is the same today as He has been forever, and the same as He will be forever. He was faithful in the beginning and He will be faithful in the end. He was steadfast in the lives of the Bible characters that placed their faith in Him and He will be steadfast in the life of ever believer who will trust Him in these days. God is a steadfast and trustworthy God!
(Ill. These great gifts of our faithful God are unchanging and unfailing.)
B. v. 23a God’s Gifts Are Fresh - According to this verse, the grace of God is as fresh as the new day. We do not have to worry about there not being enough for us to make it through, for God’s grace in our lives is as fresh as the new day.
Ill. Matt. 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Just as every new day brings with it its own set of burdens and problems, so each day witnesses a new, unfailing, all-sufficient, supply of God’s marvelous, matchless, wonderful, amazing grace.
(Ill. God’s faithfulness is seen in the fact that we woke up today, in our right minds and in reasonable health. We woke up with air to breath, food to eat, people we love around us, etc. God is a faithful, wonderful Lord.)
I. God Is Faithful In His Grace
II. God Is Faithful In His Gifts
III. v. 24-26 GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GOODNESS
(Ill. The word “good” has the idea of “pleasant, agreeable and excellent.” It refers to the character of God. This word reminds us that God is ever engaged in that which is best in the lives of His children.)
A. v. 24a He Is A Satisfier – God is described as the soul’s “portion.” This word means “share or booty.” It refers to “the spoils of war.” Jeremiah is saying, “In the battle of life, God is my reward, my share, and my portion.” When the Lord is viewed in this light, He will be all that a person needs to be satisfied in their soul, Psa. 103:5; Psa. 107:9. God may not give you and me the things we desire in life; but He will always give us that which is best, and He will give us that which will satisfy the soul, Rom. 8:28.
B. v. 24b-25 He Is A Sustainer – God will never fail those who place their trust in Him, Isa. 49:23; Rom. 10:11. Not a single Word of any of His precious promises will ever fail to be honored by Him, Matt. 5:18; Psa. 119:89-90; Isa. 40:8. If you come to Him for salvation, He will not send you away lost, John 6:37. If you trust Him for salvation, He will never send you away into Hell, John 10:28. If you look to Him for the needs in your life, you will never be disappointed, Luke 12:32. He will sustain you through this life and into eternity.
C. v. 26 He Is A Savior - In this context Jeremiah is saying, “Those who wait upon the Lord will see Him bring them out of their troubles and trials. He will not fail His children, but, in His time, He will deliver them from all their valleys.” We need to remember today that God is able to deliver both saint and sinner.
My fellow saints, I would like to remind you that God knows where you are today. He knows what you are going through, Job 23:10. He will not forsake you, but He will faithfully keep you and bring you out, in His time, Psa. 34:15-22.
My lost friend, it may look like you are doomed, with no hope. I would just like to tell you that God can save your soul by His marvelous grace, if you will but look to Him by faith. If you will stop trusting yourself, your religion and your own goodness; and if you will come to God confessing your sins and calling on Jesus for salvation, God will save your soul, Rom. 10:9, 13; Rev. 22:17.
Conc: Great is the faith that can stand amid the wreckage of life and declare the praises of God. Jeremiah was that kind of a believer. Are you?
During the early years of missionary activity in China, four members of one family accepted Christ as Savior, but the youngest, a little boy, did not. Later he came to his father and said he wanted to confess publicly that he had received the Savior. The father felt he was not old enough, so he explained to the lad that he might fall back if he made a profession when he was so young. To his well-meaning, concerned father, the boy gave this touching reply: “Jesus has promised to carry the lambs in His arms. I am only a little boy. It will be easier for Jesus to carry me.” The simplicity and genuineness of the boy's faith made a profound impression on the father, and he quickly sensed that his son knew what he was doing. Soon the youngster made known his faith in Christ and followed the Lord in believer's baptism.
As you and I face the battles, burdens, valleys, storms and trials of life, we must always remember that we are His little lambs and that He is well able to carry us safely through. So, what kind of battles are you fighting today? Bring them to the Father and trust in His unchanging, unfailing faithfulness.
If you are lost and need to be saved, you can come to Jesus today and He will save your soul. If you are walking through a hard place in life and need help; God will provide the help you need. If you are struggling with the flesh and some besetting sin; there is help for that as well.
I hope that you can say, like Jeremiah did, “Great is Thy faithfulness.” Do you need to experience that faithfulness today?