The Bare Soul
- May 31, 2009
The Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness
The following is the message
text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Fruit of the Spirit -
delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on May 28, 2009.
The Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness - May 28, 2009
Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Everywhere we turn in our current world-climate we see breach of faith. One cease-fire leads to one side or the other pulling the trigger and igniting the situation afresh. United Nations sanctions are snubbed as rogue nations state "good will" and right intentions in the beginning, and then turn around and openly defy the agreed upon edicts. Large corporations have destroyed the public trust by mismanagement and greed. Closer to home (so to speak) the institution of marriage is under siege both from those who would seek to destroy the God-given mandate between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6) and those within said marriages who seem intent on breaking covenant with their spouses through their unfaithful behaviors. An 11 year old study states ... About 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women have had sex outside their marriages, according to a Dec. 21, 1998 report in USA Today on a national study by the University of California, San Francisco. While I am uncertain whether these statistics have changed remarkably in the past 11 years, I can state with reasonable assurance that they have not improved demonstrably. Rather than faithfulness on a wholesale level, we are seeing an unparalleled rise in anxiety and fear, which indeed is the opposite of faith or faithfulness. The scripture states in Luke 21:25-27 that in the end time, men's heart will fail them due to fear. In a world that is teetering on the brink of broken promises, lies, infidelity, and unfaithfulness there is still One who can be trusted as the Father of Faith. As He is the One that can always be trusted, His great desire is to produce within His beloved the same faithfulness that comes directly by living intent on believing and trusting Him for all.
God has always been faithful. It is impossible for Him to be otherwise. The scripture states that faithfulness actually surrounds the Lord Most High: O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You (Psalm 89:8). Demonstrative of His nature is His behavior -- the faithfulness He typifies day after day. His faithfulness is written with unseen words that cry out through His creation (Psalm 19:1,2) as all nature speaks of the glory of God. The sun, moon, and stars are constant in their respective fixations within the heavenlies and the seasons know their times of appearing and waning. God is faithful in all things. In the same respect, He requires the same faithfulness from those He calls His own. Even as He has called us to be ... holy as He is holy, He requires His beloved to emulate all of His nature. Faithfulness is no exception.
In ancient Palestine lived a man turned prophet named Hosea. God spoke to this holy man in what might appear to some in a dubious manner. In Hosea 1:2 He tells the prophet to take a wife that is a harlot because the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had committed flagrant harlotry against the Lord their God. Hosea's new wife, Gomer, bore Hosea two children and the Lord commanded they be named symbolically to epitomize Israel's unfaithfulness (See Hosea 1). The second chapter of Hosea is all about how Israel, as well as Gomer, is unfaithful to God and Hosea, respectively. The Lord allows the prophet to experience the grief of a faithless bride, demonstrating just a small measure of what the Father in heaven experiences through faithless Israel as they play the harlot with their innumerable idols. Ultimately, Gomer apparently leaves Hosea permanently and returns to her harlotry because Hosea is instructed in Hosea 3:1 to join himself with an adulteress. This is Hosea's second and last symbolic marriage. While the status of the seer's second marriage is never clearly delineated, it is very clear the message the Lord was attempting to send to Israel through His prophet -- that the Lord God was a faithful, true husband to His betrothed and He expected the same faithfulness in return. Though He was angry and hurt by Israel's unfaithfulness, yet He promised a complete healing and a restoration of their conjoined love. Hosea 14:4 states: I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For my anger has turned away from them.
No matter how faithless Israel behaved toward the Lord, or for that matter, how the church of today might resist His wooing and lovingkindness, His faithfulness will never wane. Not only are the gifts and the callings irrevocable (Romans 11:29), but his faithfulness never expires! Psalm 100:5 states: For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. As long as we are alive, God's faithfulness will always surround us. Solomon acknowledged that with the living there is always hope: For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4). It is such a tragic loss of God's eternal, watchful gaze and His tender coaxing once a person dies without accepting Christ as their Savior. Isaiah clearly stated that faithfulness was only for the living -- once we have passed through the veil there is no longer any hope to change our eternal status. Contemporary to Hosea, he stated in the 38th chapter, verse 18 of the book of Isaiah: For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. While the Lord desires that all be saved and come into the knowledge of His salvation, tragically the scripture states that few will accept His faithful gift of eternal love. For those who turn and receive the Eternal Christ into their hearts, these are the ones who can once again begin the restorative journey back to the heart of God and learn of His faithfulness in all things. Psalm 37:3 states that first we must trust in the Lord, secondly that we do good, and then finally to cultivate faithfulness. Infidelity and faithlessness are deeds of the flesh that took years to "fine tune" in our sin natures. In the same, way God wishes us to grow in the garden of His Divine Nature the faithfulness that surrounds His beloved. By cultivating the soil, or literally to dig into to who we really are, this allows God's watering to accomplish its desired result. Let not any whom He has called hide from themselves and allow their ground to turn "fallow", but may all rigorously confront their true nature and allow the Spirit to have His way.
Some would say there is little difference between the apostasy we see today compared to ancient Israel. Others would say it is much more pronounced today with the preponderance of not only false religions but also the idols of greed, lust, and the sin of Sodom -- careless ease with no thought for the Lord and those around them (Ezekiel 16:49). With the rise of unfaithfulness as seen in the media and entertainment, in the same regard the Lord Jesus Christ is raising up a Bride that has sown righteousness and cultivated lives of faithfulness. While infidelity continues to demonstrably pronounce itself in marriages, corporations, and national and international detente', Jesus Christ is calling together a people that have a deep sense of their own belonging in the very bosom of the Lord. These will possess a fidelity that is Divinely empowered and passionately engendered for the Lover of their souls -- a faithfulness that will not be compromised for it is rooted in the faithfulness of God's very nature.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you surround those who are Yours with Your faithfulness. Our striving would be in vain without Your divine help. Open the eyes of our understanding to see You in all Your faithfulness toward us who believe. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
The Fruit of the Spirit -
Faithfulness - May 28, 2009
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