Faithful

Great is His Faithfulness

By LuAnn Edwards

Have you experienced a place in time when you felt you couldn’t go on? Everything changed. Life took a dramatic turn. Nothing would ever be the same again. Are you there now? Has despair taken over?

My friend Kate is experiencing that place right now. The loss of her young teenage son has devastated her and her family. Life as they knew it came to an end last month.

Pastor Michael M. Cook finished his series, Quitting Time, this past Sunday. Jeremiah, Chapter 32, takes place just before the Babylonian captivity of Israel. The Lord instructs Jeremiah to purchase some land. Jeremiah obeys God but wants to know why. He knows captivity, death and devastation are near; why buy the land? Listen to the podcast here.

God’s response to Jeremiah restores our hope. When we feel like God cannot help us, He says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Verse 27).

The captive situation the children of Israel found themselves in was not the end. Fifty years later the people returned to Israel, and God restored their fortunes. They returned to their homeland and were able once again to purchase land and thrive.

In the dark times of despair we think God cannot help us, but God can do all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Like the story of Jeremiah, where a time of restored hope would again prevail over the people of Israel, Kate and her family will laugh again, hope again and enjoy life again.

Likewise, the situation you may find yourself in today is not the end. If you feel like you can’t go on, don’t give up. Wait. See what God will do. Our God loves us; His compassions never fail. Great is His faithfulness.

Our Faithful God

By Robert Thomas

In a few months, I’ll be moving out of my parent’s house to Texas. I’ve lived at home for 24 years. My parents supported me throughout that time. Not only will I be moving out, but I’ll be moving to a place where I’ll know hardly anyone.

Now for the first time in my life, I’ll be on my own.

When I started at Central New Mexico Community College, I was nervous. I was going from eight plus years of homeschooling to a public school experience. After a while, my nerves were calmed by the fact that I had been prepared for this next step, and I was going to be ok. However, the same thing happened when I transferred to the University of New Mexico. But once again, given some time, I was able to adjust and succeed in my studies.

The same nerves have struck me in many situations in my life. When I started my first job, when I moved to a new job, when I travelled overseas for the first time, when I preached my first sermon. People call me high-strung. I would normally disagree, but looking back, I can see why they say that. My nerves get the best of me more often than I choose to admit. With this move to Texas looming ahead, I’ve been thinking about my nerves a lot lately.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Abraham.  Read Genesis 12: 1- 9 NIV

I cannot imagine what this guy went through when he first encountered God. I wonder what it was like. Was it a voice booming from heaven? “ABRAM, GO FORTH FROM YOUR COUNTRY.” Or maybe God came to him in a dream, speaking plainly. We read in the Bible about a still, small voice speaking to Elijah. Maybe it was similar to that. At any rate, Abram heard the message of God, and obeyed, leaving behind everything he knew in order to follow a God he’d never met, to a place he’d never been, in promise of a miracle. What a journey of faith this man experienced.

Abraham, who was originally called Abram, is remembered for his faith in God, but we cannot overemphasize the role of the man in this story. God was with him every step of the way, protecting Abraham and his wife when they were in trouble, and bolstering Abraham’s faith when he struggled. In the Bible, we not only see the faithfulness of Abraham as he followed God’s commands, we see the constant presence of God in his life. Surely, without God’s help, this journey would have been even more difficult than it already was. These people needed God every step of their walk, and God was there to meet them.

I think about the new experiences I’ve encountered in my personal life, and I know there are hundreds more new things God has in store for my future. Currently, I’m standing on the cusp of my own journey of faith, just like Abraham. At first, this makes me afraid; how can I be sure I’ll be ready for what comes next? What if everything doesn’t turn out ok? But the more I look at the past, the more I remember the times I spent in prayer, totally honest with God. I remember telling Him how unprepared I felt, how much I needed Him, and how much I was relying on Him.

Our Faithful God responded with peace and provision every time.

During times of trouble and fear in my life, there’s a verse I reflect on to remind me of God’s sovereignty. You could say this is one of the verses I keep in my “satchel”, to carry with me at all times. May this verse similarly comfort you during hard times.

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

            I will be exalted among the nations,

            I will be exalted in the earth.”

            The Lord Almighty is with us;

            the God of Jacob is our fortress.

                        Psalm 46:10-11

 

Persistent Prayer and Faithfulness in Giving

By LuAnn Edwards

Many years ago, my husband Ken partnered with two other men in a farming business. We knew Clyde was a trustworthy man; we attended the same church. Sam, a businessman in town, put up most of the money with the agreement that if anything went wrong, all three men would be equally, financially responsible. I wasn’t sure Sam could be trusted since I didn’t think he was a Christian.

Within a couple of years, the business went broke, and we had to close. The main reason was Clyde. He misrepresented himself and the product he endorsed. He skipped town and to my knowledge never paid any of his debt. So much for thinking he could be trusted.

How would we ever be able to pay Sam back? We were a young family with two small children. We calculated it would take us 20 years. Bankruptcy was an option, but after praying about it we felt God wanted us to make every effort to pay our debt.

The Lord soon provided Ken with a new job, and we began paying Sam back $2,000 per year. After two years, I began praying specifically. “Lord, You know our faithfulness and how we have continued to pay Sam back. You also know we have not cut back on our giving to the church or Your work. Lord, at the end of five years, I pray that Sam will forgive us our remaining debt.” I also prayed for the Lord to give Ken boldness to ask Sam for the balance to be written off after we paid a total of $10,000.

That didn’t happen. After nearly three more years of persistently praying and asking the Lord for this specific need, we received a letter in the mail stating, “Thank you for not forgetting about our business venture that did not do very well or your obligation to the note. I do not feel you owe me any more money. Please consider your portion of the note ‘Paid in Full.’” At this time, we had paid $9,500 of our debt. The Lord answered my prayer $500 early, and Ken didn’t even have to talk to Sam. God moved upon his heart without our interference. Sam, the man I wasn’t sure could be trusted, was actually a generous and forgiving man.

Through this experience, I learned a few things. First, I learned that persistent prayer works, and God doesn’t always answer the way we pray. He often answers better.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

I also learned not to judge people based on whether or not I believe them to be a Christian. I misjudged both men when I shouldn’t have judged either one. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).

The last thing I learned is that God is pleased with our faithfulness. We continued to pay our debt to Sam, while continuing to give our tithe and offerings to our church and the Lord’s work. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6).

I believe God granted us a wonderful blessing through persistent prayer and our faithfulness in giving.

Are you persistently praying and being faithful in your giving to the Lord’s work?

True – Faithful to the End

By Karen Polich

God’s call on your life should be what you desire most. Faithfulness is essential.  – Pastor Michael Cook

In the final installment of his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us to the end of Samuel’s life and the lessons we can learn about being faithful and true. (1 Samuel 16) Listen to the entire True series here. There are four patterns in Samuel’s life that we can apply to our own.

Be faithful in the shadows. Samuel was. When he was young, he lived in the shadows of the priest, growing in stature and favor with God. He was doing the right things when no one was looking. Being faithful in the shadows means when the spotlight comes, you will be prepared. If you are young, don’t wait to be generous with your time and money. You are becoming who you will be. Don’t wait to do the right things. God’s call to be faithful is now. It is not intended for something to be done someday.

Embrace repetition in life. Samuel was consistent. He followed through with his responsibilities. People could count on him for fair judgement and dependability. If you are always looking for the next new thing, you will miss the rewards that come from being faithful to the things you do again and again.

Watch your step. Samuel was a man of integrity. He knew the value of doing the right thing for the right reason. It takes years to build your credibility and reputation. It requires discipline. A worthy lifetime can be torn to shreds in an instant. Choose wisely what steps you take.

Live to be missed. The Bible tells us when Samuel died, Israel cried. The people mourned the loss of God’s faithful servant. Are you living to be missed? People are drawn to someone who is faithful. Who are you impacting today and will your impact build a lasting legacy?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

True faithfulness is something desperately needed in our lives. We can place faithfulness above ability, wealth, notoriety, and anything else that diminishes God’s call to be true. The choice is ours.

True – Rejected and Replaced

By Karen Polich

Being true matters.

Continuing his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook examined  what it means to be faithful and the bleak reality of seeking a false sense of security outside of God’s best. Listen to the podcast here.(1 Samuel 7: 15-17, 1 Samuel 8)

We find Samuel as an adult, leading God’s people when their hearts were scattered. Samuel was a man of integrity. He was true and faithful to the call of God. His years were spent visiting the same places over and over, delivering trustworthy judgement, counsel and communication to God’s people. His routine and behavior were consistent. Again and again he brought his best.

While Samuel was a reliable man of God, his sons were not. As Samuel grew older, the tribal leaders gathered and asked him to appoint a king. They wanted to raise an army and create more security as a nation. Samuel prayed and God was clear that they weren’t firing Samuel, but replacing God as their provider. They had forgotten that God had been faithful to His promises to make them into a nation. They ignored the calling that they were supposed to look different than those in surrounding areas who had kings.

We too look for security, and we often look to things other than God. There is nothing wrong with achievements or having strong finances or whatever it may be. The problem arises when we look to these things to find the security we already have in God.

God is interested in being God, while we tend to be interested in replacing Him. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn from Samuel. His focus was on God and his routine never wavered. He understood living out the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

When we have a solid routine in our lives, there is much to gain about what it means to be faithful. We should be bringing our very best in everything we do. A champion is not made without the discipline of a good training program. It takes accountability created through consistency. A champion gives their best and follows a routine. Over time that consistency bears fruit. It is the same in our lives.

What does your life’s routine look like? Does your security rest in His faithfulness?

True – Sights and Sounds from Hard Places

By Karen Polich

Do you stand out in your environment?

In his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook continued to examine the story of Samuel. Read 1 Samuel 2-3. Listen to the podcast here.

Hannah honored her promise to God and took little Samuel to live at the temple. He was under the care of the high priest, Eli. At a glance, we might assume that this was a “pure” environment surrounding Samuel, but it was far from what it should have been. Eli’s two sons had no regard for the Lord. In the midst of their immoral choices, Samuel stood out. He was different. Imagine a young boy running around in the temple “ministering before the Lord” while those around him were wicked. Eli verbally rebuked his sons, but the scoundrels were the ruin of Eli’s family. Their vile behavior against the Lord continued.

God called out to Samuel and told him of His plans to destroy Eli’s sons and remove Eli as the high priest. God chose to speak to Samuel, the little one, over Eli, the educated priest.

How can we live lives that are true and faithful? We can learn a lot from Samuel. His response to life around him was remarkably different than the behavior of Eli’s sons. They heard the same things and saw the same temple, yet Samuel honored God while Eli’s sons were detestable.

There are times when being true is quiet and subtle.

To be faithful and true in a difficult environment is challenging. We all have struggles along the way, but our faithfulness matters. Samuel answered the call from God. How about you? Is your heart open to hearing God when He calls?

The world needs people marked by faithfulness to God. How we deal with people around us reflects the love we have for Him. Are you standing out?

 

 

 

 

 

True – The Collapse

By Karen Polich

Being true matters. It matters regardless of circumstances. When life isn’t easy being faithful and being who you need to be is important. You may be in the midst of a challenging time right now. If not, can you think of a season that was heavy with difficulty? Can you feel the depth of despair that comes with the collapse? Pastor Michael Cook began a new sermon series, True, showing us that there is hope even in difficulty. (Listen here.)

In 1 Samuel 1, we learn the story of Hannah. She was a woman with a deep ache in her heart. Her husband’s second wife, Penninah, had children, but Hannah had none. If that weren’t difficult enough, Penninah provoked Hannah year after year until Hannah was in a place of collapse.

Despite the intensity of her pain, Hannah moved toward God. She had complete trust in Him and poured out her heart in fervent prayer. Hannah begged for a son. She pleaded for a son that she vowed to return to the Lord. God heard her and gave her a son that she named Samuel. True to her word, she gave him back to the Lord when he was young and he lived in the House of the Lord.

What can we learn from Hannah? We can learn to trust God, even in bleak circumstances. Hannah remained true and faithful, even when her pain seemed unbearable.

God often delivers a brilliant outcome from something that is unspeakably wrong. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn to trust God with the big things and the little things. Every challenge we face is an opportunity to lean in and grow closer to God. We will all face challenges. It is inevitable. How we choose to live within those challenges defines who we are.

What situation in your life gives you an opportunity to trust God more deeply?