When I think of Lamentations it’s not usually a go-to source for encouraging scripture. But Lamentations 3:19-24 paints an incredible word picture of the beauty of God’s love for us. I want to visit this wonderful passage over the next few days in hopes that it will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me.
… there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. (Lamentations 3:19-24 MSG Emphasis Added)
How great is the faithfulness of God? Have you ever considered that question? I mean, after all, what is faithfulness? It is the condition of being full of faith. An ongoing permeation of belief in something.
God has great faithfulness. God permeates faith.
After all it is by him that we believe in him. It is by his words that we have faith. It his because of his great limitless love that we are adopted in.
God’s faithfulness is not measured by moments, actions, or attempts. It is not defined by works, not even those wondrous things by which we come to him. God’s great faithfulness is measured only by him. That is to say, God is inseparable from his great faithfulness.
He will always believe. He will always be the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of the unseen. (See Hebrews 11:1) Or as one translation puts it, he is our confidence.
God’s great faithfulness is as reliable as he is. Always. He has great faith. Both in himself, and in his love for you. Yes, God’s great faithfulness means something for you. It means God always believes in the you that you could be. Because the blueprint for your potential rests in the grace of God alone.
God’s great faithfulness is pointed right at you.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20, 21 ESV)
Abraham trusted God’s promise. He wasn’t the only one. There are numerous examples in scripture of God leading his people toward something, and them putting their faith in Him.
Faith in Jesus is a powerful thing. It is the foundation of hope, and the cradle of belief. It is precious. It is up-lifting. It is life-giving and life-changing.
Abraham’s faith was potent, not because of his mental capacity to understand, or his soulful yearning to believe. Abraham had a complete faith, in that his faith influenced his behavior. Faith caused him to do stuff.
It is through our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior that we find freedom from sin and death. This faith is demonstrated by our actions and reactions. It informs and influences the initiative we take to help others, and the way we respond to how we are treated. Faith carries us through hard times, but it’s also through faith that we will know everlasting peace and assurance.
“Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. (Mark 15:32 ESV)
As Jesus hung upon the cross there were many people gathered to watch the horrible event unfold. Many of the onlookers were hostile, but not all of them. Some that had gathered were believers, and still others were not. Those that had yet to believe were frightening the cruelty of the crucifixion by heaping prideful mockery upon Christ.
We don’t know the numbers but many people who followed Jesus to Golgotha where he was crucified were there to lament and mourn for him. There also were those present who did not believe. But the one defining difference in the two groups was their ideas about who Jesus was. It was a difference of belief.
My position is that belief is a choice. You choose what you do or do not believe. The scribes and religious people regularly asked Jesus to perform signs, but when he did they didn’t meet their super religious criteria, or they somehow cut out their scandalous religious pyramid scheme. So those guys chose not to believe in Jesus despite all the miracles he had performed in front of their eyes.
They taunted him. Casting their doubts in the form of dangling skepticism and might-have-been-belief, but the simple truth is that they had chosen not to believe Jesus was the messiah. What do you believe?
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:38 ESV)
What is truth? That philosophical pursuit has been the chief question for many thinkers across history. What makes something true? What makes something untrue? And what the implications for either?
Pilate was faced with the truth of Jesus’ identity. A truth each of us must also face. Pilate had the added complication of a volatile geopolitically charged climate. You and I must merely answer the question of the truth of Christ for ourselves.
We’re not told of Pilate’s answer. We don’t know what he determined truth to be. However, he did state that he found Jesus to be not guilty of the charges leveled against him. He found him undeserving of the death penalty. And then, in action both contradictory and concessional—he turned Jesus over to be crucified as an appeasement for the Jewish mob.
Pilate’s own mixed wonderings about truth led to his perplexing actions. And it is a reality in which we share. Our view of truth will shape our actions. What we believe in forms the context and motivation for all of our most meaningful behavior. So, it might be a good time to go look in the mirror and ask the person staring back, “What is truth?”
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” (John 18:17 ESV)
In every journey of faith there is a decision point. Truthfully there are many many times you will be faced with tough decisions. But some of those will be more difficult than others.
Jesus had been arrested and his disciples fled. Well, almost all of them. Peter and another disciple had followed Jesus into the compound of the Jewish High Priest. It was a dangerous place for them to be found.
While there Peter was identified as a follower of Jesus. Suddenly his anonymity was gone, and he was faced with a potentially mortal question. “Are you a disciple?” And Peter did the unthinkable, he denied Jesus.
You will probably find yourself in a similar place in this life. At some point down the road you will be on hostile territory, surrounded by people who don’t understand you, and they will pointedly ask if you have any allegiance to Jesus. Sometimes this can be an overt kind of persecution that leads possible violence. Or, as is often the case in western cultures, it is the prelude to quiet disdain and snarky rejection.
How will you answer the question when you are asked? Will the weight of the circumstances influence your decision?
Mark 14: 53-65
But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61 ESV)
Jesus was put on trial as a sham. Those in power had predetermined the trial’s outcome. They had orchestrated false witnesses, with disagreeing testimonies. All of it was done under pretenses of maintaining Judaism. In reality, it was about squeezing Jesus out. The religious fat cats were afraid of the affect Jesus would have on their coffers.
But the seeds had been sown. Not all of those in power doubted Jesus’ claims. Many of the common people had been undeniably touched by Jesus’ miracles. The disciples and many others had come to see Jesus as the Christ. The Messiah the Old Testament writers promised would bring redemption to Jews and the rest of the world.
The high priest was a different matter all together. He had the most to lose because of Jesus. And using a tool straight out of the pit of Hell, a tactic used by Satan himself during the temptation in the wilderness, he attacked Jesus’ identity.
Jesus answered boldly. He loudly declared the truth of his identity for all in attendance to hear. He gave them a chance to believe. Jesus, the Christ, gives all who would ask of him the chance to believe.
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? (John 16:31 ESV)
Belief is powerful. It shapes our hearts. Shapes our motives. It drives us toward many things. There are so many different kinds of beliefs. They are nigh innumerable. Some beliefs people merely jump into with little in the way of evidence, while others are based off of things they have seen, heard, and understood.
Jesus heard what his disciples had to say about him. Their reassurances about who he was. He desired to further reinforce their belief in him and was communicating to them an aspect of his relationship with God the Father. He was building their belief, much as he had done for nearly three years.
What do you believe pr disbelieve about Jesus? What is your belief in Jesus based on? Do you believe in him? Who is he to you?