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Sunday, 31 August 2008

The faithfulness of God.

Due to road-works, we were just a minute late in arriving at Liberty Community Church this morning. As we entered the building, the folks had commenced singing that great hymn by T.O.Chishom: “Great is Thy faithfulness”. It’s a song that always makes me a little bit emotional, as it was the unofficial “College Song” when I was a student at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow – now a full forty years ago!!
The theme of the first service was that very faithfulness of God, and Ian Smith reminded us of many of the areas of life in which we may experience it. (He also, by the way, pointed out the need for us to be faithful in all of our activities, relationships, service etc.)
However, my mind was working overtime. I recalled my days at the B.T.I. and the fact that I received no financial support from the government – either national or local. I was solely responsible for the payment of all College fees, for the purchase of necessary books, and for any personal needs (does any student get through a course without copious amounts of coffee – even if it is as weak as I drink mine?!). Yet I left the College, after two wonderful years, owing them not a single penny. “Great is Thy faithfulness”.
I also thought of my Christian brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church. Men and women, boys and girls, who suffer the most horrendous privations – harassment, persecution, imprisonment, even death – for the sake of the Lord Jesus. People like Meena: a beautiful young woman with a smile that would light up any room, who lives in Pakistan. In November, 2005, her husband, Younis, was talking to a Christian friend about worship. The conversation was overheard by a Muslim who was participating in a Muslim festival next door. He started to beat Younis, and a mob quickly gathered. The police were called and the end result was that Younis was convicted of blasphemy against the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and sentenced to death!
Meena now lives in a single room, with her four young children. She earns the equivalent of about 70p (sterling) per day, and depends on some assistance from Release International and its partners (see the website – it’s in “My favourite Links – for the full story). Yet, her testimony is simple “… we know that Jesus is with us.” “Great is Thy faithfulness”.
This is the assurance for the true child of God – that, whatever the circumstances or the situation, He is indeed faithful. And He is faithful to forgive the sins of all who come to Him in repentance and faith (see I John 1:8-10).
That song that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, has its roots in the words of the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah – a man who, himself, knew much suffering for his willingness to go against the popular tide, and speak out the word of YHWH. In Lamentations 3:22-23, we read: “Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (NKJV).
May each one of us continue to experience that Divine faithfulness in our own lives, and respond with faithful living for Him.

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