First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, February 13, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
I had prepared a new sermon in our “Discipleship” sermon series, but decided to shift gears at the last minute knowing that many of us wouldn’t be able to make it to in-person worship today because of the snowstorm.
I couldn’t think of a better topic for my Meditation this morning than “God’s faithfulness!” Understanding the depth of God’s faithfulness is liberating, assuring, and comforting. “great is Thy faithfulness,” said the Prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:23.
Jeremiah sang of God’s faithfulness in the midst of both a personal and national tragedies. The book is titled “Lamentations” to express suffering, despair and grieve following the destruction of both the city of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
Jeremiah didn’t sing of God’s faithfulness in times of prosperity and success, good health and abundant wealth, rather, it was in times of great crisis, awful suffering, unending sadness, deep depression, and terrible destruction that Jeremiah saw the faithfulness of the Lord.
Despite all the tragedies Jeremiah witnessed, he was still able to stand forth amid the suffering and pain, and lift his voice in praise to God for His great, unfailing faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23 says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
As you may know, the Hebrew word for “faithfulness” is ֶח ֶסד “chesed”. It is defined as “God’s loving kindness, his steadfast love, and covenant keeping loyalty.” When we say God is faithful, we basically say he is 100% reliable. He does not change. Everything around us changes. Our health; our financial situation; our friendships; our careers and positions in life. In the midst of all this turmoil, God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If this is the kind of God we have come to believe in, what should be our response to God’s faithfulness? Let me suggest two ways through which we can apply this to our lives:
First: Put Your Hopes in the Right Place
Put your hopes in the right place and in the right things. Since God is faithful and trustworthy, let’s place our hopes for today and all our tomorrows in the hands of the One who has never let us down.
Our everyday experiences assure us that we will be disappointed whenever we place our trust in anything or anyone other than our faithful God. I think the proper way to respond to God’s faithfulness is to learn to put our complete hope and trust in His faithfulness.
So when it seems like the world is closing in around you and there is no hope, remember the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:21-24, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Hebrews 6:19 speaks of the unchanging character and purposes of God as the “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”
Second: Tell Someone of God’s Faithfulness
Another way to respond to God’s faithfulness is to tell someone how God has been faithful to you. God’s faithfulness is too good to keep to yourself. Sharing your story of God’s faithfulness is one of the best ways to encourage others.
Psalm 89 is written by Ethan the Ezrahite. Ethan gives us a glimpse of what it means to live in the reality of God’s faithfulness. In Psalm 89:1-2 we read, “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.” I love that, “With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.”
When we do that, the Church will continue to be an oasis of hope in the world. I read a story of a seminary professor. This professor was going through a tough time. His wife was ill and he began to doubt that God was paying them any attention. He lamented. He cried out to God and prayed “in a spirit of resistance.” He demanded for God to do something to prove God’s covenant was still valid.
Even in the midst of his doubts and grief, he went to the seminary’s daily chapel services, sat in the back, and listened. This pattern continued for some time. The professor did not sing. He did not participate in reading the liturgies. He did not preach. He came on time. He sat in the back. He left when it was over. He did that few months.
One day, many, many months later, he came. He sat. But, before the service ended, he stood up and he walked toward the lectern. He had something he needed to say. And so the story goes, he told those on worship, “Thank you. Thank you for singing these hymns for me when I could not bring myself to sing them for myself. Thank you for keeping the faith and tradition alive for me so that in my time of lamenting and doubt, I was reminded of the faithfulness of my God. Thank you for surrounding me with your faithful voices and praise music when I was not able to sing for myself. It is through your witness to God’s faithfulness, that I am ready to once again join my voice in praise to God singing: Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
His community unknowingly surrounded him with their faith, their voices, and their praise. He felt washed and upheld, grateful to God for providing strength and patience that he needed. May we be so to a world so broken! In the Name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.