God's Great Faithfulness

No Matter What, We Can Always Rely On The Faithfulness Of God.

George Wright
Nov 22, 2020    31m
Sometimes we don't want to face the dark areas in our lives, instead, we want to hide them. But this message of grace and mercy reminds us that we can repent of our sin and move forward with confidence because of the faithfulness of God. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 As Ed just mentioned, we are going to be spending a few moments this morning in the Book of Lamentations in the Old Testament. So if you have your Bible, I want to go ahead and encourage you to grab it, turn there with me. Lamentations chapter 3 is where we are going to be spending some time.

George Wright: 00:17 And we are preparing for this beautiful ordinance of the church, the Lord's Supper, the Holy Communion, the Eucharist, where we have this invitation to return to the cross and remember what Christ has done for us. And I realize this may be new to you, or perhaps you're joining us online for this, and this is a little strange that you would be doing the Lord's supper in your home. But we want to encourage you to track with us through this time so that we can have a greater understanding through God's Word of the beautiful gift that he has given us, and the opportunity that he has given us, to return to the cross and to see this beautiful provision that has been made for us through Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 01:03 Lamentations chapter 3, I'm going to begin in verse 21, and I'd like to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me as I read from God's Word to get us started in this message today. All around the room, we stand, we do this every week at Shandon, and we do so to be reminded that the Word of God is our authority, the Word of God is the foundation that the people of God stand upon. It's not the personality of a man, it's not the opinions of men, it is the Word of God that the people of God stand upon. And so we look to the Word of God to see what God reveals to us, that we need to see, what God says is right and good and true.

George Wright: 01:52 So this is the word of the Lord, the Book of Lamentations chapter 3 verse 21, it 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. Verse 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” These verses are a tremendous blessing to us, but as we will see in just a moment, the context in which they are spoken is very challenging and very difficult. As we step into this moment of laments it prepares our heart to return to the cross.

George Wright: 02:59 So with that in mind, let me pray that God would use this in our lives before we're seated. Father God, we ask you to do what you alone can do in the power of your Spirit, to speak to us collectively, and to speak to us individually, in what we're walking through right now. Father, there are heavy burdens in this room, there are things hidden in the darkness inn this room, there are challenging circumstances in this room, there are seasons of uncertainty that we all can feel in this room. We need to hear from you, Lord God, so have your way among us. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. You may be seated, thank you for standing

George Wright: 04:03 Lamentations, this is a challenging book in the scripture, because Lamentations are all about expressing grief and sorrow. A lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Now I realize as we still navigate 2020, and this has been said on so many different occasions, in so many different ways, but there are things this year that have been lost. Things that once were normal, that this year have been taken away. Things that have been disrupted, things that have been unplanned, that have certainly not gone the way we expected or the way we wanted. In many ways, this year for many people has been a year of lament. What is it in your life that perhaps you're grieving? What is it in your life that causes you to feel this heavy weight of sorrow? What is it that you are passionately pleading with to change as you experienced this grief and this sorrow in your circumstance? We're all in a season of lament in some form or fashion, and yes, we're going into Thanksgiving, and we have many things to be thankful for, and we're going to talk about that here today. But the Bible is this beautiful gift to us, in it's honesty. And it meets us where there is a season of lament, it meets us where there are things are that are not easy to navigate, it meets us in the reality of what we walk through.

George Wright: 06:05 And in this specific passage of scripture, we are given these beautiful words about the faithfulness of God. Hs never ending love, his new morning mercies. But the context in which these verses are spoken is very interesting, because Lamentations chapter 3 is actually a man describing the pain of being exposed, the pain of being brought into the lights after hiding. This is a man that has been trying to do everything he can to be in control in his life, and the Lord has seen fit to show him, he is not in control. So this man in Lamentation 3 is groaning, he's feeling angst, he is feeling the pain of sin that has been revealed. He can't play a religious game anymore, he can only be honest, and in honesty, he's miserable. That's what we see in Lamentations chapter 3.

George Wright: 07:23 But please hear this, I don't want us to miss this right up front. Because in Lamentations 3, this is a man who is wrestling with sin that has been exposed. Please don't miss this, it is always a gift of God's grace that exposes our sin. It doesn't feel that way in the moment, in fact, we want to get away from it, we want to deflect it, we want to defend ourselves, we want to hide, we want to run. Only when what has been hidden in the dark is brought to the light, that there can truly be change and renewal. It is only when what we have been hiding, that can be brought to the cross, that there can truly be forgiveness and mercy. So when God exposes sin, and for many this year, sin has been exposed. The sin of the things we try to control, the sin of the way we try to be God, the sin of the way we try to do whatever we want, and look to other things to satisfy. And God has collectively brought us into a season, where we have to stop and consider some things that have been hidden beneath the surface. You may begin to think about, even now, what that may be. What is it that you've been wrestling with? The anger and the anger that we feel of this ongoing saga of the coronavirus. The frustration that we feel so much of it can be traced into the depths of our hearts, to the reality that we've been confronted with, that we're not in control. And we want to see and dictate how things go, and we want to be God in our life, many times.

George Wright: 09:24 These verses are incredibly, incredibly challenging, as a man comes face to face with the reality of what has been simmering beneath the surface in his heart. Look at Lamentations 3 verse 1, how descriptive the language is, "I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath." That's how it starts, what I'm experiencing right now is not easy, and it's not fun. Verse 7 says this, "He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy." Hold on, I thought we've just been saying about my chains are gone, my chains have been lifted. We're going to get there, but right now this is a man that's been exposed in his sin, what's hidden beneath the surface has been revealed, and it is painful, and it is overwhelming, and in many ways it is unbearable. Verse 13, "He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver." Verse 14, "I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood." This is a man who is desperately crying out, because when something is hidden and then becomes exposed, it is always painful, it is never what we want. But as we see through the Word of God, it is exactly what we need. Please hear this, this is very heavy, this is very sobering. But the reality that we see in Lamentations 3, is that God disciplines, those whom he loves. Please hear this, the discipline of God in the midst of this confrontation is not to destroy us, it's to save us.

George Wright: 11:30 Proverbs chapter 3 verses 11 and 12, say it this way, My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, it is love of God that confronts us in our sin, it is the love of God that brings to light what we want to keep hidden in the dark. It is because God knows, God knows, we are completely incapable of dealing with our sin on our own. And we may try, and we often try, but we cannot deal with our sin on our own. It must be exposed, so it can then be crucified. It must be exposed, so it can then be brought under the grace and mercy of God. Discipline is God's love and grace towards us, inviting us to live free, that's what the gospel is all about.

George Wright: 12:44 And so in the midst of this painful moment when this man has been exposed, and he feels like an arrow from heaven has been thrust into his liver. Because I remember what I know to be true, I remember what I know to be true about my God, Verse 21, and what I know to be true about my God brings me hope, even as I'm wrestling with the struggles of this life, some of which have been self-imposed. The scripture says, "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." The significance of these words in the midst of a man who is struggling, in the midst of a man wrestling with this exposure of his sin, in the midst of a man realizing how desperately he needs the grace of God, God pours out his love and says, my mercy for you is new today. And any time there is repentance, please hear this, anytime there is true, genuine repentance, there will always be the mercy of God, always, because his mercies never end. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. Anytime a sinner repents, God is willing to begin again with him.

George Wright: 14:44 And please hear this, this is not just about the message of salvation, I love the message of salvation. We need to understand the gospel, to understand the message of salvation. And the way an individual receives salvation from the Lord, is to acknowledge their need for the savior, to acknowledge that they have sin in their life, that can only be saved by the work of God through Christ at the cross, and in the power of his of resurrection. That's salvation, to say, Jesus, I can't save myself, I can't fix this mess I've made, I need you, I need your forgiveness, I need your mercy, I need your grace. And in that declaration, the scripture shows us, there is the gift of new life for those who trust in Christ, that is the message of the gospel. But please hear me. That message of the gospel is not just for the moment of salvation, it is for every day. Which is why the scripture says his mercies are new every morning. The writer of Lamentations is saying to the people of God, the mercies of God are new every morning, and you will need them each day. You will need God's mercy today, there is sin in your life that needs to be brought before the Lord, you will need God's mercy today. And when you trust God's mercy today, God's mercy will be here for you today, because his mercy does not come to an end. Which means those who are followers of Jesus should fall in love with repentance.

George Wright: 16:33 I love this quote from Timothy Keller, he says, "The more accepted, and the more loved in the gospel we feel, the more and more often we will be repenting. The more you see your own falls and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God's grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God's grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses, and admit the true dimensions of your sin." This is a beautiful statement to consider, that when you truly understand the gospel, you recognize you don't have to be defensive because God is our shield and our defense. You don't have to plead your case, because the finished work of Christ at the cross declares the case has been closed. And you don't have to run and hide because the grace of God, and the mercy of God, this day has invited you and me to live free. His love never ends, his mercy never ceases, great is the faithfulness of our God. May we never resist and reject what God has offered us in our time of need.

George Wright: 18:00 Lamentations 3 verse 24 says, “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The writer here is saying, he is what I need. About 15 years ago I was confronted with this in a very gracious way, but in a very real way in my life. About 15 years ago Megan and I were preparing to launch out as church planners in Northwest Atlanta. And I'd been serving in ministry for several years, I had been then serving on my dad's staff, where he pastored a church in Atlanta, and we were getting ready to go and launch out into this new work, that's where I pastored for almost 11 years before coming to Shandon to be the pastor. It was exciting, we were so full of dreams, and vision, and opportunity, and ready to take on the world. And just full of energy and enthusiasm at this new work, and this first opportunity for me to be a lead pastor, I was so fired up. I'll never forget this, it was such a beautiful gift, one of the most impactful statements that has been said to me in my journey of faith. A sweet lady in the office of my dad's church, where I was working, I was packing things up this final week before we were launching out into this new church. She came to me and she said, George, I just want you to know, I'm praying for you. I was like, well, thank you, that's great, I really appreciate that. And she said, here's my prayer, I'm praying that you will get to the place where God is all you have, so that you can see that God is all you need. It was like a prayer 2X4 to the head, I wasn't expecting that. I'm like, I don't know if she's being nice, or if she's like calling me out, and I'm really not sure what to do with that. With that, I just kind of said, thanks, and went back to packing my boxes to get ready to leave the office.

George Wright: 20:09 But what I've realized over time, Is that prayer is one of the most beautiful statements, as it relates to a journey of faith, because God really is offering you and me exactly what we need. And yet, so often, even for those of us in the church, even for those who have faith, even for those who are trying to live a life that follows Jesus, so often we are looking away from Christ to find the fulfillment, to find what we think we need. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” because he is what I need. There was a song written about the time that I was finishing college here in Columbia, by Chris Tomlin, the song was called Enough. And it simply says this, all of you is more than enough for all of me. For every thirst and every need, you satisfy me with your love, and all I have in you is more than enough. I just wonder if one of the things that God has been doing this year, collectively among us all, is bringing us to a place where we would see with greater clarity that he really is more than enough for us. Do we believe that? Are we hearing what he is inviting us to hear? Are we seeing what he is inviting us to see? Psalm 73 verse 26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." The Lord is what I need, the Lord has done for me, exactly what I need. And in Christ, I have more than enough, if I will put my trust in him.

George Wright: 22:43 We close today in our preparation for the Lord's supper with verses 25 and 26 of Lamentation chapter 3, it says this, The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." I don't know about you, but one of the things that I just have to admit right here in November of 2020, is I'm just sick of waiting. I mean, can I get an amen, somebody? Like not a little chuckle, like, can I get an amen? Like I need some comfort up here, is anybody else sick of waiting? Amen. We're sick of waiting, we've all been waiting, some of you are waiting through seasons that are far more difficult than others. Some of you, I know you've been praying prayers for years, and you are waiting, believing something might change, but nothing has changed. Waiting's hard, waiting is not easy at all. Most of us really not very good at waiting, it's usually not what we want. If we were in control, most of the time, we would not wait at all. And so many times when we are waiting, it leads to frustration, and many times that frustration leads to complaining. And the longer we're frustrated in our waiting, typically, the louder the complaining becomes. And so the scripture is saying to the people of God, it really is good to wait quietly for the Lord. Because when you wait quietly for the Lord, you have the opportunity to hear that still, soft whisper.

George Wright: 24:43 Don't waste the waiting with noisy complaining, for the wait has a reason, the wait has a purpose, and the wait oftentimes is when God does some of his most necessary work in our lives. I'm not talking about your neighbor right now, I'm not talking about the person down the street or the person who lives down the hall, I'm talking about you and me. It's oftentimes in the waiting that God does the most necessary work in our lives, as we grow more aware of our need for him, we grow more aware of the things we're trying to control, we grow more aware of the things that have been simmering under the surface that we've just been ignoring. And God brings them to the light, not to destroy us, but to save us. So that we can recognize, it is far better to live in the mercy of God as one who is free, then it is to live hiding from God and running in the darkness. Don't waste your waiting, God is speaking, perhaps we need to be a little more quiet so we can hear.

George Wright: 26:11 I realize this is a heavy text, it's a beautiful text. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, the Lord is my portion, oh my soul, therefore my hope is in him. This beautiful declaration of who God is, but this beautiful declaration of who God is meets us in an honest and raw way, as it relates to our everyday life. God speaks into the struggle, God invites us to see our need for him, and God calls us out to something greater, if we will trust in his mercy and grace.

George Wright: 27:01 And with that, we returned to the Lord's supper. We return to the cross this morning, to declare that the Lord is our portion. And what he has done for us in Christ, as Christ took our sin on his back at the cross, crucified in our place that we might receive the gift of salvation through the power of his resurrection, it's more than enough for you and for me. As we returned to the Lord's table today, I would just invite you to be very honest before the Lord and just say, Lord, what is it that you need me to see? Or what is it that I need to lay down at the cross, so that I truly can rest in the mercy that you have for me today? If you find yourself in a season of waiting, what is it that the Lord is seeking to reveal to you? Oh, how we want to move on to a new season, but perhaps there's something that the Lord still wants you to see before this season comes to an end. Would you ask the Lord to give you eyes to see, so that you can rest in the mercy that he has for you?

George Wright: 28:33 Let me pray for us as we go into the Lord's supper today, Father God, throughout your word we see statements like, remember, I remember, I recall, because it is so easy for us to forget. And so I pray today as we look to the cross of Jesus Christ, and the incredible gift of love, the physical picture of the steadfast love of the Lord, and the mercy that never comes to an end, I pray that we would remember your faithfulness. I pray that we would lay before the cross, whatever it is that continues to trip us up, continue to cause us to stumble, continues to be a barrier that prevents us from going where you want us to go. Lord, are things below the surface that need to be laid before the cross, they need to be crucified. I pray, Lord, that you'd show us, what is that? And Father, as it is very sobering to consider the sin in our lives and the struggles of our lives, may we never lose sight of how beautiful it is to receive the mercy of God that is new every morning. You do not reveal to us what we need to see to destroy us, you reveal to us what we need to see to save us.

George Wright: 30:28 I pray, Lord God, that there would be some who had experienced that salvation today, some for the first time. Perhaps they've never had a relationship with you, I pray that today would be the day that some would trust in you, realizing their need for mercy, and forgiveness, and grace, that comes through Christ alone.

George Wright: 30:50 Lord, I know there's some who've been in the church for a long time, some who've been walking with you for a long time, and yet there are things hidden. I pray, Lord God, that you would reveal what needs to be brought to the cross, and that's your mercy would pour out like a waterfall from heaven, inviting us to live free in the finished work of what Jesus Christ has done. Thank you for this opportunity to return to the cross of Christ. It's in his name, we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206