Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And therefore the Lord earnestly waits, expecting and longing to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you, for the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed and fortunate to be envied are all those who earnestly wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him, for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship.”
“Through life’s days – whoever or what may fail me,
Friends, friendships, joys, in small or great degree,
Songs may be mine, no sadness need assail me,
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Still my heart hath THEE.”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake.”
“Our Father Is Faithful”
“God never started anything to fail, and you won’t fail at the purpose He’s given you now unless you stop.”
Karon Phillips Goodman
In what ways has God been faithful to me?
In what situations in my life have I found God’s faithfulness to be revealed?
“It’s not your intelligence or your hard work that will lead you through – it is God’s faithfulness.”
Simi Mary Chacko
“Thy mercy, O Lord is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”
There’s nothing I enjoy more than going outside on a clear, dark night and looking up into the heavens to witness an umbrella of twinkling stars and dazzling planets. Where we live, at an altitude of 5,000 feet, there have been times when the spectacular sight of a star-filled sky takes me back to the words penned in the book of Job, a man, who I might add, is best known for the many tragedies that struck his family, his finances, and yes, his own feeble body. If ever an individual had reason to doubt the faithfulness of his heavenly Father, it was Job.
In answering Job’s questions, which at their core centered on this, “Where is my God whom I thought was faithful?” God encouraged His beleaguered friend to take a look heavenward into the vast night sky, and then reflect on this thought:
“Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth?”
New Living Translation
It has been when I’m alone at night and am gazing at a small cluster of hot blue and extremely luminous stars called the Pleiades, that I have been overwhelmed by my Father who is in heaven. Often I have thought, “These are the same stars God told Job to look at in order to gain a heavenly perspective from an earthly point of view.” This is why I believe that when Jesus came to earth and His followers asked Him to teach them to pray, He began the prayer we have come to call the “Lord’s Prayer,” with the words: “Our Father who art in heaven.” Whenever I hear or speak these words, my eyes and thoughts are drawn upward to the heavens. This is also why I find the fact that in one of the most well-known stories during Jesus’ ministry, the feeding of the 5,000, the profound example left by Christ Himself, of looking heavenward to His Father’s dwelling place, provides such a meaningful example for you and me.
The fact that Jesus lifted His eyes heavenward in gratitude and blessing for the food and for those who would partake of it, should be a continual reminder to you and me that if, when Jesus was on earth, He relied on the faithfulness of His Father’s bounty for everything in His own life, so we would do well to do the same thing today. The Psalmist David reminds us of God’s faithfulness when in a time of tragedy, after the “death of his son” he penned these words: “The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for You” (Psalm 9: 9,10). In commenting on this particular Psalm, Matthew Henry makes reference to an interesting point. “The better God is known the more He is trusted. Those who know Him to be a God of infinite wisdom will trust Him further than they can see Him…Those who know Him to be a God of (secure) truth and faithfulness will rejoice in His word of promise, and rest upon that; though the performance be deferred and intermediate providences seem to contradict it. Those who know Him to be an everlasting Father, will trust Him at all times, even to the end.” As the poet Lewis Morris reminds us of our Father in heaven, “The peaks, and the starlit skies, the deeps of the fathomless seas, Immanent is He in all, yet higher and deeper than these.” This is the Father that Jesus lifted His eyes heavenward to speak to for His Father’s faithfulness was ever in the forefront of Jesus’ thoughts as it should be in yours and mine.
Not long ago, I came upon a poem that reminded me why dark starry nights so frequently impress upon my mind the grandeur of a faithful heavenly Father especially when we dwell amid a world of turmoil. From the pen of Hermann Hagedorn here are the words from “Starry Night”:
“We are such little (ones) when the stars come out,
So small under the open maw of the night,
That we must shout and pound the table and drive wild,
And gather dollars and madly dance and drink deep,
And send the great birds flying, and drop death.
When the stars come out we are such little (ones)
that we must arm ourselves in glare and thunder,
Or cave in on our own dry littleness.
We are such little (ones) when the stars come out!
Ah, God behind the stars, touch with your finger this mite
of meaningless dust and give it substance.
I am so little, under the frown of night!
Be You my body, You my eyes, my lips, my hands,
My feet, my heart-beat and my hunger,
That I may face the infinite spaces, and live;
And stand in quietness, when the stars come out.”
Tonight I encourage you to take a moment and lift your eyes heavenward as Jesus did. Let yourself, in the stillness of the evening, absorb the faithfulness of our Father’s immense love – as the “stars come out.”
In the words to the famous hymn, “Be Still My Soul,” written by Katharina von Schlegel, and translated by Jane Laurie Borthwick:
“Be still my soul; the Lord is on Thy side:
Leave to Thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.”
“Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.”
New Living Bible
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, springtime and harvest,
Sun moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness to
Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”
Thomas O. Chisholm
“But I look up – into the face of Jesus,
For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled,
And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness,
And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.”
Annie Johnson Flint
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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