RECAP–GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS based on Lamentations 3:16-26
#6 Hymn–Great is Thy Faithfulness
Context for the Hymn (based on research by Pastor Ryan)
Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” when he was 60 years old (1925) as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent. Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.
Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”
Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness. And throughout history, He’s never once been proven wrong, for His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.
My great-grandmother, Abuela Mary, and my grandmother, Mama, both called Great in Thy Faithfulness their favorite hymn. I remember singing the hymn in Spanish, since my Abuela Mary knew very little English, by her bedside in the hospital the night before she passed away in 1998. I then sang the hymn in her honor at her funeral, and my grandmother Mama wants me to sing it at her funeral too. For me, this hymn has deep history and connection that went even farther than Thomas Chisholm’s words.
Abuela Mary was the first of my entire family line, on both sides of the family, to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As a young woman in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she married her sweetheart she had met at church, and had two children, Mama and my late Uncle Teo. But then the Great Depression struck and continued to intensify. My great-grandfather became mixed up in the wrong crowd, and soon had not only walked away from a life of faith, but became mixed up in drugs. He was murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Abuela Mary and her two children were forced to become homeless due to debts that were called into account and a foreclosure of their home. They were welcomed by the local church, who had an unused Sunday School room on the second floor which they were able to use as living quarters until she was able to land a nursing job and get back on her feet. She had been through the worst of times, but knew God’s faithfulness!
As she emerged from the ruin of that time, she always had an “upper room” of every dwelling she lived in which was held vacant for a person in time of need. She also used that room to pray multiple times a day. She continued that tradition even into her final days–a tradition that Mama continued. Whenever I would go over to their house as a child in Rochester, NY, Abuela Mary and Mama would spend multiple times a day, praying in the upper room, for those in need. Both of them were strong in their faith, firmly believing God would answer their every prayer. One of the last things Abuela Mary said to me, which Mama has repeated regularly: “No matter where you are in life, God is always faithful.” They prayed for my mother, who was a rebellious teenager at the time, back into church. They prayed for my father, who when he met my mother had nothing to do with God, to find the Lord. They prayed for my father to enter into the ministry–and he did. And they prayed over me, saying multiple times when I was a youth that I would lead many to Christ and faithfully preach his Word. In many ways, the impact on you as my church family is a result of their firm, unwavering belief in the faithfulness of God, no matter where they were in life. And Samantha, Katie, and Joscelin are all a continuation of the legacy started by Abuela Mary back in the 1930’s.
God is always faithful, no matter what. When Jeremiah penned these beautiful words in Lamentations, the city of Jerusalem was in the process of being destroyed by Babylon. The temple was no more. His people were taken into exile as a direct result of their unfaithfulness. Yet Jeremiah clung to the faithfulness of God.
God is always faithful. He made a covenant with us, that he would be our God, and we would be his people. A covenant, unlike a contract today which is easily broken, was meant to be enduring, lasting, enforced until death. What this means is that God’s word never fails. We don’t have to worry at all about if God will come through, because he always will. He will never leave us or forsake us; he will forgive our sins and remember them no more; he is as close as the mention of his name; he loves us with an everlasting love. God never promised that we would have a trouble free life, nor did he promise that we would be free of trials or difficulties or pain. Rather, he promised his presence in the midst of it all–even if it is exile. God is faithful.
He is faithful, no matter where we are in life. Satan wants us to believe that when we are in our darkest seasons, God has abandoned us. Sometimes those dark times are self-imposed. But no matter what we face, no matter where we are, God is still faithful, and his Word remains true. We don’t have to be overcome by despair, but we can cling to hope, that there is a way through. I did not include this in the sermon Sunday, but will add it here: the promise in Jeremiah 29:11, that we will have a hope and a future, was given to a people about to go into exile! Even when it looks like our world is shattering around our feet, God is still working! Cling to hope!
God is faithful, even when we are not. Israel was in exile because of their unfaithfulness. Sometimes, we push God away because we make the choice to be in sin. We keep him at arms length because we don’t want to face conviction, and we also push away those who love us and those who care enough to say something. But just because we mess up doesn’t mean that the covenant is null and void. God stays committed to us, and even provided the way of salvation so we can have a way to become faithful again!
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is very difficult, and we are struck with catastrophe. But cling to the faithfulness of God; he will see you through, no matter where you are in life.
Questions for reflection
1) Is there a time in your life you have seen firsthand the faithfulness of God? How did it impact you?
2) What circumstances are you facing right now that you could use God’s help? Lay it before the faithful God!
3) When you are facing a crisis, what Scripture is the one you cling to?
This Sunday Pastor Ryan continues the Favorite Hymn Series with our #5 hymn, based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-58. What is our blessed hope? And why should we cling to it now, more than ever? Come or tune in Sunday to find out.
Daily Bible Readings for May 18 – 24
May 18: Joshua 6 How did God demonstrate his faithfulness?
May 19: Genesis 15 What does the covenant have to do with God’s faithfulness?
May 20: Ruth 4 How did God show his faithfulness to Naomi and Ruth?
May 21: 2 Kings 20:1-11 How did God show his faithfulness to Hezekiah?
May 22: Daniel 1 How did God show his faithfulness in the midst of exile?
May 23: Psalm 34 How did David describe his hope?
May 24: Psalm 27 How did David describe his hope?
This Week’s Events:
Thursday, May 20–Leadership Team @ 7 PM
Friday, May 21–Apple Dumpling Making @ 9 AM
Friday, May 21 & Saturday, May 22–Disaster Auction
Sunday, May 23–Pentecost Sunday Love Feast @ 6 PM
Saturday, May 29–Men’s Fellowship Resumes @7:15 AM, Thomas House Restaurant
Sunday, June 6–Summer Hours Begin; Worship @ 9:30 AM, Sunday School @ 10:45 AM
Sunday, June 6–First Breakfast @ 8:45 AM
Sunday, June 13–Graduate Recognition Sunday
Sunday, June 20–Outdoor Worship
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Brethren Woods–Fundraising Opportunities
Thank you to all who have given so far! Pastor Ryan will be soaked! But if Pastor Ryan is the highest money raiser for this fundraiser for Brethren Woods, he will get a weekend retreat at Forest Haven. So let’s continue to give toward the cause!
What is more, if we can raise over $400, Winnie Wilfong has agreed (in part, due to Tom’s volunteering!) to also take a bucket of water for camp!
Also, Pieter and Nils will be doing a 100-mile bike ride, visiting congregations through the valley, starting at Brethren Woods and ending at Pleasant Valley COB. They are hoping to make a stop here. We can show support by donating to their cause!
If you would like to donate to either cause, write a check out the church, but you need to mark it as “Dunk Pastor Ryan” or “Bike Ride” in the memo line. If donating via cash, please mark it on an envelope.
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
6) Restoration of the national church
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate at the main entrance as you enter for church
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sam Carr (health)
Cooper family (challenges)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Tina Dotson (COVID)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Shannon Hollen (health)
Shirley Holland (health)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Lambert family (loss)
Larry LaPrade (COVID)
Lent family (work)
Alda Miller (health)
Diane Miller (health)
Mary Miller (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Evy Kaye Sandin (health)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Charles Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB