Chesed

Yesterday we considered several passages of Scripture that demonstrate the faithfulness of God and His unfailing love and presence in our lives. Today I would like for you to consider the word “chesed” which is often translated as lovingkindness.

Here are some notes from A Theological Word Book of the Bible on the word “chesed.”

It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word chesed stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.

The word is used to contrast man and God.

  • Isaiah 40:6 – Isaiah used chesed (“loveliness”) in the context of man’s lack of steadfastness or strength. The prophet is contrasting man’s frailty with God’s steadfast reliability.
  • Hosea 6:4 – Israel’s chesed was like the morning cloud which goes away. ‘as the morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away,’ a regular feature of the Palestinian climate when once the spring rains are past.

God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.

In light of these thoughts about the “chesed,” the unfailing lovingkindness God, let us pray for God’s “chesed” to be a part of our marriages. May we as men love our wives “just as” Jesus loved us, and may that unfailing lovingkindness flow from our hearts and souls toward our wives.

Interesting thought, when I type “lovingkindness,” it gets underlined in red because it is not part of the dictionary on this program. This term lovingkindness is not familiar to it, but may that not be the case for us in our marriages. Hopefully lovingkindness is part of our “program,” deeply embedded within our souls.

God is Faithful

Let’s look today at several passages in Scripture that speak of God’s faithfulness. Our God is faithful at all times, even when we are not.

Before we sin, while we are being tempted

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

While we are sinning

2 Timothy 2:11-13 – This is a faithful saying:  For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

While we are seeking to come back

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 2:17 – Jesus is a merciful and faithful High Priest

Even when we are standing in the wake of the consequences

Lamentations 3:18-24 – And I said, “My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

Until Jesus comes again

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

God Does Not Change

Malachi 3:6 – I am the Lord I do not change

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand

The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master (Potiphar) saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate… (Genesis 39:2-6).

This morning, take time to think of Joseph’s character as a servant to Potiphar. Also, consider how Joseph’s behavior created the environment of trust within Potiphar. Joseph was made the “overseer” of all Potiphar’s house. He was given “authority” over all that Potiphar had.

In order for a man to put everything he had under the oversight of another, what kind of trust had to exist? If you are going to hand the keys to your house and the account numbers to your bank over to another, you would completely trust that person’s character first.

That is what we see in the relationship between Joseph and Potiphar here.

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand

I want to consider two questions and directly relate this to our relationship with the church family.

Am I like Joseph?

Can the leadership in our congregation completely trust me to follow through with the responsibilities given to me? When I say I will do something, do I keep my word? Do the elders/shepherds in our congregations see this quality of Joseph within us? This is the same kind of mindset that Paul saw within Timothy; Paul knew without a doubt he could count on him (Philippians 2:19-23).

Am I like Potiphar?

I know the focus of this passage is on Joseph, but I see a great quality in Potiphar here as well. He was willing to delegate and completely hand over the reins of certain matters to Joseph. He did not micromanage Joseph. If we are in a leadership position, are we looking for those Joseph-minded people in our congregations?

Are we willing to let loose of some control in order to let others oversee certain affairs? This relationship is a two-way street. Joseph could have all the greatest character in the world, but if Potiphar was not willing to let go of control, Joseph would never shine in his new given responsibilities. Letting go of control is very hard for us, isn’t it?

Take a lesson from Potiphar here, and look for the Joseph’s in your church. Let them thrive and grow and be challenged. This is the same thing we see of the apostles in Acts 6:1-7. The apostles appointed seven Joseph-like men to take care of the widows and gave them “oversight” in this matter.

Let’s be a Joseph in our work, but let’s also be a Potiphar in how we delegate responsibility to others.

He considered me faithful

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service… (1 Timothy 1:12).

Last night, our congregation heard a great short talk from 1 Timothy 1:12 which focused on Paul’s thankfulness to God for being able to serve. Paul was thankful not only to serve God, but also to serve others. Thank you, Nathan, for that lesson!

As I was thinking about that wonderful concept last night, I began thinking of another thing from verse 12. God considered Paul faithful. If you know nothing about his previous life, then this statement is not all that impressive. However, when you read further, you see Paul describe his previous way of living in comparison to God’s abundant mercy.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

He considered me faithful

Paul’s former life is self-described as blasphemous and violently aggressive in persecuting God’s people. How on earth could God consider such a one to be “faithful” after living a life like that? Yet, God did this very thing. In another passage, Paul gave glory to God’s mercy that his opinion was considered “trustworthy” by God (1 Cor. 7:25).

Would we consider Paul to be “faithful” after knowing his attitude and behavior toward God and His people? Would we even want to hear anything Paul had to say? How can we look past the fact that Paul did every thing in his power to hurt Christians (Acts 26:9-11)? He “breathed out threats and murder” towards them (Acts 9:1)!

You see, Jesus demonstrates through Paul an example of His abundant mercy. This is God’s pattern on display for all time. God is merciful…abundantly merciful. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, anyone can be forgiven who comes to the cross. No matter what you or I have done, we can through God’s mercy be counted faithful. That guy at work whom we think would be the last person in the world to become a Christian…well, remember Paul.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Moses was faithful even when…(6 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#6 Moses was faithful to God even when things did not work out as expected.

Consider the past 5 articles leading up to today:

  • Would you be faithful to God even if you don’t want to do the job?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when the enthusiasm is gone?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you receive little appreciation?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you begin to doubt your own value and effectiveness?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you lose support of those closest to you?

All of us would naturally struggle with one of these more than another. What we mean is that some will endure everything as long as they have their family. Others can endure a lot of junk thrown their way as long as they feel appreciated and valued.

So, what if you go through all of the above things, and things still don’t work out like you planned and hoped? Would you be faithful to God?

After 40 years of leading Israel, and after all of the heartache, sacrifice and pain, Moses was not able to go into the Promised Land. Because of a moment of weakness and exasperation toward the people of Israel, Moses had at one point taken the glory for himself and God told him the consequences for doing this (see Numbers 20).

Later, near the end of his life, he begged for God to change His mind. “Let me I pray, cross over and see the fair land,” and God replied “Enough! Speak to Me no more on this matter…for you shall not cross over this Jordan” (Deuteronomy 3:25-27).

How did Moses respond to this?

What does a real man do? What does a real man do when things don’t work out like he planned?

This is so important for those of us who are driven by results and “success” (as we define it). What happens when the road we have carefully and methodically plotted out takes a wrong turn and we are left with broken dreams? What happens when God says “No” to our heartfelt requests? Lesser men will throw up their hands, quit and walk away.

Moses asked God to appoint a good leader to succeed him, because he did not want Israel to be like sheep without a shepherd. When God told Moses that Joshua would be the new leader, Moses spent a great deal of time encouraging and strengthening Joshua because of the awesome task at hand. Moses remained humble, focused on God’s glory, and always thoughtful of what was best for God’s people…even when things did not work out like he hoped for himself. Moses gently submitted to God’s decisions, even when he didn’t agree.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(5 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#5 Moses was faithful to God even when those closest to him turned against him.

Sometimes standing for something means you will be standing alone.

Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ own sister and brother, turned against him at one point. Amazingly, when God punished Miriam because of this with leprosy, it was Moses who prayed for her to be healed. He was faithful to God even when those closest to him opposed him.

It is at this point in Moses’ life that the Bible says that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). Moses’ heart was truly set on God – even when his own family turned on him, he did not get defensive or proud. He did not make it about him, he turned his heart toward God in prayer. Moses still loved his family even though they behaved this way toward him.

Moses was not the only person in Scripture who had to stand alone.

  • Jesus’ brothers thought He was crazy, and His closest friends abandoned Him when He was arrested. Jesus kept His focus on the Father and doing His will.
  • The apostle Paul wrote that during one of his trials in Rome that “no one stood” with him. However, the “Lord stood with him and strengthened him.”
  • Samuel was deeply hurt and felt rejected when the Israelites asked for a king. God reminded Samuel that the people had rejected Him, not Samuel.
  • Job’s wife said to curse God and die. Job kept his eyes on the Lord.
  • David’s most loyal soldiers at one point all turned against him and wanted to kill him. Yet, David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

People won’t always understand your priorities.  Your fellow Christians sometimes won’t be going the same direction. We can’t force what is important to us to be important to those closest to us.

Humble service can shed light on lack of commitment in others.  Without saying a word our actions can make those around us feel guilty and that guilt will often be displayed in criticism and disapproval.

So, the question comes, will you be faithful even when you have to be faithful alone? Remember, though, that with God you are never alone. We truly learn to find our peace, comfort, joy and strength in God during the times we are not finding it in those closest to us.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do to the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.
  5. Those closest to him turned against him.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

 

Moses was faithful even when…(4 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#4 Moses was faithful to God even when he doubted his own value and effectiveness.

Even Moses got tired. Leading the Israelites in the wilderness was a daily beating. In Numbers chapter 11, it really started to wear on Moses. He started to wonder, “Why me, God?” He felt alone and ineffective. In this chapter, we find Moses at the point where he cried out for God to either send him help or kill him!

Moses felt alone. God came to his aid. God sent Moses helpers.

The prophet Elijah who lived much later than Moses also went through the same thing. He felt alone and useless. His life’s work was in vain, in his eyes. He asked for God to take his life. God made Elijah aware that there were 7000 others who were also faithful. God also comforted Elijah and sent him helpers.

You are going to feel alone at times. You are going to feel ineffective and you’re going to wonder if you are really making a difference. There will be times that you feel like the only person around who gets it.

Questioning our impact is part of the process.  Frustration does not equal failure.  Allowing the frustration to cause us to quit is failure. Its part of the growth process, and it frankly stinks, but if we have honest hearts we will be better for it.

Sometimes we doubt our value and effectiveness because:

  • We are looking for immediate results to long-term endeavors.
  • We are just plain worn out, and have become unrealistic and shortsighted. We might just need a break and a breath of fresh air.
  • We have painted the wrong picture of what success is. Maybe you need to sit down with an objective, wise advisor to help you see things more clearly. That advisor might help you redesign your goals and strategy. He might help you redefine what “success” means in whatever it is you are doing.
  • We are listening to the few complainers causing us problems and not paying attention to the others who are really benefiting from what we are trying to do. It is easy to see the critics, the complainers, and non-responders.
  • We are focusing on our efforts instead of God’s efforts working through us and through others. Remember Moses and Elijah both felt alone, but they were not really alone. They were making it about them at that point and had to have their spiritual eyesight adjusted.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(3 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#3 Moses was faithful to God even when he received little appreciation.

Moses is the poster child for leading people who had zero appreciation. In fact, Moses did not only have to do this job without much gratitude coming from the Israelites, he had to deal with them constantly opposing him, falsely accusing him, complaining against him and even attempting to kill him!

But through all of this, Moses remained faithful, even to the point of praying for these very same people to be forgiven.

So, why do we serve? Do we serve for the appreciation and recognition of the people around us? Do we quit or avoid a task when it might not make us very popular? Do we serve in order to look better and more “righteous” than others? Or do we serve for the glory of God?

One way we find out the answers to those questions is how we serve when we are getting a lot of resistance and very little appreciation for our efforts.

Let’s apply this principle to our parenting.

Are you parenting to win the coolest dad award? Are you trying to be your kid’s best friend or are you trying to be their father? There are times when you a buy them a present they’ve “always wanted” or take them to a really awesome place, and they will think you are the greatest. You can even post those things on social media and even more people will tell you what an awesome dad you are.

And then there are those other times.Your child will not always think you’re cool and awesome.

  • Your child will not always do cartwheels and sing your praises when you ask them to do things.
  • Your child will not always know and appreciate what you go through for them (and if you tell them a million times what you do for them they won’t get it…yet).
  • Your child will be thankful one moment and whine the next about what they don’t have. They’re not much different from adults are they?

We do not mean to say that you should intentionally try to lose popularity with your kids. However, when you tell them to turn off the Xbox and do their homework, and when you tell them that they cannot go outside and play because they did not clean their room, those kids will look at you like you have three heads. When your daughter has been dishonest, rude or ungrateful, and now she expects you to drive her to soccer…guess what? She is going to learn a very hard lesson at that point, and she is not going to like it. “You’re not going to soccer tonight, sister.” Don’t make it a long and drawn out lecture; just state the facts and set down the law and do not waver.

Don’t overreact and go all Mortal Combat on them for their poor attitudes and lack of gratitude for you. You’ll end up making it more about you than them. Be firm, make them obey and let them feel the consequences of their attitudes. Be firm and make sure they respect their mother when she asks them to do something. You might win quick popularity points with the kids by taking sides with them against their mother, but you will lose big time in the end (the kids will become master manipulators).

Just remember: They may not like you now, but they will love you (and thank you) later.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(2 of 6)

Moses was faithful to God even when…the enthusiasm was gone.

By Andy Harrison and Aaron Kemple

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#2 Moses was faithful to God even when the job was harder than expected and the enthusiasm was gone.

It did not take long for the people of Israel to change their mind and lose confidence in Moses and in God’s plans for deliverance. When Moses first met with the elders of Israel and told them about God’s plans for delivering them, they responded by bowing their heads and worshiping. It seems that they were excited; they apparently anticipated God’s mighty hand to swoop down on Egypt and take Israel in one swift movement to the Promised Land.

But then things just got hard. Pharaoh added more work to their already demanding quota, and then beat them for not making it. The people cried out to Moses. Moses cried out to God. This is not what we signed up for!

Moses came back to the people with more hopeful and encouraging words from God, but “they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.” They were so beat down physically and emotionally, they could not even listen to what Moses had to say.

So, what did Moses do? He stayed on God’s path. He pressed on with the mission God called him to. He confronted and rebuked Pharaoh, as God called him. He did the miracles and signs God sent him to perform. “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did.”

Let’s apply this principle to our marriages.

Are we faithful to God (and to our wives) even when the enthusiasm is gone? Has your marriage lost its “zing?” The honeymoon is long gone, the bills are piling up, both of your bodies are changing, the kids are screaming, work is demanding, on and on and on it goes. Maybe you enjoy spending time with people other than your wife, because they seem to be more exciting.

So what will you do? You could leave. You could find a new hottie. You could devote more time to your job and hobbies. You could pursue perverted ways to spice up your “love” life. You could pour yourself into your church activities. You could even become a better dad. But none of those will fix what is wrong with your marriage.

Have you considered, prayed, and sought counsel on how to bring life back into your marriage? Have you forgotten to do the things you used to do for your wife when you were dating and newly married?

Even if your wife does not reciprocate the intimacy, and even if she is not all that excited about you anymore, you must still seek to honor and cherish her. You must continue to find ways to rekindle the intimacy. She might eventually respond if you continue to be faithful like Moses.

On the other hand, looking at this from another direction, sometimes life is just routine. It’s ordinary. It is not always flashy. There is not always a party in the bedroom.  In some ways it will not be the same as the first year together, and that is ok. Some folks have a hard time accepting the ordinary and mundane, but that is just part of life.

Moses did the things God commanded, even when #1 he did not want to do them, and #2 even when the lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Tomorrow is point #3, Lord willing.

Moses was faithful even when…(1 of 6)

Moses was faithful to God even when…he didn’t want the job.

By Andy Harrison and Aaron Kemple

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

What does it mean to be faithful? Does it mean I “go to church?” Does it mean, “I’m a pretty good guy?”

Faithful means: dedicated, loyal, trustworthy, or reliable. Faithfulness is a core quality of God Himself. You can count on God…period. He never fails. He is there in good times and bad. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

So, how was Moses like God in faithfulness?

#1. Moses was faithful to God even when he didn’t want to do the job.

He didn’t want to go back to Egypt, he felt completely unqualified, he certainly did not want to confront Pharaoh, and he begged for God to send someone else to lead Israel. Yet, he humbled himself and obeyed God’s call to lead.

As a man serving God, there are simply things you just don’t want to do (or feel unqualified to do), but you do them because you are a man who seeks the glory of the only true and living God. Do you only pick the easy jobs? Do you only go for the jobs that keep you in your comfort zone?

Moses had left Egypt behind and was sitting comfortably in Midian with his family and had been so for 40 years. Why leave now? He had already tried to be Israel’s deliverer 40 years ago and it didn’t work, why would it work now?

Yet, Moses went to Egypt, he didn’t want to, but he went. And the Lord went with him.

Men, your greatest example of a man is Jesus Christ, and He did not want to do what He did for you. He groaned in His spirit and was troubled concerning the cross. He was distressed about it, the Bible says. He begged, while literally sweating blood, for the Father to let this cup of anguish called the cross pass from Him. Yet, because of His love for God, His hope of glory and His love for you, He did it anyway.

What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a faithful man?

Today, we want you consider that being a faithful man means that you are faithful to God even when you don’t want to do the job. You do it anyway, because it is what God asked you to do.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Tomorrow is point #2, Lord willing.