The Permanence of God

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
walkingaway.jpgYesterday morning I was reminded how the disciples here have been shocked by the defection of one of the congregation’s founding brothers.
In January, this brother arose after the Sunday meeting and announced he was forsaking the Lord and the church. After some 20 years in the faith.
Yesterday, Sr. Benedito, a retired manual laborer in his 70s, arrived early as usual for our meeting and commented that he could always count on my being there.
No mention of the fallen brother. Nor of several others who have surrendered the prize of faithfulness. Nor of the full-time evangelist who also had helped to begin the congregation, but had moved on to another ministry.
This year has been a hard one for the church here. In July we left our rented building we’d met in for five years. We’ve spent three months searching for adequate quarters. In that time, we’ve been meeting in a cramped space in my office.
Neither location nor individuals have given the saints much of a sense of permanence. Nor should they.
The Lord is the eternal God and king (Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17). He is always there. We can always count on him being there for us.
God will not forsake us nor abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). Others may give up the faith, but God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; see Revelation 1:5). He never turns his back on his children, never fails in his promises.
We may shuffle from one location to another, but God is the ground of our faith. He’s solid. He’s our Rock (Psalm 18:2, 31, 46; 31:2-3; 62:2, 6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:4).
To a people whose faith wavered under pressure, one writer declared that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8).
Like Yahweh God, Jesus is who he is. If we are grounded in him, we will not be “carried away by all sorts of strange teachings” (v. 9). Our hearts will be strengthened, not by a false sense of security in places or people, but “by grace.”
I hope to provide Sr. Benedito a good example, spiritual friendship and faithful teaching for a long time to come yet. But the faces and places in our congregation, as in yours, will change with time.
So our trust must be in the permanence of God, in the solidity of his promises, in the firmness of his salvation.
Such a trust will carry us through all the changes both today and tomorrow.

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