Why did you stop donating to the church?

What remains.

Lately it has happened more often that familiar situations, traditions and relationships that were personally important and valuable to me in my life have ceased and come to an end. It happened in such short succession that it made me think.

A few weeks ago my family doctor announced to me that he would stop soon. I was very sad about that. I always felt very well looked after by this doctor. I was able to speak to him in a very personal and trusting manner.

A little later, the employee at my bakery told me that this branch was going to close soon. This news also hit me completely unprepared. Because in this bakery I have been shopping and spending my lunch break for many years. It is hard to believe that this possibility no longer exists.

Not long after that, the owner of a restaurant that my wife and I frequented on special occasions told us that he was going to stop soon and close the restaurant. I was shocked and couldn't imagine that this beautiful place will no longer exist for us.

When something comes to an end in our life, when encounters with people with whom we have got along well stop, it is often very difficult for us and makes us sad.

Most people love the familiar and constant. Familiar situations and relationships give us security, while the new can easily frighten us because it is still unknown.

The singer Manfred Siebald once expressed this emotional state very nicely in one of his songs when he was composing:

Old hours, old days
you just leave hesitantly.
As familiar as old clothes
are they to you through suffering and happiness.

How good it is for us Jesus people to be able to follow a Lord who knows us very well. He knows the trouble we can have when something familiar comes to an end. He wants to take our fears away by drawing our attention to three things in his word, which are permanent and which Not will stop.

What three things are they? A look at the Bible reveals it to us:

First, God's faithfulness will not cease

Second, God's love cannot stop

Third, our faith should not stop

 

1. God's faithfulness will not cease

The first thing the Bible tells us is: God's faithfulness will not cease. We read about this at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 8:22. There we are told that God saved Noah, his family and many animals in the ark from the great flood. Finally, after a hundred and fifty days, the water is gradually receding, and Noah and his family will soon be able to leave the ark on the Ararat mountains again with dry feet.

Out of gratitude for this wonderful salvation of God, Noah builds an altar for the Lord there and offers him a burnt offering. Thereupon God makes a great promise to Noah and the whole human race by promising: “As long as the earth stands, sowing and harvesting, frost and heat, summer and winter, day and night should not cease"(Genesis 8:22).

With this promise of God, the Lord places his creation under a far-reaching guarantee of existence, which is still valid to this day. God makes it clear that his faithfulness is unbreakable and will not perish as long as this earth exists.

I have to think of a painting that used to hang in my parents' house and that I looked at often. It shows the planet earth from the wide perspective of space. Below the earth, the draftsman has painted a large hand that holds and embraces our planet in a protective and preserving way.

This is a beautiful illustration of this Bible verse, which impressively shows the faithfulness of God for his creation. Our Lord holds his hand over this earth and does not let the work of his hands fall. To this day he has kept his promise with which he assured us: "As long as the earth stands, sowing and harvesting, frost and heat, summer and winter, day and night should not cease."

In this promise of God, the Creator has assured us of the foundations of life and life cycles that we need for our earthly existence and that make our life possible in the first place.

“Seed and harvest will not stop”: God is telling us here that he wants to ensure our daily supply with food and daily goods.

"Day and night will not stop": God wants to enable us to work and rest, tension and relaxation.

“Frost and heat, summer and winter will not stop”: God wants to show us here the beauty of nature, the variety and the richness in his creation and to please us with it.

And what applies to his creation as a whole, we can also experience for our own lives.

We can thank God that our hearts have not stopped beating to this day.

We can thank God that our other vital organs have not ceased to serve.

We can be grateful when our eyes and ears, our senses and our mind have not stopped working.

How many times recently have you thanked your Lord for not stopping to protect and keep your life safe?

God's faithfulness will not cease. She has not stopped in our lives and will continue to be by our side. Our Lord is true to his word - this can calm our hearts in all threats and uncertainties in our lives.

 

2. God's love cannot stop

We find a second promise from God in the Bible that will not stop. God's love cannot stop. The apostle Paul writes that of the church in Corinth in the well-known "Song of Songs" in the thirteenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians. There we read in verse 8: "Love never stopswhen prophetic speaking will cease and speaking in tongues will cease and knowledge will cease. "

“Love never ceases” - a strong statement made here by the apostle Paul. But is it actually true?

If we only look at human love, e.g. the love between a man and a woman, then doubts can sometimes arise. In the past few months, a number of prominent couples have split up and filed for divorce:

The actor Sky du Mont separated from his wife Mirja after sixteen years.

The TV presenter Johannes B. Kerner separated from his wife Britta after twenty years of marriage.

And our national coach, Jogi Löw, separated from his wife Daniela after thirty-six years.

Love never stops At least the examples just mentioned do not seem to confirm this statement at first glance.

What kind of love is Paul referring to here? It is not the love that man would like to produce on his own. It is the love of God that the apostle writes that it does not seek what is yours and does not attribute evil, but endures everything, believes everything, hopes everything and endures everything (verses 5 and 6).

Where do we find such love?

This love of God was shown in a special way on the cross on Golgotha. There on the cross the Son of God revealed to us what true love is when he went to death for us to redeem us. For all eternity we will praise and praise our Lord for showing us this way out of guilt and ruin and we are now through him and with him be able to live.

This love of God that meets us on the cross and woos us will not cease for those who belong to him, yes, they can not stop. Because in the first letter of John we read: “God is love” (1.Joh. 4,8). So love is not just one quality of God among many others; no: love is that actual core and the innermost beings God.

God would have to stop being God if he stopped loving his own.

The Evangelist John can therefore testify of Jesus: “He loved the people who belonged to him and he didn't stopto love them ”(Joh. 13,1; HFA).

How many times have you thanked your Lord for this love recently? How often have you lived out of this divine love and passed it on to others?

God's love cannot stop. “It is from God's goodness that we are still alive. His mercy is not over yet, his love is new every morning and his loyalty is unbelievably great ”(Lamentations 3,22 + 23; GNB).

 

3. Our faith should not stop

We find a third promise of God in the Bible, of which we are told that it will not, should not end: Our faith should not stop. The Bible tells us about a disciple of Jesus who received this promise in a special way from his Lord: It is the apostle Peter.

In the 22nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read that shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus met again with his closest confidants to celebrate a farewell meal with them. In the course of this meal the Lord turns to Peter and says to him: “Simon, Simon! Take care! God has allowed Satan to test you and separate the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you that your belief in me won't stop. When you have found your way back to me, you must strengthen your brothers and sisters in their faith in me! ”(Luke 22: 31 + 32; GNB).

“I have prayed for you that your faith in me will not cease.” This promise that Jesus makes to his disciple has been miraculously come true in Peter's life. After all, Peter had the bitter experience of being unfaithful to his Lord in the hour of his suffering and death. But afterwards he was allowed to become an intrepid and steadfast witness for the risen One, in whom many saw a strong example of faith.

The risen One prayed not only for Peter, but also for every single child of God, so that our faith would not cease. The Apostle Paul asks the question in Romans: “Who wants to condemn? Christ Jesus is here, who died, or rather, who was also raised, who is at the right hand of God and represents us ”(Romans 8:34).

Yes, Jesus represents us, Jesus prays for us so that our faith does not end. What would have become of us if it hadn't been for Jesus too? for us would have occurred?

Spurgeon once said: “We know little about how much we owe our Savior's prayers. When we one day reach the heights of heaven and look back on all the ways in which the Lord our God has led us, how will we praise Him, who before the eternal mercy seat made good all the calamities that Satan did on earth . "

How many times this year have you thanked your Lord for praying for you over and over again?

It is very important to the Lord Jesus that our life of faith does not slacken and pause, but that we stick to it incessantly and do not throw away our trust even in difficult phases of life.

Why is that so important?

Jesus had said to Peter and the other disciples: “God has allowed Satan to put you to the test.” Yes, the devil leaves no stone unturned to attack and destroy our life of faith. He doesn't stop there.

In the twelfth chapter of Revelation we read that the devil accuses the Lord's redeemed "day and night" before God (Revelation 12:10). So we become of the enemy of God incessantly accused before our Lord - are we actually aware of this?

When I see how Christians are dealt with in most of the media and in our society these days, I have seen such aggressive and accusatory behavior more and more recently. Some Christian events in Germany can now only take place under massive police protection. And some Christian speakers have to fear for their life and health if certain lectures are recorded by them or put on the Internet.

We feel it more and more in our country too: The enemy of God wants our faith to cease.

That is why we so desperately need our Lord to pray for us. But we also need sisters and brothers in faith who think of us and strengthen us in faith. Jesus also gives this commission to his disciple by telling him: "When you have found your way back to me, you must strengthen your brothers and sisters in their faith in me!"

Some time ago a brother in faith told me a great need that had been a burden on his life for a long time. Again and again he had prayed to God that this need would be taken away from him. But nothing had happened. And then he spoke of doubts about faith with which he was struggling more and more.

I was allowed to pray for this brother that his faith would not stop. And many times I was in this situation myself, in which I was in danger of losing my faith.

As a congregation we are there for one another, so that we can strengthen ourselves in faith and give each other encouragement and consolation. As a church, we want to take care of one another so that our faith does not stop.

 

So we can be wholeheartedly grateful to our Heavenly Father for these three things that will not stop with him.

His loyalty will not cease. Just as he has cared for and accompanied us so far, he will continue to do so. He has promised us: “As long as the earth is there, sowing and harvesting, frost and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” He stays with us with his care, with his protection, with his helping hand. He has firmly promised us that.

His love cannot stop. Because God is love, he cannot stop showing us his love. “Love never stops” - he proved that to us on the cross and he always wants to bring it back to our eyes. This divine love should be the identification mark for us Jesus people. Our Lord said to us: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35).

And finally we may know: Our faith should not stop. The risen One prays for us to stay with him. And we as a congregation are allowed to do this service for one another and pray for our brother and sister.

Yes, Jesus people are people who don't stop: don't stop believing, don't stop loving, don't stop hoping.

The quote is attributed to the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero: "Never start to stop and never stop to begin."

I would like to make this principle of Cicero my own for my life.

But above all I want to testify with Psalm 34: 2: “I will always praise the Lord and never stopto thank him ”(New Life Bible).

Are you there too?

I wholeheartedly wish you many good experiences with our Lord in the near future, who will not stop being there for us. Amen.

Ralf Achter