The Love of the Lord – Psalm 118:1-7

The Love Of God Is Forevermore

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say:
“His love endures forever.”

5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

God is Good

God is immutable – He cannot change.  His steadfast character is one of the many reasons that we can praise Him:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

God showers us with His goodness.  He does not withhold His goodness, but lovingly showers all of us with His mercy and grace:

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

God is good because He can be nothing else.  Men look upon God with the imperfect lens of their experience, tainted by sin, with hearts hardened by trials, and question the goodness of God.  Yet God still is good, regardless of our circumstances.  If we look at God through the lens of pain and suffering, we are likely to see something that is not correct.  Pain blinds us to the true nature of God.  We must remember that God sees everything clearly and with the proper perspective, while we see through a glass darkly.

Love of the Lord

The author of this psalm tells us three times in row that God’s love endures forever.  We can be assured of that because God is good, God is love, God is eternal, and God never changes:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

God lavishes His love upon everyone on the earth.  He provides all of us with breath in our lungs.  He does not withhold the rain or the sun from us (although the clouds might seem to do that…).  God pours out from His very nature a level of love, provision, and care that none of us would ever be able to do in His place.  God is so other-focused, that it would be impossible for Him to do otherwise.  God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to be a sacrifice for us.  Dying for someone is the ultimate expression of love.  And God so loved us, that He died for us while we were still sinners, in full rebellion against Him.  God’s love, if we can truly see even a fraction of it, is beautiful beyond description.

Royal Refuge

God hears our cries for hope.  All who trust in Him will find refuge under His mighty arms and in His character.  God is our shield:

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

God is our refuge and our strength.  He knows our difficulties, and invites us to come in to Him and allow Him to be our protector and shield.  He is able to shelter us through our storm.  He does not always make the storm cease, but rather is with us, protecting us, as the storm batters us and tears at us, trying to cause us to lose hope.  But God is able to calm the storm, and see us through any difficulty.  Even when God is disciplining us severely, He will provide a way to shelter us:

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

God’s refuge may seem odd, and may even cause us some distress, but God protects us in a fashion that brings the maximum glory to His name.  He will use everything that He does to bring glory and honor to Himself, which He rightly deserves.

Powerful Protection

God is sovereign over all.  No one and nothing can happen to us that He does not have the final authority to approve or veto.  We can see this throughout His holy word.  One of the best illustrations of this can be seen in the life of Job.  Satan, who was required to give an accounting of himself before Almighty God, had to request the permission before he could ever touch Job, his family, or the possessions provided to him by God.  There is nothing that happens to us that God has not sovereignly pre-approved.  God provides protection from men, from nature, and from demonic forces as He sees fit.  Anything that happens to us has been sovereignly approved, and God will protect us through it.

Total Triumph

In all of our trials, God is the one who makes us victorious.  God is our helper and our friend.  He will cause our righteousness to shine forth like the sun.  God will give us victory over our enemies, and exalt Himself through us while He brings shame upon those who would oppose Him, His plans, and His people.  God will give us victory, for we have victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.  God will provide for our every need.  And even if we are to be martyrs – witnesses unto death – God provides for us in that in Him, when we are absent from the body, we are present from the Lord.  And once all is completed, we will live triumphantly in joy, with no more pain or tears, to always be in the presence of Almighty God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I remember the steadfast love of Lord when I am in the midst of my trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You lavish Your love upon me every second of every day.  Help me to find strength in my joy in You.  Every morning Your mercies renew, and they humble me before You.  Grant me Your protection through my trials.  Provide for me as many years of gladness as You have given me in sorrow.  Help me to humble myself before You, and I pray that You would lift my head up.  You have already given me victory over the strongest enemy of my soul – the drowning chains of sin.  Father, help me to always praise You, for Your character is steady and displays Your love constantly and consistently.  Help me to turn my eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face.  Lift my soul out of sorrow, and grant me eyes to see the wonders that You are doing even now, preparing for a day of miracles that surround me each and every moment.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Redemption of God – Isaiah 65:25

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
    and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

God, speaking through his faithful prophet, Isaiah, indicates that this will occur after He creates new heavens and a new earth.  We see this same language in Revelation 21:1, indicating that this will occur after God has poured out his wrath upon the ungodly and taken his His people to be with him.  The implication is that there will be animals in eternity.

God intends to redeem all of His creation.  In John 3:16, Jesus says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The word “world” is interesting.  In the Greek, it is cosmos.  This word can be translated as all people, as indicated here.  It can also refer to all of creation as well.  God declared prior to the sin of man that:

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Notice that God saw that it was good.  There is no reason to believe that God will not redeem the creatures of the earth.  Whether the creatures that had already existed in the past will be redeemed or not is mere speculation.  Although they have souls, we are not told anywhere in the Bible that they have spirits.  Most likely (and this is mere speculation), God will create new creatures once He destroys evil and wickedness from the face of the earth with fire:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Do you enjoy the company of animals here and now?  Be assured that you will do the same once God prepares the universe for His redeemed ones in glory.  God intends to redeem what we have lost to His Glory and pleasure, and for our pleasure as well!

[Special thanks to T. G.]

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us great and wonderful things in Your word.  We thank you that you are so patient with us, and that Your character is perfect.  Thank You for showing us Your level of care for us as well as for Your creation.  You are restoring what once was and should have been from the beginning – uninterrupted relationship and fellowship with those You have created.  You are marvelous, and Your mercy and grace are seen by all by what You have done, what You do now, and what You have declared You will do.  Keep us until the time of the great and terrible day when Your Son comes in glory as the conquering Lion.  Guard us until that day, and give us a sense of awe and expectation for these things that are to come.  This I ask in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Perspective of God – Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is a form of Hebraic poetry.  It takes the form:

    B   –   B
  /               \
A                   A

Ellis Scolfield writes, “Hebrew poetry is parallel in nature. A Hebrew poet would say something one way and then repeat the same idea later on in different words. These repeats could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even several chapters long. So how can we identify repetitive prophecies when we see them? By recognizing the Hebrew poetic style in which it was written.  [Textual scholars call this type of repetition the bifidic form.]12  (Brackets added for quote reference clarification)

Isaiah reveals to us something that we should already know – God’s thoughts and ways are beyond ours.  We are so bound by time, that we generally don’t have an eternal perspective.  But there are other instances where this is apparent.  Isaiah shows us something unusual in Isaiah 57:1-2:

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

We generally think that it is a great tragedy when someone is taken home to be with the Lord, especially if they are young.  But communicating with us through Isaiah the prophet, God says this is a blessing; that the righteous and devout are taken away to be spared from evil.  Oh, how we long for the influence of evil to finally end!  The pain and suffering it causes; its ripple effects sweeping people into chaos like a tsunami rushing inland.  It leaves destruction and loss everywhere it touches.  Rather than having to resist that force, and pick up the broken pieces, they are taken away, where they are with the Lord now and for eternity.

Our perspective is focused on the loss of their companionship, wisdom, fellowship, giftedness, relationship, and other factors in which we are immediately affected.  From God’s perspective, it is for their benefit that they are now with God, and no longer subject to the trials and temptations that afflict us until the glorious second coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  In this, we can see our selfishness at our perceived loss rather than their great gain.  And in our grief, sorrow, and mourning, we can all too soon forget that God’s sovereignty and perfect plan are in action, and that we will, in the lens of Eternity, see them again soon enough.

If you are mourning and grieving, your pain is real;  Let God comfort you through it.  And when you emerge on the other side, rejoice!  For He has done a wonderful thing and has blessed your loved one with the privilege of being in His presence and in final rest and peace from the evils of this world, soon to be reunited with you in glory!

 A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart grieves the temporary loss of my friend and loved one.  Help me to work through the pain of loss.  Although I know that I will see them again when Your Beloved Son comes triumphantly in the sky, or possibly even sooner should You bless me with the opportunity to be in Your Presence before that great and terrible day, I am still in shock.  I am numb as I try to process this.  Please comfort me in my pain.  Uphold me, and restore normalcy to my daily routine.  Surround me with Your love as a mother hen gathers her chicks close to her under her wings.  Oh God, how it hurts!  Remember me this day, Lord, and give me the ability to just breathe.  This I ask and pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

[This post is dedicated to T. G., who recently lost his wife]

1 Packer-Tenny-White, The Bible Almanac, 1980, p349.

2 Ellis Scolfield, Bifids and Chiasms, [Unknown], p1.

The Perspective of God – Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

“Reason together” is very interesting.  It is a meeting of the minds.  In our culture, it could be defined as, “let’s get together and discuss the matter.  You present your perspective, I’ll present mine, and we’ll meet in the middle somewhere.”  But that isn’t what is going on at all.  God is TruthGod is Perfect.  And a perfect and absolutely truthful God who knows all things is inviting us to see things from a correct perspective.  Although He sees our perspective (flawed as it is by our inherent sin nature which blinds us to the truth), He offers His perspective and beckons us to move to where He is to see things rightly.

Have you ever noticed that when you change your perspective – you move perhaps a step to the left or the right – that some things take on an entirely new meaning?  Have you ever seen an optical illusion, where if you move a little one way or the other, you see it for what it really is, but when you stand in just the right place, your brain fools you by filling in the gaps as it tries to define what it believes to be the truth?  It does this by using false, 2D perspectives in conjunction with interpolated depth perception (the ability of the mind to make rational calculations on what something should look like by comparing it to what appears to be a nearby known object of reference).

Take train tracks going in the distance.  Do the rails really get closer to each other the further away the rails are from us?  Why do they appear closer to each other then?  Our brains take what our eyes see and then creates a modified image using clues from other things around it to find meaning in what we see.  The brain has an internal mechanism that looks for meaning everywhere and in everything it sees.  Do you ever see bunnies or cars or birds in the way the clouds are formed?  Are the clouds really those things?  This is because God has given us the ability to intrinsically recognize intelligent designThis is why God can say that no one has any excuse for not recognizing that there is a God by looking at His creation. Since we are able to see that pattern (intelligent design), that ability permeates into other areas of our thought processes.

God offers a very wonderful opportunity to see the truth by pulling back the curtains on sin and righteousness and even time itself.  We are created beings, and as such, are bound at this time by the effects of the physical world, including TIME.  Rushing around, we are scarcely aware of the bigger picture, because time creates an interesting illusion – that it will always be around, and that there are immediate, temporal consequences for our actions.  It also fools us into thinking that when immediate consequences do not occur, that nothing bad will happen.  This illusion can guide us into being its slave, rather than helping us to use it for God’s purposes.  Timing is everything, right?

So, let’s take a step back and see the magic trick exposed.  What happens when we take a look at something through the lens of ETERNITY?

  • Justice is served.  How easy we get riled up when people do terrible things to us.  But God, being a just God, has ensured that justice will be served.  The Bible says that God can not be mocked, and a man reaps what he sows.  However, the transgression, in God’s eyes, has already been paid for.  Jesus bore the sins of the world, every sin for every person ever to exist – in the past, present, and the future – on the cross.  The lawbreakers (those who reject Jesus’s payment for our debt to God from sin) go to Hell (the Lake of Fire), and those who accept Jesus go to be with Him in Heaven.  Regardless, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. You can forgive the offender now.  The debt has already been paid.  In God’s eyes, since He sees the end from the beginning, He saw it as paid for even before the universe was created; and all of the lawbreakers are already in His jail, the Lake of Fire.

That was just one.  Take some time today, and with the Word of God, and the Lens of Eternity, what else do you see that you haven’t seen before?

A short prayer of preparation:

Our Father in Heaven, You are so good to us.  In our blindness, You offer sight.  You pull back the veil of darkness that clouds our vision and reveal wonderful new things in Your law.  You call us to draw close to You and to see things from Your perspective, a true and unvarnished perspective that transcends time and creation.  Guide us this day in Your perfect light, and remove the darkness that hides the true nature of reality.  You and You alone can see what is, what was, and what will be, and we desperately need Your help to navigate this life as we are crippled by our sin nature.  Blessed is Your name, that You seek us, redeem us, and keep us.  Your glory is beautiful to behold; may we bask in Your light, and be enlightened.  This we ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?