Vacation Ponderings on Steadfast Love

July 31, 2011 at 8:08 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

I have spent the last week camping at Vedauwoo, Wyoming with my wife, daughter and niece.  It was a good week of rest and fun, and I had no phone or computer with me.  It was good to have some extended quiet times and prayer walks among the rocks with the Lord.  While I was out, I read the middle chapters of Romans and some Psalms.  I was impressed every day with God’s amazing love.  I have been reading the ESV, and I like their translation of this word as “steadfast love,” for it is a word of more than just love; it includes mercy and faithfulness as well.  Here are some of the great passages I pondered during the week:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever.”  (Psalm 107:1)  This great psalm tells of the people God has redeemed from trouble.  Each stanza of the song tells of people who were redeemed from the desert, from darkness, etc.  In each case, “they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress.” (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28)  Since God has redeemed them, the song encourages, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works among the children of man.” (vv 8, 15, 21, 31)  Then it all ends with “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” (v.43)  If you are one of God’s children, then consider from whence he has called you, and give thanks for his great love.

That same day I read Romans 8, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  .  .  .  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The next day, I pondered and prayed through these words of Psalm 108, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! “

Since I have been preaching through Hosea, in a series called “God’s Love for Wayward Sinners,” I turned to Hosea 11, a chapter I have always called one of the greatest expressions of God’s love in the Old Testament.  God pours out his heart concerning his children, whom he has made and redeemed, even though they are determined to turn away from him.  “How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over Israel?   .  .  .  My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.  I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you.  I will not come in wrath.” (v. 8-9 NIV)  Wow!  No matter how often we turn away from God, he still loves and pursues us; his love for us is aroused; he will not condemn.  As it says in Romans 8, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Finally, in Romans 9, we are told that God loves us and shows us mercy for the sake of his glory.  “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory  .  .  .  ?” (vv. 22-23)  Interestingly, this rhetorical question is followed by two quotes from Hosea.  Psalm 109 repeats this theme with these words: “But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!” (v. 21)

Take some time in the near future to ponder the steadfast love of the LORD.  It is utterly amazing how much he loves us.

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