Rendering about God’s Enduring Love

God's Enduring LoveTwenty-six times in twenty-six verses, Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “His love endures forever.” I trust after reading the previous posts about this psalm that you have taken time to reflect on God’s enduring love and responded to His good, kind, faithful, merciful and gracious love with thanksgiving and praise.

Now let’s personalize it keeping the ministry in which you are involved in mind.

Read through Psalm 136 and you will notice that the psalmist kept it about God, beginning every verse with what God did. Look at your ministry from that perspective and you will be able to join the refrain — His love endures forever.

Here’s a ministry worker’s rendition, not near as poetic as the psalm and containing only ten of the refrains (His love endures forever), but you will get the idea:

Give thanks to the Lord of the harvest.
His love endures forever.

Whose wisdom provides a design for staffing to accomplish His purposes.
His love endures forever.

Whose guiding hand maps out the way to best meet the needs of people entrusted to our care.
His love endures forever.

And who humbles my soul so I feel free to delegate responsibilities to others.
His love endures forever.

To Him who helps me adapt when things aren’t going as planned.
His love endures forever.

Who gives grace to deal with petty issues.
His love endures forever.

To Him who answers prayers, often in powerful ways.
His love endures forever.

Whose Truth parts the waters in our hearts, drawing people into a relationship with Himself.
His love endures forever.

And who comforts our soul so we can encourage others.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of hope and peace regardless of whatever comes our way.
His love endures forever.

Think through the specifics of what God is doing in your ministry and remember the role of His enduring love.

Responding to God’s Enduring Love

God's Enduring LoveIs it possible to reflect on God’s enduring love and not break out into expressions of gratitude? Psalm 136 begins and ends with “Give thanks” with reflections of God’s enduring love between.

Twenty-six times, in response to a phrase either about God’s character, creation, or work on behalf of His chosen ones, the psalmist repeats “His love endures forever.” Thanksgiving bookends these reflections.

Gratitude is the Logical Response to God’s Enduring Love

We may not always understand or fully appreciate everything there is to know about God’s character and ways but can know that at its core is His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • He is good (v. 1). – If He is a good God, why does He let bad things happen?
  • He is the God of gods and the Lord of lords (v. 2-4). – How can He be the One of whom there is none greater?
  • He alone does great wonders and created all things (v. 4-9). – How could He bring creation into being from nothing?

Hang on to His enduring love and despite your questions, you can “give thanks to the Lord” knowing that His love is bigger than your doubts and finite mind.

Along life’s way everything may not be pleasant or comfortable for us but we can rest in His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • Captivity, watching people die, traveling through the wilderness, and hard fought battles (v. 10-12, 23-24) to get to where they were going undoubtedly caused stress and anxiety.

Remember God’s enduring love in those difficult times of life and you can “give thanks to the Lord” for you will be comforted in knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you.

Sometimes things might not work out the way we thought they should or on our timetable but we can be confident in His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • Egyptian soldiers were behind them and the sea before, requiring God to divide the Red Sea so they could pass through (v. 13-15).
  • Prior to receiving their inheritance, they had to walk through the wilderness and engage in battles but each step of the way God provided for them so they had what they needed and won the battles (v. 16-22).

Trust in God’s enduring love when facing the impossible or waiting for Him to fulfill His promises and you can “give thanks to the Lord” in all circumstances knowing that He is always faithful even when we are faithless.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” (Ps. 136:26)

Reflecting on God’s Enduring Love

God's Enduring Love

Twenty-six times in just twenty-six verses we are reminded of God’s enduring love. Psalm 136 may have been written as a song where the worship leaders (i.e., the Levites) sang the first part of the verse and the people sang the refrain. Over and over they repeated,

       “His love endures forever.”

Meaning of God’s Enduring Love

The Hebrew word translated as “love” in the New International Version, checed, seems to wrap up God’s goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy, and graciousness in one word. These words well define God’s love, indicating that it is a loyal, steadfast love with the good of the recipients at its heart. Other versions translate the phrase as follows:

  • KJV – for his mercy endureth for ever.
  • NLT – His faithful love endures forever
  • NASB – For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
  • RSV – for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Demonstrations of God’s Enduring Love

The first two verses of Psalm 136 look at God’s character. Then the psalm goes on to deal with creation and His sovereignty over it. Next comes an account of God’s work on Israel’s behalf, ending with a general statement about God’s care for His created beings. The response to all of these truths is the same — “His love endures forever.”

God’s enduring love is integral to who He is, what He does, and how He relates.

At the core of not just His goodness but also His power, sovereignty, justice, and outstretched arm, is love. It motivates Him to work on behalf of His people and keep working on their behalf even “in our low estate” (v. 23).

I encourage you to take some time to read through Psalm 136 and reflect on God’s enduring love. Don’t gloss over the repeated phrase as redundant but rather, let it sink deep into your heart. As you go through your day, look at your life through the lens of God’s enduring love. If you do, you won’t be able to help but respond similarly to the psalmist — the topic for the next post.

Also Read: Teaching About God’s Love

Valentine’s Day Is . . .

Grow in God's Love
(Click image to enlarge in Pinterest & repin.)

 

On Valentine’s Day we express love to others and that is good, often a romanticizing of love but sometimes just a friendly acknowledgement of people we care about.

Let’s compare these expressions of love to God’s love.

Valentine’s Day Is . . . But God’s Love Is . . .

Valentine’s Day is a special day to express love but God’s love is on-going, for all times.

God continues to consistently and abundantly demonstrate that love (Rom. 5:8-10). — Are we willing to maintain control over our actions and reactions so in all things and in all ways, we are communicating His love? Are we willing to let go of the hurts and injustices, keeping no records of the wrongs done to us (1 Cor. 13:5)?

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to send cards to people we like but God’s love is unconditional, available to all.

God knows all there is to know about us, both the good and bad, and loves us anyway (Ps. 139). — Are we willing to let go of our biases and judgmental attitudes and extend God’s grace?

Valentine’s Day is a token expression of how we feel about others but God’s love is sacrificial, giving of oneself.

God’s love drove Him to give His all in sending Jesus. He sacrificed His own life so we can be in a relationship with Him, also breaking down the barriers between people who are different from one another so they can live in community. — Are we willing to get beyond some discomfort or inconveniences to maintain that unity He died to bring?

We have a relational God who is love and expects us to love others as He loves (Jn. 15:12-13; Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Jn. 4:7-11). Use this holiday to express your love to those you care about but remember that it is going to take more than a special day for them to experience God’s love through you.

“Thanksgiving” in the Bible

Thanksgiving in the Bible

The Bible uses the word “thanksgiving” only 25 times (in the NIV), although you will find many other instances with the base word “thank.”  Below is a recap of the 25 uses with the Scripture references provided.

In the Bible “thanksgiving” is not about a meal with all the trimmings in which we indulge, although there was a “fellowship offering of thanksgiving” (Lev. 7:13,15) in the Old Testament and a “cup of thanksgiving” in the New Testament of Jesus’ blood shed on our behalf. (1 Cor. 10:16)

“Thanksgiving,” in the Bible, is not a holiday celebration, although joyful singing, shouting, and praising God accompanies it. (Ezra 3:11; Neh. 11:17; 12:8; 12:24, 27, 46; Ps. 42:4; 69:30; 95:2; 147:7; Isa. 51:3; Jer. 30:19; Jonah 2:9)

The biblical use of “thanksgiving” is not a once a year occurrence but rather a regular expression of praise to God, a way of life. (Eph. 5:4; Phil. 4:6)

In the Bible “thanksgiving” is not merely sitting around saying what you are thankful for but also being used by God to cause others to overflow in thanksgiving.  (1 Cor. 14:16; 2 Cor. 4:15; 9:11)

Nor does the Bible describe “thanksgiving” as mere expressions of thanks for what or who you are glad for but rather is to be made for everyone and everything.  (1 Tim. 2:1; 4:3-4)

The Bible does not describe “thanksgiving” as a time to get together with family and friends but even better an opportunity to go into the presence of the Almighty God.  (Ps. 95:2; 100:4)

The holiday rendition of “Thanksgiving” has merit but falls short of the biblical use of the word.  Let’s remember to give thanks at all times (Eph. 5:20) and in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18).  And let’s remember to top the list of that for which we are grateful with Jesus.  — “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15)

How interesting that the Greek word for “thanksgiving” is “eucharistia” from which we get the word “eucharist” which is used of communion wherein the bread and wine remind us of that indescribable gift.

Demonstration of Love Driven by Hate

Yes, we have a God of love, but there are some things He hates.

For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity.  (Isa. 61:8)

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.   (Prov. 6:16-19)

The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him. (Prov. 20:23)

Though a God of love, He is also a holy and righteous God so He can’t help but hate sin.  Consequently there is a barrier between sinful man and God.  Sin separates us from Him “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

God hates sin so much, He had to do something about it because He also loves so much.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

Praise God, He took care of the sin problem!  He hates sin so much it drove Him to the greatest demonstration of love — “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13).

What about our love for Him?  Do we love the Lord enough to hate what He hates?

Let those who love the LORD hate evil. (Ps. 97:10)

To fear the LORD is to hate evil. (Prov. 8:13)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom. 12:9)