2008-10-01 - Love: Abounding, Lamenting, Abiding
Isaiah 43:1-4, 22-24, 44:21-23 - quoted below
This devotional is a little longer and was designed for use in a small group. But I do think the topic is helpful, and I would like to share this with you today. There is a wonder in the love of God to us in Christ, and I hope this look only draws you closer to that matchless love.
Some things about the three texts: 1. They are each addressed to God's people under the names of Jacob and Israel. The Lord mentions both the natural and the spiritual names of His people. 2. Each passage overflows with love. The content is different, but the spirit is one. Three ways the love of the Lord is seen:
Isaiah 43:1-4, But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Sh-ba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
--- The time this love is declared: "But now thus saith the Lord." This was a time when God was angry with His people for their sins. He still loves them. We look more for God's mercy and love when we are obedient or repentant - rightly so. But He does not limit His love to our good times. He may smite us for our sins, but His gracious heart of love still overflows with mercy to His wandering people.
--- His sweet consolations: "Fear not" He may chasten us for our sin, but He will not disown His children. God's hatred of sin is His loving what is best for us. It is possible that we may be hurting, even under the correcting hand of the Lord, but He hears our cries. He knows our sighing, and He loves us. His mercy is ever moving toward us, and nothing touches His children without His knowledge. Even more He says, "I have redeemed thee." He is not disappointed that He paid such a price for such as us. He glories in it. He chose us for His love, and then loves us for His choice. He redeemed us because He loved us, and now He loves us because He has redeemed us.
--- He declares what He will do: "When thou passest." He does not promise that we will never go through the waters, or pass through the fires. Notice the "when," and understand that we will go through the waters and the fires. The promise is that, deep as the waters get, they will not overflow (drown) us. The hottest flames life brings us will not consume us. The Lord is with us in every trying hour. Come whatever this life brings, the Lord has promised He will bring, carry, lug, cart, and take us through. Can anyone measure the height and length and breadth and depth of God's love? Nothing can harm us while we take refuge under His wings (Ps. 91:4).
--- He publishes His love: He reviews some things He has done for them (vs. 3). Then He speaks of our being "precious in His sight - I have loved thee." The Israelites had dishonored themselves; yet they are precious in His sight. It is the same today for blood-washed sinners. When we haven't acted as we should have in our faith, still, He loves us.
Isaiah 43:22-24, "But thou hast not called upon Me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of Me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought Me the small cattle of thy burnet offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast brought Me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled Me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities."
--- Little worship, little praise, little prayer, little fellowship, little sacrifice: "But thou hast not called." When we think of God's love to us and His delight in us, is it not shameful that we have so little regard to Him. How about our too infrequent, slack, hurried, and easily distracted private prayers? Our praise - do we even remember to offer our praise to Him? How little have we spoken of Him or to Him? The Lord has delighted in us, and can we be weary of Him? We may need to blush in silent shame. Are we tired of God? Is worship a burden? Is obedience a heavy load upon us? May such thoughts and questions set straight our hearts and deliver us from the all too common sickness of Earth-bondage. May the Lord of mercy not have to say verse 22 to us.
--- Withholding our Love: "Thou hast brought Me." It is not as if the Lord needs our offerings. He chides us for withholding our love tokens to Him, because He values our love, and He is grieved when it grows cold. It is sweet to live in the thoughts of those we love. It is because the Lord loves us so much that he laments our lack of affection to Him. Have we not treated everyone better than we have God? He has loved us with an everlasting love, amazing mercy, and we have returned a heart of stone. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to love Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Isaiah 44:22-24, have blotted out, as a think cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return to me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and ever tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel. Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.
--- The Lord claims His servants, forgets not His chosen, and is a pardoning God: It ought to melt the heart of every wandering child of God that the Lord remembers you! He calls you by name, and owns you as His. The Lord does not cast off His people. Let us remember His memory of us, and let us remember Him. If anyone is ashamed and frustrated by their shortcomings - He has put them all away in Christ. There is more cause to rejoice in Christ than to sorrow for, and wallow in our sins. In such love as we have, secure in Christ, we rise to higher joys than ever we have yet known. Let us live in a manner as those who have received unmatched love bestowed upon us through Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,