Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"The value of knowing you are loved ..."

Day #74:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - March 12th

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 30 - 32 ...

Knowing that God loves you changes your life.  Knowing God loves you moves you to trust Him when trials come, to be thankful in good times and to serve Him no matter what.  Knowing God loves you gives you freedom from worry, doubt, anxiety and fear and gives you a firm foundation upon which to build a life with God at the center. ... David knew God loved him.  Do you know God loves YOU?

As we get deeper into the Psalms you begin to see that many of the Psalms are a testimony.  Deep truths are revealed through testimonies of David and others who knew God and who trusted in Him.  We who believe today have these testimonies, too, and our hearts resonate with the emotions and experiences of those who knew God more than 3,000 years ago!

How many of us can testify:  "O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me!" (30:2).  We can testify that "His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (30:5).  Testimonies do not arise from an easy life.  Many of the testimonies being given today are from people who seem to want to talk only of God's supposed promises to make us healthy and wealthy and to protect us from ever facing any kind of serious struggles.  They stand before crowds and tell people that they, too, can have everything if only they will "trust" in the Lord and "sow the right seed into His kingdom."

Such "testimonies" are more about those giving them than about the God they claim to worship and serve.  David's testimonies are borne out of real life.  Was he extremely blessed of God?  Yes!  Could he have pointed to his many victories and his extraordinary wealth?  Yes!  But there was more ... and as he shared his heart, his words revealed ... and reveal yet today ... a deeper truth that strikes the cords of hearts throughout all generations:  God loves me!

It's so easy to believe that God loves you when things are going well and life is, well, easy!  But that was never David's experience, even when things were going well.  It was never easy, yet David's heart ... not just his head or his hands, but his heart was in tune with God.  He prayed, often and fervently:  "Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help" (30:10).  And the result was obvious:  "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent" (30:11-12).

"Refuge" is a word we don't use much today, but it is a beautiful word that describes the safety that is found in knowing God loves you.  You won't run to God to find refuge if you don't know that He loves you!  In the words later quoted by Jesus on the cross, David cries, "Into your hands I commit my spirit" (31:5).  He speaks of groaning and weakness ... who of us cannot identify with that?  Yet, "I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands" (31:15).  And he humbly asks, "Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love" (31:16).

How far is that from the arrogant and pompous attitude of some today who virtually command God to keep His promises and who declare things to be "God's will" because it is THEIR will.  When you know God loves you, all you can do is love Him back!  "Love the LORD, all his saints!  The LORD preserves the faithful ... Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD!" (31:23-24).

But what if you sin ... fall down ... and even feel like running and hiding?  That's when you need to KNOW that God loves you!  Why did David confess his sin?  If you know the story, it is because God loved him enough to send a prophet to confront him with his sin.  And when confronted, David did not run FROM God, but TO Him.  "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him" (32:10).

The value of knowing you are loved by God is that you know you have a Savior.  We who believe today, even more than David, understand the depth of God's love, for we know what He did to redeem us.  "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  No wonder then that David speaks to believers of all ages when he says, "Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!"  Find your refuge, your hiding place in the LORD and know that YOU ... ARE ... LOVED!!

"O LORD, my God, how wonderful is Your love for those who trust in You and who testify that YOU ARE GOOD ... ALL the time!!!  Even when we slip and fall, You are our strength and our refuge.  I trust in You because I know You love ME!  And I love YOU, Lord!  I will rejoice in the Lord, my God ... forever!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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