Love

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read his archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com .

Psalm 136:1–26 (ESV)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 to him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.


You can’t miss the main point of this Psalm! God is good all the time, all the time, God is good! And it’s all because of His love that we get to enjoy His goodness.

The preacher Paul Washer said God’s goodness is a scary thing, precisely because we aren’t good, and therefore deserve His condemnation. But thankfully in Christ, God’s goodness and love are reconciled. Through Him, bad people like us can be made good like God.

This Psalm gives us a sweeping view of the love of God for us. He created all things because He didn’t want to miserly keep His love all to Himself. He spoke, and it came into being, and He has made all things well.

Then the Psalm zooms in on Israel’s redemption story. Even in judging Israel’s enemies, God displayed His love. Similarly, in judging His Son in our place, God has supremely showcased His love.

God enabled His people not just to escape Egypt, but also to enter the promised land of Canaan. Similarly, God is delivering His new covenant people from slavery to sin to bring us safely to the new creation. God remembers how lowly and helpless we are without Him.

The Lord provides our every need. He gives us our daily bread. He is worthy of all our thanks and praise.

“King of kings and Lord of lords, You are good and Your love endures forever. Please keep us in Your love now and always, for Jesus’ sake, amen.”


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The Rebuke of a Friend

Reading the Word

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.(Proverbs 27:5, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

How is rebuke better than hidden love? They both seem like bad things, but I would much rather not be rebuked. This proverb becomes clearer when we realize that it speaks of the rebuke of someone who is our friend. We often do not think of it this way, but real love wants what is best for the other person and sometimes that means confronting wrongs and seeking to correct them. This is the meaning of rebuke. It is a good thing when our friends love us enough to confront us when we need it. It is much better than hidden love that ignores us and our failures and allows us to continue in our destructive ways.

The next time someone close to you wants to talk about something going on in your life because they think you have gotten off-track, instead of becoming angry and defensive, remember that they love you and want what is best for you. Consider their words. They just might see something that you have failed to see.


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Do Not Rejoice When Your Enemy Falls

Reading the Word

Proverbs 24:17–18 (ESV)
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It sure can be easy to find joy when those we do not like or who give us great difficulty are defeated or fail. However, we are told that this is not the attitude we should have towards our enemies. In fact, Jesus even tells us we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). In today’s proverb, we are told that rejoicing over the failure of another is an attitude that displeases God.

The world tells us that our enemies do not deserve our love. We should reserve our love for those who do good for us and who love us back. The Bible’s teaching on love is counter-cultural and difficult for many to accept. We are called to practice the same kind of love for others that Christ showed to us. What kind of love was that? Romans 6:8 tells us that “even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were the enemies of God, Christ gave up his life for us. We are called to do the same for others as we point them to our Savior.


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The Rich and the Poor

Reading the Word

Proverbs 19:4 (ESV)

4 Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.

Proverbs 19:6–7 (ESV)

6 Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

7 All a poor man’s brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but does not have them.

Understanding and Applying the Word

I am back from vacation. It was a nice week away. I hope you enjoyed reading some of the old posts that were shared throughout the week. Today, we are back in Proverbs and talking about wealth. This is a topic we can all relate to. We all use money and possessions, but there can be a large gap between those who have much and those who have very little. As these verses tell us, our wealth can also influence our personal relationships.

The poor person struggles to maintain friends. The wealthy has many companions. This may seem to cast a favorable light on the wealthy and a negative one on the poor, but that is not the point. The point of these verses is to show us that not all companions are true. Some are only there because they can get something out of the other. Once the benefit is taken away, they are gone. What kind of friend are you? Are you the kind who is only interested in what you can get out of a relationship? Or are you the kind of friend who loves the other person for who they are, even if it means there is nothing they can offer in return except their words?


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We Need Others

Reading the Word

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.(Proverbs 17:17, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

An important observation to make in interpreting this proverb is that the first half and second half are using synonymous parallelism. This means that “friend” and “brother” are not being used to contrast against each other, but the two are being used to stress deep, intimate relationships. The proverb is saying that those we are in close relationship with, like a true friend or a family member, love us and support us in all situations, including times of adversity.

Going through difficult times is hard. Having someone close to you in those times can make all the difference. This is what true friendship and family support is designed to be like. It is also what our church relationships should provide. Do you have the close relationships that help you through times of adversity? Give thanks to God for those bonds. If you do not, pray that God would bring those people into your life and look to be that person for others.


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Love Is Better

Reading the Word

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.(Proverbs 15:17, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live in a material world. Wealth and possessions and stuff is seen as the ultimate goal and the things that bring happiness and contentment. However, this is simply not true. As this proverbs points out, love is more important than stuff. You are better off with a meager existence (living on vegetables) that includes love than a rich one (living on the best cuts of meat) where love is lacking.

Do not fall for the lie that says that having a few more things will make you happy. Things are unfulfilling. It is love that brings happiness and contentment. We need to love others and know we are loved. Take the time to invest in relationships with others. Those investments will bring true happiness.


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Be Careful What You Say

James 35 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

James 3:3–6 (ESV)

3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We really need to learn to guard our speech. Our words have a great power to do harm to others and ourselves. When we speak, there is always a response, even when words are not returned. We can hurt others or encourage them. We can gain the respect of others or lose it. We can gain a friend or lose one. The power of our words cannot be overstated.

We read James’ words about taming the tongue and we likely agree with him, but many of us fail to do anything about it. Of course, we may be careful in what we say face-to-face, but how many of us are guarded about what we say in our texts or emails? How guarded are we in our tweets or Facebook posts? How quick are we to share our thoughts or opinions without even thinking or caring about how those things will impact others? How often do we do those things because we are fully aware of how they will effect others? The words we type are no different than the words we speak. They have the power to do great good, but they also have the power to set the whole forest ablaze with the fire of hell.

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The Love of God at the Cross

Romans 58 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 5:6–11 (ESV)

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Take out a pen and piece of paper. Write down a list of people that you would be willing to sacrifice your comforts and freedoms for. Now, make a second list of the people you would even be willing to die for. Who is on that list? Family? Loved ones? How many of your enemies are on that list?

Consider this: Jesus Christ gave up his life for us while we were sinners. This means that he died for us while we were the enemies of God. Why would Christ die for his enemies? Because that is how much he loves us! He went to the cross to die because that is what was necessary for our salvation. Do not fail to see the love of God displayed at the cross. The Savior who died for us.

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If God Is For Us

Romans 831b [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:31–39 (ESV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 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. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Are you fearful? Are you worried? Consider that God sent his Son into the world to die for you. He sent his Son to suffer on a cross so that you could be saved and have eternal life. He did this so you could be his child. That is how much he cares about you and the things going on in your life.

If God loves us enough to go through the great lengths he has gone through to save us and make us his own, there is nothing that we need to fear. We can be certain that our God’s eyes are never off of us and we are always in his care. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. And if God is for us, who (or what) can be against us?

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Love One Another

John 1512–13 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not include supplemental material on Sundays, but I do post a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 15:12–17 (ESV)

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.