Loyal Love

We use the word “love” a lot nowadays. From the deepest relationship love to the most casual, “Girl! I love your shoes!”, the word love is often on our lips. Everyone is in the habit of saying “Love you!” at the end of a phone call. Have you ever embarrassed yourself by signing off on a call with that familiar phrase, only to remember that you were talking to the lady at the water department? I have!

What are some things that you love? It might be a favorite sports team, a pet, your children/parents/spouse, Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies … we are blessed to have a list of things we love with all our hearts. I recently preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13, the famous ”love passage,” and found a lovely illustration on children’s thoughts on love. One young girl explained that love is like when her grandmother got arthritis, preventing her from being able to bend over to paint her toenails, her grandfather started doing it for her, even though he has arthritis in his hands. That is loyal love, my friends.

David wrote a beautiful psalm about his love for God, and God’s love for him. David knew God intimately, and these words reflect the depth of David’s appreciation and understanding for a God who loves us with a deep and abiding love:

Psalm 138 (Common English Bible)

I give thanks to you with all my heart, Lord.
    I sing your praise before all other gods.
I bow toward your holy temple
    and thank your name
    for your loyal love and faithfulness
        because you have made your name and word
        greater than everything else.
On the day I cried out, you answered me.
    You encouraged me with inner strength.

Let’s pause there a moment and think of God’s love for us. David describes it as ”loyal love and faithfulness.” I agree with that. Too often, as we go about our day, we neglect to show God the appreciation that he is due. This Psalm is a good reminder that whenever we cry out, God answers us.

Do you need to cry out to God today? He is always listening.

Let all the earth’s rulers give thanks to you, Lord,
    when they hear what you say.
Let them sing about the Lord’s ways
    because the Lord’s glory is so great!
Even though the Lord is high,
    he can still see the lowly,
    but God keeps his distance from the arrogant.

I know a young man who is extremely arrogant. His over-inflated sense of self-worth led him down some dangerous paths as he sought to feed his insatiable ego. Then came a life-changing downfall. Did God abandon him? No. Did God keep his distance? You bet.

Whenever I am in deep trouble,
    you make me live again;
    you send your power against my enemies’ wrath;
    you save me with your strong hand.
The Lord will do all this for my sake.

So here is the good news for that young man, and for us as well. David writes that whenever he was in deep trouble, God provided the strength to get out of his situation. The problem with arrogance is that we think we have it all under control, and so we don’t seek God’s help. Arrogance prevents us from being willing to yield to God’s will. But when we lay down our egos, God can come in.

Your faithful love lasts forever, Lord!
    Don’t let go of what your hands
    have made.

I love that last line … don’t let go. You see, even in our most despicable times, God may distance himself from our sin, but he NEVER LETS GO. His reach is beyond measure and his love is loyal and faithful.

I hope that gives you encouragement today. If you have gotten too ”full of yourself,” you can always repent and return. When you do, you’ll find that God had his long arm extended with his sure grasp on your shoulder the whole time. Thanks be to God!

God Never Lets Go by Michelle Robertson

With All My Heart

One of my favorite moments in a wedding happens during the ring vows. As the rings are nervously being slipped onto fingers for the first time, the couple says to each other, “With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.” There is something quite profound in that statement.

“With all that I have” is a promise that you will share every single resource you possess with the other, including everything that the future promises. Going beyond the material and financial support that is pledged, this statement is a way of saying that there is not one part of my life that I will not share from this point on.

But when you say to someone, “with all that I AM,” the commitment goes even deeper. It promises that you will not hold anything back. It says I will honor you with my inner self. I will honor you with my secrets. I will honor you with my hopes and dreams. I will honor you with sharing my failures and fears. Pledging such deep loyalty to another person with all of your heart is an audacious act of optimism and hope.

Whom do you love with all your heart?

In our Psalm today, David puts God in that place of honor and love:

Psalm 138 (Common English Bible)

 I give thanks to you with all my heart, Lord.
    I sing your praise before all other gods.
I bow toward your holy temple
    and thank your name
    for your loyal love and faithfulness
        because you have made your name and word
        greater than everything else.

David’s feelings of gratitude, love, and loyalty came from a place of reciprocity. God extended these blessings to him first, and his response to God’s faithfulness was to pledge himself by thanking God’s name. God answered David in times of trouble.


On the day I cried out, you answered me.
    You encouraged me with inner strength.

Let all the earth’s rulers give thanks to you, Lord,
    when they hear what you say.
Let them sing about the Lord’s ways
    because the Lord’s glory is so great!
Even though the Lord is high,
    he can still see the lowly,
    but God keeps his distance from the arrogant.

When we feel lowly, it is good to know that God sees us and answers us, no matter what it is we are experiencing. But beware of being arrogant…God has no tolerance for that.

Whenever I am in deep trouble,
    you make me live again;
    you send your power against my enemies’ wrath;
    you save me with your strong hand.
The Lord will do all this for my sake.

Your faithful love lasts forever, Lord!
    Don’t let go of what your hands
    have made.

Have you ever been let down by someone who supposedly loves you? I have.

I don’t know what you are going through today, but hear this; God’s faithful love for you lasts forever. In those moments of deep hurt, betrayal, disappointment, and estrangement from the people you love and count on, remember that God is incapable of letting you go. His hands have made you, and you are HIS.

With all that God is, and all that God has, God honors you.

Two Loves.

Don’t Let Go

Can you name a time when you cried out to God and knew that he answered you? Sometimes that answer comes right away. Sometimes it comes after a period of time. Sometimes YOU have to make a change before the answer is revealed. But every time God DOES answer.

In the last seven months I have found myself waking up at 4:00 AM with a burden to pray. In the black of the night I have lifted up a young man whom I love and admire and have prayed for God to answer his situation. This week the answer came. I give thanks to God with all my heart for this. Not only is that situation resolved, but I finally may sleep through the night!

Psalm 138 (Common English Bible)

I give thanks to you with all my heart, Lord.
    I sing your praise before all other gods.
I bow toward your holy temple
    and thank your name
    for your loyal love and faithfulness
        because you have made your name and word
        greater than everything else.

When is the last time you cried out to God?

On the day I cried out, you answered me.
    You encouraged me with inner strength.

I realize now that when the answer wasn’t given right way, God was encouraging both of us with his inner strength. The young man whom I love and admire had to keep trying and I had to keep praying.

Let all the earth’s rulers give thanks to you, Lord,
    when they hear what you say.
Let them sing about the Lord’s ways
    because the Lord’s glory is so great!
Even though the Lord is high,
    he can still see the lowly,
    but God keeps his distance from the arrogant.

Here the Psalmist takes a step away from his own rejoicing and looks at the world around him. This is interesting to consider in the midst of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. We are about to elect a leader. The world’s leaders are watching. It is amazing to think what would happen if all the earth’s rulers would hear what God says and give thanks to him.

But then the warning comes…God keeps his distance from the arrogant. How many world leaders do you suppose that leaves out?

Whenever I am in deep trouble,
    you make me live again;
    you send your power against my enemies’ wrath;
    you save me with your strong hand.
The Lord will do all this for my sake.

Are you in deep trouble? Are we in deep trouble? Is the world in deep trouble? Take heart. God will make us live again. God sends his power to fight everything that assaults us, including bad politics and a deadly virus. God will save us with his strong hand.

Your faithful love lasts forever, Lord!
    Don’t let go of what your hands
    have made.

Yes, Lord. Please don’t EVER let go of what your hands have made! We need you to never let go of us.

What God’s Hands Made by Bonnie Bennett