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God absolutely loves you. Do you know that? It’s hard to get our mind around, but it is true. He loves you.
Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say and do. —HENRI J. M. NOUWEN
This is where the faith journey starts: understanding that God loves you. If you do not have an assurance of God’s love, your faith journey will not last long.
Memorize this and you will grow in your assurance of God’s love:
You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you. (Psalm 86:5)
It is not advisable to experience the verses in Memorize This in isolation. That can be a dangerous practice. Each verse shared is part of a larger book and the total of God’s love letter to us—the Bible.
In that light, read all of Psalm 86. Then jot down things that stand out to you in the psalm:
Psalms is unlike most other books in the Bible. It could be called a songbook or book of poetry because the psalms were used by believers to worship the Lord.
Did you notice how small capital letters were used in several places to refer to God in the psalm? When you see “LORD” in the Bible, that reads YHWH in the original Hebrew text. You may have heard it pronounced Yahweh. It is the most reverent and holy name used for God in the Bible.
Yahweh was considered to be a mysterious God. The Israelites respected and even feared Him. After all, this was the God who destroyed whole cities. His followers approached Him with caution.
David, the writer of Psalm 86, was king of Israel and one of the most incredible individuals of history. God said David was a man after God’s own heart. But David was also a man who had some struggles along his life journey. He had an affair and was a murderer. He was a sinner just like you and me.
Read Psalm 86 again. How does your new insight into God and the author of this psalm change your perspective on it? Jot down some thoughts.
God is still mysterious. We don’t know why certain things happen in our lives. And we are still sinners. We do things that we know God would rather we not do.
With this in mind, write your own personal paraphrase of Psalm 86:5.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.“
For context, read Zephaniah 3. Zephaniah was a prophet. A prophet is one who speaks the words of God. Let’s break this verse down.
“The LORD your God is with you.” What does this mean? When have you experienced God with you?
“He is mighty to save.” This is a powerful, life-changing line. Our God is not a wimp. He is able and ready to save us from anything. He is in charge.
Sometimes it is hard to see how God has saved us. He may be saving us all the time and we don’t see it.
The movie Signs gives us a great picture of how God saves us. In the movie, the world is under attack by space aliens who come to the home of Graham, a former Episcopal priest, played by Mel Gibson. Graham’s son has asthma, and during the attack, the son nears death because of his condition. Graham hates God because God has given his son this condition, and his son is unable to breathe. But when an alien tries to kill Graham’s son with poison, the poison does not enter his body because the asthma has closed his lungs. Graham realizes that the asthma has actually saved his son’s life. Earlier in the story, the last words of Graham’s dying wife to her husband were “Graham . . . see!”
Do you “see”? God is saving you all the time. How can you enhance your ability to see God working in your life? It begins by asking, “God, help me to see.” It continues by looking for His action in your life. It concludes by writing it down.
God will move in your life this week. Jot a few lines about the experience. See!
It seems every day ends with a miracle here. And whatever God may be, I thank God for this day.
—LIEUTENANT DUNBAR IN DANCES WITH WOLVES
“He will take great delight in you.” God not only loves you; He likes you. Sometimes love can feel like a requirement: I have to love my sister, because we’re in the same family. It’s way more than this for God. He really likes to hang out with you, like a best friend.
“He will quiet you with his love.” Often we are quieted with a shout—Hey, shut up! Zephaniah said that God will quiet us with His love. Have you ever been quieted by love? It’s like melting.
Finally, “He will rejoice over you with singing.” You make God sing!
Draw a picture of this verse. It doesn’t have to be a great painting, just a simple picture of what it means for you to experience God as expressed by Zephaniah in the verse.
Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5)
Read Romans 5. The book of Romans is in the New Testament. We experience God at a new level in the New Testament, as compared to the Old Testament.
How can you see this new relationship with God expressed in this verse?
Many Bible versions title sections within the chapter. What title does your Bible version give for this section?
This verse talks about three feelings: hope, disappointment, and love. How have you experienced these three?
Write about a personal relationship that has included all three.
How is your relationship with God similar to this relationship?
God has called you into a special love relationship, one based on hope. These assurances are building on that hope. But there will be disappointments. There will be times when you disappoint God and times when you are disappointed by Him. It is for those times that He has provided the Holy Spirit to pour love into your being. The deepest of relationships experience times of hope, disappointment, and love. These times deepen our love even more.
O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. (1 Kings 8:23)
This passage does not live in isolation; it is part of a larger story. It’s a long chapter, but read all of 1 Kings 8 for context. What is the larger story in this passage?
Prayer is an important part of our relationship with God. It is one of the primary ways we communicate with Him. This prayer demonstrates that. Verse 23 talks about gods in heaven and on the earth. At the time it was written, many people worshiped idols. For the most part, we do not have statue idols today, though we may still have things in our lives that we treat like idols.
God in heaven we can understand, but what are gods on earth? What idols do people worship here on earth?
A covenant is a contract. We have a contract of love with God if we wholeheartedly pursue Him. What does it mean for you to wholeheartedly pursue God?
Write a covenant of love with God, and include the aspects found in this prayer. Name the “earthly gods” in your life, express how you will continue to wholeheartedly follow the one true God, and so on.