The Steadfast Love of the Lord
Friday, May 25, 2012
Fighting for control. Sometimes we fight others for control, like fighting over the TV remote, but most often, without realizing it, we are wrestling with God for the control of our lives…
Eugene Polley, the inventor of the remote control for television died this week. I know, kids, it’s probably impossible to imagine there was a time when people had to get off the couch to go change the channel. In 1955, Polley called it the “Flash-Matic.” Little did he know the battles over control this device would cause. God rules and we don’t. It is often difficult to remember this… or maybe we just prefer to forget that God is in control. That should bring us hope and peace, heading into a Memorial Day weekend. Because he rules over what was, is and will be, we can call upon His faithfulness. Not only His sovereignty, but His steadfast love never ceases and that’s what we can hang on to.
Welcome to HT, I’m CM sharing the GS that’s all about Jesus and a program called “The Steadfast Love of the Lord”.
All of us face the unknown. We simply don’t know and can’t know what the future holds. That might leave you apprehensive or fearful, but I trust that our reading from Scripture in Lamentations 3 will give us hope and comfort to live lives rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
OPENING SONG – Steadfast Love – Haven – Near the Cross
Haven is ministry with an amazing heritage stretching back to the first broadcast in 1934. Part of our legacy is The Haven Quartet. A few years ago I asked them to record some familiar worship songs, but they were never released ... until now. As my thank you for your gift to Haven Ministries I would like to send you the CD Near the Cross - some of the last songs recorded by The Haven Quartet.
In the next few minutes I want us to study the Bible together. I want us to find hope and comfort from a book called Lamentations? It doesn’t sound like a cheerful read and for the most part, it isn’t. Just as we remember a particular time because of some wonderful or terrible event, so it was for the people of Jerusalem. They had gone through a year of horrors. Lamentations is the response to those horrors by the prophet Jeremiah.
Jersualem has been conquered, captured and destroyed by the Babylonian armies led by King Nebuchadnezzar. The temple is no more, its treasures taken away … stolen. Most of the people have been captured and led away into exile. And for the first three chapters of Lamentations, Jeremiah spells out the horror of what has happened. Just before we share a passage together, he says this: ‘He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.’ (3:16-18).
As he walks through the remains of the city - TV images of another disaster, in Haiti, in Japan, in New Zealand, in China. Darkness, despair, sadness and suffering. Jeremiah is at the lowest he could possibly go. All hope seems to have vanished.
It’s at that moment that he remembers something that brings him hope - something that even the darkest night can not remove - something that strengthens him to continue: ‘but this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ (3:21-23)
Did you notice the timespan of the Lord’s love in that verse? The steadfast love of the Lord ceases when? Never! His mercies come to an end when? Never! His steadfast love never ceases - it is always with us, no matter what the date on the calendar is; no matter what we may be going through right now, or what the new year has in store for us. The Lord’s steadfast love will not cease. Ever! His mercies will be new every morning, whether you wake early sleep late or have to work ridiculous hours that throw off your circadian rhythm.
Listen to the context of the passage. This is the spiritual as well as the theological high point of the book of Lamentations. Lamentations 3:21 through 26:
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
The word of the Lord, the high point in Lamentations 3. The great love the Lord. Did you hear it? The Hebrew for this phrase is plural and denotes the Lord’s loving faithfulness to his covenant promises. This same Hebrew word shows up in other places.
1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing (or great) love.
The idea is used in praise and prayer:
7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
Back to Lamentations 3. They – the “great love” and “compassions” of the Lord are new every morning. You find something in scripture in one place and you typically find the teaching in another:
1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Here is a song of dedication, a song of dedication by King David. And yet this psalm is one of rescue. “You lifted me out of the depths” is a word for pulling up a bucket from a well. That well was as deep as death and the threat had come from sickness rather than war. “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Then there is this comparison from night to morning.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
This comparison is carried even further in the New Testament in the concept of sorrow producing joy.
The New Testament carries even further the concept between troubles that weigh little and the weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 4:17
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
And then Psalm 30:5 says “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” The word for stay suggests only an overnight visitor. In the Lord, we have enemies who gloat over us, but the Lord picks us up and lifts us out of the pit. Weeping doesn’t last because there’s joy in the morning. Lamentations 3 leads us to other places with the same teaching on God’s Word in both Old and New Testaments. One other thing about Lamentations 3. After the promise that God’s compassions are new every morning – something for which we can rejoice – there is this promise just before we are told in scripture that “The is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.” In verse 23, we are told not only do his compassions never fail, they are new every morning and then this little line which is still one of the hymns sung by churches all over the world. I think you know it.
SONG – Great is Thy Faithfulness – Avalon – Faith a Hymns Collection
You want, you need something to hang on to, then Lamentations 3 is the place to find it. The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and then great is his faithfulness that we just heard from Avalon and their Faith – a Hymns Collection album. This is something to cling to when things don’t work out as we planned. This is something to hold us up when we are brought low - God is in control; and his love is still for us. That love was demonstrated on the ultimate day of darkness, as the sinless Savior died for his enemies in order to welcome us as his friends and give us the sure and certain hope of life with him.
God’s love has been displayed for all time on the cross. His love will never come to an end. It helps us to stand and endure and look forward with hope and confidence, through our pains and disappointments, our struggles and shocks; looking forward knowing that through all that happens God is working out his purposes, and making us more like the Lord Jesus. May we know this love, heading into the weekend. May we cry out to the Lord and follow him all the days of our lives.
SONG – Cry of My Heart – Haven – Near the Cross
You may not realize this about Haven, but since our first broadcast in 1934 there was a singing group that was part of our ministry. The Haven Quartet, whose music you just heard, disbanded a few years ago, but before they did I asked them to record some familiar worship songs ... songs that would be easy people to sing along with and that would focus hearts and minds on the cross of Christ. Unfortunately, these recordings were never released ... until today. Near the Cross is a new release of some of the last songs recorded by the Haven Quartet. I'd like you to have this CD as my thank you for your gift to support the ongoing ministry of Haven Today.
Near the Cross
For a gift of any amount
Near the Cross by the Haven Quartet is a brand new album of worship packed with fourteen previously unreleased songs from one of the greatest Christian vocal groups ever. True to the sound and musical integrity for which they became...
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