Say It Again, God

“When God repeats something, He’s making a point and we need to pay attention.” My seminary professor’s words stuck with me as I sat before my Bible the next morning reading the day’s Scripture. I had been working through the Psalms for several months and was sitting in Psalm 136. You need to read this for yourself, so go grab your Bible (or look the verses up here) and read through this chapter. I’ll wait for you. What did you notice? Every verse ends with the refrain: “His love endures forever.” Twenty-six times. Do you think God is trying to make a point? Do you think you and I need to pay attention?

If there is one persistent theme in all of the Bible it is the love of God. God’s love often comes in different ways and the Psalmist points many of them out to us – His great wonders (v 4), His creation (vs. 5-9), salvation (v. 10-12), miracles (vs. 13-15), guidance (v. 16), protection (vs. 17-20), goodness (vs.  1, 21-22), faithfulness (v. 23), redemption (v. 24), and provision (v. 25).  God’s people in every generation could add to that list. God’s love is extraordinary and indescribable, through writers of books and songs and scripture (and blogs) have attempted to put it into human words. And they’ve all fallen short. There is a great old hymn, “The Love of God,” written in 1917 by Frederick. Lehman and Claudia Mays, that I think comes as close as anyone ever could. The third stanza is my favorite:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.[1]

This psalm is full of beauty and majesty and wonder. But the point God was making over and over and over  – the thing that He wants you to grasp with all your heart, Beloved, is that He loves you and His love will endure forever. And that is something to repeatedly thank God for (vs. 1-3,26).


[1] The Love of God  (1917) by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917, har. by Claudia L. Mays, 1917, v. 3 by Anonymous/Unknown, copyright status is Public Domain.

Conversations with God

I always start in my prayer journal with a verse of Scripture, usually something from the Psalms. This morning I was drawn to Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.  My heart leaps for Joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” The Spirit pricked my heart and said,

“Do you trust in Me, Child?”

Yes, Lord, I trust in You.

“Then where is your Joy? Where is your song?”

They’ve been beaten down by angry people and responsibilities that shouldn’t be mine and not enough funds to get through the month and not enough time for myself. Yes, I do trust in You, but I’m just tired, Lord.

“That’s because you’re trusting in me with your head, and not your heart.”

Oh, Father, I long for Joy, I long for a song in my heart. How do I do this?

“Give thanks.”

For . . .? Do you have any idea how heartbreaking and draining this season has been? It’s gone on so long and there’s no end in sight. Honestly God, how can I be grateful for all this?

“Be Joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18).

This? This is Your will for my life?

Then He reminded me of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, the Dutch sisters who endured the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp for the crime of hiding Jews from the German Polizei.  The building in which they were crammed was infested with fleas, which cause Corrie to complain.  Betsie reminded her that they must “give thanks in everything,” which Corrie could not understand.  But because of the fleas, the guards refused to go into their building and they were free from sexual assaults and also free to hold daily prayer and Bible study sessions with their fellow prisoners.

Beloved, if you’re finding it hard to give thanks because of people or problems or struggles or heartache,  may I gently remind you – as I remind myself – to turn your gaze from your circumstances to the God who is able to make even fleas a blessing. He is up to good in your life – and mine. In all things.

Thankful People

The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the Tabernacle that was God’s special dwelling place. David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic with joy and gratitude. They celebrated with sacrifices and offerings to the LORD and joyful thanks. 1 Chronicles 16:41 says, “With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, ‘for His love endures forever.’” Did you catch that these priests were “chosen…to give thanks to the LORD”? Their sole responsibility was to lead the Israelites in songs and expressions of gratitude to the LORD who was again dwelling among His people.

You and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests. We are chosen to give thanks. We have been given the special calling of leading our families, churches, communities, and nation in gratitude to the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly of all, saved and redeemed us and made us His dwelling place through His Holy Spirit. You and I are God’s priests , chosen to led the way in thanksgiving. Yes, even in 2020. Especially in 2020. As long as there’s breath in your body Beloved, you have a reason to give thanks.

Chosen for Thanksgiving

“With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord, ‘for His love endures forever.’” 1 Chronicles 16:41

Today is Thanksgiving – and, prompted by the Spirit of God, I began to research the word “thank” in Scripture.  There are more than 130 verses in the Bible that speak of thanks, thanksgiving, thankfulness, etc.  Jesus often spoke to His Father saying “I give thanks…” Paul’s letters are filled with thanks, and I am convinced that his grateful heart was one of the biggest contributors to his joyfulness in spite of his circumstances.  And Paul had some mighty unpleasant, difficult, life-threatening circumstances.  But I believe Paul could be grateful because he knew who he was, and more importantly, he knew whose he was.

At least twice in his letters, Paul identified himself as “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), and “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1).  The word “called,” in its root meaning is “chosen.”  Paul knew that he had been chosen, and the One who chose him was Christ Jesus.  Did you know that you are also “chosen”?  I discovered at least seven verses in the New Testament that express exactly that.  My favorite is 1 Peter 2:9 which says: “Buy you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light” (emphasis added).  You and I are also chosen and called by the same Savior who called Paul.  We have been chosen to be God’s unique and special people – not by anything was are or have or do – but only by the mercy and grace of Him who chose us.

I am especially drawn today to our key verse – 1 Chronicles 16:14.  Let me set the scene for you.  The Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the Tabernacle that was God’s special dwelling place, had been captured by Israel’s enemy, the Philistines.  David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic with joy and gratitude. David, the Psalmist and musician, crafted a beautiful Psalm of Thanks, which I encourage you to read in 1 Chronicles 16.  They celebrated with sacrifices and offering and much joyful thanks.  Now look again at our key verse.  Do you see that there were specific priests who were “chosen…to give thanks to the Lord”?  Their sole responsibility was to express gratitude to the Lord who was again dwelling among His people.  They led the Israelites in songs and exclamations of thanks.

You and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests.  We are chosen by the Lord to give thanks.  We have been given the special calling of leading our families, churches, communities and nation in gratitude to the Lord, the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly of all, the One who saved and redeemed us.  We are God’s priests in this age, chosen to be thankful people.   Oh, hear the words of John in Revelation 17:14: “But the Lamb will overcome them because He is LORD of lords and KING of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Now that’s something to be thankful for!

 Holy Father, You have called me out of darkness and chosen me to be your royal priest.  Thank you for your wonderful mercy and grace.  You are the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), and I am forever grateful.  Amen.