God’s response to Balaam’s desire to curse Israel sheds more light on who “He is”. Our God’s core attribute of love shines brightly through this incident. Deuteronomy 23:5 says, “But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you.” True love always motivates to action. In this case God turned a curse into a blessing. Love does more than talk; it acts (1 John 3:18). If you will read or remember 1 Corinthians 13, you can understand that love is more easily described than defined. Has God been patient and kind with you? Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things!
Throughout the Psalms God’s people respond to His loving acts with praise. God’s love was the basis of David’s worship when he said, “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you” (Psalm 5:7). Overwhelmingly, God’s steadfast love is referred to approximately 123 times in the Psalms, and Psalm 136 is completely dedicated to the steadfast love of God. Every verse has the refrain, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s love is characterized as “abounding” 4 times where we see so many of God’s other attributes and actions flowing from His steadfast love:
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you (Psalm 86:5),
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8, see further Psalm 86:15, 145:8).
Our only hope of forgiveness and redemption is to respond appropriately to God’s steadfast love:
[The Lord] loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD . . . Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, . . . Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you (Psalm 33:5,18,22).
Hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption (Psalm 130:7).
The Apostle John testifies in 1 John 4:16 of God’s love, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Have you come to know and experience this love? To understand what brought John to this conviction you could spend some time reading and rereading the Gospel of John—the fourth book of the New Testament. However, for now, let’s focus on the indicators in the context of the verse just cited. John focuses on one event which leads to three benefits that dazzles us with God’s amazing love:
vs.9 . . . God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
vs.10 . . . but that [God] loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
vs.14 . . . the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
Furthermore, in the previous chapter we see the extent of this loving act of sending His Son into the world when John writes, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1). In Christ we not only receive new life, payment for the penalty of our sins, and the gift of eternal salvation, but also the gift of adoption into God’s family.
With Prayer, Mark
© February, 2013 Scripture quoted: ESV – Emphasis added
Verses for our meditation: God Is Love
Exodus 34:6-8, The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
Ezra 9:9, For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 1:5-6, And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
Psalm 51:1, To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 52:8, But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
Isaiah 54:7-8, For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.
Jeremiah 31:2-3, Thus says the LORD: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Joel 2:11-14, The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
Jonah 4:2, And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
Micah 7:18-20, Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Zephaniah 3:17, The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
John 15:9-10, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Romans 5: 6-8, For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 8:38-39, For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.
2 Corinthians 13:11-14, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Ephesians 2:4-5, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–
1 John 4:7-21, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Jude 1:20-21, But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.