Grace For The Journey
Greg Louganis, one of the world’s top divers from the 80’s and 90’s, was asked how he coped with the stress of international diving competition. He replied that as he climbs to the board, takes a deep breath, and thinks, “Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me.” Then he goes for excellence.
It is great to have people to love us in spite of our failures and imperfections. Zephaniah 3:17 is a magnificent verse that assures us of the deep passionate love of God for us.
We need to take this verse
And grasp it with both hands.
We need to breathe it in
And savor it like we would
The smell of a delicious
Meal on the table.
We need to let it roll round
The taste buds of our minds.
But, before we can get to the verse we need to make sure it is written for us. Zephaniah gives us three characteristics of those to whom our verse applies . . .
Verse 9 – If you are calling on Him and seeking to serve him
Verses 11,12 – If your pride has been broken and you have come to Him humbly seeking forgiveness
Verse 13 – If you are growing in holiness by obeying His commands
All three go together. Collectively these form a description of those who will enjoy the hope and encouragement held out in this verse we are about to look at.
Make sure you grasp
The richness of God’s love
As we look at this verse it is important that we grasp several truths . . .
Charles Spurgeon has described this verse so well, “We come now through the narrow doorway and before us lies a sparkling array of the most amazing riches, overflowing, spilling over the floor. So, having made sure that we have a right to be in this treasure room, we must not stand with our eyes closed. We had better take time to appreciate what exactly God has for us.” Let the powerful truths sink into your mind and heart as you read Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Each phrase of this verse deserves our attention. In each one we see tremendous truths that excite and encourage our spirit.
1) A great presence.
Verse 17a says, “The Lord your God in your midst.”
How that should cheer our hearts when we feel alone, or when we feel abandoned – God has arrived to live with us. He is here with us in all the details, all the frustrations, all the disappointments of everyday life. He is there.
How comforting it is to know that – when I am doing something practical – like ministering or counseling – It is comforting to know that He is there, that He can see what I’m doing, and if I make a complete mess of it, He will be there to intervene, or to help tidy up. His grace, His strength, His wisdom, and His presence will guide me through. It is a powerful and comforting truth to know that God is with us, in the midst of all that we do.
When Satan, the world, and even our own sinfulness comes to us, often we feel alone and unprotected. It is at those times we need to see with heavenly eyes the great host that surrounds us, and His great presence with us! That is what gives us the greatest comfort and confidence.
2) A Victorious Warrior.
Verse 17b says, “The Mighty One, will save …” We are looking at this great description of God’s love for his people, but lest we think . . .
That God’s love is
Some sort of soft,
Sentimental emotion that
Has no strength to act;
That this is all
Words and no action,
We are introduced here
To a mighty warrior.
This is our God – the word used is the same as that for David’s mighty men. He is a mighty hero. He is the defender of the weak and the fatherless. And the express purpose of this mighty warrior is to save His people. We see it clearly on the cross – the mighty warrior taking on sin on our behalf to provide protection. We see the depths, the lengths to which His love will go.
There is no doubt about the outcome . . .
This is a warrior who triumphs.
Our God is a mighty warrior
Who overpowers His enemies.
He is in the midst of His people
Fighting for them and with them,
Wrapping His arms
Around them like a shield.
Does He have power to show us His love? Does His being with us have any effect? The Bible tells us in the strongest way . . .
He is mighty to save,
The warrior who gives victory.
3) An Overjoyed Father.
Verse 17c says, “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.” We now come to a truth that should utterly blow us away. Here is a picture that is beyond belief. Here is mighty God, in all His holiness regarding me, and how is it He feels?
He will take great delight in us,
He will quiet us with His love,
He will rejoice over us with singing.
Let’s take each one of these awesome truths and think about them more . . .
- He Delights In Us.
Here is a picture of a husband looking at his wife or a father looking at his newborn child. One moment he is overcome with joy and rapturous delight; the next minute holds her quietly, somehow lost for words’ the next minute feeling his heart will burst as he sings his way down the hospital corridor and out into the car park.
This is the picture the Bible paints of God as He looks at us. He takes delight in; He rejoices over us with gladness. Our Almighty God looks at us and His heart is made glad. Never once does He regret the price He paid.
- Quiets Us With His Love.
We see God’s love from another angle here – the word “quiet” has a two-fold meaning: (1) He will quiet you with His love; and (2) He will be silent in His love. Here is a picture of perfect contentment – the mother holding her new-born baby close to her, as the baby lies sleeping with its velvet soft skin pressed against hers. She is silent in her love. Wordless adoration. The husband looks into his wife’s eyes and is lost for words – no words seem adequate. He will be quiet with love. And as God responds to us in this way, our hearts and spirits are quieted, resting in the warmth of His love.
Can you grasp it? The almighty God looking at you and me, with a look of perfect contentment on His face? We’re not perfect yet – we know that, He knows that, but He is not bounded by time – He can see in us the unfinished image of His son, finished in all its glory and as He looks He is quiet in His contented love for us. He looks with that look of love that he has had from the beginning of time.
The word used here for “love” is a word that speaks of a fathers intense fondness for his children. It speaks of the deep heartfelt bond between David and Jonathan, where one would die for the other; It speaks of a passionate love, like the love between Jacob and Rachel. The love God has for us is the love that never fails, despite our failings, and it is also the passionate longing of His heart, an intense desire for us, deep and heartfelt.
Amazing – how could the holy, righteous God ever feel like that towards us? How that should affect the way we feel about our wonderful, loving God!
- He Rejoices Over Us With Singing.
Verse 17d says, “He will rejoice over you with singing.” Here we read, that the silent contentment doesn’t last for long – it cannot be contained, as God burst forth in jubilant singing.
Can you imagine God singing? So ecstatically happy that He cannot contain himself! He bursts into elated singing! Can you hear the voice that said, “Let there be light,” reverberating around the heavens in triumphant song? Why? Because We are his.
When I hear about this singing . . .
I stand dumbfounded, staggered, and speechless
That He is singing over me.
He is rejoicing over my good
With all His heart and with all His soul
Can you feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing? Grasp it, revel in, relish it – for it is true of all who trust in Christ.
Finds you a delight,
A joy, a source of
Heart bursting elation.
Here is the deep inner joy and personal satisfaction of God Himself in you and me. Grasp this . . .
We have a God
Who loves us,
With a deep passionate
All this because of Christ! This is what it is to be in Christ!
We cannot be
Of such great love
And let it leave
Our lives unaffected.
As Christians it is our responsibility to showcase this treasure to the world. We will do that by three things.
- We should live confidently in the unfailing love of God.
Other religions have you serving God with a constant worrying thought – “is he happy yet?” Not ours. We’re never good enough, but He still loves us. It is not an arrogance to be quietly confident. God has tells us here in the most startling of terms how He feels towards His people.
- We should be spurred on in faithful obedience .
This verse does not minimize our sin and shortcomings, but it reminds us that . . .
Our God is not standing there
With a big stick to batter us,
But when we fail and
Know we have failed and
Come to Him in repentance
And seeking forgiveness –
We find love and delight in us.
At the beginning of each day, how good it would be for each of us to take a deep breath, say, “Even if I blow it today, my God will still love me,” and then, assured of grace, go into the day seeking to live in surrendered confidence!
- We should be displaying this great love to others.
A young man falls in love. She is far beyond what he could ever have imagined – each new day reveals yet more qualities and gifts, and depths to her love. Does he keep quiet? Absolutely now. It spills out of him with joyful enthusiasm. He can’t help speaking. And even when he is quiet you can tell he’s happy.
Shouldn’t it be the same for us? We stand in this great treasure room. We need to keep reminding ourselves of God’s great love so that we will have something of this enthusiasm for ourselves.
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”