Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 6 - Love That Acts - 30 Days of Grace

We have seen how the word 'hesed', translated 'faithful love', is the Old Testament word most similar to the New Testament idea of grace.  It means love that is faithful and loyal.  The word, as I have studied it, has three main ideas behind it - the idea of love, the idea of strength, and the idea of faithfulness.  So it is a strong, committed love that God has for us!  This word is often used in the covenants made in the Old Testament, so it is considered a covenant word.  This word means love that has bound itself to be there for the other, to always act for the benefit of the other and to stand with the other and defend or support them with all one's resources and with one's very own life. So this word that is similar to grace is steady, faithful, committed love that doesn't just 'feel' loving and tender and affectionate, no!  This is love that acts!  It acts on our behalf to help us!  What does this faithful love and graciousness of God move Him to do for us?

I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord,
According to all that the Lord has granted us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has granted them according to His compassion
And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely, they are My people,
Sons who will not deal falsely.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction [f]He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.

Is. 63:7-9

In these verses, Isaiah is recounted the lovingkindnesses (the acts of steadfast love/grace) of God toward Israel in time past.  What does he say that God's loyal love and grace moved Him to do for them?

First, He granted them great goodness.  God's grace acts to bless us!  His grace moves Him to pour out His goodness on us, for free - just because of His nature of love, not because of anything in us that merits it. He gives good things because of His compassion and steadfast love/grace!  So we don't need to be or do anything for God to love and bless us!  He gives to us freely out of the goodness of His heart and the graciousness of His nature!  He gives to us because He is good, so we don't have to worry that we first need to be good to receive any blessing from Him.  He gives solely out of who He is, with nothing required on our side to make Him give.  This shows me God isn't stingy or withholding good from us.  No, He wants to give!  He loves to give!  That's His nature, that's His heart of love toward us!  He isn't against us but for us.  He isn't keeping things back from us but instead releasing all thing to us!  All for free!  That's grace!

Okay so what else did this great love and grace of God move Him to do for Israel?  Well, secondly, He made them or called them His own people.  He chose them.  He set it up so they would be His own.  He made or started a relationship with them.  He called them friends.  He called them His children.

Third, He became their Savior. He became their rescuer.  He delivered them from the enemy, the Egyptians, and freed them from the enslavement of the enemy.

Fourth, in all their affliction He was afflicted.  He took on their pains and sorrows.  He felt what they felt.  Their plight moved Him to act.

Fifth, He saved them by the Angel of His Presence.  He was present with them.  He stayed with them.  He never left them.  His very presence was with them and saved them.  It was a protecting presence and a guiding presence as well as a glory presence that brought awe and wonder.  It let them know that they were never alone.  He was personally there for them and with them. 

Sixth, He redeemed them.  He bought them back from slavery.  He bought them to be His own people.  He showed they were valuable to Him by buying them back.  He counted them as precious to Him by getting them to be His own.

Seventh, He lifted them up.  He didn't leave them where He found them.  He lifted them up to know and experience His love and a relationship with Him.  He lifted them up to experience freedom and victory.  He lifted them up to be able to praise, have hope and rejoice.  

And lastly, He carried them all the days of old.  He took care of them.  He provided for them.  And He carried them through to their destination.  He made sure that they got where He wanted them to go, to the Promised Land of plenty, rest and peace.  He did the work.  He brought them through!

This is just what God's grace does in our lives!  How do all these things God did relate to how His grace moves Him to act in our lives?  Well, out of His grace (steadfast and committed love that gives freely out of God's nature and not out of something we have to do), He gives good things to us, He calls us His own children, He became our Savior, He hurts when we hurt, He saves us through His presence and life, He redeems us from sin and the enemy, He lifts us up to where He is and His victory, and He carries us through and completes the work He began in us!! 

Wow, what wonderful grace!  In the Old Testament He did all these things for Israel, and in the New Testament He does all these things for us as believers!  How does He do these things?  Through the finished work of His Son, Jesus!  What wonderful grace!

There is one other part of God's amazing faithful love that is seen later in Israel's history.  It is the faithfulness of His love toward those who fail.  It shows us how grace acts even when we mess up and fall.  That is so important and relieving.  So let's look at that next time..

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14