- Take Courage – Lindy Conant
So this is kind of my song right now…
Love is a person (1 John 4:8,16). It is unchanging (Malachi 3:6), truth (John 14:6), experience (1 John 4:9, Psalm 34:8), action (1 John 3:18) but not just actions (1 Cor 13), and emotion (Psalm 27:4, Luke 7:37-38, Psalm 73:25-26). It is the greatest thing in the world (1 Cor 13:13). God commands the highest form of it for himself (Matt 10:37). If our focus isn’t on the love of God — both from him and to him (1 John 4:19) — we are not worthy and it is not love.
- Absolutely – Ra Ra Riot
The dance anthem of the year. I’ve loved this band since high school and they just released a new album! Their airy, indie pop songs are so fun.
1. I Turn my Camera On (Spoon Cover) – Rock Kills Kid
He loves every part of our love – our pain, our misery, our honesty. When he said he wanted a relationship with us, he meant it. He wanted everything – messy parts included. He wanted all of it – the love, joy, hope, sadness, anger, heartbreak, and disappointment. He wanted the thrill of love.
He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
I think there’s a reason the Psalms are placed right in the middle of the Bible. John Calvin once said, “The Psalms are an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” For some reason God wants to teach us through people like David that he cares about our heart — its pains and its posture. It’s easy to forget this — that the great and perfect God of the universe sympathizes with our brokenness. That he loves to have mercy for us.
The book of Job is a great embodiment of this. The story is filled with incredible and seemingly unexplainable suffering in Job’s life. His three friends speak judgment to him based on the justice and sovereignty of God, while Job relentlessly laments the loss of every good thing he has ever known. Job speaks to God out of the truth of His heart, including his anger and bitterness. And his friends speak pious, God-honoring words.
But in the end, God rebuked Job’s friends and exalted Job.
There are many reasons for this — honesty over empty words or understanding what it means to be a good friend — but at the end of the day it’s the recurring theme of mercy over judgment (James 2:12-13).
We see it time and again in Judges, in Jonah, here with Job, in the greatest example Jesus, and more. It’s the thing that doesn’t make sense, but delights the heart of God so much he becomes impatient without it.
It may have something to do with the fact that he’s been there…in the person of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). And in him he collided justice and mercy. And in him mercy triumphs over judgment. And in him the anatomy of the human soul is experienced by God himself. And in some inexplicable, tear-inducing reality, this is the world in which we live with our God.
We can make it complicated and difficult, but I truly believe from the very beginning until the end, this is what he has longed for. Just a heart and its mess after his own.
During the time of the judges, after Joshua died, the Israelites had turned from God at least five separate instances just by chapter 11. It’s really quite incredible. They would begin worshipping the gods of Baal and every time they would always fall into oppression, captivity, or defeat. And only in their misery would they call on the name of the Lord. And time and time again God would raise up a righteous leader to rescue his people.
However, in the book of Judges this chapter was the first time we see God drawing the line. He said no more will I rescue you. If you want to follow the idols you’ve chosen over me, then call upon them to save you. Every time you have called upon my name I’ve proved myself faithful, and you have proven unfaithful. I was the one who rescued you from all your foreign enemies. Yet you have forsaken me time and again to serve others gods. Therefore, I will deliver you no more. Go, cry to the gods you have chosen: let them deliver you in your time of distress.
And in bitter tears after hearing this the Israelites cried out to God. In all their wrongdoings and pride, they repented yet again. This is not to say they were trustworthy or that their repentance was sincere enough to rectify all that was wrong. But the fact remains that they admitted their sin and asked God to do whatever he wished with them. They prayed earnestly for Him to be the one to save them. They put away their foreign gods from among them and served the Lord.
And the heart of God is moved.
Only love can forgive that selfishness and pain.
Even then, after the line has been crossed, God’s mercy triumphed over judgement.
The Bible says after Israel called upon the name of the Lord His heart became impatient over their misery. He couldn’t help it. Despite his righteous judgment of abandonment over Israel, his heart couldn’t stop. He couldn’t help but burn with a passion of mercy over his Beloved. He couldn’t deny his mercy. He couldn’t deny Himself.
And in His love he rescued her.
When I read “his heart became impatient over the misery of Israel” it felt as if my heart responded with that same impatience for God. It was this urgent uneasiness that can’t even understand its own love.
I mean he had decided that he would help Israel no more. That was his verdict. And then his people repented. And his heart became impatient over their misery! AGH. WHAT LOVE! He couldn’t stand them in misery any longer. He had to save his people. He can’t withhold his love from a repenting people.
And this is a lesson to us.
If this is God’s love for the people of Israel, even before His wrath was satisfied, how much more love does God long to lavish on us?
We move the heart of God! We horrible, sinful, fickle, selfish people literally CHANGE the decrees of God when we repent because his mercy will always triumph.
And even more, not only did he redeem his people then by saving them from the Ammonites, but he did it through a rejected, illegitimate son. Even in their redemption, he lavishes his glory upon them by choosing the weak things of this world to shame the strong.
His mercy is a testimony of his glory.