I Love God Because…
An English girl named Elizabeth Barrett suffered a spinal injury and was disabled for the rest of her life. But her extraordinary poems brought many admirers to her. Among them was Robert Browning who convinced her that her disability should never prevent her from living life to the fullest . They fell in love and married. Her immortal "Sonnets From The Portuguese", written for her husband, expressed the deep love she had for him:
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height;
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight;
For the ends of being and ideal grace."
There have been thousands of expressions about love from human hearts for the people we feel compassionate about, but nothing will ever stand up to what David expressed in Psalm 116: 1 - “I love the Lord...” This kind of love was placed far above any other kind of love. It's like David wanted to cry out, “I love people, but nothing will ever come to the love I have in my heart for God.” On Thanksgiving Sunday we contemplate all the reasons why we Love our God and the words of another Psalm – Psalm 118: 1 goes like a melody through our minds - “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever...” What is the gratitude you feel as you come before God this morning? Most people in our country over the Thanksgiving weekend will answer, “I am grateful for my family.” What can be greater than gathering our families around our dinner tables? We feel blessed to be loved and to show love. There are many who would answer, “I thank God for freedom and prosperity in this country.” During our Zoom Bible study Wednesday evening a few members expressed thanks to God for good health. And friends, the list goes on and on why we have reasons to love God and acknowledge Him for His grace.
From Psalm 116 we join in with David saying, “I love the Lord...” Each one of us come with a personal confession, “I Love God ,Because...” David gave his reasons in this Psalm why he loved the Lord. First he shared the wonderful reality that God Hears When We Cry Out To Him. He stated that he will never hesitate to go to God in prayer! In verse 2 we read, “....I will call on Him as long as I live.” Why? Because the Lord had heard his prayers! The word “heard” from the Hebrew text speaks of giving others their undivided attention. We don't find this too much in our world today. As we sometimes talk to people we can sense that there is something else waiting. “Just get to the point, I need to get going!” is what we sense when dealing with them. But not with God – we have His undivided attention. He hears us when we pray. Perhaps there are those who would like to differ. They say, “I asked for so long, but God hasn't answered me.” O my friends, we have to appreciate something very essential in the life of any child of God – He always hears us, but it's His business when and how to answer us. David had only God to turn to in many life situations and God came to His rescue over and over again. When he fled from Saul's rage and when his son Absalom wanted to take his life God protected him. And then as a shepherd there were many times when God literally rescued him from the claws and jaws of wild animals. If there is one piece of advice David would have given us if he stood here this morning it would have been the following, “Pray; God listens.” It's true my friends – there is One to Whom we always can go. If we feel we just have to talk to someone, may that Someone always be God.
There was a more prominent reason why David loved the Lord – a reason we all affirm here at the table of the Lord this morning – God Saved Me From Death. In verse 8a we read these words, “For You, Lord, have delivered me from death...” We will agree that David was thinking more of certain threats God brought him through – threats that surely could have taken his life and each time God delivered him. But for us it reaches way further. It reaches all the way to the place called “The Skull” or Golgotha. There Jesus gave His life on His Father's altar to save us from eternal death. You see my friends, there will never be anything more profound or deeper to thank God for. You might not have provisions or privileges in this life, but then there is eternal life in the presence of God, because of what Jesus did that outweighs everything by far. The bread we take this morning reminds us of the perfect Lamb of God Whose body was broken for us. Only He could accomplish that because He was the Lamb without blemish. The grape juice we take reminds us of innocent blood that was shed that we may life forever. And when we pause and think of these elements at the table of the Lord, we are reminded that God's love is wide and long and high and deep and that this love surpasses all knowledge. O my friends, what a great privilege it is for us to come to the table of the Lord on Thanksgiving Sunday. We are covered on a daily basis with blessings and provisions from our God. But here He has prepared for us the greatest of all feasts we can ever take part in. Let's come to the table and affirm in our hearts, “I Love God, Because He heard my cries and saved me for eternal life.”
Friends, on Thanksgiving Sunday we think of all the blessings we receive from the abundance of our God. But think about the truth – each day should be a Thanksgiving to our God.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall