Pictures of God’s love
The Bible goes to great lengths to illustrate the love that God has for his people. There is the picture of the gentle shepherd. ‘He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young’ (Isaiah 40:11). There is a picture of a mother’s love for her children. ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!’ (Isaiah 49:15). There is the picture of the groom on his wedding day. ‘As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you’ (Isaiah 62:5). There is the picture of the singing God. ‘The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' (Zeph. 3:17).
The invitation to enjoy God’s love
You are invited to experience this love. The Bible is filled with invitations. God paid a great cost so that we could become one of his people. He gave up his Son that we might become his children. Christ died so that God could sing over us. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him world not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). In John’s writings ‘the world’ is a technical term that does not simply refer to the planet or people who are morally neutral. ‘The world’ refers to society in rebellion against God’s loving rule. The apostle Paul explained to the church in Rome, ‘while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly … God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:6-8).
As a church we are in the business of telling people about Jesus’ love. We believe that Jesus brings us from death to life; from guilt to grace; that he forgives all our wickedness, evil and sin; he takes us from the wide road leading to hell to the narrow road going to heaven; and that he changes our lives so that we can experience life in all its fullness.
The benefits of God’s love
How will knowing the singing-God bless us? Firstly, Jesus offers to fill us with love. ‘We love,’ writes the apostle John, ‘because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Experiencing the love of Jesus inevitably causes his people to love God and people. Christians ought to be the most loving of all people. Secondly, Jesus offers to fill us with joy. This Christian joy is not the shallow happiness of always getting your way. But the Christian knows that God is faithful even when life is tough, and so the apostle Paul can speak of being sorrowful yet always rejoicing. Thirdly, it will give us peace. We all have a conscience that reminds us that we do things that we ought not to do. Some people are very good at dulling the voice of that conscience. But the Christian is free to see that we are worse than we imagined, God is more pure than we realised, and that Jesus’ blood makes us clean.
Praying that we know God’s love
Susan was on the verge of emotional collapse. So she went to her pastor for help. She revealed that her father was an emotional tyrant. He said, ‘if you look pretty, I will love you.’ ‘If you make good grades, I’ll love you.’ If you are successful and helpful, and don’t embarrass me in front of others, I’ll love you.’ Her father’s love was very conditional, and she always experienced his distain and criticism. As a result she found it hard to believe that there is a God who is kind and gracious, who would give his precious Son so that we could be his dearly loved children. Although she had responded to God’s love, it seemed too good to be true.
For an hour that pastor laboured to convince Susan of the love of her heavenly Father. Then he read from Zephaniah. ‘The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' (Zeph. 3:17). ‘That’s how God looks at you Susan! He looks at you, he thinks of you … and he sings for joy.’
He read it again. ‘The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' (Zeph. 3:17). She responded. ‘If only I could believe it were true. I think I could face almost anything. If only it were true.’
If you have responded to the truth of the gospel, yet find the truth of your singing God too good to believe, I have a prayer for you. ‘I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the strength to grasp with all God’s people what is the length and breadth and height and depth is the love of Christ, which surpasses all understanding, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’ (Eph. 3:14-19).