God’s Faithful Love

God’s Faithful Love (Ps 33, especially verses 5, 18, 22)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 26, 2023

Think with me about faithful love:

Chris Spielman was one of the NFL’s better linebackers. He had starred at Ohio State in a career that put him in the College Football Hall of Fame. After going professional, he played on four Pro Bowl teams. Then, in 1998, at the top of his form, he sat out a year. The NFL and his fans were moved to the back burner because his wife was fighting breast cancer.

Stefanie Spielman and her doctors fought the cancer aggressively. When chemotherapy made her hair fall out, her husband shaved his own head as a gesture of solidarity. All that year he ran the household, took care of their children, and supported his wife. He returned to football in the 1999 season, only to retire before the season actually began. His heart was at home.

Stefanie battled her disease for more than a decade before passing away in 2009. After she died, Chris said, “She was my only girlfriend.”

That is a public example of faithful love. Though I think we could find many examples in this congregation of faithful love.

We are in a sermon series titled, God Loves You. Today, I want to talk about how God’s love is faithful love.

My theme today is: God’s love is faithful, God’s love endures, God’s love is unfailing.

I want to focus on Psalm 33 verses 5, 18, and 22. However, first let’s read Psalm 33:1-3 and put the Psalm in context.

Sing praises to the Lord (Psalm 33:1-3)

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

33 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!

Praise befits the upright.

   Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

   Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

  1. Context: Psalm 33 is in the first book of Psalms.
    1. The Psalms are pointing to Jesus, this one is pointing to Jesus as the Psalmist writes about God’s loyal love in verses 5, 18, and 22.
    2. This Psalm seems to connect with Psalm 32 as a hymn of praise to the God Who made all things.
  2. God’s Word is upright and the earth is full of His steadfast love.

Psalm 33:4–5 (ESV)

4For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

5He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

  1. Verse 4: “for” means explanation.
  2. This is explaining why we sing praises to the Lord.
  3. All His work is done in faithfulness.
  4. What work is this referring to? Maybe this is referring to a military victory.
  5. Though it says “all” His work…
  6. Could it be creation?
  7. Constable: Two character qualities of God that the writer stressed, in this second section of the psalm, are that Yahweh is dependable and righteous. We can rely on everything that He says and does, and He does what is right in faithfulness (Heb. hesed) for His people.

“What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of God’s goodness, should be so empty of his praises, and that of the multitudes that live upon his bounty there are so few that live to his glory!”519[2]

  1. Verse 5: He loves righteousness.
  2. Think about that. The Lord likes righteousness and justice.
  3. That is powerful.
  4. God is just.
  5. Righteousness and justice are similar terms. To be righteous means that He loves things that are just.
  6. Loving righteousness and justice means doing acts of righteousness and justice (99:4; Jr 9:24). They are not just abstract attributes but they involve actions, whether directed toward God or his people.[3]
  7. What if God did not love righteousness and justice?
  8. How do we know right from wrong? We know things are wrong because God is good and He created us with that understanding.
  9. The earth is “full” of the steadfast love of the Lord.
  10. This idea of the steadfast love of the Lord is a major term in Scripture. This means His “loyal” love.
  11. God’s love is loyal.
  12. God’s love is steadfast, faithful, enduring over all the earth. How is this so?
    1. All of us, let’s take a breath. That breath is from the Lord. Every breath is from the Lord.
    2. Now imagine, it is 70 degrees, or 72 if you prefer, you walk outside and it is sunny. You do not have much to do and there is a comfortable chair right outside in the sun. You sit and enjoy the sunshine. As you enjoy the sunshine, you do not know it, but your body is getting vitamin D from the sun. Additionally, your emotions are getting charged from the sun. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Now, imagine the sound of a gentle rain, is that peaceful? That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  1. Imagine, the beauty of the snow, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  2. Imagine the beauty of the ocean, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  3. Imagine fire. Sitting by a fire, enjoying the warmth of a fire. Enjoying the twinkling of a candle. Enjoying the smell of a fall bonfire. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Imagine a walk in the woods, you see the beautiful flowers. You see some wild flowers as you enter and exit the woods. You smell them. You see deer on the path. You see the sun rays coming through the woods. You sit on a bench and rest a while. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Imagine the moon at night, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  1. Imagine the stars, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  2. Think about all the natural processes keeping earth safe. They are all the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  3. J.D. Greear shares: Scientists say that life on earth depends on multiple factors that are so precise that if they were off by even a hair, life could not exist. They call it the Goldilocks principle: things are “just right” for human life. 
  • The makeup of the atmosphere is very exact, yet it’s the difference between life and deathIf some of those levels were even slightly off—for example, if the level of oxygen dropped by 6%we would all suffocate; if it rose by 4%, our planet would erupt into a giant fireball. And we’d all die.
  • Or, if the CO2 were just a little higher or a just  little bit lower(say, 0.01%), then the earth would either become an oven or have no atmosphere at all. And we’d all die.
  • Or this: Thewater molecule is the only molecule whose solid form (ice) is less dense than its liquid form. Which means that when it freezes it floats. If ice did not float, it would sink to the bottom and the whole ocean would eventually freeze from the bottom up and… we would all die.
  1. Or the distance of the earth from the sun: If we were 2% closer to the sun, the planet would be too hot for water to exist. And we’d all die
  • And then there’s tilt of the earth, which is set at an ideal 23.5 degrees, which we’ve learned is perfect for temperatures and tides and such. You’ve probably never thought about it, but if it was was not tilted, temperatures would be extremeand we’d all die. At least the humans. 
  • One more for fun: We’ve learned that if Jupiter wasn’t the size and in the orbit it is, astronomers predict that there would be 10,000x the number of asteroid strikes right here on earth, and we’d probably all die. 
  • Jupiter is like the Luke Maye of planets,setting picks on asteroids so the earth can get open for the 3-pointer of life. Without it, our planet would be pummeled with asteroids and life could never exist.
  • One scientist said; The greatest miracle of all time without any close second, is the existence of life on our planet![4]
  1. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Now, let’s all take a breath. That breath is the steadfast love of the Lord.
  • We see how this works in the next few verses.
  1. Verse 6: The Lord created everything by His word, by His breath. The description is consistent with Gen 1:16, which indicates that God spoke the heavenly luminaries into existence.[6]
  2. The Lord of creation is the God of revelation. This is distinctive from other ancient world religions that had myths of creation involving a “creative word” but did not tie that act to any subsequent history. In the biblical text, the God of history who interacts with his people is the same God who spoke the world into existence. This brings together the general revelation of creation and the special revelation that God gave to his people.[7]
  • God sees all (Psalm 33:18-19).

Psalm 33:18-19 (ESV)

18   Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,

19   that he may deliver their soul from death

and keep them alive in famine.

  1. We must hope in His steadfast love. This means His loyal love.
  2. Do we hope in His steadfast love?
  3. He alone can deliver us.

Therefore, we hope in God (Psalm 33:22).

Psalm 33:22 (ESV)

22   Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

  1. Let… this seems to be a request.
  2. This is a request of the Lord.
  3. The Psalmist is asking that the Lord’s steadfast, enduring, faithful, love be upon them. This is a request as they hope in Him.
  4. Do we hope in Him?
  5. Do we ask for His steadfast, enduring love?
  6. Steadfast love is loyal love.


Time and again, the Bible shows us examples of God’s loyal love for those who have been disloyal to Him:

  • God did not stop loving Adam and Eve, even after they had violated His one restriction in the Garden of Eden. He punished them, but He never quit loving them.
  • God did not stop loving Noah, even though he dishonored the grace God had shown in saving his family from the Flood by lying naked in a drunken stupor before his sons.
  • God did not stop loving Abraham, even though he sought relief from famine in Egypt instead of trusting God to provide for him. Even though he tried to fulfill God’s promise of a son through his own ingenuity. Even though, on two separate occasions, he lied about the identity of his wife.
  • God did not stop loving Moses, even though he committed murder and later violated God’s command by losing his temper and striking the rock of provision. God punished Moses by denying him entrance to the Promised Land. Later, He showed his love and mercy by allowing Moses to stand with Elijah in the presence of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  • God did not stop loving David, even though David committed adultery with Bathsheba, had her husband murdered, and later conducted an unauthorized, pride-motivated census of Israel. David suffered greatly for his sins, but when he cried out in sincere repentance, God forgave him and restored him to fellowship.
  • God did not stop loving Jonah, even though he refused to take God’s saving message to Nineveh. After his experience in the belly of the great fish, we read that the “word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time” (Jonah 3:1). God gave Jonah another chance to obey, and Jonah went on to preside over one of the greatest revivals in history.
  • God did not stop loving Peter, even though he denied Jesus three times. The Lord restored Peter to fellowship by matching his threefold denial with a threefold recommissioning (John 21:15–17).[9]

God’s love is faithful!


[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:1.

519 Henry, p. 609.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:4.

[3] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

[4] https://jdgreear.com/podcasts/how-do-we-know-theres-a-god/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-do-we-know-theres-a-god

[5] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ps 33:6.

  1. verse

[7] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

519 Henry, p. 609.

[8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:4.

[9] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God Loves You In The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20)

God’s Love in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Deut 33:2-3)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 19, 2023

I have keys up here, why?

Why do I need keys?

Do you all lock your doors? Why?

The Ten Commandments have been important to us for most of human history.

Author and pastor John Killinger explains God’s purpose in giving the Ten Commandments with a wonderful illustration from literature:

In her novel about Maine, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sara Orne Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to the home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley. On the way, the woman notices a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property, with no discernible order. Each is painted white and trimmed in yellow, like the captain’s house.

Curious, she asks Captain Tilley what they mean. When he first plowed the ground, he says, his plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface. So he set out stakes where the rocks lay in order to avoid them in the future.

In a sense, this is what God has done with the Ten Commandments. He has said, “These are the trouble spots in life. Avoid these, and you won’t snag your plow.”19[1]

Let’s read:

Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV)

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

38This is the great and first commandment.

39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Now, let’s read:

Exodus 20:3–17 (ESV)

3“You shall have no other gods before me.

4“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,

10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13“You shall not murder.

14“You shall not commit adultery.

15“You shall not steal.

16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

My theme today is: God Showed His Love for Us in Giving Us the Ten Commandments

  1. These are NOT just rules:
    1. David Jeremiah writes: My wife, Donna, and I began our ministry together in a Baptist church in New Jersey. We had just come from four years of seminary training in Dallas, and we were both avid Dallas Cowboy football fans. To our dismay, when we arrived at our first assignment, we were told that watching TV on Sunday was forbidden, and reading the Sunday newspaper was frowned upon. I am not sure I should be confessing this, but I remember closing the blinds of our apartment so that no one would see us watching the Cowboys.
    2. A bit legalistic? Perhaps, but you should have known the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They actually crunched the numbers of legalism, and came up with 1,521 things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath day. That sounds like the title of a book no one would want to read.
    3. Among the 1,521: no rescuing of drowning people; no wearing of false teeth (reinserting them, should they slip, would be work); no looking in the mirror (plucking a white hair, also work). If your friend grew ill, you could do certain things to forestall the illness, but actually trying to cure him—too much like work. At the beginning of a famous revolt, many Jews stood and let themselves be killed rather than risking work by defending themselves (1 Maccabees 2:29–38).
    4. Men made a bureaucratic nightmare out of Sabbath-keeping, but it wasn’t what God wanted.[2]
    5. These commandments are about God’s love.
  2. The First four commandments relate to our relationship with God.
    1. In the passage we just read we see a person come to Jesus and ask what the greatest of the commandments is.
    2. The first commandment is like the hub of a wheel from which all the others are spokes. This isn’t simply another commandment—it’s the one that brings all of them together.[3]
    3. This person was a lawyer and seems to be testing him.
    4. That is when Jesus gives the answer.
    5. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
    6. That sentence spoken by our Lord sums up the first four commandments:

(1) “Do not worship any other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3).

(2) “Do not make idols of any kind” (Ex. 20:4).

(3) “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:7).

(4) “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8).[4]

  1. We love the Lord our God, so we do not have any other gods. Now, that is a sermon on itself which we will save for another day.
  2. If we love the Lord God we are not going to set up idols. That is another sermon we will save for another day.
  3. We love God so we are not going to misuse His name. That is another sermon for another day; however, I will say that misusing the Lord’s name happens way more than we realize. We actually do not even know how to properly say the Lord’s name in Hebrew because the Hebrew people thought of His name as so sacred, they would not say it out loud.
  4. The fourth commandment is regarding the Sabbath Day. This is referenced in the New Testament but never as a commandment as such. It still fits in relation to God because we see at the end of creation the Lord rested. We are called to cease activity.
  5. The story goes that when Africa was first being explored, native guides were taking their visitors through the region. After six days of pushing through the jungle, the natives refused to walk. They explained, “We need a day to let our souls catch up with our bodies.”12[5]
  • The last six commandments relate to our relationship with others.
    1. This is summed up in Jesus’ words: And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    2. Jesus Himself said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
    3. Jesus is saying that the Old Testament law and all of the prophetic writings fall under the commandments to Love God and to Love people.

(5) “Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12).

This “family rule” is well illustrated in the story “The Old Man and His Grandson,” from the collection Household Tales by the Grimm brothers:

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at the table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spit the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. “What are you doing there?” asked the father. “I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.13[6]

(6) “Do not murder” (Ex. 20:13).

(7) “Do not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

David Jeremiah shares:

Recreational, impulsive sex is considered the norm in our troubled culture. Defending the seventh commandment against the modern world singles one out as a pious puritan stuck in a lost century. However, when we strip sexuality of the restraints God gave it, we create chaos that tears at the very fabric of society. And we place an obstacle that blocks the fellowship God wants to have with us.

God gives us this commandment from love. He is saying, “My child, sexuality is My gift to you. I want you to know that when it’s rightly used, it can bring you joy and intimacy with the spouse I give you, and it can create a legacy of children to replenish the earth.[7]

(8) “Do not steal” (Ex. 20:15).

I recently read a story about a Soviet factory worker who attempted to steal items from his workplace. Every day he filled a wheelbarrow with cylinders, iron ore, and tools—and every day as he left, he got caught and the stuff was taken away from him.

Finally he was fired, and on his last day the commissar waited for him to come out with the contraband. When he arrived at the door the commissar pulled back the cover from the wheelbarrow, and there was the usual stuff. He confiscated everything and said to the thief, “You are a fool! We caught you every single day. You got away with nothing!”

“Sir, Mr. Commissar,” he answered, “you are the fool. I have been stealing wheelbarrows.”[8]

(9) “Do not testify falsely” (Ex. 20:16).

(10) “Do not covet” (Ex. 20:17).[9]

David Jeremiah shares:

Just as the fifth commandment is transitional between love of God and love of others, this tenth commandment is transitional between outer and inner obedience—in essence, between Moses and Jesus. For the other commandments in this group have been about behavior, while this commandment is about the heart. We’ve already seen how Jesus made this connection in the Sermon on the Mount. God looks inside us, so that even if we don’t steal, we can displease Him by our own displeasure with what He has given us.[10]  

God showed His love for us in the ten commandments.

Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers was a follower of Christ. She observed that there are two kinds of laws: the law of the stop sign and the law of the fire.

The law of the stop sign is upheld by the community and enforced with fines. The fine can be increased if too many people continue not to stop. The stop sign could also be taken down. It’s simply up to the city council. You might run that stop sign with no worries, as long as no one is watching.

The law of the fire is a different matter. It says, “Touch me and you’ll be burned.” All the city councils, all the state legislatures and national congresses and the United Nations itself could respond to the dangers of fire by gathering to pass a new law that fire will no longer burn. Every person in the world could vote on this law.

And the first man or woman to put a hand in the fire afterward will still get burned.

God’s moral laws are like the law of fire. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for it or not. It doesn’t matter who’s watching. You won’t break God’s laws; you’ll break yourself upon them. Nor is the penalty negotiable, because it’s bound up in the law itself.18[11]

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

19 John Killinger, To My People with Love (United Kingdom: Abingdon, 1998), 13–14.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[3] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[4] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:1–8.

12 Leslie B. Flynn, Come Alive with Illustrations (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 193–94.

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Digireads.com, 2009), 185.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:8–17.

[10] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

18 Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (San Francisco: Harper & Rowe, 1941), 4.

[11] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God Loved You Before You Were Born (Psalm 139:13-18)

God Loved You Before You Were Born (Job 10:10-12; Psalm 139:13-17)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 12, 2023

When Mercedes and Abigail were born it was instant love. However, we had love for them even when they were in the womb. We heard the heartbeat and it was absolutely amazing. Then, when they were born we were both amazed. It was instant love, it was instant affection. We would die for the baby and we still would.

Why is that?

God created us that way.

However, when a baby is in the womb, in love God is creating the baby. God created us in the womb. God loved us before we were born.

Do you need encouraged today?

Do you ever feel like certain things about you are a mistake? That is NOT true. God loves you and loved you before you were born.

When a young couple announces that a baby is on the way, everyone tells them, “It’ll change your life!” But the fact is, they are already changed. From the first moment of anticipation, they see themselves in a different light. They find that it’s possible to be deeply in love with a tiny human being they’ve never met. They brim with dreams of the things they’ll do with their child— taking trips to the beach, getting a puppy, learning about God. Until that child is born, father and mother will think of little else; after the child is born, they will devote themselves fully to their precious offspring.

Where did this powerful love come from? The answer: It’s an inherited trait. We are made in the image of a heavenly Father who felt the same deep joy before we were born, but His love is even more powerful, more boundless. You know that God loves you now, but do you realize that He always has—even before you were born? Even before the world was created? He has loved you from the very foundation of time. Let’s explore what the Bible says about God’s relationship with you before you were born.[1]

My theme today is:

God Loved You Before You Were Born (Psalm 139:13-17)

There are many passages that we could look at but I want to park on Psalm 139:13-17.

  1. Context:
    1. This was a Psalm written by David.
    2. Many of the Psalms are actually Messianic. Many are actually pointing towards the Messiah. For example, Psalm 22 is the suffering Messiah; Psalm 23 the return from the dead; Psalm 24 is the reigning of the Messiah on His throne. The Psalms were put together when there was no king after the exile. Many were written before the exile but put together after the exile.[2]
    3. Psalm 139:1-6: God knows us.
    4. Psalm 139:7-12: God is always with us.
    5. Psalm 139:13-24: God’s omnipotence.
    6. In the first six verses we see about God knowing us.
    7. As we look at the beginning of Psalm 139 we see that the Lord knows us. He is the all-knowing God who has an intimate understanding of the psalmist, as of all His creation.[3]
    8. Then we want to jump to Psalm 139:13-17.
  2. He creates and arranges our bodies within the womb.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:13-15.
    2. Psalm 139:13 (ESV): 13For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    3. This verse is building on the previous section. The previous verses were about God’s presence. He is present everywhere and now the Psalmist, David builds on that with some examples, but also God’s power.
    4. When did He do this?
    5. He did this in our mother’s womb.
    6. Verse 14: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
    7. The Psalmist praises God.
    8. Why does he praise God?
    9. He is fearfully and wonderfully made.
    10. We could say, “awesomely and wonderfully made.”
    11. He appeals to his soul.
    12. His soul knows how wonderfully he is made.
    13. Though that could be translated that the Lord knows it well.
    14. Verse 15: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    15. This is really awesome.
    16. The phrase depths of the earth is normally associated with death (63:9; Ezk 26:20), but here it is figurative for the concealment of the womb.[8]
    17. God saw him being created. “Made in secret” would refer back to the womb.
    18. Modern technology now allows us to see the astonishing complexity of a developing child with our own eyes. In a 2010 TED presentation titled Conception to Birth—Visualized, Alexander Tsiaras, mathematician and chief of Scientific Visualization at Yale University, presented a series of incredible images of a child’s development in the womb. In his production you can see never-before-viewed videos and photos of the very first cell division, the development of the heart at only twenty-five days, the development of arms and hands at only thirty-two days, and the development of the retinas, nose, and eyes at fifty-two days.
  • Clearly astounded by what he witnessed in his own images, Tsiaras concluded his talk with these words: “The complexity of these things, the mathematical model of how these things are indeed done, [is] beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician I look at this with the marvel of, ‘How did these instruction sets build that which is us?’ It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”[10]
  • And Bible scholar John Phillips describes the magnificent complexities of our bodies at the cellular level: We know that every living creature is made up of microscopic cells so small that the letter O on this page would contain between thirty to forty thousand of them. Each microscopic cell is a world in itself, containing an estimated two hundred trillion tiny molecules of atoms. Each cell, in other words, is a micro-universe of almost unbelievable complexity. All these cells put together make up a living creature. Each cell has its own specialized function and each works to an intricate timetable which tells it when to grow, when to divide, when to make hormones, when to die. Every minute of every day some three billion cells in the body die and the same number are created to take their place. During any given moment in the life of any one of these cells, thousands of events are taking place, each one being precisely coordinated at the molecular level by countless triggers. The human body has more than a million million of them—a million in each square inch of skin, thirty billion in the brain, billions of red blood cells in the veins. Obviously such a complicated and unerring development of cells cannot possibly be the result of chance.[11]
  • He schedules every day before we are born.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
    2. David continues showing that God is in control. God’s eyes saw him in the womb.
    3. God planned his days before they happened. The idea is more than God just recording his days, but of God planning/ordaining his days.
  • He thinks wonderful and innumerable thoughts about us.
    1. We see this in Psalm 139:17-18: How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
    2. David is exclaiming.
    3. God’s thoughts are precious.
    4. That is the case for us as well.
    5. God loves us.
    6. God loved us before we were born.
    7. Notice David says, “if I were to number them…” We cannot number how many thoughts God has for us.
    8. When David awakes, he is still with God.
    9. When I wake up could refer to having pondered God’s knowledge all night, or to the resurrection.[13]
    10. The number is so large that one would fall asleep; and even so, God will not abandon his faithful (I awake, and I am still with you).[14]
  • Applications: Be encouraged, God loves us.
    1. God is so amazing that He formed us (verse 13).
    2. We must worship Him as powerful.
    3. We must respond in love. We must be encouraged by His great love.
    4. He knit/wove us together. He designed us with detail when we were in the womb (verse 13).
    5. We can be encouraged that God loves us so much that He did not just leave us to chance, no He designed us. That is how much He cares about us.
    6. We can be like the Psalmist David and exude praise (verse 14). We are awesomely made by the awesome God (verse 14).
    7. God’s works are wonderful. We should stop and marvel. We should be amazed and rejoice. We should praise and worship. When we notice how awesome He is, how can we not but worship?
    8. God even planned our days before we were born (verse 16). There are no coincidences. That can mean He knew our days or He ordained/planned them, or both. Either way, God is in charge. There are no coincidences. We can trust that our days are in His power and control. When troubles come, He has a plan. We can trust Him.
    9. We can be encouraged. God has amazing thoughts for us. We cannot number them. That is how much He loves us.
  • God loves us and loved us before were were born.

Mother Theresa:

I would not have wanted to be president of the United States on February 3, 1994. Or vice president. Or a senator or congressman or any other high-ranking member of our government. Those jobs are challenging on any day, but on that day a tiny woman from India made the leaders of the most powerful government in the world feel much smaller. She didn’t mean to. She didn’t berate or criticize them. In fact, she spoke quite lovingly. She simply talked about how valuable human life is to God.

The late Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was invited to speak at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Even standing on a platform, the tiny nun’s head was barely visible over the top of the podium. But the room was so quiet that no one failed to hear her message, loud and clear.

Mother Teresa talked about the dignity and value of all life, the worthiness of all human life to be loved, something that everyone gathered at the prayer breakfast could agree with. But halfway through her talk she said,

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

And then, speaking directly into the room filled with some of the world’s most powerful people, she pleaded, Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy. If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here [in Washington, D.C.], a sign of care for the weakest of the weak—the unborn child—must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you![15]

This is not a political message, no this is about God’s great love for each and everyone of us.


[1] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 27-29). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[2] Dr. Rydelnic; Open Line; July 6, 2019

[3] R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 994.

[4] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1116.

[5] Insight for Living; Swindoll; 11.24.2021

lit Literally/literally

[6] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[7] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 30). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[8] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[9] From Living the Psalms  by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. https://insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/a-species-of-wonder1?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ifldailydevo&utm_campaign=daily-devotional&goal=0_daec2b65fd-52c5b81323-106822917

[10] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 32). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[11] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 32-33). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[12] https://equip.sbts.edu/article/the-witness-of-scripture-abortion-is-murder/?utm_source=The+Southern+Baptist+Theological+Seminary+List&utm_campaign=9a40066be7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_21_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ee150c7052-9a40066be7-308393353&mc_cid=9a40066be7&mc_eid=ccb40608e2

[13] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 936.

[14] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1117.

[15] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 38-39). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[16] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 30-31). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

God IS Love

God Is Love (1 John 4:7-10)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 5, 2023

David Jeremiah writes:

In the days when the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody was preaching in Chicago, a poor drunkard stumbled up the steps to the front door of Moody’s church. The man pushed the door open, scanned the room, and saw no one inside. His eyes, however, were drawn to a large sign hanging above the pulpit that read “God Is Love.” It struck him—with anger. He slammed the door, and staggered down the steps, muttering, “God is not love. If God was love He would love me, and He doesn’t love a miserable man like me. It isn’t true.”

He went on his way, but those words were burning inside him, God is love. God is love. God is love… He couldn’t resist, Was it true… is it possible? After a while he turned around, retraced his steps, and entered the church again—confused and desperate. By now the people had gathered, and as Moody began to preach the man slipped into a seat in the back corner. He wept during the entire sermon as anger and confusion began to give way to joy and hope.

Afterward, Moody made his way to the door to shake hands with the people as they left. But the man didn’t leave. He remained in his seat, weeping. Moody came over, sat down beside him, and asked, “What are you crying about, my friend? What was it in the sermon that touched your heart?”

“Oh, Mr. Moody, I didn’t hear a word that you spoke tonight,” the man responded. “It’s those words up there over your pulpit, ‘God Is Love,’ that broke my heart.” Moody sat down and explained to him the depths of God’s love. The man listened and gave his heart to God, understanding for the first time that God really did love him.[1]

Today, we begin a series titled, “God Loves You.”

Today, my theme is God is love.

Let’s look at 1 John 4:7-10:

1 John 4:7–10 (ESV)

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  1. God is love. That is what this passage says. The theme of the passage is that God is love.
    1. Look at verse 7 from the beginning John writes that we are to love one another. I am going to come back to that in a minute.
    2. Why are we to love one another? John tells us.
    3. We are to love one another because love comes from God. One of the arguments for the existence of God is that we do have the ability to think of right and wrong. Isn’t that amazing? Where do we get this idea of love? Even animals to some degree have this understanding of love and what is love. Humans most always do. We get this from God. God gave us the ability to love. God not only gave us the ability to love He crafted us with a need for love. A few years ago, I read: “Growing up, I felt like the only way I could be happy with myself was if someone else loved me. I’ve always attached myself to people because that’s where I found my love. I’ve got a lot of insecurities about the way I look. That’s why I work out so much. And I’m always comparing myself to other people, wondering if I’m good enough” (Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger, Vibe, May 2007, pg. 36). We desire and need love. A child needs the love of his mother. A wife needs the love of her husband.
    4. So, we see in this passage that God is love. Now, I need to park here for a short moment. God is love, but this cannot be reversed. God is love, not love is God. That sounds nice but it is not true. Love is not God. But God is love in that love is one of many of the attributes which define who God is. In fact, the same article I referenced earlier also gives some attributes of God. Dr. Tim Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary writes:
    5. WHO IS GOD?
      God is a personal being, infinite in love, knowledge, and power. He is perfect in wisdom, goodness, righteousness, justice, holiness, and truth. God is both the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is the final goal and judge of the universe, infinite and perfect in all his attributes.[3]
    6. Bobby Murphy, “‘God is Love’ doesn’t equate Him with love; it identifies love as an attribute of His.”[4]
    7. God’s love is not separated from His other characteristics. God is just, etc.
    8. So, God is love and the passage says that everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Okay, does that mean that everyone who does an act of love is of God? Does everyone who does something nice get a free pass to Heaven? Really? I bet that everyone does something nice at some point in their life, right? The key point in this passage is that it says that everyone who loves has been born of God… This passage is talking about a rebirth in Jesus Christ. God is love and love proceeds from the Father, so God gives us the ability to love and because of that when we are reborn from God we love and we know God. In fact, our love shows that we know God. Jesus said, they will know you are Christians by your love (John 13:35).
    9. Later in verse 16 John reiterates this message: 1 John 4:16 (ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    10. Again, David Jeremiah: In the Bible the love of God is like a multifaceted diamond: Each glistening facet reveals some blindingly beautiful truth about God. For this is where the quest for love leads—to an encounter with God Himself. To begin to understand love, we must begin to understand God. And to begin to understand God, we must begin in no other place than the revelation of His love in the Bible.[6]

So we are called to copy this love of Christ.

  • We are to emulate God’s love.

I heard that Alexander the Great had a soldier who bore his name who was unfaithful in duty and demonstrated cowardice? And Alexander called him in and said, “Either change your behavior or change your name.” And I think that, in a sense, is what John is saying here. If you’re going to call yourself a Christian, if you’re going to say you are God’s and you belong to God and you truly are His, then conduct yourself as He would, with love.[7]

  1. In verse 8 John repeats that God is love right after saying that the one who does not love does not know God. This sounds like it is pretty critical that if we claim to know God we love.
  2. Look at verse 9, it reminds me of John 3:16 as it should: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
  3. God desires a relationship with us and that is why He took action. Jesus is God’s one and only Son or better translated unique Son. God sent Him into the world in order to show His great love for us. Praise God!
  4. Verse 10 shows us that God initiated this relationship with us: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
  5. God’s love for us is unending:
  6. Again from David Jeremiah quoting Brennan Manning: When the Bible tells us that God’s love is unlimited, I think it means God’s love is something like the love of the mother in this story told by Michael Brown: A friend told me about a boy who was the apple of his parents’ eyes. Tragically, in his mid-teens, the boy’s life went awry. He dropped out of school and began associating with the worst kind of crowds. One night he staggered into his house at 3:00 a.m., completely drunk. His mother slipped out of bed and left her room. The father followed, assuming that his wife was in the kitchen, perhaps crying. Instead he found her at her son’s bedside, softly stroking his matted hair as he lay passed out drunk on the covers. “What are you doing?” the father asked, and the mother simply answered, “He won’t let me love him when he’s awake.”[9]
  • What does this mean for us?

Contemplative author and speaker Brennan Manning calls this concept “love without motive.”

He writes: As a man, I love the Jersey shore, Handel’s Messiah, hot fudge, and my wife Roslyn. I love what I find congenial or appealing. I love someone for what I find in him or her. But God is not like that. The God and Father of Jesus loves men and women not for what He finds in them, but for what He finds in them of Himself. It is not because men and women are good that He loves them, nor only good men and women that He loves. It is because He is so unspeakably, unimaginably good that He loves men and women in their sin. It is not that He detects what is congenial and appealing and He responds to us with His favor. He is the source of love. He acts: He does not react. He is love without motive.[10]

  1. We must love people as well.
  2. In loving people this will show that the love of God is in us.
  3. If we are born of God, as in re-born that means that we must love others.
  4. This must shape our emotions in loving people in our thoughts.
  5. This must shape our intelligence in that we understand that we love because God created us in His image and God is love, but also knowing that God has rebirthed us in His Spirit and we are to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1-2).
  6. This must shape our actions in that our actions are loving others as God has loved.
  7. We must think thoughts that love others.
  8. We must take every thought into captivity (2 Cor. 13:5).
  • We must think Biblical thoughts (Phil 4:4-13).
  • We must seek God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6-7).
  • We must love others which compels us to evangelism (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • David Jeremiah writes: This is the most important fact in your life. God loves you. The eternal, self-existent Being who created and sustains everything that exists dearly loves you. The profound thought of God’s love should begin and end your every day. It should define your every goal, your every action. And He doesn’t merely like you when you do well; He is personally and passionately committed to your good, even when you fail. God loves you. What would happen if that three-word sentence became the theme of your life—if you let it change everything about you and your world?[11]

The implications of God’s love are astounding: we are fully and completely loved by God, despite our unworthiness of that love. This perfect love casts out the real fear of being rejected by God on the basis of our failures, whether past, present, or future. If God has loved us so generously and sacrificially, the only legitimate response is to love our neighbors. We can’t simply choose to love “good” people or people with whom we agree. We can’t reserve love for those willing to repay it. If we are to love like God, we have to be willing to be wounded.

God’s great love for us…

In her autobiography, Over Mountain or Plain or Sea, Trula Cronk, who served as a missionary in India for twenty-four years, tells of a little girl who visited her house one evening and stayed just a little longer than she intended. Darkness fell, and she was afraid to walk home. Trula explained that she should not be afraid, saying, “Dolan, God loves you and He will take care of you as you walk to your house.” The little girl replied very solemnly, “No, memsahib, God does not love little girls.”

 Trula Cronk was never able to forget that misguided statement, and it made her want to tell all little girls everywhere that God is love, and He does indeed love them.[13]

[1] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 1-2). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[2] http://timothytennent.com/2013/06/21/who-is-god/

[3] http://timothytennent.com/2013/06/21/who-is-god/

[4] Page 91 of Bobby’s Book “20/20 vision”

[5] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 4). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ibid, page 6.

[7] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/62-34/manifesting-perfect-love-part-1

[8] Packer, J. I.. Knowing God (p. 45). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[9] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 19-20). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[10] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (pp. 8-9). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.; Brennan Manning, “Living as God’s Beloved: An Interview with Brennan Manning About How We Can Experience God’s Love,” Discipleship Journal, July/August 1997, accessed December 28, 2012, http://www.navpress.com/magazines/archives/article.aspx?id=11697.

[11] Jeremiah, Dr. David. God Loves You (p. 3). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[12] Ibid, page 8

[13] Ibid, (p. 2)