I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:4-8 ESV)
The Psalmist encourages us to do three things which are a response to us having a heart of praise and thanksgiving. As we see the goodness of the Lord our hearts are drawn into praise where we just want to tell God how good he is. Praise and thanksgiving, though, take us on a journey which is one of desire and longing. We want to know him more.
And so we are encouraged to seek, look and taste. Our Father wants to be found by us, he is not hidden away, he is waiting for us to find him and as we do we are set free from our fears. In finding him, we find a safe and secure place where we are set free from the fear that has paralysed us. The world is fall of uncertainty and anxiety and, if we succumb to that, we are easily bogged down in the ways of the world and the uncertainty that brings. His presence is the most safe place we can find and it's there that worry and anxiety fall away.
As we look to him as the source of life and the provider of all our needs we leave our shame behind and our faces begin to shine with his glory. That's a transformation! Very often, through the lies of the enemy, the troubles we face take us into a pit of shame. We believe more in our failings than who we are in Christ. Seeking him turns that all around.
Finally, we are encouraged to taste and see that God is good. Our Father is always good. Leonard Hays, a good friend of mine, recently said 'we know God is good, but is he good to me?' Life may not be easy and we may have our doubts but Father is always good; yes, even good to you! He longs to shower his blessings upon his children. Verse 10 says "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing".
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3 NIV)
This letter of John's is a very intimate appeal to his readers. He is inviting them into the same experience of love that he has lived in for many years. As I said last week, this is not a concept or set of principles but a relationship. It is a relationship we are invited to be part of. Simply put, it is knowing that God is a Father and that he wants to be a Father to us.
All of our significant relationships are heart relationships. We don't love our spouse or children from our heads, we love them from the heart. A heart relationship is prepared to cover the mistakes and failings (1 Peter 4:8) and seeks no pleasure in judging or forming opinions. Jesus tells us that the secrets of the kingdom are hidden from the wise and learned (those who approach things with their mind) and are revealed to little children (those who live from the heart).
John encourages us to touch, see and hear. He invites us to experience. He invites us to join him in a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one that we, too, can experience rather than simply learn about.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14 NIV)
I know this is something that I write about often but I believe it's important for us to fully grasp as we seek to live in love. Love is an experience, it is not a concept or set of principles. To experience love we need to know who is loving us. That is true for our relationships in our families and with our friends. Love is personal and it always leads us to the one who is loving us.
Just as that is true for our human relationships so it is true in our relationship with God. My children don't call me 'sir' or the boss, they call me 'daddy'. They use a relational name and not a functional one. I believe the term 'God' expresses a functional relationship of what God does: he creates, he heals, he rules, he is Lord and Master. It does not, however, reveal who he is and who he wants to become for us. He is Father, he has always been Father and he wants to be a Father to you and me. That is a relationship and it goes way beyond a function.
We've recently celebrated Christmas, the coming of Jesus, the son of God who stepped into our humanity. The very Word of God became a man for one simple reason. He came from the Father in order to reveal the Father to us.
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)
This revelation brings light and life. It shows us, with complete clarity, who God is and the relationship he wants to have with each one of us. Take a moment to consider your view of God: is he God or is he Father?
That’s a very well known phrase which tries to make us optimistic when everything seems to be going wrong. Take something sour and unpalatable and turn it into something desirable. I guess we all wish we could do that right now.
For many of us our Christmas celebrations had to be cancelled. Seeing family, many of whom we hadn’t seen for months, had to be put on hold and that glimmer of light we thought we’d seen seemed to be snuffed out. As we enter 2021, we continue to see uncertainty all around us.
In the week before Christmas I listened to an interview by the Archbishop of Canterbury in which he said ‘Christmas is not cancelled, just our Christmas celebrations; Christmas is a message of hope, of Christ coming into our world’. Christmas is over, we’ve started the new year and maybe it feels like another long, hard slog has become. However, hope is not just for Christmas. Hope is something we carry in our heart. Our hope is not dependent on our circumstances, nor on our feelings. Our hope is the result and the outcome of the Father pouring his love into our heart (Romans 5:5).
We have lived through many months of loss, grief and hardship. But we can have hope, not in Governments or vaccines but in our Father who holds our lives in his hand and who carries us through all the uncertainties we face. It is the certainty of his love for us which is the only thing that gives us true hope.
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3: 17-24 NIV)
A Father to YOU is a signpost to the heart of the Perfect Father. When we became Christians we were given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, many of us fail to take up that right and instead continue to live as slaves or orphans. But our true destiny is being sons and daughters who have a permanent place in the Father's family. This blog is an encouragement to help you know who God really is and who you really are.