You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3 NIV)
Very often we think of ourselves in a particular way which is shaped by our history and circumstances. We create a picture that we then use to define our identity and which shapes the beliefs we hold about ourselves. That then becomes a filter of how we perceive the way in which other people and God see us. Our perception is valid as it comes from our history and experience but it does not mean it is the correct picture of who we are.
In Psalm 139 we read a detailed account of how the Father sees us and therefore we can believe that this is the true picture of who we really are.
He knows us intimately simply because he created us. He knew what we would be like before we were conceived, before we were knit together in our mother’s womb. He planned each and every day and intended that we should have a good future.
His knowledge of us goes way beyond our knowledge of ourselves. It’s complete, intimate and not based on the filters of history or experience. It is seen from the perfect, eternal perspective of a loving Father. His intimate knowledge of us is too wonderful for us to grasp or understand. As I read this Psalm I find myself asking the Father to give me a glimpse of his knowledge of me, rather than me seeing myself through my filters.
Why don’t you try doing that as well. “Father, how do you see me?” You might be surprised by what he says!
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:29-31 NIV)
One thing that has crept into the church from the world is the praise of strength and personal achievement. The world, whether our education, business or political systems, encourage, indeed strive towards strength. Strength and being strong is promoted whereas those who are weak are put down and treated with contempt.
If we can make something happen in our strength or through the force of our personality it is deemed to be a good thing.
In Deuteronomy we see Moses painting a very different picture. A picture of weakness where we allow our Father to reach down and carry us like a father carries a child. Not a picture of strength and self reliance but one of dependence on our Father where we allow him to not only take our burdens, but to carry us all the way. He carries us through both the good times and the tough times.
Jesus often took a little child to demonstrate the nature of the Kingdom. It is to little children that the secrets of Heaven are revealed and it is to them who more easily see the Father (Matthew 11). The simplicity and power of the Father's love is hidden from those who think of themselves as being wise and learned.
Paul puts it very clearly. The power of recognising our weakness is the key to seeing God's power released. God's power is not demonstrated when we try to be strong or self reliant but it's seen through our weakness.
As we recognise our own weakness we will discover the life of rest and peace which often alludes us. We will discover a life of freedom as we watch and see what our Father is doing. We just get to go along for the ride.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NASB)
One of the things we don't talk about very often, despite it being mentioned over a hundred times in the Bible, is comfort. Comfort is an incredibly powerful expression of love and it is something that we need to talk about, but more than that it is something we need to experience.
In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon describes the desperate state of the human heart when we do not receive comfort. His shocking conclusion is that people are better dead rather than not being comforted.
Comfort is an expression of love which goes to the painful depth of our heart and brings relief to the trauma or grief that we've experienced. It is the only way that trauma or grief can be washed out of our heart to set us free. We lose an unwelcome friend that has made its home in our heart, often for many years. The Father's comfort is the only way that trauma can be permanently erased.
Comfort, however, is not something we purely need to receive for past hurts or wounds. It is something we can receive daily in order that a reservoir of comfort builds up inside of us giving us the strength and energy we need to face our daily lives. Without this surplus of comfort we struggle from one situation to the next. A comforted heart is one that has come home and found its place of rest in the centre of the Father's love. A comforted heart has undergone a transformation where the barren desert has been transformed into a joyful, fruitful garden.
I encourage you to receive comfort daily in order that your heart can undergo this much needed transformation.
This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. (1 John 4:17-18 The Message)
It has to be possible for us to live in love. We read so much about it in the gospels and in Paul's letters but we often ask ourselves whether it is attainable. It seems too far out of our reach. Yet it wouldn't be in the Bible if it was impossible, simply put there to tantalise us and leave us feeling miserable when we don't hit the target.
In John's first letter we read we can 'know and rely on the love God has for us'. These are not words that find a home in our intellect, they are experiential words which belong in our heart. They describe a relationship, one which we can prove time and time again as we rest in Father's love. It is, as Jesus said, 'remaining in love' (John 15) or as Paul puts it 'the resting place of his love has become the very source and root of our life' (Ephesians 3:17 TPT).
We see this expressed very clearly towards the end of John 17 when Jesus is praying that we would discover the reality of being with him where he is; in the bosom of the Father.
As we live in love, the spirit of sonship is released in us and we will begin to walk as Jesus walked. It is something that will completely transform us.
Living in love is not something we can manufacture in our own strength. Rather it is us opening our heart to receive the love of the Father which is poured out freely by the Holy Spirit. It is seeing with the eyes of our heart that God is love.
Loving me empowers you to obey my commands (John 14:15 TPT)
Those who truly love me are those who obey my commands. (John 14:21 TPT)
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching". (John 14: 23 NIV)
We live in a rule based society where, from an early age, we are taught the benefit of obeying them and the consequences of disobedience. Even in my job as an accountant, there are many volumes of UK tax law which must be obeyed and yes, there are penalties if the rules are not followed.
Inevitably, rules are associated with control and one place we shouldn't see this is in the church. Any form of control will take away our uniqueness and try to squash us into the mould of conformity. The consequence of this is that obedience has become a behavioural issue rather than a heart one. In the Old Testament the law of Moses was given as a relational expression of the nature of God the Father. It shows us what he is like and our heart obedience would make us to become like him. Sadly, the law became behavioural rather than relational and so God the Father became distant from his people.
Our relationship with God started with love, all he has ever wanted is to be a Father to us. Jesus brings us back to the centrality of love by summing up the law in these words: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself".
It is all too easy for us to swap love for obedience. Rather than seeing obedience flowing out of our love we assume that any love has to be earned through our behaviour. That's the wrong way round and one that will stifle life rather than free us to live in love.
As we live in love we will be empowered to seek and to desire to do the Father's will.
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.