See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
Some of the translations of the Bible say “see what kind of love”. Let’s take a look at the nature of the Father’s love and, as we do, we’ll see that it is more than a fact or theological concept. We’ll see the substance of love being poured into our heart.
It is an extravagant, generous and marvellous love. Nothing is spared or held back. It’s like going to a feast where there is almost too much to eat. You want to try it all but you know you don’t have the capacity to do so.
His love is redemptive. In order for us to become his children we have to be redeemed (or bought back) from the enemy who’d stolen us. The Father takes us from the destructive life of sin and brings us into his family.
The Father’s love is a sacrificial and giving love. It cost the Father his Son, he paid everything in order that you and I might be brought home, into the centre of his love.
And finally, it is an eternal love. God has always been and will always be loving, he is our true Father. That is the love with which we are loved. It’s not dependent on us, on how we feel or behave. It’s a love that originates in the Father’s heart and it’s a love which is generously poured out, without limit, into our heart.
I don’t know if you’ve read the whole of Lamentations 3. If you have, you may feel it describes what a lot of your days are like. The writer is having a bad day, maybe a bad week or year; nothing seems to be going right for him. Maybe this is how you are feeling in this season.
Verse 18 sums it all up: So I say, “My splendour is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” It is a sign of great despair when we lose hope, we feel trapped in a pit with no way out. Lost, lonely and hopeless.
That moment of hopelessness though, is the beginning of a transformation. In his hopelessness the writer begins to remember something. As he remembers he begins, once again, to have hope.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (v21)
What he remembers is the steadfast, eternal love of the Father. That changes everything. Once again he recognises that God is faithful, that he is loving and compassionate, and that he is the provider.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
That recognition brought redemption for Jeremiah and it will do so for us.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6 NIV)
As I conclude this look at Psalm 23, I remind you of the Father's provision whether you're sitting in 'green pastures' or whether you're walking through the 'valley of the shadow of death'. The Lord is always with us.
We are provided for, we are comforted and we can live in his presence. It's his presence which is the only safe and secure place for us to be. We are enveloped by his love; in fact, his love chases us and pursues us until it becomes our resting place.
One of my favourite Psalms is Psalm 27 and in particular verse 4: "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." This is the homecoming our heart desires and, today, I simply encourage you to pursue this just as you are pursued by love.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:4-5 NIV)
This Psalm is a description of the Lord's provision and his care for his people. We've seen how he provides for us in times of rest, when we sit in a still place, the place of contentment. Now we see how his presence and provision is as real in the turbulent times as it is those of stillness and peace. Right in the shadow of death there is the same provision and presence.
In times like that we can't see so clearly, maybe the path ahead appears hidden. In such times we have the added assurance of his shepherd's staff gently prodding us and steering us into the right path.
It is in moments of pressure and darkness that we experience his comfort. Even with our enemies all around us we can know his abundant provision. What an amazingly secure place to be: right there with all our enemies circled around we can sit, in peace, at a table full of good things. You really have to trust in order to sit down and enjoy a meal when all the turmoil of life is very real around you. That's the overwhelming peace of the Father's presence and it can be very real for you today.
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV)
Last week we saw how the Father provides for us in that place of stillness and rest. When we stop, or when we give up! It is then that he can take over and lead us. We, often, are busy and 'intentional' on trying to discover the right pathway through life; sometimes we get it right, other times we're maybe not so sure.
There is something reassuring about being led. When a father leads a child it's safe, the child does not have to make any decisions, they simply rest in being led. We have a Father who wants to lead us, he leads us in the comfort of a safe place and he knows the right way for us to follow.
Not only is this a safe place, it's also a place of refreshment or restoration. The tiredness and burden of our own effort can fall away as we walk with him on the pathway of contentment. He knows the way and it is a good way.
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.