The Love of The Father

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:1-7 NIV

Abba Father uses the phrase “I am the Lord your God” in one form or another 97 times throughout the Bible.  He doesn’t just say “I am God”.  He says, “I am YOUR God”. It is the opening phrase of the Ten Commandments.  He uses it at the end of many of His commandments such as in Leviticus 19:31:

“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”

When using it like this it is almost like your dad telling you “Because I’m your Dad.  That’s why!”  Really that’s what it is.  God is saying He is not just any God…He is your God and wants that personal relationship with you.  Not just the relationship of one being worshipped but the deep personal relationship of Father and child.  He knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  He leads you on the correct path. He chastises you when you do wrong. But no matter how bad you are His love for you never diminishes. 

YHVH is not just YOUR God. He is your Father and he loves you with a love that no earthly father ever could. He always has time for you, He always has your best interest in mind, He will never steer you wrong, and His love is unconditional and never ending. But what does God Himself tell us about His Fatherly love for us?

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:13 ESV

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10 ESV

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

God’s love isn’t like human love that strengthens or weakens nor is it moody nor is it a love that comes and goes. God loves perfectly, all the time. Many people struggle to understand how this great God can love us messy and stumbling sinners. But He does and He never stops loving us.  We tend to think these things because we are comparing His great love to earthly love which cannot even come close.

Many children grow up feeling like they don’t really know their earthly father, either because he’s missing or because so many dads struggle to be emotionally present. They might pay the bills, offer advice, show up to the events, and truly love their kids but still not know how to open their heart to their kids through honest and frequent conversation, or giving affirmation or physical affection. The child then can feel like, despite years of being around their dad, they don’t really know him and they don’t truly feel loved by him. They wonder how their father feels about them and there always tends to be a distance in the relationship, but God loves us by not only making clear how He feels about us by stating his love and delight in us throughout the Bible, He also reveals who He is to us and brings us into a relationship with Him, and invites us to draw near to Him at any time so that we may know and love Him more.

God also shows His deep love for us through His disciplining of us. God’s discipline is a calm but firm correction and never done in a fit of rage. He wants to teach us, not reject or punish us. The Bible links discipline and love to cement in our mind that discipline is for our good and part of training and parenting us. 

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:3-11 NIV

The fact that God corrects His children should encourage us and show us just how much He cares about us.  He is involved and concerned about what kind of people we become. His discipline provides proof that He will never give up on us or leave us in our sin as long as we ask forgiveness and are repentant.

True love isn’t looking the other way and letting your children do things that will harm them or lead them down the wrong path.  True love is being involved and doing whatever is for the child’s good, even when it’s the painful parenting work of teaching, correcting, and discipline. As God’s children, we also need to remind ourselves that discipline demonstrates God’s love for and commitment to us. God treats us, not as strangers or guests who he has no relationship with but as a father who deeply loves His sons and daughters. When we rightly understand discipline as a loving act rather than an act of anger or displeasure, God’s discipline can prove His love and be a chance to deal with the issues that might get in the way of experiencing the power of His complete and unending love.

Knowing that our Father in Heaven loves us with such a deep fatherly love should give new meaning to being a child of God. But if you are a child of God that also means that everyone is a child of God and should be treated with the love and understanding that your Father has given you because they are your brothers and sisters.  Now every family has its black sheep but we must still love and pray for each of them. We must show compassion and love for them that reflects God’s love.

That boy at school that annoys you…he is your brother. That girl at work that everybody makes fun of…she is your sister. The homeless man asking for food…he is my brother.  That person at work or school that nobody likes or wants to talk to?  Yep that’s your brother or your sister too.  What should you do?  Should you go along with the crowd or should you set yourself apart from the crowd and treat them like your brother or sister and show them the love and compassion that only a heavenly family can?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.  The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand and the ‘goats’ at his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest,  I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the people who have done what God wants will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest, or needing clothes and provide them? When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’  The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!’ – Matthew 25:31-40 CJB

As a matter of fact in John 15:13 the Bible goes so far as to say that “no one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends.”  That right there should tell you the depths of love that we should have for each other as children of God.

God didn’t just tell us we should be willing to lay down our lives for our friends He actually did it for us.  He actually loves us so much He gave His life for us. But as God he cannot die so He took human form in Jesus so he could give His own life in exchange for ours.  That is the greatest representation of His fatherly love. I think that the Complete Jewish Bible’s translation of John 3:16 says it best:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.” – John 3:16 CJB

The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. Not just physical death but a spiritual death. Being separate from God for all eternity. But Jesus, who was God made flesh, paid the price for us not only in death but in the punishment we each deserved.  Isaiah 53 in the NIV says it all:

 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

 Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished. 
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, 
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong, 
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

God is a loving Father who loves all of His children unconditionally, just as each of us should, but that doesn’t mean all of His children will make it to heaven.  ABBA Father does not wish for anyone to spend eternity in hell. But God would never force anyone to go to Heaven.  If a person willfully refuses to repent and turn away from sin and toward God with forgiveness through Yeshua Jesus God has no alternative.  Devine justice demands that those who reject God’s loving offer of forgiveness and instead remain in their sinful ways must pay the penalty for those sins by spending their eternity in hell.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins”  2 Peter 3:9. CJB

So as you go through your day to day life know that God has always loved you and always will.  He knew you and loved you from the very beginning of creation and will continue to love you for all eternity.  Treat others with the same love you have been given and share it with everyone you meet because we are all children of God but some just have not met him yet.  Help introduce them.

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