God the Father Loves You Dearly

Dear Friends,

We recently celebrated my son, Josh's, eighteenth birthday.  We had a night away with extended family, which included a meal out, an amazing birthday cake made by Jason and  watching Josh open his presents.  The following day we all went to Colchester Zoo where Jason and I had arranged a surprise for Josh.  We had organised for him and his girlfriend to have an animal experience with one of the zookeepers.  As meerkats are Josh's favourite animals it obviously had to be a meerkat experience.  He and his girlfriend got to go into the meerkat enclosure.  They weren't allowed to touch them but they could sit and let the meerkats clamber all over them.  They had time to feed the meerkats and talk with the zookeeper about these animals.  The rest of us got to watch them and take photos. 

It was a great break away, everyone enjoyed themselves and it was a great opportunity to make some lasting memories.  Jason and I really enjoyed doing this for Josh.  We did it because Josh is our son and we love him.

Our love for Josh is based on the fact that he is our child.  Our love is not based on whether he has earned it. It's not based on whether he has done enough to deserve it.  Whatever happens our love for Josh is unconditional and constant.

As I reflected on this special time, God made me aware that our love for Josh is a reflection, albeit a pale reflection, of God's own love for us as his children. 

In John's first letter John wrote: 
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us,(that includes me and you) that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

We have a great example of God the Father's love for his own Son, Jesus, in Mark 1:9-11 "One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, 'You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.'" (NLT)

God speaks words of love over Jesus.  He acknowledges Jesus as his Son.  We see the special relationship that the two share - Jesus is loved dearly by his Father.  Not only that, we learn that Jesus brings God great joy.  Other translations use the words "delight" or "well-pleased".

God the Father loves his own Son - it's a love born out of relationship.  As a result of Jesus being God's Son, he brings God joy. God is pleased with Jesus, he delights in him and he loves him.  This is not a result of Jesus doing anything to earn the Father's love because Jesus had not yet begun his public ministry. He was yet to fulfil God's purpose for him.

The amazing truth is that God loves me and loves you with that same love he has for his Son, Jesus.  He has calls us his children.  We find our true identity in God - that we are a dearly loved son/daughter of the living God.  It is in this identity that we find real security and peace.  There are some of you who are reading this who need to know this, not just in your head, but in your heart and soul too.

Jesus is aware that God loves us and he wants us to be aware of this too.  Jesus said: "I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me." John 17:23 (NLT) 

In the previous chapter Jesus said to his disciples (and it still applies to me and you today) "for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God." John 16:27 (NLT)

Perhaps you have never experienced this kind of love before.  Perhaps you've only known conditional love from others.  Perhaps they've said "I'll love you if you do this or that..."  Or "I don't love you anymore, you've let me down too many times."  Perhaps they've told you they love you, yet then they've gone on to abuse you and mistreat you.  Perhaps you've been told you don't deserve to be loved and that no-one could possibly ever love you. 

Maybe you've believed what they've told you and you doubt that God could love you.  Maybe you've spent your life trying so hard to make God love you.  You've done everything you can think of so that God will love you.  Yet you still don't believe God loves you.

Today, you need to know that there's nothing you or I, or anyone can do to make God love us.  The truth is that God already loves us.  He chose to love you, even before you were born.  "Even before he made the world, God loved us" Ephesians 1:4a (NLT). You can depend on his love.  There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there's nothing you can do to make him love you less.  God loves you with a perfect love, he loves you unconditionally, he loves you completely and he loves you for ever.

Right now he is speaking these words over you: "You are my dearly loved son/daughter, and you bring me great joy."

To Think About:
Do you believe God loves you?  If you have difficulty believing this, ask God to help you to know just how much he loves you.  You may find it helpful to write out some of the verses mentioned above.

How has God demonstrated his love to you?  Read Ephesians 1:3-14 for starters.

What difference does it make to your life when you believe that God loves you with an unconditional, perfect and permanent love?

Vicki

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