"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.... And that is what we are!" - 1 John 3:1
Some are fearful to approach God because they think he is distant and angry, but God is not like that at all. In fact he is very much the opposite. There is no limit to the mercy, kindness and love that he has for you.
Who Is God?
Jesus said, "This then is how you should pray, Our Father...." Luke 11:2
Jesus taught the people how to pray to God through the Lord’s Prayer.
The very first line of this prayer shows us how we are to refer to God. You will notice that Jesus doesn’t start the prayer with 'Almighty one', 'all powerful one' or 'glorious creator.' Yes, God is all these things and more and it’s important to have a reverence and respect for God, but Jesus wanted to teach us how we should see and approach God by the opening words of the Lords prayer, ‘'Our Father’'.
So don't ever be afraid or ashamed to approach God, He is your father, after all He formed you in your mothers womb (Psalm 139:13) so you are his forevermore!
God is not distant
"I am with you always, to the very end of the age" - Matthew 28:20.
God is always with you, whether you feel it or not, he is there watching over you. He didn’t just create you and then leave you to be so you could face the world on your own. He wants to be there throughout your entire life, through all the joyous occasions and through all the trying moments in your life. God is relational, meaning he wants to be your closest companion, he wants to be the first one you go to with your problems, and he wants to be the first one you come to when you get exciting news. He wants you to talk to him throughout the day, not necessarily out loud but in your mind and heart. God wants to be a part of your everyday life, he rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) and he made you so that you could have a personal relationship with him through his son, Jesus.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you - 1 Peter 5:7. So don’t ever be afraid to talk to God about your problems no matter how small you think they are, he cares for you and every aspect of your life.
God, Our Father, wants to be your closest friend
"Now I call you friends" - John 15:15.
You may find it hard to believe but Almighty God wants to be your closest friend, it’s true. God is someone who will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). There is no one in the world who knows you more, he knows when you sit down and rise up, he knows your thoughts from afar and is familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:2-3), God has even numbered the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30).
Think about it for a moment, the creator of the world and everything in it, the master of the universe wants to be your close and most intimate friend. I don’t know about you, but every time I think about that, it just boggles my mind how the Almighty, all powerful ever living God wants to be my closest friend.
"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God's friend" - James 2:23.
A friend is someone who understands and can relate to you, no one will understand you more than your heavenly father.
You might be thinking, "How can God understand what I am going through, He is God, what does He know about the struggles human beings face on earth?” Well, that is why God sent his son Jesus into this world, so that He can connect with us; Jesus is basically God in human form.
God, through Jesus, experienced the same hardships and feelings that any of us go through. God knows what you are feeling when you are happy, when you are sad, when you are angry, when you are in the depths of agony, distress or depression.
Here are some examples of where Jesus experienced real human emotion.
Frustration/Anger - When Jesus turned the tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).
Abandonment - When he was captured by the soldiers, the disciples left him (Matthew 26:56).
Doubt - On the cross, when Jesus called out to his father “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Physical & verbal abuse - When the soldiers mocked and beat Jesus (Matthew 27:27-31).
Broken Promises - When Peter vowed to stand with Jesus, instead he denied him (Matthew 26:33-35 & 26:69-75).
Rejection - When Jesus was rejected in his home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30). Also throughout his ministry, he was rejected by the chief priests, the Pharisees, religious leaders and the people. Even his own family (John 7:5 & Mark 3:21).
Despair & Depression - When Jesus sweated great drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44).
Overwhelmed - When Jesus asked his Father to take the cup of suffering from him (Luke 22:42).
Sadness - When Lazarus died, Jesus cried (John 11:35).
Temptation - When Jesus was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
Betrayal - When Judas betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:1-6).
Grief, Anguish & Distress - When Jesus takes some of the disciples to pray in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-38).
Weak/defeated - The cross is carried by Simon from Cyrene, after Jesus stumbles carrying the cross (Matthew 27:32).
Ridiculed - The religious leaders and many others, ridiculed Jesus when he hung on the cross (Matthew 27:39-42).
Persecution - The crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:32-44).
This High Priest of ours (Jesus Christ) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do…. Hebrews 4:15
There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend
Jesus had the choice to live or to die. If there was no choice for Jesus then Satan wouldn't have tried to tempt Jesus in the desert. Jesus had the choice to be mocked and tortured on behalf of sinners or to walk away from the pain and humiliation and live a pain free life. Thankfully for us, Jesus didn’t walk away from the cross; he chose to stay obedient to the father's will and was thinking of you and me when he went through all he did. And even though we don’t deserve it, even though we rebel against him when we do wrong, nothing would have stopped Jesus giving his life for us because that’s how much love he has for us.
God showed the ultimate expression of love, for it was while we were still sinners that Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus had great love and mercy for the very people that crucified him. He prayed to his heavenly father while hanging there on the cross by saying "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" - Luke 23:34.
Jesus is the way to a right relationship
"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me" - John 14:6.
God is perfectly holy that he requires us to be perfect to be in his presence when our time on earth is up. Problem is, none of us are perfect. The only perfect person that has walked the earth is Jesus. That’s why he sacrificed himself on the cross - He became our sin and he received our punishment so that whoever receives Jesus as their Lord and Saviour are perfected, not by anything we have done but only because of what Jesus has done. “It is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast – Ephesians 2:8-9”.
We can only be redeemed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and to truly receive the salvation of our souls we must accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our lives.
We’ve all Made Mistakes
You’re probably thinking “I’ve made too many mistakes; God doesn’t want anything to do with me.” Well, let me tell you, you don’t know how wrong you are! Besides Jesus, everyone that has ever lived on earth has made mistakes. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23.
God sent his only Son as the ultimate sacrifice and if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and repent from your sins, God will forgive you. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" - 1 John 1:9.
Seeing that God gave up his only son for you, he's not going to disown you when you make a mistake; he paid the highest price for you so you mean absolutely everything to God. And don't think you have to 'clean yourself up' or reach some height of perfection to call out to God or come to him. He knows that we are not perfect, he wants you to come as you are. It doesn't matter how far away you are from him or what you've done he wants you to call out to him and ask him to come into your life.
We may have moments where we stumble and make mistakes from time to time but don’t ever think that you've blown it with God; there is no limit to God’s mercy. "His love endures forever" - Psalm 136:1
So if you stumble in your walk of faith, quickly repent, get back up and keep walking in faith doing your best not to fall into sin again. Guilt will make you feel unworthy in approaching God for forgiveness but know that nothing you do is a surprise to God; he already knows the wrongs we have done so you might as well admit them to him. He is there waiting for you to recognise your sin and when you do repent from your heart and have true regret and remorse, he will immediately forgive you.
"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more" - Isaiah 43:25.
After we repent from sin, don’t think you won’t be attacked by the enemy again. He will pester you for as long as you are breathing.
So how do we resist the constant attacks of the enemy? Jesus showed a great example when he was tempted by Satan in the desert. On four occasions we read that Satan tempted Jesus, trying to make him stumble in his Godly walk and after each of Satan’s temptations, Jesus recalls and quotes Scripture, metaphorically he puts on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). God’s word is so powerful and will help you through any trial and temptation you may face, so immerse yourself in the word of God, memorise passages of scripture that will help you, and meditate on them constantly. After Jesus had resisted him, Satan left him. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" - James 4:7
How much does God love me?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” - John 3:16.
Think about John 3:16 in Scripture for a moment. Would you give your only child for someone who deserves punishment for rebelling against you? Would you leave your only child to those very people, to be beaten, mocked and put to death? I know that I could never do that, but God did. He sent his very own dearly loved Son for you so that he might gain your love and that you might call him father. Jesus himself states in John 17:23 that God loves you as much as he loves Jesus. This may be hard for you to understand but it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or what you've been through, God loves you so much that he calls you his very own dear child. His love is an everlasting love and nothing will ever separate you from the love of God.… "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" - Romans 8:38-39.
A Father’s Love
A great example of God’s love and mercy is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). He asked his father for his share of the inheritance so he could go away and squander his wealth on a life of wild living. The son made mistake after mistake and lived quite a sinful lifestyle. That life literally leads him to the pig pen. After a while, he comes to his senses and realised that his only hope of living some sort of life was to go back to his father. When on his way back home and still a long way off, his father saw him and had compassion on him, the father then ran to his son, hugged him and kissed him. The son was very repentant and said that he was not worthy to be called his son, but the father wouldn’t hear of it, instead he got the best robe to put it on him, put rings on his fingers and shoes on his feet. On top of that he prepared a party because his son had returned. Here the son thinks he was to return to his father to be a slave but he gets treated like a king.
This is such a wonderful story of God’s love and mercy. You see, the father is God, you and I are the prodigal child.
It doesn’t matter what you have done, you are and always will be God’s child. I think it’s quite significant that the father would run to the son and not the other way around, it’s the only imagery that is written in the bible of our heavenly father running, and He’s not running to a perfect sinless child; rather he is running to a rebellious child, someone that you wouldn't think deserves the father’s attention, but God, our father doesn’t see the sins and mistakes, he sees his precious child. The son thinks he will return as a servant because of the error of his ways, but the father is practically saying ‘no, you are my dear child an heir to all my glory’. This is the unfathomable, unconditional love of our heavenly father.
What God gave for you
There's a story that sums up God’s love for each one of us. It's not in scripture but it has a ring of truth about it.
You and Jesus are alone, you soon realise that you are the only two people in the world. You take this opportunity to ask Jesus a question. "Jesus, besides yourself, I seem to be the only other person in the world, how much do you love me?" Jesus looks at you with compassion and replies "this much". Then he stretches out his arms and gives his life.
If you were the only person in the world, God still would have sent his only son Jesus to give his life just for you! That’s how much God loves you and don’t ever forget it!
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" - 1 John 3:1
Always remember that God’s love is different from the love we can ever give. Think of the deepest ocean trench, which is but a shallow pond to God. Think of the length of the deepest cave to the top of the world, that is but an inch to our God, or how about as far as the east is from the west which has no end.
It’s an amazing thing that the creator of the universe, God Almighty calls you his child and he wants you to call him 'father'. Just meditate on that truth.