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First Love Devotional: You Move Him

“See what great a love the Father has lavished on us, that we would be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 1:3a NIV

“Why is he crying?” I asked this question the day I broke my arm. At lunchtime, I was eager to practice riding my new bike. New to riding, I lost control and took a dive into dirt and concrete. It was the days before cell phones, and we were unable to reach my parents. For the next several hours, I cried from pain and fear until my parents came to pick me up from my friend’s house. After a trip to the hospital, some pain medicine, and a sling, I was finally at peace in the safety of our home. Then my dad began to cry. His shoulders shook with his sobs, and I couldn’t understand why. Now I am safe. Now I am at peace. Why is he crying? I was the one who was hurt. It was then that my mother explained the love of a father: “It hurts him to see you hurt.”

This is a wonderful representation of our heavenly Father. Your joy brings Him joy; your hurts cause Him to weep. Perhaps you experienced that kind of love growing up or perhaps you did not have the example of a loving earthly father. God has given us such a wonderful privilege in that, no matter our background or experience, we are invited to experience the love of the perfect Father in Him. When we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we receive the Holy Spirit who guides us to have a relationship with our heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul writes, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). 

A good father wants good things for his children (Luke 11:11-13). Rather than looking for opportunities to punish or condemn, our heavenly Father is looking for opportunities to love. The Apostle Paul writes, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: ‘But the righteous one will live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). In meditating on this verse, Martin Luther was struck by the revelation of the love of the heavenly Father that is contained within the gospel of grace through faith. He writes, “If you have a true faith that Christ is your Savior, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. That is to behold God in faith, that you should look upon His Fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see Him rightly, but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud had been drawn across his face.” 

God freely gives us wisdom (James 1:5) and guidance (Ps. 37:23), but He also, as a good Father, speaks identity and hope and love. He is the God of hope (Rom. 15:13) and the God who is love (1 John 4:7). He has plans and purposes for us (Jer. 29:11) and wants to guide us into what He has for us, but He also wants to comfort us when we need comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore (Ps. 139:17-18), which works out to some millions of thoughts per second! He is constantly thinking about us, and His thoughts are thoughts of love and hope and goodness. It may be easier to go to God when we need help or advice, but as we draw into intimacy with Him, we find there is much more He wants to speak to our hearts. He is constantly whispering words of love. When we pause from the busy day-to-day, we can catch some of those millions of loving thoughts that He has toward us, as we listen for His whispers.

Whatever our earthly experiences, we have a good Father in heaven who is love (1 John 4:8). I am reminded of the lyrics from the song “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin, 

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone

Like my father demonstrated to me, our heavenly Father hurts when we are hurting and rejoices when we rejoice. He wants to be there for the moments of crisis, but He also wants to be there as our loving Father in the day-to-day moments. That is my prayer for us today: that we would come to know deep in our hearts that our heavenly Father always loves us. 

P.S. We are hosting the second annual “First Love Retreat” in January 2024. We would love for you to join us as we sit and “be” with our heavenly Father, letting Him speak words of life as we dedicate the new year to Him. We are believing it will be a priceless time of refreshing as we get ready for what the Lord has for us in this next season.

FIRST LOVE RETREAT

Bradenton, FL // Jan 5-8, 2024

First Love Retreat will provide simple teachings to enhance your devotional times. Together, we will meditate on the reality of who God is: His goodness, His sacrifice, His pre-eminence, His love. Enjoy His presence in times of quiet reflection and meaningful conversations. Encounter Him, and experience who He is.

Come. Rest. Renew the fire of your First Love.

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