Understanding God's Love

‘It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.’ Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV

The Lie That Was Spoken

“Bright but unapplied.” These words, spoken by a middle school guidance counselor,  landed on me and were immediately absorbed into my 12-year-old heart like summer rain that falls onto parched farmland. The lack of imparted identity from my earthly father exposed me to be impacted by the careless words of a well-intentioned guidance counselor. Still, on that day, a bad seed was sown into my heart, and later in life, it grew fruit.

Without being modeled the heart of a father in your life, it becomes challenging to imagine God as loving. It is especially true in certain denominations of the Christian faith that emphasize God as the judge. For example, in the United States, just the word “judge” creates a mental picture of someone in a black robe sitting behind a large, raised desk who strikes a gavel determining the fate of those accused. That is not the God I want you to know.

There are many ways that God the Father has revealed himself to his people. In the Old Testament, God revealed himself to Abram (before he was called Abraham) as God Almighty or El Shaddai in Hebrew. Hebrew scholars interpret El Shaddai as “God, the All-Sufficient One.” God chose to reveal himself this way because he wanted Abram to personally rely upon him as his provider, giver, and source of life who supplies him with all he needs.
‘From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.’ James 3:10 (ESV)
Those words spoken over me by that guidance counselor took hold, and somewhere deep in my heart, I made an unholy vow that “I was going to work harder than anyone else, and I will never fail.” The fruit of believing the lie that “I was unapplied” yielded fruit such as striving, competition, constant affirmation seeking, and performance. The confusing thing is that the secular world (with its worldly views and not biblical views) rewards ultra-hard-working people.

Many high-performance people bottle the wounds of a lack of blessing and lack of impartation of identity and turn them into self-sufficiency. This self-sufficiency is the opposite of how God the Father revealed himself to Abram as El Shaddai, “God, the All-Sufficient One.” Without knowing it, when you become self-sufficient and get into striving, you can often exalt yourself over God, leaning on your works to get what you need. This is not how God wanted to be known first.

Getting To Know God As A Father

Chris Tomlin, a Christian artist, performed a song called “Good Good Father” written by Tony Brown and Pat Barrett, a worship song that touches upon what can happen if you get a revelation of God as a Father. The chorus of that song praises God the Father with lyrics like:

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

It proclaims a Spirit of Adoption, where the singer reveals the identity of God the Father as good. It further declares that we are loved by God the Father, and it is our identity. There are over 30 different names for God in Hebrew. Seven names are considered divine in Jewish tradition, including El, Elohim, Adonai, YHWH, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, Shaddai, and Tzevaot. God revealed himself to Moses as YHWH (pronounced Yahweh), which translates to “I am Who I am.” YHWH is linked to seven very intimate, relational descriptions that begin to describe God as a Father. They include:

  • Yahweh Jireh - Lord, Our Provider (Genesis 22:14)
  • Yahweh Rapha – Lord, Our Healer (Exodus 15:26)
  • Yahweh Nissi – Lord, Our Banner (Exodus 17:15)
  • Yahweh Shalom – Lord, Our Peace (Judges 6:24)
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu – Lord, Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16)
  • Yahweh Rohi – Lord, Our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
  • Yahweh M’kadesh – Lord, Our Holiness (Exodus 31:13)

Once you begin to get a revelation of God as a Father, you begin to understand better how much He loves you. Knowing His love, you’ll learn that you are accepted and that He approves of you. You’ll know He has kind intentions and does not cause evil in this world. With His love, you’ll be confident and secure, knowing you are His and that He has given you a destiny. You’ll have a great sense of purpose and satisfaction knowing that you have an identity and destiny in Him.

He Pursues You

There was a time I was far from God. Fully operating in the world and not in my faith, I was selfish, self-centered, self-sufficient, and determined to do things “my way.” For a season, I was running from God in pursuit of everything I thought would help fill a hole in my heart. So I thought that if I got that new job, made more money, traveled to more countries, and met more people, I would become fulfilled.
‘but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ‘Romans 5:8 (ESV)
In my selfish sin, I found myself on my couch at 2:30 in the morning, crying my eyes out to Joyce Meyer (a Christian author and speaker), wondering why I felt so empty inside. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ at that time and was doing everything wrong in my flesh. Yet, God the Father pursued me. He did so relentlessly.

Almost every day, some dad from my kid’s school would stop by and drop their kids off for a play date and then linger around long enough to offer time to chat. Some would invite me to church, while others would ask me to a men’s group or to have coffee with me. One of my best friends at a former employer even sent me a copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. God used many people to pull me towards Him. At the time, I was so prideful that I looked like Heisman Trophy and stiff-armed everyone who intimated that I needed Jesus. But, being honest with myself, I struggled with insecurity and shame, always needing validation because I felt like an orphan deep down inside.

Yet, God continued to pursue me. God had a calling on my life that He wanted me to fulfill. He knew that He would one day call me into ministry to share the good news of a loving father. God was ready to adopt me into sonship so that I may receive His inheritance. Praise God because if you knew me back then, you wouldn’t feel I deserved such grace.

Luke 15 11-32 is The Parable of the Prodigal Son. People often remember the story where the son squanders his inheritance on wrong things and returns to his father, who forgives him and throws a banquet, much to the dismay of his brother. But if you unpack this parable, you’ll see the heart of the father and what it means to live out of sonship.

This parable is really about God the Father and how He relates to us and how we relate to Him. It reveals an orphan mindset and speaks to how we should live as sons in His house. In biblical times, if a Jewish son had squandered his inheritance among the gentiles, the community would cut him off and reject him. Anyone caught speaking to the rejected person would be shamed.
‘And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.’ Luke 15:20 (ESV)
Yet, when the prodigal son returned, the Father risked public shame to embrace his son. That is the true heart of the Father. Furthermore, the Father loved his obedient son just as much. But, as the father’s son, who obediently stayed home and didn’t defile himself and lose his portion of his inheritance, lamented the seemingly unjust favoritism for his lost brother, he missed what was already given to him.
‘And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘Luke 15:31 (ESV)
The Prodigal Son story reveals the Father’s generosity to both sons. God celebrates the return and gives all He has to His sons. To one, he restores all privileges of full sonship to a wayward son. His sin is forgiven, and he has the full rights that a son has. To the other, he has shared his entire inheritance. It was always his at all times. It was never taken away. All the son had to do was receive it. What is the message to you? All that is His is yours. You don’t have to earn it. It is already yours.

Walking In Sonship

‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’ 
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)
God is a loving Father who wants to pour His blessing on our lives. He sees us as who He created us to be. Not as who we may see ourselves. Knowing the Father’s love is the first step in trusting in Him, knowing that He always has the best intentions for you.
I remember the first time I was invited to preach at a church in rural Pennsylvania. My sermon was entitled Kingdom Power: The Word of Mouth. It was about the power of the tongue and how words from others can bless or curse.  
‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.‘ 
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
During the sermon, the Holy Spirit moved in me to give everyone in the congregation a large popsicle stick and a sharpie marker. I asked everyone to write down a statement that was spoken over their life that has imparted an unholy identity. In other words, I asked them to write down an identity curse on that popsicle stick. We prayed to the Father and reminded ourselves that only one person has the authority to give us identity. And then, in Jesus’ name, we broke those popsicle sticks and laid them at the foot of the cross at the sanctuary. We invited the Holy Spirit to move and prayed to God to show us how our Father sees us. Finally, we gave everyone name badges to write how their Father sees them.

The Holy Spirit moved in that room. Chains and curses that were there sometimes for over 40 years were broken. I saw 70-year-old men weeping like children and women glowing with the Glory of God on their countenances. For me, only by personally understanding the loving nature of God the Father and through the presence of the Holy Spirit was I able to help minister such a beautiful moment.

At that time, I physically felt the hand of God on my shoulder. He wanted me to identify as Son and walk in it. I truly felt loved, that I was His son and that I please Him. As I write this now, my heart fills to overflowing, and my eyes weep that He would use a broken, lost prodigal to minister to others about the heart of the Father. I am so thankful. My life was never the same after that. In my deepest private places, I just want to be used by Him for His purposes. I only want to serve Him for the rest of my days.

If you don’t know the heart of the Father, it is ok. Just pray out to Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you as He did for Abram, Moses, Isaiah, Jacob, David, Jesus, and many others. As you receive this revelation, ask Him “Who am I?” and allow His loving words to impart identity and destiny in your life. Remember that His inheritance is already given to you. You don’t have to do anything to earn it, even if you feel that you squandered it away. Even if you think your sin disqualified you from it, it is already yours, given freely to you, just as a loving Father would do.
Koji Bell is a Co-Director of Covenant Keepers, Inc. together with his wife Deana. Koji started his married life like many others. He focused on climbing the corporate ladder, tried to achieve financial success, served on leadership teams at church and worked to be the best husband and father he could be. After being hit by a drunk driver, life spun out of control and his marriage went in crisis. Then he chose to surrender his life to Jesus and everything changed. Today, Koji walks in victory humbled by his call to ministry and this new season of abundant blessing and service. Koji is a licensed Pastor and is a graduate of Dove | Hopewell School of Ministry.






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