THE BIG PICTURE
Several years ago I attended a worship gathering where individuals
were being encouraged, as the Spirit of God led them,
to stand and describe the activity of God in their lives. A
young woman stood and said, "I grew up in a home where I
really can say, sadly, that I never knew or found out what it
was like to be the daughter of a loving father." She said, "I
thought I was just destined to live that way, fatherless. But
then at a certain age I received Christ and I found out that I
have a loving, trustworthy, tender, understanding, always
faithful, heavenly Father."
The rest of us who were listening could tell by the sincerity
and the tone of her voice that she wasn't referring abstractly
to a cold theological doctrine called adoption. She was thinking
and feeling and acting in accordance with the identity God
had given her. She had learned from the Word of God that she
had a Father in heaven who loved her more than words could
describe. God had said to her by His Spirit, "You're my daughter.
You've got a Father now." And she not only believed it,
she felt it. She was moved by it. It changed her forever.
A WIDE ANGLE VIEW
1 What images and impressions come to mind when
you think of your earthly father?
What was one way you experienced the love of your heavenly
Father through your earthly father?
Complete this sentence: "One way I would have liked to
receive love from my dad was ."
A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT
Read John 1:12; Galatians 4:4-7; and 1 John 3:1
2 What do these passages teach you about your
relationship to the Father?
SHARPENING THE FOCUS
Read Snapshot "The Father's Adoption"
THE FATHER'S ADOPTION
To my knowledge, the understanding of God as a seeking, intimate, and loving Father is unique to the
Christian faith. I'm not aware of any major world religion that has any parallel understanding. It
seems in most world religions a person learns doctrines, obeys rules, jumps through the required
hoops, serves in a prescribed way, and then is promised a euphoric existence in some far away place.
It's all rather cold.
But in biblical Christianity, things are different. God doesn't just save us. He doesn't just justify us and
regenerate us by His Holy Spirit and then assign us a condominium somewhere in the cosmos when we die. He saves us,
cleanses us, justifies us through the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son. Then because of who He is, He
claims us and adopts us. He says, "I'm going to make you My son or daughter. You're going to be Mine forever." And then
He treats us like sons and daughters: respectfully, tenderly, faithfully, and lovingly. It's amazing, isn't it?
3 Since we have been adopted as sons and daughters of
God, how should we view our relationship with Him
and with other followers of Christ?
How do you respond to God saying, "You're Mine forever"?
4 Sometimes we feel like outcasts and unworthy of
God's love. What causes us to feel this way?
Read Snapshot "The Father's Affection"
THE FATHER'S AFFECTION
In John 5:20, Jesus very casually says, "The Father loves the Son." Jesus didn't have to embellish
these words. He lived in the awareness that His Father had a great, great affection for Him, so He felt
loved, protected, watched over, nurtured, and provided for. He was full of worship for His Father. He
felt free to pray to the Father because all good fathers have a listening ear to their sons and daughters.
Putting it simply, because Jesus felt the Father's love, He thought and behaved and felt like a son.
When He taught the Lord's Prayer, He said, "You know how I want all of you to start your prayers? 'Our
Father.'" And because we too are His sons and daughters, we should call Him "Father."
Is God your Father? Do you understand that you have been accepted by Him? Do you know you are His
beloved child? Psalm 103:13 says, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who
Do you realize how safe you are because you're His child? How secure?
5 How have you felt God's fatherly love?
6 Who is one person in your life who needs to experience
the Father's love right now?
What can you do in the coming days to share the Father's love
with that person?
Read Snapshot "The Father's Authority"
THE FATHER'S AUTHORITY
Not only did Jesus live in constant awareness of the Father's affection for Him, but He lived under the
Father's authority. Jesus wasn't worried about the Father's authority being destructive or manipulative
or negative. You see, when you are absolutely convinced of the Father's affection for you, you have no
fear whatsoever of the Father's authority. Because you know He has your best interests in mind, you
can be assured that His wisdom, His counsel, and His guidance can be trusted. You find yourself
wanting to cooperate and enthusiastically seek ways to bring your life under God's authority.
7 When you hear the word "authority," what images
come to mind?
What specific things can the members of your group do to help
you grow in submission to the Father's will in your life?
8 What is one specific area in which you struggle to keep
under the authority of your heavenly Father?
Describe a situation in which someone exercised loving, caring,
constructive authority in your life.
9 Since we are sons and daughters of God, then we have
also become brothers and sisters in Christ. What can
you do to express genuine family love to other followers
In your small group
In your home
In your church
Among Christians around your community, the
nation, and the world
PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE
Saying Thank You
Sometime in the coming week, pick up the phone and call
someone who has made a profound impact on your growth
as a follower of Christ. Maybe it was your mom or dad or a
grandparent or teacher or friend or partner or coworker. If
they helped you understand the love and care of your heavenly
Father, express your appreciation and love. Thank them for
giving you a life-giving understanding of God as your heavenly
Write a letter to your heavenly Father, telling Him three
things. First, thank Him for choosing to adopt you as His
child. Next, express your gratitude for the depth of His tender
affection for you. Finally, tell Him you will submit to His
authority in your life because you know He has your best
interests in mind.