Chapter OneSession 1
THE BIG PICTURE
I received a phone call late one night from a man who asked
me to meet him at a local restaurant. As I drove over, I knew
something was very wrong. When I sat down with him, he
began to tell me of his plans to leave his wife and children for
a woman he claimed to have fallen in love with. I spent the
next two hours pleading with him not to abandon his wife
and children. I tried every approach in the book. I talked to him
about how this decision would impact his kids' birthdays,
graduations, Christmas mornings, and all the other special days
in the years to come. I tried to help him focus on the devastation
this would bring to the heart of his wife. I talked about
practical things such as child support and alimony.
I even feebly attempted to inform him about what God's Word
says about matters like these. I wasn't overly optimistic that
approach would have any impact on him, however. You see,
this was a man who had gone to church for most of his life.
He had heard a thousand sermons. He knew his Bible verses
frontward and backward. But he had insulated himself from
the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. I left that late night
meeting discouraged, not very hopeful this man would change
A short time later the man requested another meeting. I feared
the worst, but when he walked through the door, he actually
looked different. He announced that he was reconsidering his
relationship with the other woman. He wanted to do the right
thing, to go God's way. I asked him what had changed his mind.
He said, "This is going to sound a little corny. After we met last
time, I got in my car and turned on my radio. I heard a chorus
of voices singing, 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that
saved a wretch like me.' I had heard that song a thousand
times, but for the first time, I felt God's amazing grace deep in
He explained how he identified himself as the "wretch" in the
song. He said, "Here I was shattering my wife's heart, breaking
my family apart, defying God's Word, and shunning the
counsel of my pastor and other close Christian friends. For the
first time, my heart was gripped by the fact that even though
I am a wretch, God still loves me." At that decisive moment,
this man committed to do whatever he could to rebuild his
marriage. Thankfully, he had a godly wife who forgave him
and their story has a happy ending.
What was the source of this powerful transformation? A deep
understanding of the reality of God's passionate love.
I have a theory. I believe people who live the abundant Christian
life, who live on a deeper spiritual plane, who are radically
devoted to Christ, who are strong during times of crisis, who
have a vibrant faith, who dare to live out on a limb, all have
one thing in common: At some point in their lives, they have
felt God's love firsthand. And the touch of His loving hand has
changed them permanently.
A WIDE ANGLE VIEW
1 Tell about a time you experienced God's love in a deep
and personal way.
A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT
Read Isaiah 43:4; John 15:9; Ephesians 3:14-19
2 After reading these passages, finish this statement:
When God thinks about me, He feels .
3 What does it mean to be "rooted and established in
love" in one of these areas:
Knowing God's love for you
Expressing your love to God
Living out God's love in your relationships
SHARPENING THE FOCUS
Read Snapshot "God Says He Loves You!"
GOD SAYS HE LOVES YOU!
You can know God loves you because He has said it! Isaiah 43:4 says, "You are precious and honored in my sight and .
I love you." God has used many images in the Bible to communicate the depth of His love. He says:
I love you more than a hen loves her chicks (Matt. 23:37).
I love you more than a good shepherd loves his sheep (John 10:11-14).
I love you more than the most compassionate father loves his child (Ps. 103:13).
I love you more than a nursing mother loves her baby (Isa. 49:15).
4 Each of the images in this snapshot communicate
different dynamics of the nature of God's love for you.
What do you learn about God's love from each of the
A good shepherd
A compassionate father
A nursing mother
5 God could have just said, "I love you!" Instead, He used
many different illustrations to drive the point home.
Why did God use such creativity in expressing His love
Read Snapshot "God Has Proved His Love for You"
GOD HAS PROVED HIS LOVE FOR YOU
Gary Gilmore shot a motel clerk in Provo, Utah. He was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to be shot
before a firing squad. When this news became public, the country went into an uproar over the issue
of capital punishment. There was a great outpouring of concern about whether or not Gary Gilmore
should be executed. The Supreme Court was petitioned to stay his execution, the American Civil
Liberties Union filed a class action suit, and religious groups held all-night prayer vigils. Yet out of
the millions of people in the United States, to my knowledge not one person ever offered to take his place.
Nobody said, "Let me take the bullets."
There is some truth to the statements "Talk is cheap" and "Actions speak louder than words!" Real love begs
for expression. There is no more dramatic way of proving your love for someone than to give your life for them.
And that is exactly what Jesus did. He gave His life for us, proving the love of God once and for all. "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"
6 Describe the kind of love it would take for you to give
your life for another person.
How would you feel if you offered an incredible act of sacrifice
for someone and they still questioned your love?
7 How can you express your thankfulness for how God
has proved His love for you?
Read Snapshot "God Continues to Show His Love"
GOD CONTINUES TO SHOW HIS LOVE
If God gave the most precious possession He had to express His great love for you, do you think He
will be stingy with His other provisions? Will He withhold the resources you need to live? Will He
deprive you of emotional support? Will He keep you from sensing you are a member of His family?
Does God get some kind of twisted pleasure in holding His love and provision just out of reach like a
carrot on a stick? Of course not!
God says He wants to fill your life until it overflows. Believers who walk in faith, obey God's Word, and
surrender to God's leading will tell you they feel God's love flowing into their lives. This does not mean the
Christian life is problem-free, nor does it mean we will live without pain and challenges. But it does mean that God's
grace and love will continue to pour into our lives on a daily basis. He gives direction from His Word, guidance by His
Holy Spirit, Christian brothers and sisters to share our joys and sorrows, and opportunities for a meaningful life. On
top of all this, He has promised us a home in heaven forever.
8 How is God's ongoing provision a constant reminder
of His love?
What are some of the ways God provides for the needs of
9 How have you experienced the provision of God's
resources in your life over the past year?
PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE
Saying It and Showing It
Take time in the coming week to express your love to God.
First, express your love to Him in words. Be creative. Write a
prayer of love, sing a song, write a poem, or find some other
form of expression to say, "I Love You, God!" Second, affirm
your love for God through some tangible action. Show God
you love Him by doing something you know will warm His
heart. Break a bad habit, start a good habit, offer time to care
for someone in need. God gave up something very precious
for you. What can you do to affirm your love for Him?
Think About This
Take time in the coming days to memorize these two passages
and think deeply about how God loves you more than a father
or mother ever could:
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has
compassion on those who fear him.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no
compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may
forget, I will not forget you!