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Are You Experiencing Your Abba?

It is one thing to know legally, that you are a son of God

because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.

It is quite another to experience the love of God

because of the Spirit entering your heart,

and to have the confidence to cry out ABBA

which Tim Keller says is literally DADA.

That’s how intimate He wants to be with us.

This week I want us to reflect on what it truly means to be adopted,

and to cry out to God to help us not just to believe in our heads,

but to experience it daily in our hearts.

Steve and I were privileged to adopt two daughters from overseas orphanages,

both of whom experienced the love of their earthly father vividly,

and through him, the love of their heavenly Father.

This is our beautiful daughter, Beth, today.

We adopted her at the age of twelve.

She had been abandoned as a newborn, left to die,

bleeding in a field, her little arm severed.

She grew up without love in an orphanage.

When she was in college in our town, her speech teacher called me after Beth’s 1st speech.

She told me she would never forget Beth’s short speech.

Beth set up a little tape recorded with a song from Point of Grace called Who Am I?

She began:

When I was a baby my parents cut off my arm and left me to die.

But I didn’t die. Someone found me and rushed me to the hospital.

Then Beth pushed play on the tape recorder and they heard the beginning of Who Am I?

(Listen to a minute and six seconds)


Then Beth stopped the tape and continued:

In the orphanage, people hurt me. I was sad and cried.

God helped a man in Nebraska hear my cry.

He came and rescued me and adopted me.

Then she pressed play, to play the next verse and chorus

and then sat down.

The teacher told me:

“It took less than 3 minutes but I and the class will never forget it.”



Sunday: Reflecting on Our Adoption

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?

Monday: Let Me Put This Question To You

Let me put this question to you.

How did you new life begin?

Was it by working your heads off to please God?

Or was it be responding to God’s message to you?

Are you going to continue this craziness?

For only crazy people would think they could complete

in their own efforts what was begun by God.

(Galatians 3:2-3 MSG)

My friend Sylvia said it took a while for the penny to drop for her, for she always thought the gospel was the way into Christianity, but then you tried very hard to obey God in her own strength. She didn’t understand how the same gospel that delivered her from the penalty of sin could also deliver her from the power of sin.

3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

In Galatians for You, Tim Keller explains how this works with forgiveness: He says if “we don’t forgive, something else has become our functional savior in place of Jesus. …We are looking to something else as a hope, to some other way to feel good and complete.”

4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?

5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?

6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?

7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Abraham Believed God

This truth may take a while to drop to your heart, so let us all pray for one another!

8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?


9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is?


Cry out, “Abba, Father — I believe — help my unbelief!” Let the Gospel melt your heart. One way you know the Spirit is at work in you is that you are fighting this sin and not just surrendering.

10. Read Galatians 3:6-14

A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9?

B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain.

C. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this: “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” What do you think this means? Be specific.

11. Read Galatians 3:15-25. (This is a challenging passage, but I want you to get just a few things from it)

A. What came first — the law or the promise? Why is this significant?

B. What is the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24 and how does it do this?

Last week in our SonShip study we were given a tongue assignment. For a whole week we were not to complain, gossip, boast, or defend ourselves, but only encourage and share Christ with others. Of course the point of the assignment was that we couldn’t do it. Indeed, we are caterpillars in a ring of fire, are only hope of rescue is from above.

Thursday-Friday: Sons and Heirs, According to the Promise

I’ve been reading a biography of Jonathan Edwards that is helpful, in that the author has taken some of the weighty writings of Edwards and made them easier to understand. One helpful perspective from Edwards that illuminates what it means to live in the power of the Gospel, is from his writings on The Nature of True Virtue (published in 1765) Edwards explains that when we truly believe the love God has for us, we become focused on honoring Him out of deep gratitude. I know, in my own life, a transformation has come because of my growing sense, especially since Steve died 15 years ago, of God’s love and care for me despite my sin. Indeed, I realize as Luther said, I am simultaneously loved and sinful. That is not like human love, and I am so very grateful for it. Edwards was vividly aware of the love of God as revealed through His grace and meditated daily on this. Prepare your heart with this song from Andrew Peterson:




12. Read slowly Galatians 3:26-4:7.

A. What is the main theme of this passage?

B. Challenge question: Do you know why it is a good thing that women who believe are declared “sons of God?” rather than “daughters of God?”

C. What did God do for those who believed in His Son, according to Galatians 4:6?


13. Read also Romans 8:9-17

     A. What do you learn about the Spirit in verses 9-11?

B. Jonathan Edwards said that those who live for the Lord out of gratitude, shine His beams back to Him and the world. They grow stronger and stronger. How can you see this in verses 14-17?

Brennan Manning wrote “Abba’s Child,” and sums up what he thinks is most important for us to know in the following video. It fascinates me that Brennan Manning has such an impact on Rich Mullins, who had such an impact on Andrew Peterson. All of these men understand how important it is to realize God’s love for the sinner and to  live in gratitude to the One who adopted them out of love.

14. What stands out to from the above video and why?


I have promised not to give too much homework, but for those of you who wish to go deeper and grab hold of this truth, purchase Keller’s Message “The Experience of Adoption.” One of the reasons Keller is so good is that he stands on the shoulders of many he has researched. In this sermon alone he quotes Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones, Jonathan Edwards, and many more. If you do listen, share your notes and comments. It’s a wonderful message.



Saturday: Take-A-Way

15. What is your take-a-way and why?






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  1. 14. What stands out to from the above video and why?
     WOW!  We think so little of God.  Our short comings, small mindedness, failures, unbelief and unfaithfulness cause us to think so little of a BIG God.  We cant even begin to believe or imagine how much He truly loves us.

  2. Saturday: Take-A-Way 
    15. What is your take-a-way and why?

    I have so much stirring in me from this study. It is really reinforcing the truth of the gospel deeper inside me “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free!”.

    I am seeing there is power to rise above my circumstances that cause me to run to a functional savior. God wants to set us free!  One moment at a time, God wants to be Lord of my mess!i believe it is possible to rise above our circumstance as God makes a way where there seems to be know way. I am ready to trust him at new places in my life where I was Lord. I have areas in my life where I have used sheer willpower to keep from sinning so that I could be right with God. I see that now as a false gospel. He wants to be Lord of all the small matters and empower me to live above the circumstances. I don’t have to be perfect but I fail when I don’t bring him in the midst of my mess. I am ready for new days ahead! Big God!