Welcome to FaithTrack where you will find ways to apply your faith to your daily life.
Over the last 12 weeks we have been exploring the idea of Discipleship. We're starting a new module based on Devotion, the commitment to deepen our relationship with God. Pastor Sam examines the idea of seeing God as Father and the way Jesus demonstrates how we are to approach Him through prayer, our daily readings of the Bible, and ultimately how we live out our lives.
Hi, and welcome to Faith Track. We have been exploring what it means to be a disciple and how the term disciple is just another word for a dedicated student. As we seek to follow Jesus with intention and dedication, we become His disciples. In our time together, we will look at a good number of passages from the Bible. I encourage you to take what we discussed into conversations with others . To help with this we’ve created a notes page that has the key scriptures, as well as discussion questions that will show up on the screen, as well as in the chat, and then you can follow those links.
Over the last 12 weeks, we have explored the discipleship initiative module of discipleship. Amongst that 12 week overview in episode two devotion, how to know God, we defined devotion as a commitment to continually deepen our relationship with God and orient our lives around that priority. Our priority of knowing God and being in a relationship with Him. Just like any relationship, our relationship with God can deepen and grow as we spend more time with Him and come to know Him more. As we know Him more, we will become more aware of and experience His love and the profound and simple experiences of our day-to-day lives.
Knowing God leads us to relate with Him and relating with Him causes us to experience His love, which leads to deepening devotion to Him. As we dig into this discipleship initiative module on devotion over the next 11 sessions, we will explore how we can know God better through some of the ways He has described Himself in His word. In the Bible this week, we will be exploring God, the Father. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to wake up each morning as part of Jesus’s entourage, or more specifically, one of his 12 disciples, and not known from day to day what sort of parables teachings, miracles, encounters, and experiences you might have over the next 14 to 18 hours?
It must’ve been unnerving, exciting, discombobulating, and compelling all at the same time. One thing is certain, assumptions you had made about God would be challenged as you lived life alongside this Messiah. The one you would come to understand was God in the flesh, not only in how He spoke, but how He lived His daily life. One of the most striking things among many mind-boggling phenomena was the way that Jesus related directly to God. On one occasion, as a disciple asked Jesus about how to approach God, it’s recorded in Luke chapter 11, “after Jesus had spent some time alone in prayer, He rejoined the disciples. One of them approached Him and asked if He would teach them how to pray.”
In Luke 11:2-4 we read, “He said to them, when you pray, say, Father, hallowed would be Your name. Holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day, our daily bread and forgive us, our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” At another time. Jesus said it slightly differently as Matthew recorded. In Matthew 6:9-13, “pray then like this, our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, You will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our debts. As we also have forgiven our debtors and lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The subtle difference between the two occasions is that in the first Jesus literally describes how He prays and how we can too. But, in the second, there’s the reminder that as we shall see, we are all now adopted sons and daughters of God, who is our father. Jesus began His instructive prayer in a way that to His disciples was new and even shocking. He did not say God or any number of other names that would have emphasized God’s otherness. Instead, He began our Father. Then, it is through Jesus’s petitions that we begin to learn what this fatherhood of God is all about. So, let’s know we can grow in our devotion to God when we see Him as our Father.
How are we to understand God’s fathering of us? We may assume it is a different sort of fathering than we likely have experienced from our fallible earthly fathers. Two main sources of clues, help us answer this question of what God being our Father means. One comes from the content of what Jesus teaches us to pray in the Lord’s prayer, which we just looked at. The second is in the over teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul on what it means to be adopted by God as sons and daughters and being made His heirs. One key piece of this is the name Abba Father. Jesus used this name at a critical moment in the garden of Gethsemane. Then, Paul later applied it in his letter to Roman Glacia on the subject of seeing ourselves rightly and building intimacy with God as Father.
Let’s first, look at the Word. Spoiler alert, I will ask you to take this time in your discussions to explore the petitions in the Lord’s prayer. This will help us to understand how Jesus taught us about the fatherhood of God and how we can approach Him. First going back to Abba. Abba is not a Greek word, but Aramaic. This was Jesus and Paul’s mother tongue. Abba is a term of familial intimacy, trust and transparency. Jesus at His most vulnerable moments in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was crying out to God for another plan that would not involve suffering and death cried out, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet, not what I will, but you will.” It was a prayer of surrender, prayer of intimate crying out to one who He loved and He knew what He was loved by.
Paul in two places seized upon this same Aramaic term of endearment while instructing the church at Rome and Glacia. In one of the more famous passages in the love and grace, sorry on the love and grace of God, Paul wrote to the church in Romans 8:15-17, “for you to not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. But you have received the spirit of adoption as sons and daughters, by whom we cry Abba Father, the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children then heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ provided that we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” The Galatians passage has a slightly different angle of approach that gives you an even fuller view.
In Galatians 4:1-7, I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child is no different from a slave. Though he is the owner of everything. So he experiences it still not really understanding how things work, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way, when we were children we were enslaved to elementary principles of the world. We didn’t understand how things worked, but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, crying Abba Father. You are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir through God. So that’s sons and daughters throughout that they’re Aramaic terms. Abba is hard to translate into English. It’s a term of endearment and an affection that a child has for a father. One that translates all the way into adulthood. In English, the term, daddy doesn’t really work as well as perhaps Papa, which either a young child or adult could use. Still, there’s really no English equivalent yet as Paul suggests to the Galatians, “God’s Holy Spirit who resides in every believer will enable our hearts now to cry out Abba father to our God,” even as Jesus and Paul did.
The main things to recognize about this term is its relational aspect and its intimacy. When we are afraid, need protection, PR, or provision, we may go to Abba father with our requests and we can understand that He always has time for us, is always concerned, and will always respond. So let’s know that we can grow in our devotion to God when we relate to Him as Abba, who intimately loves us.
I remember when my mom introduced me to the man who had become my stepdad when I was five years old. He was introduced to me as her friend, John. As my mom dated him and fell in love, it became obvious that he was a close friend. He was still John to me. Then, when they got married, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to call him. I knew I had a dad who passed away when I was a baby. John wasn’t my dad. I just kept calling him John. If someone asked me who John was, I said he was my stepdad. As John and I grew closer over the years, I experienced his love for me. He took me fishing, he taught me to play basketball, and how to water ski. He helped provide well for our family.
There came a point when, where he was no longer just John to me, he became someone I was ready to call dad. That was almost 10 years after he had loved and cared for me. Well, sometimes it takes a while for us to realize that God’s love has always been there and we have the choice as to how we want to show Him our love back. By calling him father, daddy, Abba, or Papa. Whichever of these words seems right to us. The relationship is there and available. We can draw near. He is there for you. Is He there for me? As we saw in Galatians four and in Romans eight, we are God’s children through the spirit of adoption. And if you know any families who have adopted children, the spirit of adoption nearly always is a spirit of intense longing to show love and affection to someone in need.
God is the father who is seeking to add more children to His family because of the immensity of His love and ability to provide. He has adopted us in first, John 3:2 we read, “beloved, we are God’s children now. And what we have, what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when He appears, Jesus, we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is.” We get to be part of His inner circle because God has adopted us into his family. It may seem incomprehensible or overwhelming, but as adopted sons and daughters of God, we are also made co-heirs with Christ in his kingdom. The scriptures only hint at the glory. We will share with Jesus as co-chairs for it is beyond our comprehension or the ability to communicate.
Let’s know that we can grow in our devotion to God. When we understand that the spirit of adoption means God deeply desires to make us his children. John 1:18, the amplified version, we read, “no one has seen God, His essence, His divine nature at any time, the one and only God and God, that is the unique son who is.” In the intimate presence of the father, he has explained Him, interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the father. I love that. Just all those little nuances, the ESV translation notes. “He, Jesus has made Him God is known” In John 14:9, Jesus responded to Phillip’s request to see the father by saying, “have I been with you so long? And you still don’t know me? Philip, whoever has seen me has seen the father. How can you say, show us the father?” So if you want to understand the heart of God, then we look to his son who reveals that heart. In our next session, we will look at how we can know God more by looking at the sun. But as we close tonight, let’s remember we can grow in our devotion to God.
When we see Him as our father relate to him as Abba, who intimately loves us and understands that the spirit of adoption means God deeply desires to make us His children. With each of these sessions in the devotion module, I will challenge each of us to try an emotional approach for a week. Most of these will take about five minutes of our day but can be a simple method to connect with God intentionally this week.
I’d like to challenge us to start a journal. I know many of us have tried journaling before. We’ve been assigned it in different ways and maybe we started and did well. Then we ultimately kind of trailed off and felt like we failed, or we did it for a bunch of years. Then we kind of just lost the desire to do it. Maybe we’ve never done it. Regardless, I want to challenge us to set aside five minutes. Spend that little time each day, reaching out to God as our father who loves you and loves me intimately and has longed to have us as his children. This is a big part of who God is and how we can know Him.
The devotional challenge number one, start a journal. It could be a notebook. It can be a Google doc. Start by, you know, putting the date in there and then write; ‘Abba Father, because I am your child. I want to tell you,’ and then just answer that. Just fill in whatever comes to mind. This week you can write a sentence or two, and that can be it. Or you can tell God all about your day and what’s on your mind. Try to connect to this, to the love that flows from God, like the heart of an adoptive parent who has long desired for a child, for you. For me, may this help us to connect with God as God, the father, this week in a moment I’ll pray? And then we’ll hop over to our zoom conversation.
If you’re watching this after its original airing, or if you’re unable to join us for the conversation part of tonight, this is meant to be gone through with community. Faith trackers disciples, always walk things out, at least in pairs. So join us for the conversation if you can, or find another person or group of people to embark on this journey together.
Our primary goal is that these teachings would be a tool that can help us dig into these key areas of growth as disciples of Jesus, but also be a place in which we can ask questions and grow as we move together as a community. So let’s pray. Lord, I thank you that you don’t leave us as orphans, as people, without a connection to you, but you come to us and invite us as Jesus modeled to call you our father. Then beyond that, it’s not just a father, like the dads we may have known in our lives that may have had failings in the broken nest, just like anybody has. But you are our perfect father. You are the one who loves us intimately, who knows us better than we will ever know ourselves, and longs to bring us to yourself.
You invite us to call you Abba father, like daddy or Papa. The term of endearment has shown that level of intimacy that we can have for you. That just mirrors the love that you have for us. And then that is the idea of the spirit of adoption, of a person who is longing to be a parent of a child who is longing to love us as your child, as your children. Lord helps us to respond to your love, help us to take hold of this way that you have described yourself as our father. To lovingly bring to you our concerns, the things that we’re excited about, the things we’re scared about, the things we’re anxious about, the things that we’re hoping for, and the things that we’re frustrated about.
Lord, I know that you want to know these things for each of our lives. I know you’re aware, but bringing these things to you allows us to step into the truth of who you are and how you love us. Guide us in this process, help us to have the discipline, to build in this a devotional practice of journaling. Guide us each week as we try something new. Help us to take hold of the things that will ultimately help us to connect to you going forward in our lives with you. I ask that you’d be in our conversations as well. Just pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
So hopefully you can join us for the zoom conversation. If not, let’s keep talking about these things. Let’s keep growing in these things and let’s stay close to the Lord and our heavenly father be blessed. Have a great week. We’ll see you next week.