Posts Tagged ‘love’

Away With the Rulebook

April 8, 2009 2 comments

“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29 (NKJV)

“Who’s my neighbor?” That was the question posed to Jesus by a man who wanted to know what it takes to get to heaven. Initially, Jesus revealed that it all came down to a love-based relationship-with God first, then man. But this wasn’t enough for this man. He wanted to know who exactly his neighbor was, as if salvation was a matter of following some sort of rulebook.

Jesus wanted to get the point across that salvation is about mercy and grace, not abiding by a checklist of rigid definitions. To do so, He shared the parable that we all know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. A certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. A Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. and took care of him. (Luke 10:30-34 NKJV)

After painting this contrasting portrait of indifference versus compassion, Jesus springs a question on His listener:

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)

Being neighborly isn’t a matter of drawing a line of exclusion. It’s about inclusive mercy. Jesus’ point is simply this: In God’s Kingdom we’re called to put away the rulebook and allow the mercy God has shown us to flow through us to as many people as possible.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss the difference between Jesus’ outlook on life and the outlook held by the man who asks Him the question. Which outlook best reflects the view maintained by each person in your group?

Dig into Luke 10:30-37 and identify the main point Jesus is making. How does this relate to the original question posed to Him, and how does it serve as a teaching tool?

Decide as a group to be neighborly to the people God has placed in your lives. Take some practical steps to help remind you of Jesus’ outlook and perspective.


Love Never Dies

October 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Love never dies. -1 Corinthians 13:8 (Message)

Not many of our earthly activities will translate into eternity. In fact, most of what you’ll do today won’t be on your agenda when you’re in heaven.

There won’t be any need to swing by the dry cleaners, no soccer practices, no car lines at the kid’s school, no last-minute dashes to the supermarket, no trips to the vet, and no rush-hour commutes. But there is something that will translate into our heavenly existence, and that’s love.

Love will never die. It’s as eternal as God is, and it will be ever-present in His everlasting kingdom. One day, the material universe as we know it will pass away, yet love will endure. Time will suddenly cease, yet love will continue on. If you’ve been born again, if you’re looking to Jesus as your sole source of salvation, if you’re a new creation in Christ-love will be with you forever.
What’s the point? Since love is going to be a big part of our eternal occupation, it only makes sense that we commit to it now. The more fluent we are in God’s agape love here on earth, the more prepared we’ll be for what will come so naturally to us there. Besides, earth is never more heavenly than when the love of God is on full volume in our hearts.

Don’t let love be something that you’ll eventually get around to. Don’t put it off for later. Let love, the self-less and unconditional love of God, invade and dominate your heart right now. Invest in a loving lifestyle and you can be sure to reap a return in heaven.

Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)

Small Group Time: Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss as a group the meaning of this statement: Earth is never more heavenly than when the love of God is on full volume in our hearts. Share a time when you’ve seen this happen.

Dig into Galatians 5:13-14. What’s the specific instruction God is giving you here? What is it that keeps you from obeying this verse? What would be the results of you obeying this command?

Decide as a group to reflect back on this month’s lessons. Spend some time sharing which particular devotions moved you to a deeper love for God and a deeper love for others. Share how you are different now as a result of God loving you and you loving others.

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Love Covers

September 24, 2008 2 comments

Love . . . bears all things . . . -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

President William McKinley was lovingly devoted to his wife, Ida. She was an unhealthy woman and would frequently suffer from seizures that would distort her facial features. Instead of keeping her locked away behind the White House doors, McKinley proudly brought her to the most glamorous social functions and dinners.

Inevitably, a fit would seize her, and it was then that McKinley’s love for his wife would shine. He would drop whatever he was doing, take his napkin, and quietly curtain her face until the seizure would subside. It was William’s love for Ida that led him to cover her flaws.

That’s the way love works. Notice how the Bible tells us that love “bears all things.” The original word here for “bears” can actually be translated “to cover something in silence.” Love’s natural desire is to do what it can to cover the faults of others, not draw attention to them. Even when a flaw needs to be exposed, love does so in a way that’s discreet and appropriate.
Love covers. Isn’t that essentially what the cross represents? Wasn’t it God’s love that led Him to cover our sinful shortcomings by allowing His Son to die on our behalf? And aren’t we thankful that this is how God has dealt with us?

So how do we react in the presence of other’s flaws and faults? Are we quick to shine the spotlight on their shortcomings? Do we gawk and gossip? Or is there something inside us that wants to spare people the pain of having these things unnecessarily exposed? That “something” is love, and it’s more concerned with covering shame than advertising it.

He who covers over an offense promotes love . . . (Proverbs 17:9 NIV)

Small Group Time: Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss with your group the power of love. Share a time when you have seen someone’s loving action cover up the shortcomings of someone else. What impact did this make on you? Can you think of a Biblical example of this?

Dig into 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Proverbs 17:9. Check these passages out in different translations. What’s the point of this proverb? How has this truth been seen in your own life? How has God covered your offenses?

Decide as a group to cover over offenses with love. Schedule a visit to your local jail or prison. Challenge your group to share the love of God with those there who desperately need hope. This simple act can make a life-changing difference!

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