Primary Goal is to establish confidence in God's love for each member of the group and how His love changes our hearts toward ourselves and others.
If we are brutally honest, most of us could do better at loving others (especially God). Our love is often tainted with selfishness and a protective veneer. We can't make much progress in loving others well until we learn to dwell in the security of God's unconditional love. Pray that your group will honestly assess how they are doing at experiencing God's love and what the next step is to going deeper.
Sometimes people bristle at the command to love our enemies (especially when we have been violated or betrayed). If it comes up, remind your group that the call to love does not mean we have to pursue friendship or extend trust to those who have hurt and betrayed us. Only God can give us a genuine love for our enemies. Ask God to take away any anger and bitterness toward them and replace it with His love. A love that desires the best and prays for their salvation.
ice breaker question:
If you could go anywhere in the world (or universe), where would you go and who do you want with you?
In this chapter we read, "The great heart of God longs for relationship with us." It's incredible isn't it? God wants to be one of those you would want to take with you wherever you go!
Let's Talk About It: My Love Flows Through You
"This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:12,13)
1. On a scale of 1--10, how would you say you are doing at loving God?
2. In Matthew 22:37,38, Jesus said, "'You must love the Lord you God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." How can you live this out in your daily life? Why do you think God wants us to love Him so completely?
3. In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines five primary ways we can give and receive love. How do you think we can apply the love languages shown below as we seek to love God in ways that bring Him joy? LEADER: We left out the fifth love language "Physical Touch" because it can take a discussion down the road of abuse. The reality is, when we hug someone or give them a reassuring squeeze it can be a way of extending God's love. When we extend His love we are also expressing our love for Him. Sadly, in this day of rampant sexual abuse, we decided it's best not to go there. If you think your group is okay with it, feel free to add "Physical Touch" to the list.
--Acts of Service
--Words of encouragement (praise)
4. God says He wants you to:
--Love Him with your whole heart (Matthew 22:37)
--Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39)
--Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44)
Which of the above is the most challenging for you? Why?
5. What is your response to the concept of "loving by faith"? Is there someone in your life you need to begin to love by faith? What is your first step?
LEADER: Bill Bright wrote a booklet entitled, Loving by Faith. If someone in your group is really struggling with this concept encourage him/her to read the booklet and then get together to discuss it.
6. Jesus' love changes lives. Who was the first person who ever told you about Jesus' love for you?
Have you ever told anyone how much Jesus loves them? Is there someone in your life who needs to hear about the love of Jesus expressed on the cross? Pray and ask God daily to give you an opportunity to talk with them about His love for them, and then start looking for the opportunity God will provide.
(See Appendix A. "Would You Like to Know God Personally?" to help you communicate God's love. Or go to BrightMedia.org for helpful tools and suggestions.)
Focus on God
Continue to review the statement and verse you wrote down last week, at least three times each day, to remind yourself that God loves you unconditionally.
God, because You are love, I know You are
unconditionally committed to my well being.
"We know how much God loves us, and we have
put out trust in His love. God is love..." (1 John 4:16)
This week, live in the confidence:
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow---not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38,39)
...and then extend His love to others.