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Lessons on Love: Building Deeper Relationships

(ePUB - 2009)
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Overview

What kind of love makes a difference?A bold yet compassionate love is a trademark of Jesus Christ. Love without limits. A world-changing love. Can such love be reproduced in the lives of sinful men and women like us? Is it possible to follow Jesus' model of giving and receiving love? In Lessons on Love, you'll find out how. You'll learn about the various kinds of love, beginning with forms of love you'll recognize---and ending with a supernatural love so awesome it can utterly transform lives. Christ's love. The world around you will take note when you unleash the power of Christ's love---and it will never be the same.Interactions---a powerful and challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group members, and you and God. Interactions is far more than another group Bible study. It's a cutting-edge series designed to help small group participants develop into fully devoted followers of Christ.

Details

  • SKU: 9780310862789
  • SKU10: 0310862787
  • Title: Lessons on Love: Building Deeper Relationships
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Release Date: Dec 15, 2009
  • Pages: 112
  • Category: BIBLICAL STUDIES
  • Subject: Biblical Studies - Bible Study Guides
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Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Session 1

Loving Lessons

THE BIG PICTURE

When a building is being constructed, the groundwork is critically important. If the foundation is faulty, the whole building will be unstable. If the foundation is solid, the building will be stable and stand firm under stress.

The same is true when building loving relationships. We need to have a solid foundation on which to build. If we don't, the whole structure of the relationship is in danger. If we have a solid base of love, we can experience deep and meaningful relationships.

Although all of us desire to be genuinely loving, we all have different natural capacities for receiving and expressing love. If I were to teach a ski class, there would inevitably be a variety of skill levels displayed. Some people would barely be able to stand up. They would be falling over in the lift line, impaling themselves on their ski poles, or accidentally stabbing those around them. Others could negotiate the bunny slope with a certain amount of confidence. And then there would be those who could ski down the hills with ease and style. It doesn't bother us to think about how some people are better at a certain sport or activity. However, when it comes to loving, we assume everyone has acquired the same abilities and skills. The hard truth is that some people have a great natural ability to love, while others have to work at expressing love.

There are a variety of loving capacities among the members of your small group. This may be partly the result of how much love each received in their family as they were growing up. It is also determined by basic temperament and personality. Some of us have soft and gentle temperaments, while others do not.

Our capacity to love is also based on how we have responded to the things life has thrown at us. Life is a mixed bag. Some people encounter obstacles and difficulties and become increasingly bitter and hard-hearted over the years. Others tend to become more open and kind and gentle over time. In almost every group there will be those who are more naturally caring and kind and others who can be short-fused, calloused, and even a little tough-hearted. The majority of us are somewhere in the middle.

A WIDE ANGLE VIEW

1 Put an "X" on each line below to indicate where you would place the following people in relationship to their ability to feel and express love.

Your father

Tenderhearted Tough-Hearted

Expressive of love Not expressive of love

Your mother

Tenderhearted Tough-Hearted

Expressive of love Not expressive of love

You

Tenderhearted Tough-Hearted

Expressive of love Not expressive of love

Why did you choose to put the "X" where you did on each line?

A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT

Read Hebrews 10:22-25

2 In this passage we are called to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds." If you view your small group members as the "one another" in this passage, what can you do to "spur one another on" to be more loving?

SHARPENING THE FOCUS

Read Snapshot "You Matter to God!"

YOU MATTER TO GOD!

God wants to see each of us transformed into a more loving person. The first thing He does in this transformation process is convince you, to the core of your being, that you matter to Him. You are the focus of His affection. You are precious in His sight. You are loved beyond words.

When seekers turn to the Bible they find countless portions of Scripture where God takes a huge risk. He knows, with His omniscience, that certain people are going to reject His love, but He says it anyway. I like the way it is put in Isaiah 43, verses 1 and 4. God says through Isaiah, "I have summoned you by name . You are precious and honored in my sight." And then there are the words "I love you." In a loveless world, God reaches out and says we matter more to Him than we could ever dream.

3 What would you say to a person in your small group to express to them how much they matter to God?

How do we show kids that they matter to God?

Read Snapshot "Love in Action"

LOVE IN ACTION

When it comes to love, God takes it far beyond just words. We all know that talk is cheap. God didn't demonstrate His love in some glittery, Hollywood style with soft colors and moving music in the background. God rolled up His sleeves, put on human flesh, and came to live among us. He became part of a family. He developed a trade as a carpenter. He became active in relationships. He came out of the heavenly grandstand and got knocked around on the playing field of life. This means that when we pray to Him, we can be assured that He knows all about family joys and struggles. He knows all about work. He knows all about relationships. We have rock-solid assurance that He understands. He truly has walked in our shoes.

Another reason God put on human flesh was to show people a purer kind of love than they had ever witnessed before. Love for the unlovely, the needy, the forgotten people, and love for sinners like you and me. Of course, in the supreme demonstration of love, He sacrificed Himself voluntarily and paid the penalty for our sins so that we could come into a relationship with the Father. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). If you miss this, you miss everything. When you become personally involved with this kind of love, when the scales fall off your eyes for the first time and this kind of love grips you and moves you and comes crashing into your soul, you will never be the same.

4 If you were talking with a seeker who had never stepped foot into a church, how would you explain what God has done to show His love for them?

5 When did you first really experience the depth of God's sacrificial love for you, and what helped you to understand it?

Read Snapshot "The Presence of the Holy Spirit"

THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Not only does God tell us that we matter to Him, but He also proves His love by His actions. One of the things God has done to show us His love is to send the Holy Spirit to live inside of us. The Holy Spirit assumes the full-time task of warming up your heart and making you a more relational, tender, loving person. When God puts His Holy Spirit in your life, it's like turning a spotlight on a cold, hard heart. The Holy Spirit starts melting you, tenderizing you, making you soft toward God and people. And the good news is that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in you for the rest of your life!

6 How have you experienced the transforming presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the following areas of your life:

How you love family members

How you love and care for other followers of Christ

How you feel toward those who do not yet know

7 What are some of the things you do that limit the impact of the Holy Spirit's power in your life?

What can you do to give the Holy Spirit greater control and room to work in your life?

Read Snapshot "A New Community"

A NEW COMMUNITY

Like it or not, we are deeply impacted by those with whom we spend time. If we are around people who are filled with hate and anger, that hate and anger will eventually begin to infect us. If we are in a community filled with people who know how to love each other, this will also have a transforming effect on our lives. When we become followers of Christ, God places us in a loving community where we are surrounded by people who are diligently seeking to become better at loving.

8 If there is a person who is having a negative influence on your life and faith, what can you do to limit their ability to impact your life?

What needs to change in your schedule so that you can spend more time in community with other followers of Christ?

9 Picture someone in your life who would benefit from an expression of love from you. What will you do to express your love, and how can the group keep you accountable to this commitment?

PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

You Matter to God

Take time in the coming week to identify two people who need encouragement. Commit yourself to either call them on the phone, write them a letter, or meet with them. Let your primary concern be to communicate to them how much they matter to God. Remind them of what God has done to show His love for them and what Jesus has done to extend forgiveness to them. Also, communicate your love and care for them. Let them know they matter to God and they matter to you.

Growing in Community

Think of one follower of Christ you know personally who has stopped participating in regular times of worship and Christian community. Contact that person in the coming week and invite them to join you for some kind of gathering of believers.

What changes can you make to create more opportunities for Christian community? Is there an opportunity for deeper fellowship you are not taking advantage of? Spending time with other followers of Christ is essential for our own spiritual growth. What can you do in the coming month to deepen your commitment to developing Christian community?

(Continues.)

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