Day 1: What is love?

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Spending time with family.
Sleeping in late.
Reading a good book.
A pint of cookie dough ice cream.

We could all make lists of people and things we love. It’s a word most people frequently use, but do we really mean it when we say it? Certainly, a person doesn’t mean the same thing when she says, “I love my husband,” as when she says,“I love college football.”

So, what is love? What does it do? Why does it matter?

1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God doesn’t just show us love. God is love. Without Him, there is no love. With Him, it is impossible to not have it.

God’s love in us changes us. Love is the difference between caring for someone and using someone. Love makes our actions and spiritual gifts useful. Great faith, acts of service, and miracle-working power produce very little without love. Love involves unselfish service to others.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…[and] love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

As Christians, our love for others is a reflection of who God is. We are called to love God and love others. When we do this, our loving behaviors and attitudes point back to God and who He is.

Reflect:

  • What’s one way God’s love has changed you?
  • How is His love moving you to show love to others?
  • What is one way your love for others can point them back to Jesus?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 2: Where you get the ability to love

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

What if I get hurt?

What if they take advantage of me?

I’ve tried helping before, and it didn’t do any good.

For all of the reasons we avoid letting people into our lives or getting involved in theirs, John gives us one good reason we should. It’s what God did for each of us.

When we were uninterested in God, He pursued us. God sent His only Son into the world so our sin could be removed and our relationship could be restored (1 John 4:10-12).

When we realize the depth of God’s love, it changes us. We want to spend time with Him, to know Him. We find joy in bringing Him joy. And after a while, we become so familiar with His character that we know what He would say or have us do. Like a couple that’s been together for decades, we begin to move in sync with one another (1 John 4:13-15).

That’s why the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us. God is love. When we are living in step with God, love is what comes out of us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.

God knows better than anyone that love can be costly. We might get hurt, and people might take advantage of us. But the way to quiet those fears is not by retreating. We get past the fear of putting ourselves out there by remembering God’s love and choosing to treat others the way He treated us.

Reflect:

  • Who were you when you asked Jesus into your life? How has your life changed since then?
  • How would you describe the way God has loved you?
  • When it comes to loving others that way, are you retreating in fear or reaching out in faith?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 4: Love will always lead you to be more generous

No one likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to giving away money. 

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Paul tells the Corinthian church to give, not because they feel obligated to, but as a reflection of their love for others. As an example, he points to the church in Macedonia.

Believers there were facing extreme poverty and trials. Yet in the midst of their suffering, the people had overflowing joy because they were generous in giving and sharing with others rather than holding tightly the little bit they had to offer. That’s the kind of love Christians are to show to one another — real, tangible, practical, and sacrificial generosity.

Being generous doesn’t happen without intentional effort on our part (2 Corinthians 8:7). Every married couple knows the words “I love you” don’t carry much weight unless they are supported by actions. The same is true with our love for others. Saying “I love you” is not nearly as impactful as showing someone you love them.

The beauty of learning to excel in the grace of giving is that generosity is a natural response to love. Generosity isn’t something that has to be forced. When we love someone, we want to provide for their needs with our time and attention.

God gave us the perfect example of sacrificial generosity in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). As followers of Christ, let’s put action behind our declaration and be generous in our time, finances and love.

Reflect:

  • When was the last time you did something crazy generous for someone else?
  • What’s one way that you can show love by being generous today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring 

Day 1: What Breaks Your Heart?

Read: Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s story started with a burden. He saw the condition of Jerusalem’s wall and knew the situation was desperate. Without a wall, people returning to Jerusalem after years in captivity would be unprotected and vulnerable to attack.

Nehemiah was brokenhearted, but he didn’t tackle the problem immediately. Why? He first needed to bring his burden before the Lord.

The state of Jerusalem’s wall reflected the condition of the Jewish people’s relationship with God. Disobedience had left their city and their lives in disarray. So before Nehemiah could fix the brokenness surrounding the city, he asked God to fix the brokenness inside the people of the city. Forgiveness was the foundation everything else would be built on.

Once the people were right with God, Nehemiah began to pray about what was next. All the while, God positioned Nehemiah so he’d have influence with the king and with the people. God had arranged it so a foreign king provided resources to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Imagine what God is arranging behind the scenes, so you can do more than you ever thought possible.

Look around. What breaks your heart? What has God put in front of you that you can’t ignore? Until our hearts are broken for the situations and people around us, we’ll maintain the status quo.

Once you know what your burden is, go to Jesus in prayer. Ask Him what to do next.

Consider This:

What are you burdened about?

Pray:

Jesus, I am burdened about ___________________________. What should I do next? I want to make a difference. Help me make a difference.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Embrace What Hurts

Most people avoid pain at all costs. It’s uncomfortable and almost unnatural to embrace what hurts us. But it’s what can make us most like Jesus.

When we are blessed with a burden, we cry, we pray, we fast — and then we act. We’re so broken by what grieves God that we’re moved to do something to make the world a better place.

We should embrace what hurts until we can’t stand idly by another minute.

Bitterness Will Eat You Away

Much like a tree can look healthy on the outside but be hollow on the inside, bitterness can eat you away and erode your heart. Holding a grudge will empty you of your compassion, your joy, and your capacity to love. God wants to help you forgive those who have hurt you. If you can’t do it in your own strength, lean into His.

It’s Hard To Forgive

Forgiveness is not something you usually can do on your own; it requires God’s help. It’s a supernatural act, but it starts with you and an act of your will.  You may have to pray every day – “God I want to forgive them. I need to forgive them. God help me forgive them.” – for a very long time. But know that even the desire to forgive is a sign that God is at work in your heart. And when you do find the power to forgive, you’ll also find freedom from carrying that heavy burden.

One Kindness Matters

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

Our Culture: One Matters.

Our Conviction: Everyone Matters to God.

The Good Samaritan:
Four themes from Luke 10:25-37 for us today:

  1. Many people get beat up on the road of life.
  2. Most people see a need and take a pass.
  3. Showing kindness is better than feeling compassion.
  4. If you want to make a difference, you have to get off your donkey.

Home Run Kids – Week 5

Courageous Parenting Decisions

1) Guide your kid’s heart. (Proverbs 4:23) “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

2) Don’t carry your kid’s load. (Galatians 6:2-5)

3) Release your kids from your fear. (Proverbs 28:1) “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Reflect: 

  • What is one thing I need to keep doing with my kids?
  • What is one thing I need to start doing with my kids?

Home Run Kids – Week 4

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-6

Self-Worth vs. Work-Worth

  • Self-Worth: Something God gives you and you protect
  • Work-Worth: Something Gods gives you and you pioneer

Raising Competent Kids – Love what you do:

  • Discover what I’m good at (gifting)
  • Advance in my skills (training)
  • Celebrate my achievements with God (honoring)

Reflect:

  • What is one thing I need to keep doing with my kids?
  • What is one thing I need to start doing with my kids?

Home Run Kids – Week 3

Scripture: Matthew 7:7-12
2nd Base: Relationally Capable Kids (Love Others)

  1. Have Respect (value people)
  2. Show Compassion (value people without embracing their values)
  3. Make Friends (big circle & little circle friends)

Three qualities for little circles:

  • Do what you say
  • Give & Take
  • Forgive & Get Better

Reflect: Where are you being casual with relationally critical things?