Saturday, October 30, 2010

 

Love Deeper: Following Jesus' Example, Luke 13:10-16, Live Like You Were Dying Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 30, 2010. Thomas Road started a new church wide series entitled "Live Like You Were Dying." The staff at TRBC provided teachers topics and notes for each lesson for the next few weeks (this is our third week). I used the notes they provided and tweaked them a bit to fit our particular group. The result are the notes below entitled "Love Deeper: Following Jesus' Example" and looking at Luke 13:10-16. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Love Deeper
Following Jesus’ Example

Luke 13:10-16
Live Like You Were Dying Series

Introduction

We are in the middle of our series “Live Like You Were Dying”
The first week we focused on our need for God and his love in order to be champions for Christ
The second week we discussed how to treat others by “speaking sweeter”
This week we will consider how to love deeper

How did your week go? Did you get many chances to “speak sweeter” to others?

This week, we want to challenge you to be a radical dispenser of God’s love to others.

Discussion Question: what is the most radical, extravagant expression of love you have ever received?

Can you imagine what would happen if just the people in this class really began to love with abandon? What if we got unleashed to start demonstrating bold, reckless, God-like love to those around us?

1 John 4:7-8
If a person is born of God, then they should express his love. According to this passage in 1 John, if your life is devoid of love or if you have little or no compassion for people, then your faith is probably fiction.

Augustine is credited as saying: “Love slays what we have been that we may be what we were not.”

Love changes things. It takes sinful people and by the blood of Jesus and the love of God makes them saints. Love slays the past and changes the future.
Love is a verification and validation of your faith, and it is the sign of a growing faith. It’s not knowledge, or a change in habits, or how many times you come to church in a month. The best indicator of spiritual growth is an ever-increasing love.

Our passage today gives an indication of how Jesus loved on people
Luke 13:10-16

To love deeper, we must follow Jesus’ example

1. We must see others
2. We must engage others
3. We must reach out to others
4. We must persevere even when criticized
5. We must seize the moments God sends us

1. See Others
Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, just another preaching event in the life of a traveling preacher. The crowd was into the sermon, and as Jesus looked at them he noticed one special person: A woman who was bent over and couldn’t stand up. Luke 13:16 tells us that a demon had caused her problem

Notice the important word in Luke 13:12—Jesus “saw” the woman—he noticed her
Jesus locked his eyes on this poor woman and had compassion for her
One of the unique aspects of Christianity is the idea that God notices us—the God of all creation pays attention to us

This is an amazing idea when you think about it
God has numbered the hairs on our head (Matt. 10:30—but that doesn’t mean he’ll replace the missing ones!)

Matthew 9:36—Jesus looks with compassion on others

Two things to recognize here
a. People want to be noticed, they want attention
b. To notice others may require us to slow down

Attention is one of the most powerful forces in the world (i.e., attunement for babies)
People want our undivided attention
They want us to show interest

Everyday we pass people who simply want to be noticed, to be acknowledged
They are bent over, even crippled by a lack of compassion or notice, and they are waiting for a friendly face
To see them we must slow down

If someone was standing on the side of the road, would you notice them more if you were driving by or if you walked by them? The speed of our lives causes us to miss many people who God wants us to notice.

This week, take time to notice people
Take the time to look people in the eye, notice them, encourage them
Slow down enough to spend some time reading the Bible to see how Jesus treats people and ask his Spirit to help you to treat others that way

To love deeper, we must first see others as God sees them

Once we’ve noticed people, we need then to take a risk in engaging them

2. Engage Others
Luke 13 tells us that Jesus didn’t just “see” the woman, he took the risk to engage her and her need

Jesus spoke to her in the synagogue (something taboo in the first century—an unattached male speaking to a woman that is not his family member)
He called her over to himself and healed her

Jesus demonstrated bold and reckless behavior to show compassion to this woman
Sometimes love requires bold action in its expression

C.S. Lewis said “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one.” The Four Loves

Our culture encourages us to disengage, to remain isolated, and to plug into the internet instead. Stay out of touch! Who knows what might happen if you get involved?

The truth is, entering into other people’s lives or experiences is messy

But we are commanded to love: Matthew 5:46-47

We don’t have to do it all perfectly, but we must show up. We must take the risk, take the initiative and get involved in spreading grace to others. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

How can we engage others in love? Where do we need to take a risk?

Make some time this week to listen to someone’s story or find a place to bless someone

To love deeper, we must take the risk to engage others

3. Reach Out to Others

Most of all, love gives and reaches out. Giving is how love expresses itself. Everyone you meet is made in the image of God. You never lock eyes with another person that doesn’t matter to God.

Jesus notices this poor woman, he engages her, and now he reaches out to her

Luke 13:13 says he laid his hands on her and healed her
He stepped outside of the “comfort zone” of his society and ministered to her need

Notice how Jesus reached out to this woman

a. By the words he spoke
In verse 16, Jesus refers to her as a “daughter of Abraham”. He doesn’t see her as an elderly, crippled, woman. He sees her as a child of the great patriarch of the Jewish people.
Our words can heal or destroy (remember last week?)

b. By his touch
Everyone needs some touch.
Luke 5:12-16—Jesus heals a leper—he actually “touches” him!
All people need human touch. Studies have been conducted showing that people who experience meaningful touch on a regular basis actually have a longer life expectancy.

This week, hand out some hugs, a gentle touch, or some kind words

To love deeper, we must reach out to others

4. Expect Criticism/Resistance

Notice the reaction of the synagogue official in verse 14. An amazing miracle has happened in his church service, and instead of rejoicing in the amazing mercy shown to this woman, this official gets upset that his “order of worship” was overlooked
Where the synagogue official saw a policy issue, Jesus saw a person. What you will notice in the Bible is that Jesus showed incredible patience and grace to those who were broken and seeking. However, he had little patience with pompous, self-righteous religion that cared nothing for people or their needs. Jesus received criticism for his kindness and for hanging out with the “wrong kind” of people. (Luke 7:34)

In spite of the criticism, Jesus continued to love on others. He refused to stop.

When we decide to follow Jesus as his disciples, we may well find ourselves doing things that others will criticize.

If we are doing the works of Christ, however, we should keep it up and love even those who criticize or persecute us (Matt. 5:43-45)

To love deeper, we must be persevere

5. Seize the Day
In this passage, Jesus finds himself involved in a normal Sabbath activity—he was in the synagogue and he was teaching. He did not let the mundane or normal activity keep him from looking for opportunities. In the midst of the “usual,” Jesus looked for a moment to do something unusual. He seized the moment that God provided.

1 John 3:18 and 1 Thess. 3:12

Let’s take advantage of the moments God gives us

To love deeper, we must look for opportunity

This week, in the midst of your normal activities, do these things

a. Look around and see what is happening—look for the need
b. Take a chance, risk engaging others with God’s love and grace
c. Reach out and touch those who need it
d. Ignore the critics
e. Seize the day

Discussion Questions
In what ways were you “crippled” by your life and sin? How did Jesus heal you?

Describe a time when extravagant love overwhelmed your life. How did you respond? How did it make you feel? What was the impact of this love?

Describe a time when someone took a risk and touched your life.

Who in your life is “bent over” or “crippled” by circumstances or Satan? How can you bring the grace of Jesus into that situation?

What is your routine? Who are some of the people you see on a regular basis? How can you engage them and touch them with the love of Christ?

What can you do or say this week that will show the love of God to another?

Will you risk it?


Thanks for reading!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

 

Speak Sweeter, Matthew 5:21-24, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, Live Like You Were Dying Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 24, 2010. Thomas Road started a new church wide series entitled "Live Like You Were Dying." The staff at TRBC provided teachers topics and notes for each lesson for the next few weeks. I used the notes they provided and tweaked them a bit to fit our particular group. The result are the notes below entitled "Speak Sweeter" and looking at Matthew 5:21-24 and Ephesians 4:25-5:2. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Speak Sweeter
Matthew 5:21-24
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Live Like You Were Dying Series

Introduction
Second week in our church wide series, “Live Like You Were Dying”

We are trying in this four week study to strip away the layers of our spiritual lives to expose the core. We want to focus on what ought to be the center of our lives.

Central to any proclamation of God’s Word is the idea of “relationship”
Jesus even says that all of the Law and the Prophets can be summed up in two commandments related to relationship—love God and love others

Last week we looked at the need for focus and passion in our pursuit of knowing God—we considered the need for focus in our relationship with God

This week we will consider the other relationship, the one with other people
Relationships are what give our life so much meaning. We are going to shine the spotlight on one facet of our relationships; how we treat each other. And, even more specifically, we are going to take a look at how we treat each other with our words. The phrase from the song Live Like You Were Dying that we are camping on is “speak sweeter.”

To speak sweeter means to change how we talk and how we act

Our passages today will help us focus on this issue, and we will see that to speak sweeter means:

1. We must stop using words to destroy
2. We must start using words to build up

The main point—Our speech reveals our heart

How we talk to others will show how much we either love (or don’t love) them
(By the way, how you talk “about” others will show that too)

Let’s look at our passages today
Matthew 5:21-24
Ephesians 4:25-5:2

1. Stop Using Words to Destroy

Let’s look at some context here
The Matthew passage takes place in the Sermon on the Mount section
Jesus is addressing a lot of people, and he is considering what true worship or godly living looks like

The problem Jesus addresses here begins in the heart

The ultimate issue in this passage concerns reconciliation with others
We must realize that how we treat others is often revealed by our words as much as by our actions—Anger is destructive

Angry words start beneath the surface—they start in our heart

Jesus addresses the issue of murder and reminds his hearers that anger is just as bad
Anger is pretty much murder without the actual killing

Judgment is reserved for those whose hearts are filled with anger and rage
Luke 6:45—the issue is our heart
Jesus says, “Before anything ever rolls off your lips or shows on your face, I am concerned about the attitude in your heart.”

We must learn to deal with anger in our heart (Proverbs 4:23)

Angry words flow from an angry heart
What is your heart condition?

Angry words do lasting damage
Proverbs 29:11

When we vent our anger, we often leave devastation in our path

The progression in Matthew 5:21-22
a. Anger begins in the heart as an attitude
b. Then it shows itself in attempts to question the character of others
c. Raca—means “fool” or “idiot” and more than that—it represents a calculated attack on someone’s character

If anger is left unchecked, it can wreak havoc
Ephesians 4:26-27 (gives a place to Satan)
Paul challenges us to get rid of anger (Eph. 4:31-32)

How do you handle anger?
Explode?
Implode?

Our first step to being disciplined here is to understand our tendencies

Our speech reveals our heart—stop being destructive

2. Start Using Words to Build Up

Ephesians 4:29
Proverbs 18:21

Question—Describe a time when someone’s words were used to encourage you. How does that impact your life today?

Let’s consider three ways we can speak sweeter and build others up this week

1. Be Encouraging (Prov. 12:25)
Anxious hearts are everywhere. Encouragers are needed. Will you be a Barnabas and take a chance on encouraging a Saul? You may find a Paul.

What can you say this week that will build someone up? Who needs encouragement in your circle?

Encouragement can be as simple as noting a job well done, or acknowledging something positive in a person’s life or character. It may also require you to work hard to do it.

2. Be Gentle/Kind (Eph. 4:29, 32)
Jesus is described in Matthew 11:29 as “gentle and humble”—another word is perhaps “tender”
When we talk about gentle words, we are not just talking about the actual words themselves but also the spirit and tone in which we say the words.

Who needs a gentle response from you? Think about your normal routine. Where do you have the best opportunity to speak gentle words?

Gentle words can bring life and health to others (Prov. 15:4)

Being gentle may also be reflected in our kindness to others
Christians ought to be some of the kindest people, in my opinion—how do we show kindness in our daily lives? Who benefits from our kind words or our kind lives?

3. Be healing—be an agent of reconciliation (Eph. 5:1-2; cf. Matt. 5:23-24)
Too often we use words (and actions) to bring pain to others, but Paul (and Jesus) remind us that our primary goal as followers of Christ is to bring life to others
Love is the primary means to bring life to others

Ephesians 4:25—Speak the truth in love
Not gossip
Not speaking harsh things to “make a point”
This means to live transparent lives of reconciliation
The goal is for all of us to be like Jesus (Eph. 5:1-2)

Romans 14:19—pursue peace and building each other up

Conclusion
Life is too short and relationships too precious for you to ignore this teaching. Maybe right now God has brought to your mind a situation that needs to be reconciled. You take the first step. And, do it now.

As we leave today, we must make an effort to be at peace with others. Yes, we have to do it. No matter how bad they have treated you. No matter what they have done. Jesus only died for us because of love, where do we need to die for others to show them God’s great love?

Our speech reveals our heart—start building others up


Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

 

How to be a Champion, Philippians 3:8-14, Live Like You Were Dying Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 17, 2010. Today Thomas Road started a new church wide series entitled "Live Like You Were Dying." The staff at TRBC provided teachers topics and notes for each lesson for the next few weeks. I used the notes they provided and tweaked them a bit to fit our particular group. The result are the notes below entitled "How to be a Champion" and looking at Philippians 3:8-14. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

How to be a Champion
Live Like You Were Dying Series

Philippians 3:8-14

Introduction
Beginning a new series today as a church wide topic
Live Like You Were Dying
A popular song by Tim McGraw

Question
If you only had 30 days to live, what would you do different? How would it change you?

To consider these questions today, we will look at some wisdom from Paul in Philippians 3:8-14

Paul finishes this passage with the statement that he is pressing on to win the prize
Everybody loves a winner, right?
What kinds of sports produce champions in our culture?
What does it take to produce champions in these sports?

If that much effort is poured into creating winners for temporal, fading rewards, then how much more significant is it to invest our efforts in being spiritual champions.

Paul compares our spiritual life to a race, probably the Isthmian games from Corinth. Paul says that what is true for athletes should be true for Christians.

Focus and passion are required to be a champion

1. Proper Focus
In verses 8-11, Paul reminds us that to be spiritual champions requires us to focus on life’s highest priority

Paul says that life is worthless compared to the amazing privilege of knowing Jesus Christ

In a race, distractions can be dangerous
What are some things that distract or weigh down Christians in the 21st century?
Hint: What did we talk about last week from 1 John 2:15-17?

Sometimes we fill our lives with so much stuff and activities that we do not slow down enough to focus on what is important

When we do that, we find ourselves tripped up by distractions

The problem with “full lives” is that all too often God speaks in the margins.
To hear God and to know God you must create space in your life for God. You must create margin moments in your day when you can sit at the feet of Jesus. These times require focus on what is important and will help us grow by nourishing our souls

The ultimate target in life is a personal, intimate, growing, ongoing relationship with Jesus
a. Ginosko here refers to an experience, not simply head knowledge or mental assent
b. It is the same word John used in his first epistle—we have to realize that knowing Jesus is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE
c. Everything else pales in comparison
d. There are no relationships, no job opportunities, no position of fame or “success” that is as important as knowing God (remember Matthew 22:37-40)

Question
How would knowing you only have a month to live change your pursuit of God?

Ambiguities will destroy our focus—we must know our goal

Our highest calling is a life changing relationship with Jesus

Paul’s impressive resume earlier in the chapter vs. Paul’s focus in vv. 8ff

Paul mentions that he wants to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection
All of us want to sign up for that

He also talks about suffering and death
Paul is talking about “no pain no gain” here

Focus and passion are required to be a champion
Both of these need practice to develop properly

2. Practice
In verses 11-13, Paul reminds his readers that he is not claiming perfection

Remember, this is the Apostle Paul we are talking about:
a. After threatening to kill Christians, he has a face-to-face encounter with the resurrected Jesus
b. He goes on to preach the gospel all over the Roman empire and especially to Gentiles
c. He writes almost half of the New Testament
d. If he hasn’t arrived, who can?

We have to remember that our relationship with Christ is a process—to succeed in that process requires us to practice what God has taught us

What keeps us from moving forward? What hinders us from growing in Christ?

We need to develop a discontent with where we are spiritually so that we may be motivated to move forward

Example—football practice
Even though it was difficult and I sometimes hated it, I knew I could not play football as well as I wanted unless I practice the necessary skills needed to succeed

We must be discontent with where we are, we must move on to the things God wants us to do

Focus and passion are required to be a champion
To attain these requires a proper perspective

3. Perspective
In verses 13 and 14, Paul reminds his readers that one thing that is needed for proper perspective is we must put the past behind us (or, for you “Lion King” fans—”put your behind in the past”)

Paul says that he is “forgetting what lies behind”
He doesn’t mean trying to erase all past memories from his mind
He means something like what I hear at football games when a quarterback makes a bad play
The announcer will say “He needs to focus on the play to come and not on what just happened.” In other words, he should not let his “bad plays” have an effect on his present actions

Living in the past (or looking in the rear view mirror) typically causes us to stumble in our race

Learning from the past is important, of course, but living in bondage to the past just hinders us

We must choose not to be held hostage by our past

Another important part of perspective is the need to keep our eyes on the future—to look forward with expectation to what God is doing in us and through us

Think of a runner or the driver of a chariot nearing the finish line
We need to lunge forward, to lean into the future

Clarence Jordan says “It is difficult to be indifferent to a wide-awake Christian, a real live person of God. It is even more difficult to be indifferent to a whole body of Christians like this.”

If you found that you only had 30 days to live, how would you live differently than today?

A. W. Tozer says it this way—those who are passionately focused on and devoted to God
Are facing in one direction (i.e., they allow no hindrances)
Can never turn back (i.e., they keep moving in the direction of God)
No longer have plans of their own

Focus and passion are required to be a champion
What does your focus say about you?
What does your passion reveal about your goals?

Application
How do we respond to these things?

George Bernard Shaw said:
“This is the true joy in life . . . being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. . . I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

We know that our spiritual life is like a race, and we know that winning that race requires focus and passion. What can we do this week to improve these things?

First, this week check your focus. Where is our attention? Where is our focus? This week take 20 minutes a day to get in the presence of Jesus. Read his Bible. Listen to his Spirit. Ask where your focus needs to be. Then do what he tells you. Also, take a look at the things that are important to you. Make a list. Does that list reflect a focus on things more than on people? If so, make a point this week to focus on others. Meet needs that you see in your circle. Put people first.

Second, find ways to increase your passion. Like practice for an athlete, find ways to motivate yourself to do those things that seem to have become “humdrum” or every day. What can you do this week to increase your passion? What will we have to leave behind to pursue a passion for Christ? What things rob us of our passion? We need to deal decisively with those things. Put them aside. Repent and pursue God. Ask him to increase your passion.

Focus and passion are required to be a champion
This week let’s focus on what pleases God and let’s be passionate about what honors him.
Let’s be Champions for Christ

Discussion Questions
1. Where is your focus and passion? Do they need adjustment?

2. Why did Paul view his former accomplishments as "rubbish"? (3:8)

3. What “rubbish” or “garbage” do we find ourselves hanging on to as a means of justifying our existence or our position? How does this stuff compare to Jesus?

4. What hope did Paul express? (3:9-11) How is one “found in Christ”?

5. If someone asked you how you “know” God, how would you respond? How has the knowledge of Christ changed your life?

6. Where have you experience Christ’s power? His resurrection? His death?

7. In what ways did Paul's spiritual life resemble the discipline of a runner? (3:12-14) In what areas do you need discipline or practice to improve your focus?

8. What was Paul's view of the past? (3:13) Where have you allowed your past to hold you hostage? How can your past help urge you forward?

9. What was Paul's goal? (3:14) Had Paul attained it?

10. How can we imitate Paul in our spiritual journey? What do we need to help us stay focused in our relationship with Christ?

11. Who in your world needs to see a person “totally alive” for Christ? How can you be that person?


Thanks for reading!

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

 

Love and Identity, 1 John 2:15-17, Theology Matters Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 3-10, 2010. A few weeks ago, we started a new series on 1 John entitled "Theology Matters." This lesson looks at 1 John 2:15-17 and discusses the idea that our identity as Christians is revealed by what we love. If we have the love of the Father, then our actions will reveal an identity in keeping with God's will and plans. If we love the world, then we will find ourselves identifying with the world instead of God. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Love and Identity
Theology Matters Series

1 John 2:15-17

Introduction

The Problem with Tests
Comprehensive exams for graduate school
Does anybody like tests?

John gives several tests in this letter to reveal a person’s commitment to Christ
1. The theological test—what we believe about Jesus
2. The social test—how we act towards others
3. The moral test—how we respond to God’s demand

Our passage today comes in the context of the social test

Chapter 2 has discussed the importance of brotherly love, the spiritual family, growth in God’s family, and obedience to God’s commands

In verses 15-17 John gives instructions regarding love and identity

John says “Identity is revealed by love”
What or who we love reveals who we are
John asks, “Where is your love?”

1 John 2:15-17

1. A Command
1 John 2:15—This is the only command in this section, so it must be the main point

Let’s define some terms

What does the word “world” mean?
Greek term, kosmos, means “world” with four variations
The universe or created order or the earth specifically (Romans 1:20; 1 Cor. 8:4, Rev. 11:15)
Humanity in general (John 1:29; 3:16)
Earthly possessions (Matthew 16:26; 1 John 3:17)
Hostility to God (2 Corinthian 5:19)
John’s use seems to encompass the last two in this passage (example: “world of sports”)
John wants us to avoid loving the sphere of things that are hostile to God or lead us away from God

What does the word “love” mean?
Ironically, the Greek term here is a form of agape
Probably used here as cherish, show affection for, value, hold in high esteem
Think of Lord of the Rings and Gollum’s “Precious”

Now that our terms are defined, let’s look at the command

Don’t love the world or its things
We were commanded earlier to love our brothers and not to hate them
Now we are given a negative command about love
John seems to imply that loving the world is the opposite of loving our brothers and sisters

The command is to avoid cherishing possessions or things hostile to God (they are not the same thing)
Stuff must not be as important at people

If you do love the world, you do not have the love of the Father
Jesus says you can’t serve two masters (Matt. 6:24)
We cannot have God’s love or love for God while loving that which leads us away from him

The lover is consumed by the beloved

What we love reveals who we are
What does what you love or cherish reveal about you?
What is your “precious” that consumes you?
Love of God produces love for others—that should be our identity

2. A Contrast
1 John 2: 16—John defines what the “things of the world” are
In doing so, John gives us three characteristics of what infatuation with the world looks like

a. Lust of the flesh
Refers to a desire or longing or appetite
Eve’s temptation (tree was good for food) or even Jesus’ temptation (stones to bread)
The problem: these appetites may become the controlling factor of life, driving everything we do
These are desires gone wrong, desires that have replaced God as the focus
What does your appetite reveal about you and what you love? Do you control your appetites or do they control you?

b. Lust of the eyes
Things triggered by sight, the seductive lure of attractive things
Eve (the fruit was a delight to the eyes—it looked good) and Jesus (taken to the top of the temple and told to throw himself off)
Think of the seductive nature of advertising that leads to “I need something” whether I need it or not
This is the danger of the attractive, the beautiful, the sensual
Attractive things in themselves are not sinful, it is the “lust” or the “craving” for them that is the problem
Wanting to own or to possess it as a matter of uncontrolled or wanton desire
What do the things we look at or long for tell us about ourselves and what we love?

c. Boastful pride of life
The outward show of “stuff” or “position” or “prestige” as a means of attaining my security
This is wanton self sufficiency—”See what I accomplished”
Eve (the fruit is desirable to make one wise, to be ike God) and Jesus (the offer of the world as a kingdom)
Where is my security? Is it in “stuff” or “position”? What makes me proud and what does that say about my love and my identity?

By describing what the “love of the world” looks like, John implies for us what the “love of the Father” looks like: it is the opposite

Three characteristics
a. Does not desire things for selfish use
b. Does not desire things for possession because they look good
c. Is not boastful or self-sufficient

The love of the Father is focused on God and his desires, his possessions, his ability
The love of the Father pushes us to use our “stuff” for others, to avoid trying to control others, to be willing to see others put ahead of us or blessed in spite of us
This is love for the brothers and sisters

How do you use things? How do you view others? How self-sufficient are you?

What we love reveals who we are
The love of the Father leads to love for others

3. A Comparison
1 John 2:17—John now reveals the lasting difference between the love of the world and the love of the Father

The stuff of the world is passing away
The world is temporary (1 Cor. 4:17-18—things that are seen are temporal)
The stuff of the world will not last (Heb. 11:25—passing pleasures)
The world and its stuff leads to death

The love of the Father leads to eternal life
Love of God leads to doing what God wants
For John, keeping God’s commandments equals life (1 John 2:3-5; 1 John 5:2-3; cf. John 14:15

What we love reveals who we are
Love for the world reveals death in us
Love for God reveals his life in us by the things we do—loving God shows up in how we treat others

Application
How do we respond to this information? If what we love reveals who we are, then what does our love reveal about us today?

Some of us may be in good shape. In fact, I think many of you are doing well in this regard. Your love for Christ reveals itself in your selfless love for others. You love to spend time with the Beloved and with his people. You are consumed with his stuff, his Words, his presence. You are “in love” with the Father because of the Son.

On the other hand, some of us may have misplaced our love—we came to Christ and were initially consumed by him. He was everything to us, and we wanted to be with him and in him in all things. We would surrender even our lives just to be around the Beloved. Something changed, however, and our love grew a bit cold. We avoided too much contact with him. We were hesitant to hang around him. We found other “attractions” to “meet out needs.”

What can we all do this week to put feet to the truth of this passage?
1. First, take a hard look at your heart. What do you love? What does that love reveal about your identity, about who you are? Are there things that have gotten your attention and misplaced your love? List them, then deal with them. Confess them to God. If necessary, physically remove them. Find a way to keep them from becoming idols again. Be accountable.

2. Second, begin to cultivate love for God. Make an appointment to spend time in his presence. Make time to spend time with his people. Use your things to love others, give your eyes to love him. Look at and pay attention to those things that are attractive to God—humility, selfless giving, encouraging others, putting the needs of others before your own, loving without expectation of return. This week make a special effort to find your security in him—not in a job, a relationship, a pay check, or a dream. Let love for him consume you. Remember what he has done to show his love for you. God loved you enough to die for you.

What we love reveals who we are—will we be consumed by God’s love?

Discussion Questions

1. What is the danger of loving the world and the things of the world?

2. Where has the stuff of the world invaded your spiritual life? What things do you find yourself pursuing as “ultimate things”?

3. What is it about the world that makes it so attractive? How does the love of God help us overcome the allure of the world?

4. What is the result of loving the world? How should that motivate us? Where do you need God’s help to love not the world?

5. How can you root yourself more deeply in the love of God in order to overcome the attraction of the world?

6. In what ways does God love the world? What is it about the world that God does not love?

7. How should we live in response to God’s love? Who needs God’s love through us this week?

8. Where do we need to resist the world? Will we?


Thanks for reading!

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