Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Learning about Love

Love...a concept I've struggled with through the years. Growing up, I knew I was loved - I was taken care of, supported and encouraged. Our family wasn't real big on hugs or saying, "I love you," so I had a hard time expressing it. I came to know Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of 23 and in the years that have passed love has been something I still struggled to grasp and express. I know God's love is incomprehensible, but I've dug into God's Word to learn a bit more.

Our local Titus24U group took some time studying this topic and sharing our insights, experiences and struggles. Love is something the world talks about, but God does! Love is something we all need and what we as believers can share. Love is a big, broad, important topic that I believe we can always learn more about and do better with. I pray this study will help each of us do just that! Feel free to print it off and I invite you to share your insights, thoughts and questions in the comments. But before we begin, something new...words from me you won't just read, but hear. I need to record something in a few weeks, so thought practice would be good! (Clearly after watching this it's a good thing I'm practicing!! My son has already informed me I close my eyes way too much...I agree with him and I'm not sure why that is! Think I was avoiding looking at him trying to make me laugh.) So anyway here's a little intro for our topic...sharing this as I believe God loves me for who I am not what I do or how I look on video!

First of all a few questions to get you thinking -

What is love?

Where did you learn about love?

If you could share one thing you've learned about God's love, what would it be?

Opening Prayer
Lord, we come to you now and are grateful for your love. It's a love that is deep and high and wide. A love that never fails. I love that I didn't earn and don't deserve. Father, your love is so different than the worlds as I work through this study help me understand it more so I can share it better. God, I ask you to meet me in the pages of your Word. Speak to me. Tender my heart and humble me so that I can receive all you have for me. Thank you for loving me, help me love more like YOU! In Jesus' Name, Amen

Love - Merriam Webster defines it like this - "a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person" or "attraction in a romantic relationship". When I dug deeper and tried to find a biblical definition I found this - "purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another" ( and from the notes in my study Bible - "Ultimate expression of God's loyalty, purity and mercy extended to His people to be reflected in human relationships by brotherly concern, marital fidelity and adoration of God." Clearly, there is a contrast between God's definition and the worlds. On which do you form your definition of love?

A Bit About God's Love
Look up the following verses and pay attention to what each one says about God's love.
Psalms 136:1-2
Psalms 136:26
John 3:16
Romans 5:8                                                    
Romans 8:37-39
Ephesians 2:4-5
Ephesians 3:16-19
1 John 2:5

What truth about God's love speaks to you today?

Friend, may we remember God's love isn't earned and can't be lost. It will never fail and will always endure. God's love came with a cost and brings eternal life in heaven and abundant life on earth. His love requires our response and exceeds our understanding!

Learning from Leah
Read Genesis 29:31-35
Here we read the story about the birth of Leah's first four sons. What can we learn about God's love through her story?

What insight do we get into the love of man through these verses?

Personally, I had never really slowed down to read these verses and look for a lesson in them, but I'm struck by what 5 verses can teach me. Have you ever felt like Leah? Unloved and unnoticed. I have. Friend, I think this is a reminder that we were created for love, it's something we yearn for and I'm grateful that even when man doesn't notice me, El Roi sees. God doesn't just see us, He loves us. Another thing that jumped out at me was how Leah's desire changed with baby number 3...did you catch that? She's no longer desiring Jacob's love, but is willing to settle for his attachment. When we are not "feeling" love from man, may we remember to run to God and receive His love! It's bigger and better than any person can give and is always available with no strings attached.

Learning from and with Peter
Read John 21:15-19

What important event took place before the discussion we read here?

What do we learn about love in this familiar passage?

Put yourself in Peter's do you feel? How would you respond?

Again this is a short passage, but it contains import truths! Love is gentle and necessary for forgiveness. Love may be tough and it requires a response. Jesus didn't just want to hear Peter's "Yes", He expected to see it. Peter could demonstrate his love for Jesus by obeying His instruction. He was told to feed the sheep. Friend, you and I can do the same! John 14:21 says, "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will them and show myself to them." Which brings us to the final piece of our lesson...

Looking at Me!
Read the following verses from 1 John and note what they say about love.

Friend, I would love to sit and visit with you about what touched your heart as you read these verses. It's not possible, but I do invite you to share in the comments. A few things that have stuck with me - God is the source of love. Love is a commitment and a command. God's love is accepted, not earned. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Finally, the thing that has hit me hardest through the whole study...God's love for me should result in my obedience to Him. I have a ways to go, but am thankful for the motivation!

If you want to keep going, below you will find a short assessment you can work and pray through. I pray Satan will not condemn you, but if there's room for improvement I'm asking God to show you what that is!!

A Self-Check
Who or what do I love? Is God my first love?

Is there anyone I don’t love?

Do I love the world? (Physical pleasures, Material things, Status or Position)

Do I believe God loves me? Do I receive, embrace and trust that love?

Do I speak love or show it? (Love is more than words.)

Do I love with my time, talents and treasure?

Do I love my family? (Both Physical and Church)

Am I more loving than I was a year ago?

How could I love better? Who do I need to love more?

How can I show my love for God? What is He commanding me to do?  Will I obey and put my love to work?

Closing Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the time spent in Your Word. I'm grateful it is living and active. I pray for discipline and discernment as I try to apply what I've learned. Help this to be more than knowledge in my head, but instead transformation in my heart. I ask you to lavish Your love on me Lord and then help me be a vessel in which You share your love with others. Father, may I be like Peter and not just say, "I love you", but also do what You ask. Father God, help me remember that Your love never fails and really it is all that I need. I'm grateful, and in needed of, Your perfect and sufficient love. Lord, use me to love others so that they see You and experience Your love. Father, You are good, You are holy and You are loving. Thank you. In Jesus' Name...Amen


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I really appreciate this!

Jackie said...

I think your "practice" video went great!!! :-) Thanks again for sharing your insights with us, Jill!

Unknown said...

Jill, I had been saving this post to enjoy in my quiet time this morning. THANK YOU for this Valentine's Day gift! When I read through the story of Leah, I had to re-read it a few times. It was so exciting to have a lightbulb moment from a story I've read so many times before. Then I saw your commentary and reveled in the fact that we both had that same gift of, "Oh my goodness. I never saw this before!" Thank you for the heart you put into this study. It made me slow down to read the intricacies instead of sprinting ahead so I could get to the Rachel part of the story.
Also, thank you for adding 1 John 2:15 to your list. Last year was when I had my lightbulb moment with this verse and I have been clinging to it since. I always thought when I loved the world/things of this world, it was showing I needed to love God more. But the opposite is true- His love isn't in my heart. So, it's not about "doing"... but it's about "resting" in His love... marinating in it... and then the things I'm loving of this world will naturally fall off. It's changed the way I pray over others too. When I see someone making bad choices, I pray that their hearts tender so God's unending love can come in and flood them... transform them.
Sorry for the long reply. This was SUCH a gift. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you my dear friend!

Heidi said...

Very interesting! I've actually been thinking a lot about this relating to some of "my kiddos" lately so interesting to hear you speak about it now! Thank you!

Jill Beran said...

Grateful to hear this!

Jill Beran said...

Thanks Jackie! I'm grateful for your insights and encouragement as well!

Jill Beran said...

Hey I love the long reply and am grateful God used this post to speak to you as well! Amazing how we never stop learning about His love and the depth of it!

Jill Beran said...

It's always amazing when it comes at us from different directions...He can always get my attention when He does that. And what an important topic to share with your kiddos! They are blessed to have you in their lives!!

sas said...

SO excited that you're adding videos to your blog!! It's wonderful to see you and hear your voice! Love that so much!!!