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Wednesday Evening Bible Study - After God's Own Heart - Lesson 2

THE LOVING HEART

Our Lord Jesus stated that the Law and the Prophets are summed up in the passage below.  The words heartsoul and strength give us clues as to what loving God means.  To the Jews the heart was the center of a person’s being a part that knew; the soul was the seat of desires, a persons willstrength was a person’s ability to act.  Given these understandings, what is your interpretation of the greatest command?

Deuteronomy 6: 4 -6

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Read carefully the scripture below.  Here the apostle John provides the reason why God is worthy of our love as well as how the Christians are to love their God.  What insights come to you from John by the Holy Spirit as you consider this passage?

1 John 4: 7 -5: 5

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

“The love of god has no meaning apart from Calvary.  And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of god.  Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; he died to save us from the wrath of god.” J.  Bridges, The Practice of Godliness, p 31

Is our appreciation of God’s love conditioned by how deeply we “fear” him?  Read the passages below.  What are the truths the Psalmist and John recorded for us?  Explain your understanding of the word “fear” used by these two inspired writers.

Psalm 130: 3 – 4                             

3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (NIV)

4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (KJV)

1 John 4: 16 -18

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Our awareness of God’s love for us must be personalized if it is to become a motivating factor for our love for him.  Read the passages below.  What is Paul telling us about how personal was God’s love for him and what effect did this love have on him?

2 Corinthians 5: 11 – 15

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

1 Timothy 1: 12 – 17

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Personal: God’s love for us is entirely by grace and because of this it can never change.  Deep down in our inmost being we must grasp the fact that God’s love for us is not affected by our spiritual failures but rests upon the finished work of Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Read Romans 8: 28 – 39 and rejoice with Paul for a moment in his love for God and his confidence in God’s love for him.  Examine your heart condition.  Is God’s love for you conditional?  Does His love for you fluctuate along with your experience?  Are you afraid that God’s love for you is not entirely based on the redeeming work of Christ?  Can you rejoice – as did Paul –in assurance of God’s personalized love for you?

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who [i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” [ j ]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(See also Psalm 118)

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;     he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.     What can mere mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.     I look in triumph on my enemies.

18 The Lord has chastened me severely,     but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;     I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord     through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;     you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected     has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this,     and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day;     let us rejoice today and be glad.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;     you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Read closely the letter to the church in Ephesus as dictated by our Lord to the apostle John.  What was the church there doing that found favor in our Lord’s eyes?  What had they failed to do and what did our Lord have to say about their failure?  What can we learn from our Lord’s rebuke of our brothers in Ephesus?

Revelation 2: 1 – 7

2 “To the angel [ a ] of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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