God Is a God of Love

who-is-god-fnl Scripture Passage: John 15

A. Resting in Christ’s Love is My Only Job (John 15:9)

• What does “abide” mean? Rest, Remain, Stay Put.

• This is the hardest part of Christianity to accept, but when we abide in God’s love, we change. In the moment that we allow God to work through us and in us, life transformation begins.

St. Augustine wrote: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, God.” What does it look like to rest in God’s love? Is resting in God’s love achieved by developing external actions or by cultivating inward dispositions? Both?

B. My Understanding of His Love Calls Me to Obedience (John 15:10-11)

• This does NOT contradict point #1. God is not interested in obedience for its own sake. He is interested in our obedience because He is interested in our joy.

• When we abide in His love, we will obey God’s commandments out of joy. Obedience is the passage to joy.

In your own day-to-day life, what does it look like to obey God? Does this bring you joy?

C. I Am Most Like God When I’m Loving (John 15:12)

• When we abide in God’s love, we obey God. When we obey God, we experience joy. And when we experience joy, we can’t help but love others.

• The only eternal lasting fruit that we have in this life comes from learning to abide in The Power Source, learning to make ourselves at home in the love that God has for us.

The symbol that we most often associate with God’s love is a cross. A cross, however, is a sign of death. How does the symbol of the cross inform your understanding of what it means to love?

The Compassionate Savior

who-is-god-fnlScripture Passage: John 11:33-37

Grief is a painful emotion of deep sorrow, sadness, and pain over a loss. The loss could be the death of a loved one or a number of other types of losses that result in deep sadness and pain.

As a culture we try to avoid pain and have difficulty helping others who are in pain.  However, God is compassionate and provides hope and healing in the midst of our pain.

1. Loss is unavoidable but grief is a choice.  
When we choose to ignore or deny or pain we get stuck. God tells us to bring our pain to Him so He can comfort us.

2. Grief is best done in community.
God uses other people to walk alongside us in our season of grief.

3. God grieves with you.
God hurts when His children hurt and sent a solution to the reason we are in pain, our Savior Jesus Christ.

How To Get Unstuck
Pastor Ryan shared practical steps that lead us through our pain to healing in Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you answer the following questions:

A. List the losses that I haven’t grieved over.
Bring each loss to God in prayer and ask God to help you grieve the losses.

B. Identify what I have lost.
What are the losses that are “under the surface” and a result of the more obvious loss I am grieving.

C. Have the courage to lament.
Expressing our grief to God through our words and tears.

D. Understand the bigger picture.
Jesus defeated death and gave us eternal life. He also walks with us in our pain and heals our hearts.

We All Have A Story

tim-leeLast week at Kingsland, Tim Lee, Purple Heart recipient and decorated war hero who served in the United States Marines, shared his story. In doing so, he reminded us all that we too have a story.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV)

Reflect on your own story. Take an opportunity to share your story at the dinner table or later today with your family. Encourage other family members to share their story.

Consider these questions:

• Is your life complete?
• Are you placing anything before God in you life right now?
• Has there been a time in your life when you have moved away from God?
• Are you rebelling against God’s authority in your life right now?
• Are you living in such a way that your are hurting the cause of Jesus Christ or helping the cause of Jesus Christ?
• Are you living for God?
• God has a plan for your life. Are you in the will of God?
• Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
• Are there things in your life that are not right with God?

Living Water and the Grace of God

who-is-god-fnlScripture Passage: John 4:16-30

Sometimes we can better understand what something is by knowing what it is not. Pastor Ryan pointed out that many times we focus on one or two attributes of God’s character, rather than looking at who God is as a whole.  To really start to understand who God is, we cannot accentuate any one of His characteristics: His goodness has everything to do with His grace.

To explain what grace is, Pastor Ryan described what grace is not:

1. Grace is not the lowering of God’s standards: We cannot appreciate the grace of God if we ignore sin.

2. Grace is not opposed to good works: We cannot earn grace, but rather out of grace, we can be spurred on to good works.

3. God’s grace is not a commodity: If God’s grace was a commodity, we could run out of it; God’s grace is who He is.

Here are some questions to guide your discussion:

How have you seen God’s grace in your life?

Dallas Willard said “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”  How does this give you freedom?

What is the difference between seeing grace as something God offers versus who God is?

Today, begin your prayer time by praising the Lord for His amazing grace. Pray that the Lord will give you a Biblical understanding of grace and that He will show you His grace in a new way this week.

God is Good

who-is-god-fnlScripture Reference: John 10:1-16

God is good — and that never changes! No matter what we are facing, it does not change the fact that God is good. He is always good and knows exactly how to express His goodness to us in every circumstance of life. We should look for His goodness and expect His kindness.

We tend to measure goodness by seeing it in contrast to badness. In our estimation, goodness is relative. Mother Teresa is good. Adolph Hitler is bad. But when it comes to God, His goodness is beyond any human measurement. God is good because God is God.

God’s goodness is illustrated in the parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10.

A. The shepherd knows and loves His sheep.

God is so intimately acquainted with us (Ps. 139:1-3) that He has numbered the hairs on our head (Luke 13:7). We love our children but who among us has numbered the hairs on their head?

Take a moment to thank God for being intimately acquainted with every aspect of your life and for His every expression of goodness to you.

B. Sheep listen to the shepherd’s voice.

The sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice. Think about how your children recognize your voice when you call them. We should get excited when we hear the shepherd’s voice. And we should respond to His call.

Because sheep are directionless and have a tendency to wander (Isa. 53:6) it is important that they listen for the shepherd’s voice.

In what ways do you hear the Shepherd’s voice calling out to you — perhaps to help you to correct your course or to reassure and encourage you?

Take a moment to thank the Shepherd for being good and for never running out of what we need.

C. Sheep must be protected and disciplined.

Sheep are vulnerable. They have no defense mechanisms. They need the shepherd to protect them from predators and other dangers in the field.

The shepherd also disciplines the sheep because he loves them. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that the Lord disciplines those whom He loves. On occasion, a shepherd had to break the leg of a sheep as a disciplinary action (see Psalm 51:8). By doing so he took on more responsibility because he had to tend and care for that particular sheep. This action taught the sheep to depend on and follow the shepherd.

Take a moment to thank the Shepherd for the times He has disciplined you and kept you from going astray.

D. Sheep must be sheared for their own good.

Sheep produce lanolin which makes them sticky. All of the yuckiness of life sticks to their wool. Their wool also must be sheared lest it inhibit the sheep’s capacity to survive.

Like sheep, life in all of its messiness tends to stick to us. We need the shepherd to shear us and to remove all of that filth and to renew us.

Take a moment to thank the Shepherd for having your best interests in mind when He shears you and removes things from your life that will hinder your spiritual health and growth.

The Light and The Glory of God

who-is-god-fnlScripture Passage: John 8

Glory is defined as “God’s majestic beauty and splendor; the excellence of His character.” Jesus is the fulfillment of the glory of God and how God manifests His glory. There are two blessings we receive because God is glorious.

A. God’s glory is a revealed glory.

God reveals His glory to us through creation, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. God did not have to reveal himself to us, but graciously does so. So the revealed glory of God is a blessing.

B. God’s glory is a reflected glory.

We have access to the glory of God and we get to reflect God’s glory. Through our lives we get to participate in the glory of God.

As you go into your week, we encourage you to think about the following questions.

What does the glory of God mean to you?
How do you see God’s glory in your life?
How are you participating in God’s glory?

Bread and the Holiness of God

who-is-god-fnlScripture Passage: John 6

It’s easy for us to fall into an over-simplified way of characterizing God that is limited to our perspective or fits our personal needs and wants, but we must see God as who He really is—HOLY

There are really only two responses to the holiness of God: reverence or resentment. 
Question: Why would someone react to God’s holiness with resentment?

The appropriate response to the holiness of God is reverencePastor Ryan showed us in John 6 three signs that show us when we’ve forgotten His Holiness.

1. My Worship Becomes “Me”-Focused. 
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.'” (John 6:26)

Evaluating our times of worship based on the quality of the overall experience is an easy trap to fall into.

Question: What does selfless worship look like?

2. I Try to Participate in My Own Salvation. 
“‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” (John 6:27-29)

Jesus simplifies our “to-do” list for finding favor with God: believe in Him.

As a child of God, how does it make you feel to know that there is nothing you can do to earn or lose salvation?

3. I’ll Lose Heart When I Don’t Understand. 
“So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’” (John 6:41)

Jesus didn’t come for our convenience, but for our salvation. When things happen that we can’t understand, how will we react to God? When we start to appreciate the holiness of God, we learn to trust Him regardless of what life brings.