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When we meet together, we share our joys and concerns from the week. Take some time to consider the joys and concerns you have had over the past week. If you would like, you can share these in the comments. When you are ready, pray the prayer below (from here):
How I praise You Lord for every day of my life, for my family and friends and all the good things that You have provided for me in Your love and grace. Lord, You have blessed all those that trust in Your Son with every spiritual blessing, for You have saved us by His blood and clothed us in His own perfect righteousness. You have poured out Your grace into our laps in great abundance.
I thank You, Lord, for every day of my life, for every single hour which has been given to me by grace. I could not ever draw another breath unless You gave me the power. How can I ever thank You enough, my God and my Savior?
Lord, I know that there is nothing that I have done to deserve this favor from You, nor is there anything that I can do to repay You for all your loving-kindness and merciful blessings which are new every single day.
I pray that I may give my life as a living sacrifice of praise to You, for You alone are worthy, You alone are the Lord. You alone deserve all honor and glory and praise and worship, not only today but in the eternal ages to come. Hallelujah!
This week's lesson is on 1 John 3:11-24.
The title of this lesson is: Confident Love and comes from the book of 1 John. John wrote to help a church struggling under the influence of gnostic teaching, which was a blend of Eastern mysticism and Greek dualism. Gnostics believed that spirit is good and matter is evil. They claimed people could rise above evil through “secret knowledge”, which undermined the nature of Jesus as God in the flesh.
John emphasized the interconnection of right belief, right actions and right love; Which means: Our head, hands and heart are equally involved. The child of God must believe the truth, obey the commands, and love brothers and sisters in Christ. Christians cannot return hate and abuse with more hate and abuse. John demonstrated that if we are in the right and “walk in the truth” (3 John 1:3), we can bring great confidence to our relationship with anyone. This is not arrogance or elitism, but inner strength that does not depend on the approval of others for personal well-being.
John exposes the error of the false teachers and clarified the true gospel and helped Christians find assurance of their salvation. John affirms Christ’s humanity and divinity as well as His salvation and defines the true gospel.
1 John 3:24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Christians are called to choose love life over hate and death. Our actions prove we are not acting with guile or deceit, but with godly sincerity and honesty. The heart in biblical thought is not simply the center of emotions. The heart is the source of our deepest impulses, our motivations, our freewill decisions. It is where we make choices. If we have timed hearts of stony selfishness we must allow it to become a soft heart of obedience and kindness. What does the evidence of our lives reveal about the secrets of our hearts?
Question: "Is loving God an emotion, a feeling, or a decision?"
Answer: Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37). But can love be commanded? How can we make ourselves love someone?
Since love is commanded, then it must be within our power, in Christ, to love. Love, therefore, is a decision we make. Yes, love will often be accompanied by feelings, but emotion is not the basis of love. In any given situation, we can choose to love, regardless of how we feel.
Question: "What does the Bible say about how to love God?"
Answer: In the Bible, Jesus tells us how to love God: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In other words, God wants us to love Him with our whole being and in every possible way. God’s own Son taught us to love God the Father with everything we are, saying this was the first and greatest of all the commandments (verse 38).
Consider these verses that are not in today’s text:
1John 4:16 God does not love you because you are of use to Him, but because you are of value to Him. What motivates your love for Him?
1John 4:20 The clearest evidence you are a child of God is that you love God’s people. He is love and He will express Himself through you.
John asks if we love God. He insists we cannot make a credible claim tooling God if we hate other people. Furthermore, we cannot claim to love other people with our evidence. Does the love of God inner hearts result in acts of kindness toward others?
Loving Father, when the world hates us, comfort us with your love. Give us the presence of your Holy Spirit and new hearts that love one another and show our love in our actions. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.
The benediction this week is from the Contemporary English Version.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.