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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 02/21/18

Heart of Love

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STORY: Clean Start

After Hurricane Harvey, we began the clean-up effort. It’s still going on today, over five months later. The first week the stores opened after the roads were clear, we all clamored to get the basics. No, not milk and eggs. The electricity was still off. Basics like bleach and disinfectants. Thankfully, I only had to clean my moldy freezer and refrigerator. My bathtub needed attention because the water reservoir I had saved up grew yuckies (so much for “clean” water!).

Many people had it much worse. My friends with over five feet of water in their homes had to gut it all out and start over; or sell it for next to nothing and find another home. They tired of standing in line for help. Even today, post-traumatic stress disorder is rampant. People look like they are waking up from a long sleep. Like Sleeping Beauty. Or maybe they’re not waking up and it’s more like sleepwalking.

It seems the step that leads to a new normal is to purge and purify. A clean start. In this week’s heart study, let’s see how love provides something we can hang our hope on.

STUDY:

That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:12-13 NLT)

  • We don’t study Joel much. This book is considered one of the minor prophets.
  • What are we supposed to do with our hearts? (Two different commands in the passage.)
  • What does God’s love look like?
  • How can we model God’s love to others?

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

  • In what did the psalmist trust? When you focus on God’s steadfast love, does it help you to trust Him more?
  • In what does the psalmist rejoice? Do you rejoice when you think of what it takes for God to save us?
  • Not everyone can sing or feels like singing, but in light of this verse, can you find a private place to sing out to the Lord?

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)

  • Let’s continue thinking about rejoicing from the last verse. This passage shows more reasons to rejoice. What are they? If you look at these attributes as building blocks, each one foundational in building the next, what does your chart look like?
  • Notice the phrase “this hope.” What hope?
  • When you don’t know what to think of your circumstances, one thing you can say is “For we know how dearly God loves us.” God’s love is something you can hang your hope on!
  • According to this passage, how can you know God dearly loves you?
  • Have you ever sensed God’s love when you thought about the Holy Spirit indwelling your heart?

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. (1 Peter 1:22 NLT)

  • Look at the progression of verbs and verb phrases here. Cleansed. Obeyed. Show sincere love. Love deeply. When you think about your salvation, and have yielded to the Lord’s commands, are you in a better position to love others?
  • Is there a special kind of love reserved for brothers and sisters?
  • The phrase “unconditional love” isn’t found in Scripture, but “with all your heart” is found over and over. How deep is your love? Is there any part of your heart you’re holding back?

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 NLT)

  • Paul writes Timothy, explaining the purpose of his instruction. What is the purpose?
  • What percentage represents “filled with love”?
  • Where does a filling of love come from?

 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT)

  • What does Paul advise Timothy to run away from?
  • What does Paul advise Timothy to do instead?
  • How is righteous living a pursuit? What goes along with it, according to this verse?
  • Who does Paul want Timothy to become friends with?
  • Paul alludes to what true salvation is. Not merely calling on the Lord, but doing so with what?

STEPS: Be Filled with Love

  1. Purify your heart. Is there anything in your life that needs decontamination? Out of the mouth comes the things of the heart, so sometimes it’s our words that need sanitizing. (The proverbial wash your mouth out with soap!)
  2. Clear your conscience. Do you feel guilty or have regrets about something? Clear it up this week.
  3. Make sure your faith is genuine. Faith can be faked. It can be duplicated by what we see in others. Instead, pursue a faith that is authentic—all your own. What is one way you can live out your faith this week?

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.

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