Today’s Scripture Focus: I John 3:14-24
I am not a handy man. Some people have an instinctive ability when something breaks to get their hands dirty, repair it, or build something better. I was absent the day the Lord handed out that gift—my home repairs generally lead to tests of my sanctification, and costlier repair bills than if I hadn’t tried to “fix it” in the first place! However, I have learned one guideline when it comes to home projects that has led to a little less frustration: first things first. Jobs go easier when you start at the beginning, making sure you have read the instructions and have the proper tools on hand. Then, when you get in over your head, don’t be afraid to call an expert!
The 1 John community had experienced a church split, and had a lot of doubt in their hearts because of it. They needed to know how to move forward to “fix” their faith. John, again writing like a grandfather to his beloved grandkids, reminds them in today’s scripture focus to put first things first. The first step in a victorious spiritual life is to believe in Jesus; the second is to love one another (v. 23). In previous verses, John gives the example of Cain and Abel. Cain did evil and Abel did right, therefore, Cain’s jealousy led to hatred, and finally to murder. When we hate our brothers and sisters, we are murderers!
How do we know we love others? Again, first things first. Jesus first demonstrated love by sacrificing His life for us. Both hate and love lead to death, but sacrificial love causes one to pass from that death to new life! So, if we have faith in Jesus, we also pass from death to life. In experiencing new spiritual birth, we then have the ability to love our brothers and sisters the way God loves us. This love cannot be shown with mere lip service—”I love you, but…”. God’s love is shown by action. In the same way that Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and bound up the broken hearted, we demonstrate love by taking care of one another’s needs.
So if our hearts are troubled and need fixing, we first make sure we have placed our faith in Jesus. Second, we search our hearts and ask our selves if we are loving our brothers and sisters or hating them, and have we displayed this by our actions. Next, if our hearts still “condemn” us, we place those feelings in God’s hands, knowing that God loves us and if God says everything is ok, then we can believe it! We call this having confidence before God, and it is when we have this confidence that we can “receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” (v 22).
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
According to today’s scripture focus, how do we know what love is, and what should we do in response to it?
What does it mean for our hearts to be “at rest”? What does it mean for our hearts to “condemn us”?
Here are the steps listed in this week’s connection guide for “heart repair” – 1.) place faith in Jesus, 2.) love our brothers and sisters, 3.) have confidence that regardless of how we feel, God’s love is greater than our feelings. Can you think of a situation in your life that is giving you “heart trouble” right now? How can you apply these steps this week to this situation?