{November 26, 2017}





Heartland Community Church


 

November 26 – December 2, 2017

 

LOVE(MATH): God

By Meghan Hemenway

This week we celebrated my son’s fourth birthday. One present he received, from my aunt, was a children’s book of bible verses. Each verse is written in simple text on one page with a short devotional style message on the page next to it. The first page I read to my son happened to be 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The message talked about God’s love for us and how God wants us to love others. It suggested we read the verse again switching the words love and it with my son’s name. I’m not sure if my newly minted four-year-old grasped how deep this simple task was, but it was a lovely reminder for me.

Here is the verse with the word I substituted for love:

I am patient and kind. I am not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. I do not demand my own way. I am not irritable, and I keep no record of being wronged. I do not rejoice about injustices but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. I never give up, never lose faith, am always hopeful, and endure through every circumstance.

I can’t speak for everyone, but almost all of this is untrue about me. I would not feel comfortable making such bold, irrefutable statements about my character, but you know what? Somehow reading that out loud makes me feel hopeful. It is like an affirmation or mantra and it makes me feel that I could make those things true. It makes me feel like someone believes that it is possible for me to be a person who, without question, is all of those things. It also makes me think of the one who is and has always been able to make these unequivocal statements about his own character.

This is what God is hoping we learn about love, about him, and about the way we can love. God is love. God created love and modeled love. He went first and wants us to understand our part in love. His love is passed on when we love others.

If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1John 4:11)

{sunday 11.26.17}

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 1 John 4:7-12

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Read through the 1 Corinthians verse replacing the words love and it with your name. How does it make you feel about yourself to read that? Do you see yourself in that way? How do you feel about your part in God’s perfected love?

 

Join us over at the LOVE(MATH) podcast and listen in on conversations about relationships, God, community and more. CLICK HERE to subscribe on iTunes. CLICK HERE to listen on Soundcloud.

 

{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE to check out this video overview of the book of Revelation, from our friends at The Bible Project

{monday 11.27.17}

Read Revelation 2:12-23

Observe, Reflect, Apply: About this passage, NT Wright says, “The reason sexual immorality is so often coupled with idolatry, as here, is because such behavior points to different gods – the gods of blood and soil, of race and power. It’s a toxic mixture, and the Christian has no business getting involved with it.” When you hear the word idolatry, what comes to mind? In your own words, define idolatry. Are there areas of your life where idolatry might exist? Take a moment to name that area, and pray that God would redirect your focus.

{tuesday 11.28.17}

Read Revelation 2:24-3:6

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In verses 4 and 5 it’s not clear what the metaphor about the linens is referring to, but it’s not about dirty laundry. NT Wright speculates that it might be about spiritual laziness. People have fallen into slack habits. I know for a fact that I’ve gone through seasons of slack habits in my faith. It usually involves not reading scripture and spending all my time consumed with work and not spending quality time with other Jesus followers. What does your spiritual laziness look like? What in the past has brought you out of this laziness?

{wednesday 11.29.17}

Read Revelation 3:7-18

Observe, Reflect, Apply: “Hold onto what you have, so nobody takes your crown.” There was no literal crown to be taken here, but a warning to hold onto their faith. When tough times come faith seems to either grow or fail. I’ve experienced both in my life. Has your faith grown because of difficult times? Has your faith ever been shaken because of difficult times?

{thursday 11.30.17}

Read Revelation 3:19-4:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Now things get very interesting. John begins recounting the vision he received from God. Behind this world of corruption and evil is this vision of a throne room where the creator of the world sits with supreme power. It’s not hard to imagine a crazy world. Turn on any news channel for an hour and it feels like the wheels are coming off. Now imagine a vision from God where you see him in control and full of power. Does imagining God in this kind of vision give you comfort? Explain why it does or does not.

{friday 12.1.17}

Read Revelation 4:9-5:10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: NT Wright says in reference to this scripture that, “the victory won by the lion is accomplished through the sacrifice of the lamb, and in no other way” and “the victory won by the lamb is God’s lion-like victory.” This is a very straight forward reference to Jesus, but the imagery of the metaphor is important. Without thinking about Jesus or the Bible, think about each of these animals and describe them. After describing both of these animals, describe how they are different from each other.

{saturday 12.2.17}

Read Revelation 5:11-6:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Like curing most ailments, you cannot begin healing until you get to the root cause. In reference to the four horsemen, NT Wright says, “Unless the ills of the world are brought out, shown up in their true colors, put on display and allowed to do their worst, they can not be overthrown.” It’s unsettling to imagine this imagery. It’s the story nightmares are made of. I’ve personally turned to other things in this world for guidance and comfort over Jesus. At first it seems great, but ultimately this thing or idea that I am using in place of Jesus begins to crack. It’s flaws show up and now it’s a problem. Once I can see this as a problem it no longer holds its appeal. It’s shown its true nature. What in your life has shown its true nature and revealed its flaws?

 

{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?

 

{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.

 

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