Lesson 5 Let Worship Begin Here and Now!

MAIN IDEA: God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.

Throughout this class we have examined a biblical picture of the great love that God has for us — love that is unmerited and requires us to love one another. The very act of loving one another is an expression of worship, and in this lesson we will closely examine what love is and what we can expect love to do.

The Greatest Expression of God’s Love
As we have seen, our worship begins with love — God’s love for us and our love for God. He alone is worthy. He is the one who took the initiative. He created us for worship and loved us enough to make a way for us to enter His presence. God loved the world so much that He sent His only son, Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the greatest expression of God’s love for us. He paid the price for all our shortcomings and made a way for us to experience the presence of God. He has become the living sacrifice that defines true love.

Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Once we receive a clear revelation of God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, worship becomes our expression of love for God in return.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The only way to fulfill that command is to allow the love of God to flow through us to others. Jesus is the One who laid down His very life for us — and those around us. And He has chosen to dwell in us and express His great love for mankind through us.

What words can you think of that describe God’s love for you? When you think about loving others, are there any reasons you might want to hold back? Do any of these apply?
• Resentment
• Unforgiveness
• Anger
• Bitterness
• Envy/jealousy
• Tradition
• Fear
• Doubt

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:36-40

What Love Is and What Love Isn’t
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV

If you have been in church very long (or have been to many weddings), you have undoubtedly read this wonderful passage about love. The description is clear, and the attributes of love are so admirable. Of course, love is like faith — we can believe in love, have love, be loved, and understand love; but without corresponding action, our love is mostly dead.

One of my favorite movies is “The Princess Bride.” In this wonderful film, a privileged young lady named Buttercup encounters Westley (aka Farmboy) in the stable. The chemistry between the two is immediate, and ultimately she discovers that Westley is her “one, true love.” As the evil Prince, who wants Buttercup for his bride, attempts to kill Westley, the story unfolds.

At one point, the Prince captures and tortures Westley; and frankly, he looks pretty dead to me. His compatriot, a giant named Fezzik, drags Westley’s body to Miracle Max (played by Billy Crystal) for a miracle — of course! Fezzik places Westley’s body very carefully on the table. Then Miracle Max picks up Westley’s limp arm and drops it with a loud and immediate thud.

Max shouts, “He’s dead! Why are you bothering me!” But when pressed to look again, with the promise of money for his efforts, the miracle man declares, “He’s not completely dead; he’s just mostly dead.”

Sometimes that phrase describes the love we express as the body of Christ. Often after being pursued by God, we figure it out and accept Jesus, our one true love. But the love that flows from us to others is, well, mostly dead. And that is understandable. After all, people can be pretty mean sometimes, and many of us seem to have issues from childhood, and … shall I go on? In our hearts, we want to show the love of Christ to everyone, but we have limitations that seem to bind us against our will.

Love never ends. … Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8,13

What Love Does
The Bible gives us the answer to this dilemma, which results in genuine true love — love for one another. And that kind of love never fails. What is the answer? Take a look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

The answer to bringing our “mostly dead” love back to life is found in an ever-increasing revelation of our “completely alive” Savior and His great love for us! We have been given so much — so much evidence of Love. Once we really do understand who He is and what He has done, it is possible to pour out long-suffering love; envy-free love; kind love; bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring love on everyone around us.

Ultimately, Westley comes back to life and rescues Buttercup from the Prince in the nick of time; and they live happily ever after. Ultimately, we will understand that this is exactly what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Our one true love came and found us. He rescued us from a life of doom, and He never, ever gives up. True love is this: that a man lay down his life for another.

As we allow God’s love for us to flow through us without hesitation and limitation, we are responding to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. Love Himself compels us to worship. Let us put our response of love into action toward God and one another.

Points to Ponder
• The full and perfect expression of God’s great love for us is His Son, Jesus Christ.
• God’s love elicits a response of love from us — worship!
• God’s love for us empowers us to love one another.
• God calls us to love others by sharing His Word.
• God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Resources used for this class:
• “Run to the Cross,” words and music by Mike Harland. © 1999 Centergetic Music (ASCAP) (Admin. by Words and Music Copyright Administration). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Lesson 4 The Passageway to the Heart

MAIN IDEA: God calls us to love others by sharing His Word.

As we learned yesterday, we are commanded to love others, and one of the best ways we love others is to share God’s Word with them. As we speak or sing the Word of God, we and others around us hear that Word proclaimed. And as each of us hears the Word, faith begins to rise in our hearts:

Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. Romans 10:17

The ear really is the passageway to the heart. As we speak words of faith and grace to one another, the faith that is birthed and nurtured in our hearts by those words overflows to those around us. Then we begin to speak that Word which has been planted by grace in our hearts. It is true: what is in our hearts determines what comes out of our mouths:

“The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.” Matthew 12:34-35

It is up to all of us to see that our hearts are filled with words of faith, hope, and love! One of the best ways to fill our hearts with words of faith, hope, and love is to worship. Our worship expression makes a difference in our own lives and the lives of those we encounter every day.

Filling Our Hearts in Worship
Carefully consider the following three statements about worship. They are essential to understanding what happens as we fill our hearts in worship, receiving the power available to us as we worship the King of kings!

• Worship is directional. When we speak or sing words of grace, thanksgiving, and praise to the King of kings, those around us hear those words; and the cycle of faith that comes by hearing repeats — again and again! Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs — filling our homes and churches with worship and worship music — reinforces God’s Word and edifies all around us. The effect of worship flows upward to God and outward to fellow believers. And God will always respond!
• Worship is motivational. Worship invites the presence of the Lord, and when we encounter Him, we are motivated to accept His invitation to join Him as He works. When God’s people worship in spirit and truth, there is no need to convince them to step into ministry opportunities. Worship motivates us to witness, give, and serve as we receive more revelation of God’s greatness in our lives. Even those who don’t believe or lack real commitment to God are motivated by worship. The story of the woman at the well from John 4, which we shared in Class 2, is a great example. She found herself in the presence of God Himself, and that revelation led her to bring the entire village out to hear from Jesus. Her response to Jesus introduced an entire community to the Savior of the world.
• Worship is continual. Around the very throne of God, there is a continual and never-ending proclamation of praise and adoration for the Holy One. I love the picture of worship in heaven provided in the Book of Revelation: Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne, the One who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever. Revelation 4:8-10

As we learned in Class 2, the Hebrew word shachah, which is used over 100 times in the Old Testament alone, indicates a physical response of bowing and stooping in order to show reverence for the One who was and is greater than all others. That’s what is transpiring over and over again around the throne of God right now! Have you ever been compelled to experience shachah worship by bowing before God?

Celestial beings are repeatedly bowing before the throne of God, crying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming” (Rev. 4:8). Perhaps the constant repetition is not habit but is due to an ever-increasing revelation of God’s greatness, which occurs every time they rise and look into His glorious countenance. They continually worship at the very throne of God Almighty. And forever, every time they bow and cry holy, they rise again to encounter further revelation of the One who was and is and is to come.

There is no shortage of revelation or any lingering doubts about the love of God in heaven. God is present in all His glory, and His love for His people cannot be denied. Perhaps this is why worship continues night and day in heaven! Likewise, as we worship God in spirit and truth on earth, Truth Himself penetrates our hearts, reveals Himself, and elicits a response that, in turn, increases our expression of worship. God is love, and worship will always be our response to God’s revelation — now and forever!

Our focus during times of corporate worship must be on God Himself. Yet there are many distractions that can keep us from truly entering into worship. What are some things that distract you during worship times, corporate or personal?

While we may not always be able to change the environment, we can shut out many of the distractions simply by closing our eyes. It’s amazing how that one simple act can help us regain our focus on the Lord. What are some ways you have been motivated to enter into corporate worship?
• Seeing others sing/worship
• Being encouraged by the pastor or worship leader to worship
• Seeing others worship with enthusiasm, excitement, or heart-felt emotion (e.g., lifting hands, shouting praises, bowing reverently)
• Hearing the music crescendo
• Watching a baptism
• Singing your favorite songs
• Celebrating special holidays such as Christmas or Easter
• Praying

In addition to times of corporate worship, we can continue to worship throughout our daily routine. Consider these times when worship is possible. Which have you enjoyed now or in the past; which would you would like to try:
• While driving to and from appointments
• While cleaning the house or doing other chores
• While exercising
• When gathering as a family for meals and other activities
• While getting ready for bed

When worship becomes a focus every day, it’s not really difficult to find time. God truly loves to hear our voice of praise and adoration. And as our revelation of His great love for us grows, worship is our never-ending response — throughout all of eternity!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 3 Love One Another

MAIN IDEA: God’s love for us empowers us to love one another.

Our love for God in response to His love for us is only step one for believers. God has also called us to love one another:

[Jesus] answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Luke 10:27

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Our response to God’s great love must be reflected not only in our attitudes and actions toward God, but also in our attitudes and actions toward those around us. As we honor God’s instruction, our worship is unhindered.

A Biblical Picture of Love
As we have seen, the Bible tells us that God is love. The Bible also tells us that we were created in God’s image: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ ” (Gen. 1:26). Furthermore, we know that God doesn’t love us in word only, but also in deed: “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” (Rom. 5:8). Therefore, as we embrace the grace-filled life that God provides, love must flow through our words and our actions toward one another. As this verse from 1 John tells us, “We love because He first loved us” (4:19). So, we are both commanded and qualified to love God and one another.

Paul’s words to the Colossian church show us how love for one another should look:

God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 1

Read again the list of things Paul told us to “put on”: heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, acceptance, and forgiveness. Which of these are being evidenced in your life today?

Can you see the picture of love here? We are the elect of God, which means that God chose us. And He has chosen to dwell in us and among us. We are holy because He is holy, and that allows us to approach His throne of grace without any hindrance or obstacles. He loved us enough to die for us, and that love must set the tone for our relationships with one another.

Our attitude and actions toward one another must be tender, merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, and forgiving. With love — the bond of perfection — in place, the Word of God will flow through us to one another, and peace and thanksgiving will abound — as well as praise!

Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. Hebrews 4:16

Love Overflowing
With our attitude and actions toward one another in right order, we can gather corporately with expectation. As we lift our voices to the Lord in worship, with grace in our hearts, the love we have for God will overflow to those around us; and their lives will be changed forever.

Some years ago, when I was serving as a church worship leader in Carrollton, Texas, I witnessed the love of God pour out of the body of Christ on my dear friends, Mark and Marilyn Nesbit. Their daughter, Meredith, a freshman in college at the time, was tragically killed in an automobile accident while returning from school for the Thanksgiving holiday.

As you can imagine, the entire church, and our worship team in particular, rallied around this grief-stricken family. Mark and Marilyn were devastated, but in their broken place, they worshiped; and they called us all to a higher place of worship as well. As we gathered for the memorial service, there were many testimonials and tears. Mark and Marilyn didn’t ask for tears and sorrow that day, although we all shared their grief. But they did ask that I lead the congregation in intimate worship of our great God and Savior! They wanted us to worship God and to invite His glorious presence even in the midst of their tragedy.

I remember clutching my guitar close to my chest and begging God for the grace to honor their deepest desire — and He responded. We sang Meredith’s favorite song that day, “Run to the Cross,” with all the joy and strength we could muster.
Run to the cross, run to the cross
There you will find God’s love divine, run to the cross
That blood-stained place of love and grace God now awaits, run to the cross.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross at Calvary had already bridged the great divide for Meredith, and we wept, worshiped, and celebrated her victory — all at the same time.

Our singing and worship that day transcended the moment of tragedy and led our entire church forward with renewed hope and confidence that our Redeemer lives and cares about each one of us. As we lifted our voices in praise to our God, barriers were broken down that day — barriers that separated us from God and barriers that separated men and women in our fellowship from one another. Love Himself broke through that day as we all ran to the cross together.

Have you ever been part of worshiping in the midst of tragedy? What did God do in that situation to show you His love?

Jesus made it clear: unless we reach out to one another in love, the world will not recognize that we are His disciples. As the following passage from 1 John affirms, love is the very thing that indicates we are born of God:

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

If we know and love God, love should flow freely in our lives. In fact, without love, our good deeds and our spiritual gifts are ineffective, as we read in 1 Corinthians:

If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In addition to instructing us to love one another, Jesus declared that we are to be “salt and light” to the world around us. He has chosen to dwell in each of us through the Holy Spirit and to reach the unsaved through us. The key is always found in abiding in Christ and allowing His Spirit to work through us. Think of some ways you can reach out to people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus in your community, workplace, or school.

God is love, and God wants to express His love through us — the body of Christ — to believers and to the unsaved every day. God always initiates, and we simply respond. As we grasp the width, depth, and breadth of His love for us, our worship will express and demonstrate love in return.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, NKJV

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 2 Our Response to God’s Great Love

MAIN IDEA: God’s love elicits a response of love from us — worship

We’ve seen that God’s grace is a direct result of His love for His people. There is no other explanation for an omnipotent, all-powerful God who chooses to overwhelm our human limitations and make a way for us to know Him and receive His promises. The Bible shows us that God always has been and always will be love. It is His nature, His expression, His identity; and as we have learned, God will always be consistently true to Himself. No matter how bleak our circumstances may look, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35,38-39, NKJV

So, love is not only a good idea; it is the essence of God. And God expects His overwhelming love for us to elicit a response of love from us — worship! How could we not worship the One who loves us this much?

Throughout Scripture, whenever God’s people recognized that God’s grace, motivated by His incredible love, had intervened in their lives, they were quick to worship Him. Let’s take a look at the biblical accounts of two very different individuals who experienced God’s love and grace and responded with worship: Nehemiah and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Nehemiah’s Story
The story of Nehemiah is a classic example of what it means to experience God. Nehemiah’s account walks us through every one of the seven realities in the process of experiencing God outlined by Blackaby and King — and worship was his response!

The task of rebuilding the walls was indeed a God-sized assignment that could be completed only by God’s grace. Simply asking the king for permission was a major step of faith for Nehemiah. Faith and action are always required as we respond to God’s invitation to join Him as He works.

Nehemiah said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:5

The king gave his approval, but Nehemiah had to make many major adjustments in his life and persevere through great opposition to join God in this mighty Kingdom endeavor. And when the walls were finished, Nehemiah led God’s people in one of the great corporate worship moments in Scripture:

Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large processions that gave thanks. One went to the right on the wall, toward the Dung Gate. … Then the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as the leader. On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy. The women and children also celebrated, and Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away. Nehemiah 12:31,42-43

Have you ever been part of a corporate worship experience that was so “lively” it could be heard from far away? Would you be comfortable in such a setting? Why or why not?

Nehemiah’s story was personal and yet very public. It took great faith and corresponding action by all of God’s people to respond to God’s invitation through Nehemiah’s leadership. The result was that the people experienced God as the walls were rebuilt.

Read More About It
• Petitioning the king: Neh. 2:1-8
• Making preparations: Neh. 2:11-20
• The work begins: Neh. 3:1-32
• Hostile plots are thwarted: Neh. 4:1-23
• Dealing with complaints: Neh. 5:1-13
• Outsmarting the enemy: Neh. 6:1-14
• The wall is completed: Neh. 6:15-19
• The exiles return: Neh. 7:5-73
• The people worship: Neh. 8:1-18

Mary’s Story
Unlike Nehemiah’s story, Mary’s story is very personal and mostly private. As she embraced being chosen by God to become the mother of the Savior of the world, Mary’s life was changed forever. She endured doubt, hardship, scorn, and ridicule along the way to her destiny. But Mary experienced God in the process in ways no one could possibly imagine.

After submitting to God’s will for her life, Mary traveled to be with her relative Elizabeth, and she discovered that Elizabeth also was pregnant with a son. Surely Mary had her own “crisis of belief” as she responded to God’s invitation to join Him as He worked, and God responded to her need. As soon as Mary reached Elizabeth’s house, God made it clear that He was present:

In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed!” Luke 1:39-42

Mary’s response to God’s gracious affirmation through Elizabeth was worship.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.” Luke 1:46-49

Read More About It
• An angel appears to Mary: Luke 1:26-38
• Mary visits Elizabeth: Luke 1:39-45
• Mary’s song of praise: Luke 1:46-55

Spontaneous Worship
The stories of Mary and Nehemiah give us two very different but clear examples of God’s people responding to His loving intervention in their lives. When we recognize what God has done for us and the love that motivates His actions, our worship becomes more spontaneous. Worship is both a natural human response and a spiritual reaction to who God is and what He has done. My friend and co-author, Stan Moser, encountered a young woman at church who provides a great modern-day example of worship in response to what God has done. Here is the story in his words:

At a recent Wednesday night service, my wife, Sue, pointed out a young lady named Debra just before the service began. When Sue met this young woman last year, Debra was using a walker and could barely even stand. She was stricken with multiple sclerosis, and she had been told that her only alternative was to go to the nursing home to live out what was left of her life.

But Debra had a revelation — a revelation that defied logic. Debra was convinced that she had a Redeemer, One whose name is more powerful than multiple sclerosis — One who loves her enough to die for her and make it possible for her to overcome the Adversary who wants to destroy her life. His name is Jesus, the name above all names.

When Sue first met Debra, she felt led to go to the altar and pray for her. Debra needed a miracle, and God was ready to meet her need! Sue responded to God’s invitation to join Him with Debra at the altar. There was no visible change that night, but God was definitely working.

Now, one year later, I watched across the auditorium as Debra began to worship God with all her heart, all her soul, and all her strength. The worship team started with a Reuben Morgan song, “My Redeemer Lives.” We all worshiped, but Debra worshiped!

She wasn’t in a wheelchair, and she no longer used a walker. This vibrant, joy-filled woman was standing and exalting her God with uplifted hands and a grateful heart. I was moved to tears as I watched this beloved daughter of Almighty God respond to the revelation of who God is and what God has done in her life!

And then it struck me: I should be worshiping the same way. My Redeemer lives as well! He is the One who redeemed my life from the fiery pit; the One who cast my sin into a sea of forgetfulness; the Lamb who loved me enough to die, face all the forces the Adversary could muster, and return to earth victorious over sin and death.

Now that’s what I call revelation — who He is and what He has done! It’s true: My Redeemer lives! Your Redeemer lives! You may not have overcome a life-threatening disease like Debra, but you most definitely have been delivered from a death sentence of sin. He is Savior, Deliverer, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, the Name above all names. We have every reason to respond to the great love God has expressed and experience Him in worship!

As we saw in Class 1, Lesson 2, God has revealed Himself to us as our Savior, Friend, Counselor, Redeemer, and so much more. Can you recall a time in your life when you cried out to God for a specific need and saw Him respond with love and grace? How was God’s love for you evident in His response? What major issues are you facing right now where you fervently desire God to intervene?

In the next class we will discuss worshiping while you wait and while you are “under the weight.” Begin now to cry out to God for answers to even the most difficult issues you are facing. Begin to recall who He is and what He has done in your life. God has promised to meet you as you worship, and He will!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 1 Love Came Down

MAIN IDEA: The full and perfect expression of God’s great love for us is His Son, Jesus Christ.

In last class, we saw that the Creator of all things, who made us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, chose to come to earth, take on human form with all its frailties and limitations, and make a way for us by grace to be worthy of His presence. What could motivate God to do such a thing? The only answer is love.

God Is Love
God is love. God always has been and always will be love, for God never changes. Expressing His love for us is so important to God that He was willing to send Himself in human form to die the most excruciating death known to man in order to demonstrate real love. And Jesus calls us to demonstrate this same kind of love for others:

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:13-14

There is a beautiful story that a friend once told me. As the story begins, it was a bitterly cold day in Northern France. World War II was headed to its conclusion, but there were still many days of fighting ahead. Two soldiers — I’ll call them Corporal Bill Sanders and Private Joel Anderson — sat in a foxhole and heard the bad news: there was a mission that had to be carried out, and Bill had been chosen to go. The platoon leader made it clear that this mission was likely to cost Bill his life, but freedom for thousands was dependent on his act of courage.

Joel was very familiar with Bill’s life story — after all, he had spent weeks trudging through the mud with Bill, bringing liberty to a people ravaged by war. Joel had listened for hours as Bill had read the letters from his wife and three young children back home. He loved hearing the stories about their life together.

Joel had somehow been grafted into Bill’s family during those many hours together. Joel knew that Bill had a good reason to live — his wife and kids needed him desperately. But the mission to liberate people fighting for their families there in France was essential.

Joel knew what he had to do. He had a deep sense that just maybe he had been born for such a time as this; the love he held for Bill and his family was overwhelming. Joel convinced the platoon leader to send him on this deadly mission instead of Bill.

Joel laid down his life that day for his friend. His sacrifice not only impacted the war effort but also countless lives in his rural hometown for generations to come. Bill returned home to his family and spent the rest of his life telling the story of how Joel had chosen to lay down his life that day for his friend. And through Bill’s efforts, Joel’s heroism has impacted millions around the world.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, NKJV

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16, NIV

God’s Love Cost Him Dearly
That story paints a perfect picture of real, sacrificial love in action. In the same manner, Jesus laid down His precious life for me and for you. Jesus chose to pay the price for all our sins at Calvary. He is the Lamb of God who experienced the pain of a real flesh-and-blood death in our place. That’s how much God loves us. Love is who He is, and His love for us cost Him dearly. How could we not want to tell the world about this wonderful Friend and Savior?

Look over this list of ways that people “lay down their lives” for others. Which ones are a part of your life?
• Sacrificial giving to those in need (money and/or material things)
• Investing time in the lives of others
• Giving up self-interests for the interests of others
• Caring for others’ needs (physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual)
• Praying/interceding for others consistently
• Providing a financial inheritance
• Working hard to provide for family
• Serving in the military to ensure freedom
• Being willing to donate organs so that others may live or live better lives

All of these activities are evidence of love. Because love must express itself through actions, there is always evidence of real love.

What are some of the evidences of God’s love for you? There are many things you could list, but the greatest evidence of God’s love for each of us is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Such selfless love requires our response of worship!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Class 4 “Love”

“Each of us was created by God for relationship with Him, but we can only enjoy that relationship by God’s grace. God’s great love for us is expressed in Jesus Christ.”

Let’s begin to connect with this class by considering the following questions:
• What are some common pictures or definitions of grace that we have? What comes to mind when you think of the word grace?
• Think about some of the ways you go about preparing for worship. What ways are the most meaningful?
• What were some of the good attributes that you see in yourself that were described in the last class? How do these qualities relate to worship?
• Have you ever shared your salvation story with someone? Would you consider doing so?
• How do you define worshiping in spirit and in truth?

Watch and listen as Mike sets the stage for our study on worship by explaining God’s great “Love.”

Engage by reflecting on the following questions from the Word of God and Mike’s message:
• Mike mentioned several ways that we use the word love, ranging from silly to serious. What are some other examples of how you have heard the word used or defined? How does the Bible define love?
• Mike also gave some examples of how love was demonstrated for him by the actions of different family members. What are some instances from your childhood that you associate with love?
• Is there a time when you felt the love of God was made real in your life? Think about that time.

“Lord Jesus, I thank You that You really did love me enough to die for me. There truly is no greater love than that. Help me to always remember exactly what You did for me and for all those I love. May we express to others the love that You have shown to us! Amen.”

• Think about any terms or concepts that are new to you for this class.
• The full and perfect expression of God’s great love for us is His Son, Jesus Christ.
• God’s love elicits a response of love from us — worship!
• God’s love for us empowers us to love one another.
• God calls us to love others by sharing His Word.
• God wants us to allow His love to flow through us.

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16