Going Deeper into Loving Others
Respect: God’s Unique Love
It’s our last session of Going Deeper into Respect. We’re glad you’ve joined us for the journey. We’ve been in the Word, studying hard, hopefully working it into our lives. But today will look a little different, have a different rhythm. Even though we may start off the same…
So grab your Bible, pen, journal and a friend or two to talk with.
Read Reflection Scripture:
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.
– Song of Solomon 8:6 ESV
What insights did you gain from the Reflection Scripture and Reflection Thoughts which helped you process respecting God’s unique love?
How is it different than the world’s love? How has He loved you uniquely?
At the end of Session One, the Introduction to Going Deeper into Respect, we did a prayer exercise based on the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). We put ourselves in her place, watched Jesus write in the sand, and recorded the word He wrote for us.
In a sense, He set a seal on you at the beginning of our journey of Going Deeper into Respect as the first step toward loving others. You don’t have to share, but we would like to ask: What was your word? Did it reveal His unique love for you?
If you want to share, leave a comment at the end of this post on SisterTalkFaith.com.
The Hebrew translated as jealousy in our Reflection Scripture can mean: the jealous disposition of a husband (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
Have you experienced His jealousy for you in your life? How?
God’s love is often represented as that of Husband in Scripture. But His love is unique, more complex. What are other relationships used in the Bible as a picture of God’s love for His people?
- Father to child. 1John 3:1
- Brother. Luke 8:21
- Friend. John 15:13
- Mother. Isaiah 66:13
- Creator. John 3:16
Take a moment to praise Him in song as our Good Good Father.
Set me as a seal upon your heart…
Read Ephesians 1:13-14
How has the Holy Spirit been a sign and guarantee of God’s love in your life?
According to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, the inheritance guaranteed by the Holy Spirit is the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is expected at Christ’s return. The seal of His love comes with a promise of something better. An eternal guarantee of an everlasting love.
How does the Holy Spirit’s seal on your heart help you wait? Live a hope-full life?
The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives comes with transformation and unique gifts of love. Sometimes we don’t or can’t see what He’s done. How He’s changed us or gifted us to help build the Kingdom. Someone must point it out to us.
Over the last few weeks, Carol and I have both experienced someone telling us they see something in our lives that made us wonder:
Is that true? Am I? Is this what others see in me?
We were both taken by surprise. Even asked one another, “Do you think it’s true?”
Holy Spirit often works in ways we don’t recognize until someone speaks it to us. When it happens it can be a wonderful confirmation of His unique love in us and through us.
Consider the people you know, especially those you might be gathered with in this moment. What unique gifts of love have you seen in them? Are you bold enough to name the gift you see?
Make time to speak what you see to that person or write them a note or card, it’s a great way share God’s unique love with them and respect who He is transforming them into.
Love is strong as death…
Turn to Romans 8:32-39
We looked at God’s love being strong as death.
Read Romans 8:32 in several different translations if you have them available. [The link will take you to three on BibleGateway.com]
How does God affirm His unique love for us in this verse?
He affirms His unique love for us by saying: I didn’t even spare my Son, how can I not give you all things?
He answers the question on so many of our hearts: Do you love me? Why are You holding out on me?
He gave us His Son, and says He will give us everything, but we must trust His timing. Sometimes our own unwillingness to give Him all, release it for His use in His Kingdom, keeps us from believing He will give His all to us.
He says: How can I not give you all things?
Do you feel like God is holding out on you in some way? What are some of the reasons you might be waiting?
Have you ever considered saying God’s words back to Him: How can I not give you all things?
When He calls you to give it all, to sacrifice in the same manner as Jesus, a sheep to be slaughtered, so someone else might be saved, will you?
We can’t guarantee our sacrifice will bring about salvation in another. Each person chooses whether to accept the gift or not. Would you lay down your life on the possibility of saving another?
Our own lack of understanding and respect for God’s unique love can keep us from giving our all for His use. We miss opportunities to love others when we hold back.
What are you holding back from His use? Is there someone God is calling you to love uniquely but it seems too painful, too hard?
Take the next few moments to confess and repent from your slowness in giving Him your life, all of who you are and all you have, for His use. Pray silently or out loud, however God leads you.
End your time of confession praising God in song: I Could Sing of Your Love Forever
Jealousy is fierce as the grave…
Read Deuteronomy 4:21-24
What was Moses explaining to the people? What were they allowed to do that he wasn’t? Why?
What do you think Moses would’ve said about God’s love? What do you hear between the lines?
Unfair! God’s love is unfair.
Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land, not even allowed to set foot on it. He was given no inheritance. While the others received lots of land, he was destined to die in the wilderness because of unbelief and because he did not uphold God as holy before the people (Numbers 20:12).
Moses failed to respect God’s authority and in the process glorified himself instead of God. Does this seem like an unfair punishment considering all Moses did for God? His people? all his faithfulness?
Do you have fairness issues?
What else wasn’t fair about the way God revealed His unique love to Moses?
- God spoke to Moses face to face as a friend. Exodus 33:11
- Moses was the chosen one to give the law to His people. Exodus 24:12
- Moses did set foot on the Promised Land during Jesus’s transfiguration. Mark 9:2-4
God’s love is always perfect, always equally strong for every person created, but He does not treat us the same. Moses had a unique position in the world and so do each one of us. Not fair – unique.
For example. Do you have siblings? How many? sisters? brothers?
Each one of us are unique in our relationships and the positions we’ve been given to love others.
I have three siblings. Two brothers and one sister. I am my sister’s only sister, therefore I am in a unique place to love her uniquely.
When she went through a divorce I had to increase the minutes on my cell phone plan in order to love her in the place she was. Which I did willingly, but I never realized what a unique place I had in her life or the blessing God gave me to support and encourage her.
What unique opportunities do you have to love someone that no one else has on the planet?
Consider a unique position God has given you.
Take time to thank God for the unique position He’s placed you in to love others and ask Him to teach you how to love them with His unique love.
Seeing each person, including ourselves, as being given a unique place and opportunity to love should help us respect those He has placed in our lives, rather than focusing on whether things are fair or not.
Its flashes are flashes of fire…
Read 1Peter 4:12-19
How are Believers addressed in this passage?
Beloved. Some translations read, Dear friends. The original Greek means: worthy of love (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). It is a form of the word agape, the Greek word used for godly love.
Do fiery trials seem like a good way to treat someone you call beloved? Why or why not?
What is the purpose of these trials?
Fiery is a picture of a refiner’s fire (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). A means to purify. The trials allowed in our lives are meant to test our character, reveal where we are still lacking in our faith, and allow Him to continue to move us toward holiness.
Do you have an experience with a fiery trial you’re willing to share? Did you receive it as love? Why or why not?
Praise and Prayer Exercise: O How He Loves Us
If you’ve had things happen in your life you have yet to reconcile with His love, we want you to bring them to Him in prayer. Ask Him to reveal where He was, His love for you, and His purpose for the time of testing. We’ve given you a prompt below.
Father God, remember when _____________________?
It made me feel _____________________________.
Where were you when this happened?
Where was your love for me?
Show me the purpose for _______________________.
While you begin your conversation with Him. Play the video and let God’s love sing over you.
If you have already reconciled fiery trials with His love, sing along and pray for those who are still struggling.
The very flame of the Lord…
God’s love is a consuming fire. He reveals His unique love as flames, from the flaming sword which made sure Adam and Eve couldn’t return to the garden of Eden after the Fall, to the tongues of fire settling on each disciple, signifying the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Do you see a change in mankind’s relationship with God from the garden of Eden to the day of Pentecost? What changed?
Man’s relationship with God moved from an external relationship in a garden, to an internal relationship. His Spirit living in our hearts, guiding, convicting, forgiving.
Read Ezekiel 36:25-28
Without Jesus’s work on the cross we could not have His Holy Spirit living in us. We would literally be consumed by His wrath because of our sin.
God’s unique love goes to great lengths to buy us back, to get our attention, and to make us His own. There’s no other story more unique than this.
The impromptu phrase in a live recording of a praise song, scrolls through my thoughts:
What other king leaves His throne?
What other king leaves His glory?
What other king leaves His glory to die?
I googled it. Searching for another story like ours. Some folklore or fable. Perhaps a mythical God?
I didn’t find one. This story, our story, is made complete when God leaves behind His throne, His glory, and comes to sacrifice Himself for us. This was and is His unique plan. There is no other like it
Do you believe His love for you is unique?
A demonstration in God’s unique love for you:
- Fold a square piece of paper into fourths.
- Hold the folded paper at the corner where the center of the paper is located.
- With scissors, begin at an edge and cut out pieces as a picture of God refining you with His love.
- Continue cutting, going deeper, in convoluted paths which resemble your faith journey.
- When you are finished cutting, unfold the paper.
What do you see? What has God worked into your life through the cutting away of sin in your life?
A snowflake. Every one unique. Every one beautiful.
In the middle of the paper we had folded for our group was the name: Beloved.
Write Beloved in the center of your snowflake. Put it in a place where you see it daily. Remember God’s unique love for you, the uniqueness He has created you with, and the unique way He is working to perfect you.
Continue to ask Him daily, how to love others with His unique love, beginning with respect.
The more we respect God’s unique love for each one of us, the more we will respect others because we see what great lengths He has gone to for us.
We’re taking a break for about three weeks. We’ll return April 4, 2018 to start a six week study on Going Deeper into Share.
Father God, grow me to appreciate and respect Your unique love for me and for others. Teach me to love others as You call me to.