Your salvation depends on what [Christ] has done for you, not on what you can do for Him. It isn’t your hold on God that saves you; it’s His hold on you. ~ Billy Graham
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” From our earliest years, many of us have known of the love that God has for us. The words roll freely from our lips as we discuss our faith or consider our relationship with Him. However, for a variety of reasons, some of us today may doubt that love. For instance, a friend once told me that because he never knew his earthly father, it was hard for him to understand there could be a heavenly Father who loved him. Though he could understand it intellectually, he was unable to fully appreciate it emotionally and spiritually.
Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time in your family or your marriage. A loved one has repeatedly told you that you are worthless, and it’s getting harder and harder to believe there’s a God out there who loves you unconditionally.
Or maybe you may feel you’ve gone too far down the wrong road, and there’s no way that God could love you. You haven’t earned it, and you don’t deserve it. His unconditional love may be great for others, but it’s not so unconditional as to be reserved for you.
Or maybe you’ve been in the church for so long that discussing the love of God is like talking about dinner plans. It’s just something that’s a part of your daily routine. Similar to an inoculation, you’ve gotten a large enough dose that it simply doesn’t affect you anymore.
If you have watched any of my grandfather’s old crusade sermons, you’ve likely heard him say, “If you take nothing else from tonight, know this: God loves you! God loves you! God… loves… you!”
Whatever your circumstances today, I’m here to tell you the same thing. God loves you! He loves you with an overarching, eternal love, and He’s waiting to embrace you today.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to kick things off, discuss one of the following questions:
- How do people in your family (or circle of friends) show love to each other? What does love look like for you?
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- Why did you choose to take part in this study? What are you hoping to get out of this time together?
Invite someone to read aloud the following passage. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read, and then discuss the questions that follow.
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. — John 15:9-13
- What do you think it means to abide in God’s love?
- How does the love of God help us to be filled with joy?
- Have you ever considered that you should love others as Christ has loved you? Is that love reserved just for your friends and family, or for everybody you encounter?
WATCH SESSION ONE:
Play the video segment for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
I believe that the Creator of the universe knows my name. He knows my tears and pain. He knows my triumphs and struggles. Through it all, He loves me.
Like my grandfather’s embrace, God loves me with an eternal, unconditional love. He loves me so much that He gave His Son to die for me.
When you consider the sacrifice of Christ from the perspective of a parent who longs to protect and love his or her child above all else, you can begin to understand the pain that was felt not only by Jesus at His crucifixion, but by God the Father as well.
God’s all-encompassing love — as evidenced through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus — is for each of us. Regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. Christ took your sins to the cross and subsequently conquered the grave. Now we can have eternal hope in Him.
It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter who you are. A relationship with Christ — accepting the love that He offers — is what secures your eternity with Him in heaven, and brings a lifetime of joy, peace, and purpose in this world.
Once you’ve found and embraced the love of God, you must pass it on to others by serving them and sharing the hope that is within you.
God’s Word says that “faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17). It also promises that when the time comes, God will give you the words to say as you share that love with those around you (see Luke 12:12).
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts together.
- When I was a child, I had direct access to my grandfather because I was his grandson. I was part of his family, so I could go directly to him and fall into his embrace. Does this describe the way you feel about the access you have to God? Why or why not?
- Some people struggle with the idea that God loves them, while others have heard it so often they take it for granted. Where do you fall on that spectrum? How can you begin to genuinely understand and appreciate the love that God freely gives?
- Have you considered Christ’s sacrifice on the cross through the lens of God as a Father who sent His child to die for the sake of others? If you are a parent, how does the love you have for your own children impact your understanding of God’s love for you?
- My father shared the love of Jesus with me on that day I tried to take part in communion at our church. He explained to me that I needed to invite Jesus into my life and forgive me of my sin. Who are the people in your world who need to hear that same message? What can you do to share the gospel with them?
- Jesus’ love for you was sacrificial. He was beaten, spat upon, mocked, and tortured because of the depth of His affection for you. While you don’t need to go to that extreme, what are some ways you can sacrificially show love to those around you?
- The Bible says the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say when you have opportunities to share the love of God with others. Have you found that to be true? If you’ve never shared the gospel with those around you, what’s holding you back?
Wrap up your time together by taking a few minutes to talk with God. Here are a few ideas of what you could pray about based on what you discussed in this session:
- Thank God for His sacrificial love for you — love undeserved but freely given.
- Ask God to soften your heart so you can begin to fully realize and understand the depth of His love for you.
- Renew your commitment to God as your loving Father.
- Ask God to wrap you in His embrace, allowing you to feel His presence and love in your life.
- Ask God to show you others who need to hear of this love and for boldness to share that message when given the opportunity.
This week, I invite you to take time to consider God’s love for you. First, do a spiritual status check. Have you surrendered your past, present, and future into Jesus’ hands as your Savior and Lord? If not, don’t waste another minute! Perhaps, like the story of the prodigal son told in Luke 15:11–32, you’ve been wandering away from the Father. Come home! It’s only when you’ve taken that step that you can truly experience the love that awaits you as a child of God. Once you have, the Holy Spirit will begin opening doors for you to take that love and pass it on to others who desperately need it. Be ready for those opportunities!
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