I Love My Church — Week 3 Study Guide

Week 3 Study Guide

Primary Verses for Study

“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.” —Titus 3:14

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” —James 3:13

“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” —Galatians 5:14

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” —1 Peter 2:12

Guiding Thought/Central Truth

As Christians, we must learn how to act in good deeds. This shows others the depth of our love for Jesus and for each other. It helps us grow in wisdom and truth. It’s a protection for us and serves as a witness to a world that would slander us and portray Christians in negative ways. Our behavior becomes our defense when we serve others.

Getting Started

You will need a note card and pen. Write down a need you know of from someone within the church. If you can’t think of something, it’s okay. Assess if someone you know has the skill or ability to meet that need. Write down the solutions on the note card. Some needs may be bigger than we can easily solve. Take time to pray for God to meet these needs.

    • What kind of insight about our church did you gain from this activity?
    • Is there anything about your current behavior at church that might change knowing what you know now?

Introduction

When we think of service, we most often think that we should take care of the needs of those who are lost without Jesus. But today we are going to explore the impact of service within the church body and how it can be a testimony to the world of Jesus’ love for them.

Think It Through

Read Titus 3:14.

    • What is your definition of a good deed?
    • How would someone learn to do good deeds?
    • How could not engaging in good deeds lead to having an unproductive life?
    • Within our church, how can you find out who has pressing needs?

Learning to meet needs—whether they are expressed openly or not— is important to our maturity as a Christian. As we meet the needs of people in our church, love for the church grows. Serving is more about what Jesus is doing in us rather than what we are doing for other people. We are most like our Savior when we humble ourselves and serve.

Read James 3:13 and Galatians 5:14.

    • How can you use wisdom to serve people in our church?
    • Think about spiritual gifts. Choose three gifts and write them down. Discuss how people with each of those gifts could use it to meet needs within the church. List your ideas under each gift.
    • Name some ways that we can keep the focus on loving our neighbor.
    • What do you think it means to love someone the way you would love yourself?
    • What role does humility play in serving and being served?

Read 1 Peter 2:12.

Have you ever considered that serving each other and practicing good deeds within the church could be a protection for a Christian? The love we show to each other through service is our invisible shield against the enemy’s flaming arrows. Many people, TV shows, movies, and media portray Christians as evil people who out of ignorance spread hate. God says that our acts of service and love toward one another will prove these slanderous statements false. In fact, the Bible says that these same people will not only retract their statements about Christians but they will glorify God once they realize the truth.

  • When you find yourself in a situation where your character is being misrepresented, how do you react?
  • What are some ways that we can support Christians in our church who are under attack?

How Does This Apply to Me?

If I don’t share my needs with people in my church, how does it impact their spiritual walk?

Are there people in my life with needs that I have the ability to meet currently? What is preventing me from serving them?

How Does This Apply to Our Church?

Has there ever been a time in your life when you desperately needed help but you didn’t tell anyone about it? How would you suggest that our church meet the needs of people who don’t tell us what they need? What can we do as a church to encourage one another to continue to

serve despite the fact that our character has been misrepresented by the world? How can we make it easier for people to recognize opportunities to serve and meet needs within our church?

What Am I Going to Do with What I Know Now?

Make a plan to follow through with your suggestions to help the church members in need. Do everything you can to meet the needs before your small group meets again. Allow God to teach you to love through this act of service. Be ready next week to share with the group about your experience.



I Love My Church — Week 2 Study Guide

Week 2 Study Guide

Primary Verses for Study

“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” —Hebrews 10:22-25

“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” —Romans 12:5

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” —1 John 2:10

Guiding Thought/Central Truth

We need each other. As Christians traveling the same path and experiencing similar life challenges, why wouldn’t we want to learn from those who have walked the path before us? They act as the GPS in our lives. They can show us how to successfully navigate the journey even when there is heavy traffic ahead! This week focuses on how building relationships—from the smallest of exchanges to the deepest friendships—can spur us on in the journey.

Getting Started

You will need a note card and pen. Mark an “x” on the card to represent the start of your journey with Jesus. Draw a line from the “x” to represent the ups and downs of your spiritual journey. The line will have hills and valleys depending on each person’s story. End the line on the other side of the card to represent where you feel you are spiritually at this moment.

At each peak or valley, write the name of someone who helped you through the valley or encouraged you to reach the peak.

Focus on the people who have helped you in your spiritual journey. Try to answer some of these questions:

    • Did this person know they had helped you?
    • How well did you know them personally?
    • Are you still in contact with this person?
    • Do you think your journey would have looked different if this person had not been there for you?

Introduction

As a body of believers, we come together with a common need for salvation. Our past and our present bind us in unity with each other. Our journeys may not look the same, but our destination is common. As we strive to be more obedient to Jesus, we need those who have

traveled the road before us to help show us the way.

Think It Through

Read Hebrews 10:22-25.

    • How does Hebrews 10:22 remind you of your life before Christ?
    • In what ways can you hold on to your faith without wavering?

Can this be accomplished without the encouragement of the church?

    • What significance does the church have in helping you to avoid the habits of your life before Christ?
    • List the ways these verses say the church should intervene in a Christian’s walk with Jesus.
    • In what ways does our church exemplify these traits?
    • What suggestions would you offer someone who wanted to do good deeds in our community? In our church? For you and your family?

Read Romans 12:5 and 1 John 2:10.

Becoming one body in Christ involves meeting together regularly, inspiring each other toward good deeds, and encouraging each other when things get hard. We demonstrate love as a church when we recognize that together we help each other not to stumble. We need each other.

    • What are some actions that promote and cultivate love?
    • Think about a moment in your life when you felt supported and encouraged. How can you reproduce that feeling for someone in our church?
    • How has someone encouraged you without even knowing they did so?
    • How can loving the people in our church help us to avoid stumbling in our Christian walk?

Love requires action. Jesus intended for us to come together as one body in unity to withstand the difficulties that would come our way as we follow after Him. In the book The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, nine characters are thrown together on a dangerous quest. The characters are all very different from each other. Some of the group are strong in might, and others are strong in character. Some seem useless but later show a hidden attribute. Several of them show weakness, and the group helps them to overcome it. In the end, it’s obvious that not one in their party would have survived without every one of the others helping along the way. Jesus has planned for our survival. We need each other to accomplish His will. The first step on the journey is learning to love our church.

How Does This Apply to Me?

What are some things you are good at doing? How can you share that skill with someone in the church?  In what ways have you personally helped someone along in their Christian journey?  What can you do to make it easier for someone to connect with you at church?

How Does This Apply to Our Church?

How can we as a church be more intentional about helping people in their walk with Jesus?  What can we do to make it easier for people to find connections in our church?  If we made the assumption that everyone who sits around us in church needs some kind of encouragement, how would our actions change?

What Am I Going to Do with What I Know Now?

This next Sabbath morning, challenge yourself to assume that everyone sitting around you desperately needs encouragement. Think of one small way to show them that you sincerely care about them. It may be a hug, a kind word, a smile, or simply trying to learn their name. Allow yourself to be open to sharing someone’s journey.



I Love My Church — Week 1 Study Guide

Week 1

Introduction

Our church has never been about the building where we meet or the programs that we conduct or even how great the preaching and music are, but it’s about the people who gather together there. It’s about us. Over the next five weeks, we will be focusing on how we as a group of believers can love our church more. How can we meet the needs of the individuals in this congregation? What does it look like to the community around us when we love each other the way that Jesus loves us?

Think It Through

Read John 13:34-35.

When you are telling someone good-bye, the things that you say in your last moments together are important. You want them to be remembered. Jesus spoke the words in John 13:34-35 hours before His death. He challenged the people in the church to love one another.

• Who is Jesus speaking to in these verses?

• What do you think is the significance of Jesus making this a new commandment?

• According to these verses, what is the impact of having love for one another?

• Tell about a time when someone unexpectedly extended kindness to you.

• In your opinion, what kinds of gestures show love to family members? Friends? Acquaintances? Strangers?

• In which category would you put most of the people in our church: family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers?

Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with people at church. When you only see each other one or two hours a week, it can be hard to know people, much less love them. Sometimes past hurts and dissention make it difficult to love our church. Yet, Jesus still commands it. It was His intent that our love for each other be so obvious that it would be the marker that identifies us as belonging to Him.

• What do you think prevents people in the church from expressing love to each other?

• What advice would you give someone who wants to overcome these obstacles?

• What effect does a congregation’s behavior have on people who do not attend that church?

Loving one another is risky. It can get personal. It can make us vulnerable. It can also give us insight into our Christian walk, provide us opportunities to serve, and open us up to irreplaceable friendships. Jesus commanded it for us. And by our love for one another, the world will know Jesus’ love for them.

How Does This Apply to Me?

What is the biggest obstacle you personally need to overcome in order to show love to the people in this church? What steps are you willing to take to overcome that obstacle?

How Does This Apply to Our Church?

If half of the members decided to extend an act of love within our church this week, how would it affect the congregation? How would it affect the congregation if they committed to an act of love every week for a month? What steps can we take to make our church renowned for its love?

What Am I Going to Do with What I Know Now?

Take a moment to pray and ask God to bring to mind one person in your church. If you know the person’s name, write it down on a piece of paper. If not, write down a few words describing the person. Now ask God to show you one way that you can love that person this week. He may give you something simple like pray for them every day, or He may give you something riskier like meeting a need they have.



Celebration — Day 40

Believe It

Luke 15:7, 10: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. Evangelism is a celebration. Celebration is a better term than “effort” or “campaign” or “crusade.” What we are really doing in an evangelistic festival is uniting ourselves with the joy of heaven when a sinner repents. Only the devil takes exception, and since it bothers him, he wants it to bother you, too. Don’t listen to him. Cheer up!
  2. We celebrate what God has done. It’s indeed true that God uses human beings to share the good news, but it’s God’s work to bring conversion. We are celebrating the work of God in conversion—His success. We should focus on the miracle of conversion, which God alone can do.
  3. God changes all kinds of people. Remember the first day of these 40 days; we began praying for people in the following three categories:

• In Jerusalem—people close to you in distance and relationship.

• In Judea—acquaintances, but not deep friendships.

• In Samaria—persons hostile to the gospel.

Share It

Write down the names of the people who were baptized, for whom you will pray and serve as a spiritual mentor and friend.

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My Prayer Today: For steadfastness in Christ.

– Pray that every person baptized will remain steadfast with Christ, in the church.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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Decision — Day 39

Believe It

Acts 22:16: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. Get up. When a person decides to be baptized, his or her life begins to climb. Relationships improve. Health improves. Finances improve. Communion with God improves. The road to Jerusalem is always upward. When we make that marvelous decision, our self-esteem rises too.
  2. Wash. Anyone who has gone more than two days without a bath knows how good it feels to have one again! Another blessing of following Jesus is the opportunity to leave the past behind—to wash it away. What an incomparable feeling of cleanliness!
  3. Invoke. When we invoke, or call on, God’s presence, we enter the realm of prayer. A decision accompanied by prayer is secure and trustworthy. Whom do you turn to when you have problems? In whom do you trust when you need a confidant? When you invoke the name of Jesus at these times, His peace will flood our hearts as never before.

Share It

Begin to fast for all those who will be baptized in the meetings.

My Prayer Today: For those who have to make hard choices.

– Pray that God will hope them overcome any obstacle.

– Pray that they will be able to put God first in their lives.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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Heaven — Day 38

Believe It

Revelation 21:1-3: “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. Heaven will eliminate bad memories. We all have bad memories of things done to us, or that we have done to ourselves or others. Sometimes these bad memories won’t let us move forward in life. In heaven Jesus will take charge of removing all bad memories. How nice it will be to live without trauma, guilt, and anxiety!
  2. Heaven will increase all that is good. Heaven will take all that we regard here as good, wholesome, and beneficial, and will take to an unimaginably higher level. Think of all the attractive, pleasing, and great things here on earth. Then imagine what it will be like to live with those things multiplied and increased. We will go from one blessing to another. If we thought more about heaven, I believe, our attitudes would be more positive.
  3. Heaven will allow us to be with Jesus, in person. Heaven has many positive things, but the grandest and best of all is the opportunity to maintain a visible, audible relationship with our Savior. The cuddly animals and breathtaking views, and even the absence of sin, do not ultimately define heaven. What gives it meaning is the constant presence of Jesus, of which we will never grow weary.

Share It

Study with your family today about heaven (if you are single, invite a friend).

My Prayer Today: For unity in the church.

– Pray that nothing will disturb the unity that God wants His church to have.

– Pray that God will grant a double portion of patience to all of us.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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2nd Coming — Day 37

Believe It

1 Thessalonians 5:23: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. The coming of Jesus will be a real event. Jesus will come, that’s the way it is. How will it happen? The Bible tells us that His coming will be audible, visible, and worldwide. It will not be here or there; it will be a single event and all will know what it is. When they see it, there will be no doubt. Don’t let yourself be deceived. While He comes, stay in the Word and continue you daily connection with Him.
  2. Don’t focus on the time of His coming, but in being ready all the time. When will Jesus come? Many people throughout history have attached dates, but all have been disappointed. I once heard a song that said: “The day’s not so important, as the condition of my life; my main concern is my own heart, to be ready to meet our God.” What beautiful and true words these are!
  3. Jesus’ coming will be soon. That hope brings joy to the heart, not fear. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior have no fear of His coming, but joy and happiness. Today we are nearer His coming than what we think.

Share It

Some share news of Jesus’ coming with a sense of alarm and fear. Today, share that news with someone in a very positive manner.

My Prayer Today: For consistency in attendance.

– Pray that God will keep visitors coming every night, without missing a meeting.

– Pray that God will help resolve any work-related situations the visitors may have.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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Home — Day 36

Believe It

Acts 16:30-34: “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.  The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. A happy family is teachable. The jailer and his family displayed an exemplary characteristic—they were willing to be taught. No matter the hour; or that their instructor belonged to a different religion, they were ready to learn. When we allow ourselves to be taught, we grow. What would have happened if this family had held fast to its own traditions and rejected the new teachings Paul was sharing with them? Surely the story would have ended differently.
  2. The happy family goes to Jesus just as it is. This family heard the call of God in the early morning, and at that very hour, in their home, all were baptized. Sometimes we wait a long time for the conditions to be just right to make a decision. Don’t make that mistake. Go to Jesus just as you are. No matter the time, no matter the place, God accepts you.
  3. The happy family studies together. A marvelous blessing many families don’t know about or carelessly ignore is family worship. When the family gathers to study the word of God, good things happen. God promises His blessing. This family gathered around Paul to study the word. One would be wise to follow suit.

Share It

If you live with your family, gather your family and have worship today. Pray for the meetings.

My Prayer Today: For whole families who need to surrender to Jesus.

– Pray those families will be able to make decisions to be baptized.

– Pray that they will see the blessing that comes from that decision.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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Children — Day 35

Believe It

Acts 2:38: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. Our good decisions help our children, too. We can identify the advantages of submitting our lives to Jesus: Forgiveness (takes care of our past) and the Holy Spirit (power for now and the future). Through an act of obedience to God and a covenant with our Creator, we can change the trajectory of our families forever. Even if your ancestors did not have the best life, that can all change.
  2. God is calling parents—and their children, too. You may have children who have yet to make decisions for Jesus. Parents are responsible for making decisions themselves, and should invite their children to make positive choices. Sometimes parents worry about not forcing the decision to be baptized on their children, which is an appropriate way to approach. Yet, as parents, we have a responsibility to present that choice and should give ample thought to the eternal implications of discouraging or standing in the way of the decision your children would make.
  3. The best gift you can give your child is a change to your own life. Birthdays and Christmas are traditional times for giving gifts to our children. Consider that most gifts we give end up broken, or are forgotten after a while. Not so with the gift of salvation. By changing your way of life, you are giving your children the most beautiful of all gifts.

Share It

If you know of a young person who has yet to make a decision to surrender or return to Christ, invite him to the meetings.

My Prayer Today: Children of an appropriate age who can be baptized.

– Pray that they can receive Jesus as their personal Savior.

– Pray that they their family will accept your invitation to attend the meetings.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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Women — Day 34

Believe It

Acts 16:13-15: “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized….”

Live It

We can learn three lessons from today’s text.

  1. Our good decisions help our family. The story of Lydia is powerful, not only because she gave herself to God, but her whole family did so, as well. Other members of our own families will be impacted in a positive way when we make good decisions. Lydia brought blessings to her own family and undoubtedly to many others.
  2. Only God can open the heart. Converting others is not our task. We are responsible to introduce them to the message of Jesus. From there the Holy Spirit will do His work. God is working in the heart of every person. When the call was made that Sabbath there were probably some who rejected it. Don’t worry about the ones who reject it, rejoice with the ones, like Lydia, who choose Christ.
  3. Worship is not enough; you must make a decision. The Sabbath Lydia accepted the invitation to give herself completely to God, wasn’t the first Sabbath she had gone to church. There are those, like Lidia, worshiping in our churches, but not yet committed. It is not enough to be a listener. One must take the relationship with Jesus to the next level. That level is to be baptized, into the family of God.

Share It

Do you know of a woman who needs to make a decision for Jesus, or return to Him? Invite her to the meetings. Offer to provide transportation.

My Prayer Today: For women who need to be baptized.

– Pray that God will remove all obstacles to making decisions.

– Pray that your invitation to the meetings will be accepted.

My Thoughts: ________________________________________________________________________

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