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Stick Glue Yourself to Godly Friends
By Kevin Johnson Zondervan Copyright © 2007 Kevin Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter One GET IN THE FLOW
Real love starts and ends with God
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
-> START You could plow a canoe upstream to the start of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, a drip of water almost narrow enough to hop across. Then you could powerboat 2,320 miles southward to dangle your toes in the 300 trillion gallons of water that spill from that river each day into the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, you could leap overboard and let that immense flow flush you out to sea. But you still wouldn't experience a force as massive as God's love. It's mightier than anything on earth.
God loves you enormously. How much does that fact matter to you-a lot, a little, or not at all? Why?
-> READ 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us ...
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.
-> THINK How does God prove he cares for you?
Atonement means making amends for doing wrong. So when verse 10 speaks of an "atoning sacrifice," it's referring to the death of God's Son-Jesus-on the cross. Jesus' death paid the penalty for your sins, making a way for you to live tight with God as your Friend and Master, now and forever (Romans 6:23). Proof of God's love doesn't get any bigger than that.
The death of Jesus says everything about God's love for you. So what does your love for people-or lack of it-say about your devotion to God? You can't read that passage and miss God's repeated command to love others. But answer this: Where can you get the power to pull that off?
-> LIVE When has God's love seemed most real to you?
When you trust the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose for you, you dive into the mighty flow of God's love. And when you love others and let them love you, you feel a raging surge of God's care. His love is "made complete" in you (verse 12).
So God's love is supposed to flow to you-then through you to others. How are you doing at getting God's love-and giving it away?
-> WRAP Love begins and ends with God. So if you want to figure out what true love looks like, get to know God. If you want to really care for friends, first plunge into the mighty stream of God's love. And if you want God's care for you to feel unmistakably real, stick tight to people who strive to love all-out like he does.
>> MORE THOUGHTS TO MULL
* Who in your life has showered you with God's care? What did they do-and not do?
* How much of God's love can you experience if you cut yourself off from other people?
* How would you answer a girl who says she's never really felt loved? Or a guy who tells you no one has ever really cared about him?
>> MORE SCRIPTURES TO DIG
* The message of God's love winds through the Bible like a river, growing continually from the first page to the last. One crucial verse along the way is Romans 5:8. It says that even though we don't deserve God's kindness, God loves us anyway. We were sinners who snubbed him, yet God still sent Jesus to die for us.
* Fun doesn't get much more intense than sitting under a body-thumping waterfall. And Ephesians 3:14-21 is like climbing into the turbo-rushing waters of God's love. The apostle Paul's prayer for his close friends in the ancient city of Ephesus packs a powerful point: God wants us to experience the flood of his overwhelming love.
* There are loads of things that make it tough to feel God's care. Yet Romans 8:38-39 says there's nothing that can halt the flow of God's love in your life.
* The Bible never splits up love for God and love for people-you can't have one without the other. Check Matthew 22:34-40 for the "Great Commandment," where Jesus tells you to put God at the top of your list of important things in life-and to rank people a close second.
Excerpted from Stick by Kevin Johnson Copyright © 2007 by Kevin Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
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