Did God really mean to love others, to serve others, to suffer like Him, and be as generous as Him? This week begins a new series on spiritual warfare, Shadow of Doubt, where Pastor Chris invites us to engage in the battle.
What does God really mean when He calls us to LOVE those around us? Does He really mean everyone? WHO is everyone? Bring specific people to mind that God is calling you to love as you read through the rest of the guide.
Jesus is love. When He came to this world, He embodied everything that love is. We mocked Him, betrayed Him, turned away from Him, but even so, He gave His life for us. That is love. Jesus gives us a “new command” to love others as He has loved us. We are called show love to everyone because we are fully loved and everyone is created in God’s image. Through that calling, others will see Jesus in us and know we are a disciple of His.
But this is the last thing that the enemy wants from us. His goal is to turn our hearts cold towards God and each other. He knows that if we choose not to walk in Christ’s love then we will not follow God and obey His command to love and serve others. Satan knows that if we do not understand what God means when He tells us to love others, that our trust and love for others withers and dies. This is why he works diligently and subtly to incite and encourage the erosion of our trust and love in one another.
Christian love is the force most threatening to Satan’s kingdom and therefore what he seeks most to disarm and destroy. One of the greatest acts of spiritual warfare in which we can engage, one of the greatest blows we can deal Satan, is pursuing love of others around us, regardless of their actions or words.
Primary Scriptures: John 13:34-35, Ephesians 6:10-12
- Read John 13:34-35. God is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt in His command to us. Love others as He has loved us. Then others know we are a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ. How do we love others? As we approach Valentine’s Day, how does the world’s definition of love differ from God’s definition? What does loving those around you look like daily? Weekly?
- Read Ephesians 6:10-13. As Christians, we are in a spiritual battle of some sort on a daily basis. Our spiritual battles and warfare are real, even though we cannot physically see the attacker. But we can learn how the battles are fought and how they impact our lives on a daily basis. What are spiritual battles that we face? Who are we in a spiritual battle with – those around us or Satan? What does is look like if you accept you are not battling someone or something but Satan? Can you think of past situations where you now realize you were not battling a specific person, but that Satan was using that person to engage in spiritual warfare? If you look at difficult situations you might be facing right now, how does praying for the people involved change how you relate to them?
- Read Ephesians 6:14-18 What is the armor of God? How can each piece of armor help us battle the different types of spiritual warfare we face? How does the armor of God equate to showing love to others? How do we battle evil forces around us while showing love to the people in our lives?
Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Ephesians 6:10-18 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.
Getting to know you: Do you have a spiritual battle going on right now? Has Satan attacked you using those you love, so that he can steal your joy and trust? Pray for eyes to see others as God sees them and to love others as God loves them. Let the Holy Spirit fill you so that you may love as God loves.
Getting to know them: Think about your coworkers, your family, and your friends. Is there anyone you can love more? Who is the Holy Spirit directing you to show love to? What does this love look like in action?
Getting to know Him: Ephesians 6:14-18 lists our armor with which God supplies us for spiritual battle. Do you use these every day? Which ones do you need to learn to utilize a little more? How can we be better about Ephesians 6:18? Who can we be praying for (and not battling)?
Engage the World Around Us
Engaging at Faith Promise: Have you invited anyone new to your group? Personal invitation is a wonderful way to love those around you and make someone feel welcome to join a group. Invite someone today!
Engaging in Community: Many schools around us closed this week due to illness. Faith Promise has partner schools for every campus that needs your help. Their supplies of tissues, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer have depleted. Consider purchasing some supplies and taking it to a school. For a list of Faith Promise partner schools, email email@example.com.
Engaging the World: Do you know that each Faith Promise campus sponsors a missionary? Find out who your Faith Promise missionary is, and commit to pray for that family. Send them notes of prayer and encouragement through our missions office.
Expand God’s Kingdom
Showing love to others may lead people to ask, “Why are you so nice to me?” Take this opportunity to explain that God calls Christ-followers to love everyone, not judge or condemn.
- See John 13:34-35. We are known to be disciples of Jesus Christ through our love for others. What else are marks of a disciple? Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus. Are you focusing on these as a group or individual?
– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.
– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.
– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.
– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.
- See Ephesians 6:10-18 Spiritual warfare is frightening for some people to accept. How can we help them understand what spiritual warfare is and how to battle it? Once we accept that we are engaged in battle with Satan and not those around us, it is easier to love “difficult” people. And once we accept that God is always fighting with us and for us (and, spoiler alert, has already WON the battle), we can strap on our armor of God and stand firm.