Easter’s Over. Now what?

“I was a stranger…..and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35 (Amp)

This Easter, across all our Northstar locations, we celebrated Jesus, His death, resurrection, and the hope that He has given us all who believe in Him. On Good Friday the world said, “No” to Christ. On Easter morning God said, “Yes” to the world. During the Easter weekend, a total of 253 people said “yes” to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now the work really begins. Because as you already know, not all of those who come during Easter return the following week. And not everyone who gets saved during Easter services grows spiritually either.

So how do we make sure those who attend our Easter services return, become active in our churches and grow as a Christian? Helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ is as important as winning them in the first place.

One way is to look at what the early church did after winning large groups of people to Jesus. For example we can look at Acts 14:21-22: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

“And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” (Acts 15:32-35).

“And (Paul) went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:41). “After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” (Acts 18:23).

Two important phrases come up over and over again when looking at how the early Church in Acts responded after reaching people for Jesus. They are strengthen and encourage. After reaching people for Christ—as we did on Easter—the early church focused on assimilating those they had reached. The definition of assimilate is to include into a larger whole; to involve; to make one. Ephesians 2:19 (TLB) says, “Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”

It is easy to assume that new Christians will automatically connect to a church. It is a bad assumption. The process of making them a part of God’s community rests with the church, not the new Christian. It begins when they accept Christ and it is ongoing from that day forward.

If you invited someone to church, my hope is that you will follow-up with them. Let them know what the church is doing the following weeks, whether it’s a particular sermon series or starting point classes. I would ask that you follow-up, whether the individual just wanted to be in church on Easter, or made a lifetime commitment to Christ. Whether or not visitors return to Northstar has a lot to do with the contact you make with them.

Then try to get them involved in a Northstar Group. New Christians need to be connected to a small group of people. We can’t know everyone in the church, but we need to know someone. If someone comes to your church and they know six to 10 people, the chances are better that they will stay and grow. People come to church for many different reasons. They stay because of relationships within their own stage of life.

Last, see if you can interest them in serving. Nothing’s worse than feeling lost and left out at church. Make a concerted effort to match people’s skills, gifts, and interests to ministries within the church. Try to connect new people to some of our entry-level ministries.

Don’t allow the momentum of the Easter season to fizzle once the baskets are emptied and the chocolate has been eaten. Even a small effort at connecting with newcomers will go a long way in establishing lasting relationships and helping others grow spiritually, which will result in a thriving church community.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What causes people to assimilate into the church? What is your role?
  2. What reasons can you come up with for people not returning to church after the first visit? What can we do corporately and individually to improve in those areas?
  3. Pray and ask God to connect you with those who made a decision for Christ to connect to a church.
  4. Pray for our church for the remainder of the year that God will use us to further His kingdom.

Patterned After

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2.

Most of us have had the opportunity to stand in awe as our eyes perceive the beauty of a perfectly mowed grass pattern in a baseball stadium. Stripes, checkerboard style, or even artistic expressions add flair to a baseball field. But how exactly do they get these patterns in the grass? Some say the grass is mowed at different heights or is colored to achieve the effect, but neither assumption is true. Rather, patterns in the grass have everything to do with how the grass is bent, which affects how the light hits it.

Patterns are an important part of our lives in many ways. When a contractor builds a house, he uses a pattern called a “blueprint.” When a mechanic repairs your car, he uses a pattern known as a repair manual. When a mother sews a dress for her daughter, she follows a “dress pattern.” And when your favorite cake is made, the cook follows a pattern or “recipe.”

In each case the pattern must be followed or the end product will not be faithful to the original pattern and the results could be disastrous. The house not built to pattern may leak or worse, it may collapse; the car not repaired by the manual may run like a “lemon” or not run at all; the dress may not fit or look awful, and the recipe may be uneatable. We are very comfortable with using patterns with the exception of the best pattern of them all, the Bible. God has always provided a pattern for His people to serve as a guide to worship and service acceptable to Him.

In the Old Testament, God led the children of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt down to the foot of Mt. Sinai. There God called Moses up the mountain and gave him a “pattern” of laws and a “pattern” for a place of worship for the Jews. As God gave Moses this divine pattern, He also gave a warning: “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Ex. 25:9). He repeated the warning in Exodus 25:40: “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

The tabernacle was constructed following God’s pattern. But not everybody heeded God’s warning through Moses to follow His pattern. Leviticus 10:1 tells us: “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.” The consequences appears in verse 2: “So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”

No I have not become a fire and brimstone preacher. I bring this up for two reasons. First, God’s pattern is always right. And second, we should treat His pattern with respect and obedience. The apostles, led by the Holy Spirit are a pattern for us to learn from, imitate and walk after. “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” (Philippians 3:17) And 2 Thessionians 3:9 says “We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.”

Discussion Question:

  1. What is God’s pattern for your life? How did you come up with your answer?
  2. How can God’s patterns help us to grow in Him?
  3. 2 Timothy 1:13 says: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” What is that verse trying to tell you?
  4. Hebrews 8:5 reminds us of Moses and building the tabernacle: “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” How is that verse applicable to us today?
  5. Pray and ask God to show you His patterns for life.

The Secret To Significance

“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.” – Rick Warren.

There are a certain number of questions that seem to haunt our lives at different times and in different ways. What real difference does my life make? What real contributions have I made or will I make in this world?” Do I dare to ask the question, “how much do I matter,” for fear of discovering the answer. These questions are at the heart of the basic fear of living and leading lives of significance.

Some years back, Cal Ripken Jr. broke fellow Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig’s long-standing record by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game in 1995. Ripken did not just break Gehrig’s record either. He smashed it. Ripken ended his streak at 2,632 games more than three years after breaking the record. It was a significant streak and gave putting on the uniform and playing each day additional meaning. Today, that record continues to have significance in baseball.

We all want to do something of significance for our community or at least for our families. Often, however, we find significance in temporary things like power, wealth, prestige, position, etc.

Paul talked about the subject of our significance: ”I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) Paul declares that only in what Christ has done and has made us to be can we see ourselves as being significant. Paul is pointing us to an entirely different way of measuring our significance and importance. Our worth is not rooted in our possessions, our position, our power, or our prestige.  Our worth and significance are not found in anything we have done or in what the world sees as significant. Our significance is rooted in Christ’s love towards us. Our worth in Christ also is something that is permanent.

As we have received God’s love, we will also want to reflect this love. People should see in us Christ himself and then notice that God sees us as significant. If we use Christ as our mirror in understanding our importance and worth as a person, something interesting takes place. If we understand that we are in Christ, we begin to mirror Christ to others around us. And if we mirror Christ to others, we find that Christ has given us purpose and meaning to our lives. Our significance lies not in ourselves, but in Christ. The result is that we can and will make a difference in the world and in the lives of others.

When we see ourselves in Christ, we are given not only significance, but a purpose. We are given something that will enable us to make a difference, to make an impact on the lives of others around us. If Christ lives in us, we have His love, His presence, and His compassion living in us. We are then enabled to share His love, His presence, and His compassion with those around us. And that makes for a life of significance.

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you ever feel like you will never measure up? Or that you must meet certain standards to feel good about yourself?
  2. What is preventing you from living a life of significance?
  3. Take the time to consider what God is trying to teach you this week. What can you do this week to better or reconnect with God?
  4. What does the Bible say about our significance: Psalms 34:17-20; Genesis 1:27; Psalms 139;13-16: Ephesians 2:4-9; Matthew 10:31; Romans 8:32. What is God telling us in these verses? Do they change how we view our significance?

Connecting At The Plate – Part 2

In Monday’s devotional, I talked about our connection to God starting with accepting His love. In today’s devotional, I will continue on the topic of our connection with God.

“You can’t hit a home run unless you step up to the plate.” – Modern Proverb.

Another area where we can improve our connection or relationship with God is listening when God speaks. The Bible teaches that God speaks through Jesus. “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:2) and the way that we hear Jesus is through the Bible. The Scriptures are described as breathed out by God: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) and as the Word of God: “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:13). This is very important for us. It means that while God can speak to us however He likes, He has promised to speak to all of us through the Bible. So if you want to hear God, read, study and discuss the Bible.

We can also speak to God through prayer. The Bible records Jesus communing with His Father in prayer. Prayer is much more than simply a way to ask God for things we need or want.

We can also worship regularly. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” – Psalm 95:1-2. God invites us to come into His presence for worship. Not only does regular church attendance give us an opportunity to come before the Lord’s presence in worship, but it also gives us an opportunity to fellowship with the Lord’s people. We can’t help but grow a closer connection to the Lord as a result.

Finally, a closer relationship with God is built upon obedience. Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…” (John 14:23). “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you….” (James 4:7-8). Paul tells us in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We must keep in mind that we don’t earn salvation through our obedience; rather, it is the way we show our love and gratitude toward God.

Connecting with God is not easy, but the promises the Bible gives us makes trying to incorporate these disciplines into our daily life worth it. These eternal truths help us to connect with God no matter how busy or demanding life is.

Discussion Question:

  1. How do I know when God is speaking to me?
  2. Have you ever tried to live the Christian life without asking God to be involved in the details of your life?
  3. How does God connect to you through prayer?
  4. Do you prepare your mind and heart for worship each Sunday?
  5. What does obedience to God mean to you?

Connecting At The Plate

“and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.” – Colossians 2:19 (NLT)

One of the most famous home runs in major-league history was hit by Mickey Mantle off Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.  Mantle’s home run in 1953 landed in a housing development beyond the left-field wall at an estimated distance of 565 feet. Imagine watching that ball soar into the sky standing at home plate knowing that you connected better than anybody ever did before or since.

Standing at home plate in our lives, I wonder how much we connect with God.  One of the areas that needs constant attention is staying connected to God. It is the first important step before we run the bases. Distractions, busyness, bad moods, demands of life all have the potential to pull us away from God. Our intention may be to remain focused on Him, but in the midst of those things we often allow our attention to get diverted elsewhere. It is like Mickey Mantle taking his eye off the ball and still expecting to hit it into the next county.

How do we find that deeper connection with God in our day to day lives? How do we connect with God in the midst of everyday life that will enable us to get to first base and then second, third and then score? Why is it so hard to connect with God everyday anyway? Here’s what I think I know. If every day was Sunday, I think we would be connecting with God at a higher level. But Monday through Saturday, our ability to connect decreases because of the distractions and busyness of our daily life.

Likewise, during our morning quiet time, we pray about the day ahead and ask God to guide us through whatever the day brings. However, usually by the middle of the day we haven’t re-connected with God since.

The apostle John describes it as abiding in God. John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you….” and John 15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

How can we abide in God in our daily lives and connect with God throughout the day? First, remember that God loves us. “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:14-16

God loves each of us, And Jesus died because of this amazing love. However, knowing things in our heads is not the same as knowing things in our hearts. Accepting God’s love is the first step to connecting with Him. It is sometimes hard to get our heads around the fact that we are not the person we know that God wants us to be. As a consequence, we are not sure we can move around the bases without disappointing Him. Yes we know the theology, but in our heart we struggle to accept it freely which creates distance between God and us. This can stop us from being able to connect with God freely.

No matter how many mistakes you’ve made, no matter how unworthy you think you are, He still loves you and wants to connect in a meaningful relationship with you. God assures you of that fact in Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

We will continue this discussion in Tuesday’s devotional.

Discussion Questions:

  1. So, what does abiding in God mean? What is the relationship between God’s love and abiding in Him?
  2. Why is God’s love so reliable? How does he demonstrate it? What is the implication for our relationship/connection to God?
  3. Do you struggle with insecurity? I am not good enough. I am not spiritual enough. I am not talented enough. I am not whole enough. I am not enough.
  4. What keeps you from having a more intimate relationship/connection with God? How can you improve your relationship/connection with God?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you draw closer and abide in Him.

New Series – Home Run Life

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” – Yogi Berra

The baseball season is here. All around the country, people are gearing up for a long season of rooting for their home team. Will this be the year the Cubs do something special? Are the Yankees no longer a dynasty? Will the Dodgers 270 million dollar payroll buy them a world series ring? After all is there anything better than spending some time watching a ballgame and munching on a few hot dogs. The start of the baseball season coincides with the start of our new teaching series called Home Run Life. There is quite a connection between baseball and ministry. For example:

The Northstar baseball team belongs to the owner. The coach’s job is to manage and develop the team. The individual players responsibility is to become the best player they can be. Both the coaches and the players primary job is to please the owner. Our daily opponent is a very tough out. In our game, there are no roster limits—you can’t have too many players on your team.

The owner expects the coaches and the players to have a bad game occasionally, make an error now and then, even experience a slump and need to rest and sit out a game or two to refocus. The owner is not afraid to bring up the guy from the minor leagues and give him a shot at the big-time. He just might become the rookie-of-the-year.

Even though the positions on the field are different, every position matters. And we can’t lose touch with the players on the disabled list; they’re still part of the team.

As coaches and players we need to remember to thank the bat boys, the grounds crew, the people who sell hot dogs, and the folks who clean the locker room because they are an important part of the team.

So let the season begin. And no matter what happens with the team, remember this: the owner always has your back.

Come this Sunday and learn how to live a Home Run Life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Prepare to meet God this Sunday.
  2. Prayerfully ask God to show you ways to apply the rules of the game in your life.
  3. Identify a specific area of your life that needs to change.
  4. Praise and worship God. Read Psalms 65: 5-8 in preparation for Sunday.

Purpose In Your Life

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ” – Isaiah 55:11.

God has an intention and a purpose and a plan for you. He loves you, and He empowers you. The key is to figure out what that purpose is. Do you spend much time wondering (or worrying) about what career or purpose is right for your life?  It makes sense. Most of us are deeply concerned with living meaningful, purposeful lives, and we spend a lot of energy trying to figure out if we are doing it. We want to know what God wants for our lives, and we want to know what we need to do to align ourselves with His plan.

Unfortunately, our overarching purpose in life seems to have little to do with our circumstances. God’s “mission statement,” of sorts, for our life doesn’t include a job title, college degree—well, not directly. When we commit our lives to Jesus, we commit to an enduring, lifelong mission. We commit to a life of speaking, acting, thinking and relating out the transforming and joyful experience of being in a relationship with Christ. That’s it. Wherever you are, whatever you do, whether you think it’s the best fit or worst job ever—God wants you to live out His mission.

The purpose for your life—the deepest place where you find meaning and satisfaction—transcends any role, job or circumstance you are facing. Yet we all worry that our jobs aren’t meaningful enough and our work doesn’t fulfill us—and we want God to change that.

It’s easy for us to fall into a version of Christianity that believes that God is supposed to make our lives go well, that His will is for us to get what we want. We have a picture of what we want our lives to be, and it is easy to fall into the rut of believing that God’s job is to make our pictures become reality.

Living with this “make me happy” god is destructive to our joy and freedom in Christ. If we are constantly bound to the circumstances we believe we need in order to be joyful, we have become the Lord of our own life—believing our destiny is in our own hands.

When we turn from our own ideas and commit our daily lives to His mission, we begin to walk more in step with Him. We take the humble posture of believing that God has us where we are for a reason. Even as we take steps or work toward the next thing, we can keep our hearts present in today. We can ask God to let us be more concerned for His mission and less concerned with our mission.

And in doing so, we start to see the many ways God will be present, active and engaged with our lives—in all our circumstances.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is my purpose? What am I chasing after? Why am I chasing it?
  2. If I had a magic eraser, what is one thing I’d take off my schedule tomorrow? (We don’t have the time to live our purpose if our time is filled with unimportant things.)
  3. Given your talents, passions and values, how could you use these resources to better serve God? How is God glorified when you’re following His purpose for your life?
  4. How will following our purpose force us to trust God more? What is God asking you to do today?

The Power of God

“One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,” – Psalms 62:11

With all the movies out these days such as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, you have to wonder what it was like to live in those times and experience in real life what is now CGI computerized special effects. For example, in the story of Moses, God did amazing miracles over and over again right before their eyes, and yet the Israelites still struggled to believe. God turned the Nile to blood, sent all kinds of plagues, boils, darkness all over the land and the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. Yet, the Israelites are slow to learn and quick to grumble. It would seem virtually impossible for them to miss God’s power, goodness and guidance. But it didn’t end there.

When the Israelites reached the Red Sea, they were stuck with the Egyptian army closing fast.  God miraculously parted the Red Sea. Can you imagine what that must have been like? Could you ever forget such a moment? After crossing the sea and finding themselves hungry, God provided manna every day for forty years. When they were thirsty, water flowed from a rock. Yes, a rock. And, yet, still their hearts struggled with unbelief. At various points they thought it prudent to return to slavery in Egypt. Apparently, they thought the security of slavery was better than being out in the wilderness with God. The hope of the Promised Land was eclipsed by a fear of giants and battle odds stacked against them. More discontentment and grumbling.

How could they miss the power and miracle when it was staring them right in the face? But before we judge the Israelites too harshly, we need to evaluate our own trust and faith in God. I would hope that if I saw what the Israelites saw, I would both trust God and be in awe of His power.

Then I am reminded of my occasional wandering in the desert. Or my own deeper need and hunger for more of God. Like the Israelites, we are in need of the power and direction of God in our lives. When we try to do everything under our own power, and in the messiness and mundane moments of life, we need the power of God. Easter should remind is anew of God’s power and the impact it can have on our lives.

What I do know is that God called us to live out our faith. He called us to walk by faith, to take a risk on His power and His  promises to always be faithful. He called us to step out of our comfort zone and live the life we are supposed to live.

The promises given by Jesus about receiving power from God in Luke 24:49 says: ” And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then there is Acts 1:8:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

No matter what we’re facing, God promises to show up in our difficult situations in a way that declares and reveals His power, glory and grace.

Discussion Question:

  1. Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ so important?
  2. How do you tap into the power of God? How does the power of God show up in our daily lives?
  3. Do you have seasons of life where you feel you are going it alone?
  4. How might knowing that God is present with you in the here and now impact your life? What are some of the implications of God being very present in your life?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you tap into His power.

The Fullness of God

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:3-9

Ask God to speak to you as you meditate on the above verses by answering these questions:

  1. What do these verses mean to you?
  2. Note the blessings God has given His people in 1:3-5. To the best of your understanding, what do each of these four blessings mean?
  3. What is the connection between knowing the blessings of 1:3-5 and having joy in trials in 1: 6-9?
  4. What would you change in your life/attitude as a result of these verses?

We would all like to experience more of God in our lives. God wants more for us than we could ever imagine or hope for. But how does one become full of God?

Ephesians 3:16-19 tells us: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

There it is—that we might be filled to all the fullness of God! That’s what we yearn for, what we are chasing, what we so desperately need. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God?

Being filled with all the fullness of God is not about what you do. To me, knowing how much God loves me and focused on His love for me, I would be full of Him. When God made you, He designed you to run at optimal level when you are filled with His love, like a NASCAR race car needs a certain type of fuel to run at an optimal level. When you realize how much God loves you and you feed on His love for you, you will experience the fullness of God. And fulness means to be full of everything God is to you and has for you.

Ephesians 3:30 tells you what happens when you experience the fullness of God: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

My prayer as a church and as individuals, is that we will experience the fulness of God in our lives in a real and tangible way.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to be be filled with the spirit? (Ephesians 3:16) Is this a one-time experience or a continual reality?
  2. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” – Colosians. 2: 9–10. What does that verse mean to you?
  3. What might Paul be referring to by praying “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God?”  How do you think “breadth and length and height and depth” (verse 18) relate to this?
  4. Pray and seek God’s guidance on how to live a God filled life.

The Love of God

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5.

Easter demonstrates the power of God’s love. The power of God shows us that God is not a fairytale for grown-ups but a wonderful reality. Without the power of God, Christianity is empty. If all we have is theory, philosophy, theology and other intellectual arguments, we will never have a faith that changes the world. God is not a theory, He is real, He is love and power. The love of God must be the foundation for our faith.

The cross is the love of God. The resurrection is the power of God. But what if someone was to ask you what is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for you? According to the Apostle Paul, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for you and I is found at the Cross of Christ. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are people who believe that if God really loves us, He will give us that dream job. Or give us money. Or good health. Or a perfect spouse. Or possessions like a new car or a new home. But what happens when we lose that job, or spouse, or bonus, or our possessions or we get sick? Will we become cynical? Worse yet, will we doubt God’s love?

Even though everything else may be falling down around you; the Cross of Christ will always stand tall. The Bible says, “He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3 LB). That’s what Jesus did on Easter. He sent Himself down from heaven to save us because of His love.

God’s power was demonstrated in His great love for us through Christ. Though we were helpless in our sin, Jesus willingly came and took our sins on Himself on the cross. He died, but He rose again. That same power that would willingly redeem the entire world through love, that would conquer death, went through the grave and out the other side to dwell inside each of us who are saved.

God’s love is a powerful force, wider than any chasm between enemies, waiting longer than you would ever run from it, going deeper than you would ever fall from it, lifting you higher than you could ever go without it. When you receive the spirit of Christ by faith, His power changes you from the inside out, allowing you to know a love that is unknowable.

During this Easter season my prayer is that you will understand that while we are flawed, God loves us perfectly and completely. And that the power of His love is always available to us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the unique characteristics of God’s love shown in Scripture?
  2. How is Jesus’ death an act of love?
  3. What is the best way to respond to God’s love?
  4. Why do you think that some people have such a hard time accepting God’s love? How can we ask God to help us in our ability to love?
  5. Why do you think the world is much more comfortable in thinking about love as a noun, rather than a verb?