February is the month of Valentines. The month of love. While love may be expressed in a card or a box of candy given to another person, it often falls short of the real thing. Love can be elusive. We think we have it, and then wake up one morning and find that it’s no longer there.
I experienced one such morning after more than 10 years of marriage. As devoted as I came to be to Danny Lotz, I remember at one point awaking to the realization that I no longer loved him. The stark reality of being stuck in a marriage where the love had run out, at least on my side, plunged me to my knees. I wept and cried out to God. Then I wept and prayed some more. Every day. For weeks. What was I to do?
One morning, as I was meditating on 1 John 4, the Spirit seemed to whisper God’s solution to my desperate heart’s cry. It’s a solution that not only worked, it was almost easy. So if you, too, find yourself in an impossible relationship where the love seems to have run out, ask God to speak to you. Then listen with the ears of your heart to the Spirit’s whisper as you complete this Bible study.
READ 1 JOHN 4:7-21
1 John 4:7-8
- Using the dictionary, define love in your own words.
- Where does love come from? Read 1 John 4:7.
- In that same verse, what are the two conditions for accessing and possessing God’s love?
- Have you met both of these conditions? See John 3:3-8; 17:1-3.
- How is it possible to love people you don’t like, or to love another when the love seems to have run out? Consider 1 John 4:15-17.
- In Matthew 22:34-40, what did Jesus say were the two greatest commandments?
- How obedient to these commandments does God consider you to be?
- What will you do to strengthen the foundation of your relationship with God and with others?
1 John 4:9-10
- Using the dictionary, define sacrifice in your own words as it applies to God’s love.
- How did God show His love for you and me? See 1 John 4:9-10; John 3:16; Romans 5:7-8; John 13:1-5.
- How can you demonstrate your love for God? Read Ephesians 5:1-2.
- Give an example of how you should love others as God has loved you. Consider 1 John 3:16-18 and John 13:12-17.
1 John 4:11-13
- What motivates us to love God, according to 1 John 4:19?
- Describe the time when you first knew that God loved you. What was your response?
- In 1 John 4:11, what reason is given for loving others, especially those who are hard to love?
- Is loving others optional for those who say they love God? See 1 John 4:20-21.
- What boundaries have you placed on your love for others?
- If you have boundaries in your love for others, could it be that you also have boundaries in your love for God? If so, in prayer remove the boundaries now.
- After reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, describe a life that is not lived in perpetual love.
- List phrase by phrase the description of real love as found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
- What words in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, 13 underscore that living in love is perpetual?
- Is living a life of love a New Testament perspective only? See 1 John 2:7 and Deuteronomy 10:12-13.
- Is there any danger—any slight chance at all—that God’s love for you will one day run out? Read Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:31-39.
1 John 4:12
- What word in verse 12 indicates God’s love is enough for ourselves, and enough in us for others?
- In your own words, describe the fullness of God’s love from Ephesians 3:16-19 and John 17:20-26.
In response to the Spirit’s whisper years ago through 1 John 4, I recommitted my life to growing in my personal, intimate relationship with God. I knew that would mean spending more time with Him in His Word and in prayer, resulting in a more dedicated life of obedient faith. I asked Him to fill me with Himself, as I surrendered fully and completely to Him. I then asked Him to fill me until I overflowed with His love for my husband.
And God did! Not all at once, but increasingly, day by day, as I lived in His love and in turn lived out His love for my husband, love filled me and overflowed from me. I can honestly say that the relationship I had with my husband in the end was better, stronger, richer and deeper than anything I had experienced before.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him … Love is made complete … (1 John 4:16-17).
Celebrate Valentine’s Day by choosing to live in God’s love. You’ll be glad you did. I know. ©2017 Anne Graham Lotz.