One morning when I went to Starbucks for my triple-shot espresso, I couldn’t help but notice the young man in front of me who was ordering his drink. He was young, tall, athletic, wearing a baseball cap, sweatshirt, shorts … and a prosthetic leg from the thigh down. As we waited for the barista to complete our orders, I asked him if he was a veteran. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. I asked him where he had served. “Afghanistan,” he replied.
I thanked him for his service and his sacrifice, and I regretted that I had not been a few moments earlier in line so that I could have purchased his drink as a small token of appreciation. We talked about peace, and I shared that the Bible promises that Jesus will bring peace when the government of this world—and of our lives—is on His shoulders.
As I drove away, I reflected on the fact that the young man had left the security of his home and country to serve in a hostile environment, risking his life and sacrificing his limb for a war that seems to have no real victory in sight. A war that goes on and on. A war where the forces that are lined up against peace seem to prevail again and again.
Then a thought occurred to me: Jesus understands this man’s sacrifice. He, too, left the security and safety of His heavenly home, came into a hostile environment, then didn’t just lose a limb but laid down His life in a war against sin and death and Satan. While ultimate victory has been declared, the battle seems to go on and on, with forces lined up against the Prince of Peace.
My brief encounter with the young, wounded warrior left me with this question: Was the young man’s sacrifice in vain? I thought, Only time will reveal the truth. Then I asked myself, What about Jesus? Was His sacrifice in vain? And I answered, No! A thousand times no! Eternal time has revealed that His death has saved my life!
So, how do I say thank You for such a sacrifice?
READ JOHN 15:9-17
I. BY LOVING HIM MORE
A. Through Abiding
- What does abide or remain mean as Jesus uses the word in verse 9? Give the dictionary definition that seems most appropriate.
- What does Jesus command us to remain in?
- Describe the relationship Jesus has with His Father, based on John 15:9, John 5:20, John 10:17, Matthew 3:17, Mark 9:7, John 14:31 and John 17:24-26.
- Which of the following best describes your relationship with the Father: a working association, business acquaintance, brotherly friendship, mandatory fellowship, obligatory servitude? Or is it what it’s meant to be—a relationship of love?
- How do you develop a deeper love relationship with another person? List practical ways you can develop a deeper love relationship with God.
B. Through Obeying
- What does it mean to obey? Give the dictionary definition and apply it to your relationship with God.
- How did Jesus say we were to love Him? See John 15:10, John 14:21-24 and John 21:15-17.
- What two commands did Jesus say summarized all of the rest? Read Matthew 22:34-40.
- Read through John 13-16, underlining every command Jesus gives. Which ones have you ignored? Disobeyed?
- Would you choose to love Him more by reading His Word daily, then living in obedience to what He says?
C. Through Rejoicing
- What is the result of abiding in God’s love and obeying His Word? See John 15:11.
- How does 1 John 1:3-4 confirm this?
- Give the dictionary definition of joy.
- How does Peter describe joy that is independent of circumstances? Read 1 Peter 1:3-9.
- What gives you joy?
- What is wrong with looking to friendships, relationships, possessions, position, reputation, education or health as our source of joy?
- In Philippians 4:4, what does Paul say should be the source of our joy? Would you choose to love Jesus more by obeying this command?
II. BY LOVING OTHERS MORE
A. Love That Is Special
- How many times does Jesus command us to love each other in John 15:12-17?
- Why do you think He repeated Himself?
- What else do you learn about this command from the following passages? Romans 13:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 4:9-10 and 5:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 4:8.
B. Love That Is Sacrificial
- What standard did Jesus set for our love for each other in John 15:12-13?
- What are some of the reasons you and I love others? What are some reasons we don’t love others? Be honest. How does this contradict what Jesus is saying?
- Why did Jesus say we are to love others we don’t even like? See John 15:14.
- How can you love someone you don’t like or who hates you or who has hurt you? Substitute that person’s name for “one another” and for “brother” in 1 John 4:7-21. Write out the lessons you learn about loving your “enemy.”
- Are we only to love sacrificially when others love us in the same fashion? See Romans 5:8.
- While you and I most likely will not have to die for someone else, what are some other ways we can love sacrificially those who don’t love us?
C. Love That Is Essential
- According to John 15:15-16, loving others is essential in order for us to receive what three things from God?
- Loving others is essential also for what else, in John 15:8 and John 13:34-35?
- If you were put on trial for being a disciple of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
- If you lack answers to prayer, if you can’t seem to discern God’s will, if you are ineffective in your witness … could it be that you have overlooked the essentials?
During this month of Valentines, will you thank God for His sacrifice by loving Him—and others—more? ?©2012 Anne Graham Lotz