All posts in “LOVE”

karen mckinny 2

LOVE -KAREN MCKINNEY

LOVE

KAREN MCKINNEY

John 15:12, 13 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Have you noticed how fake imitations never last? It’s funny how people can go out and buy a fake Rolex watch, fake brand name perfume or imitation coach purse and then weeks later complain about how it didn’t last. The thing is, things that are fake just don’t last, you’ve got to go for what’s real and not for a cheap knock off or imitation.

It’s the same way with people. Quite often people give up on real and authentic friendships and replace them with shallow ones for the sake of popularity or being in a particular social group. The problem is, just like the fake merchandise, imitation friendships are only that, imitations of the real thing. Have there ever been people in your life that told you they loved you, but their actions said otherwise? If you want to discern the real from the cheap imitation, the first the thing you need to do is look towards Jesus. Jesus’ love was so great that he laid down his life for his friends. That’s what real love is. That’s how you can tell the real from the fake. We need to love as Jesus loved. Imagine for a moment a world in which people love each other as Jesus actually commands us to love! Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations; Jesus is the only way, truth & life (John 14:6) and his love for you is very real, and that’s not fake!

QUESTION 1. Have you ever purchased or known someone who has purchased something fake and tried to play it off as the real thing? What happened?
QUESTION 2. Have you ever had someone tell you they love you, friends or otherwise, only to find out they were just using you? For that matter, have you ever done this to someone else? (Explain)
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to get reacquainted with the real love of your life, Jesus Christ. Don’t settle for cheap imitations, and whatever you do, don’t be a cheap imitation of God’s love to someone else. When you’re faced with figuring out what’s real from what’s imitation, look to Jesus, dig into his word, ask yourself what would Jesus do and teach.
karen mckinny 1

LOVE -KAREN MCKINNEY

LOVE

KAREN MCKINNEY

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Take a moment to think about what you love most in life …

What was the first thing that popped into your mind, your phone, iPad, car, clothes, friends, God?

God wants to be the love of your life. He wants to be the very first thing you love, over and above everything else, and He calls us to share that same love with others. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said then done. As we all know too well, it is much easier to say I love you than it is to show your love through your actions.

In the video, Karen said that God calls us to love people and use things, not the other way around. Unfortunately, and more often then not, we seem to end up using people and loving things.

Romans 12:2 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.

Don’t get caught up in using people and loving things. Let God’s transforming power work in you so that you will truly love people and begin once again to use things.

QUESTION 1. Are there people in your life that you may be taking for granted or not showing the love God has called you to show (e.g. family, friends, etc.)?
QUESTION 2. What are the things that get in the way of your time and relationships with God, family, and friends?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to stop loving the things that will soon pass away, but rather let God’s transforming power work in you so that you begin once again to love people and use things.
jasmine simpson 1

LOVE -JASMINE SIMPSON

LOVE

JASMINE SIMPSON

Deuteronomy 6:5

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

From the age of 12 to 22 I pursued romantic relationships and I pursued them hard. As soon as one relationship would end I would immediately find the next. I was never happy unless I was dating someone. This was so unhealthy for me because I was putting my girlfriends on an unfair pedestal, attempting to make them level with God.

When I turned 23 I was challenged by some concerned Christian friends to be single for a year and to pursue God as hard as I was pursuing girls. Well, it worked. It is two years later and I am still single and still learning to pursue God with all my heart.

Do you know someone like this? Or is it you? Are you pursuing Jesus more than you are pursuing relationships, fame, money, the next adrenaline rush, whatever it may be? There is nothing inherently bad with these pursuits, but it becomes an issue when they take a higher place in your life than God.

If you are struggling to love God then it is time to make some changes. Whatever is taking your focus away from Him, get rid of it for a few months, maybe even a year. The most important thing you can do in your life is to love God with all your heart, soul and strength. Stop searching for love elsewhere and turn to the only one whose love will never fade.

QUESTION 1. Where do you search for love? Does it always leave you feeling empty or wanting more?
QUESTION 2. What could be taking your focus away from loving God? Identify it and write it down.
CHALLENGE: Whatever is taking your focus off of following Jesus, get rid of it for a time, or even for good if you need to. There is nothing more important than loving Jesus, following him, and allowing him to love you.
danae zeigle 2

LOVE -DANAE ZEIGLE

LOVE

DANAE ZEIGLE

Romans 8:38-39 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Have you ever found yourself making poor decisions that led you into some pretty awful circumstances? Maybe they weren’t as extreme as Danae’s decisions that ended in a coma, but still left you with some pretty bad consequences. The thing is that we have all made some pretty bad choices in life at one point or another. Many of these choices have caused us or someone we know real heartache and pain, but here is the good news: no matter what bad choices you may have made in your life, nothing, and I mean nothing, will separate you from the love of God.

God’s love is unconditional, and he loves you the same on your best days as he does on your worst days. Don’t let your daily circumstances get in the way and dictate your relationship with God. God loves you for you, and there is nothing that will separate you from his love.

QUESTION 1. Are there times in your life that you feel God’s love more than others? (Explain) Are there times in your life that you feel the absence of God’s love? (Explain)
QUESTION 2. How does Romans 8:38-39 apply to your life’s choices?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to embrace God’s love for you. Know that his love is unconditional and never let your daily circumstances get in the way or dictate your relationship with God! God’s love for you is everlasting and that will never change.
connor cippola 2

LOVE -CONNOR CIPPOLA

LOVE

CONNOR CIPPOLA

Romans 5:7-8

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Have you ever felt so much love for someone that you thought you could literally explode? I know for me that I felt this way towards a past girlfriend. Every day that I spent with her I fell more and more in love. I thought we were going to get married. But then she cheated on me. That seemingly unbreakable bond of love was instantly shattered. We both moved on and have gone on to love other people only to have those relationships end as well.

This isn’t to sound depressing but to say that earthly love is so fickle. We say it’s unconditional but it can be taken away in an instant when trust is broken. God’s love though is completely unconditional. No matter how bad you screw up, no matter how far you run from Him, He will continue loving you. In fact, there is no love on this earth that will ever compare to the love that God has for us. He sent his perfect, sinless son, Jesus, to die for all of us horrible sinners. That’s love, the most beautiful and unconditional love that ever has been or ever will be. Please don’t forget that. Even in your darkest and most dire moments, God loves you. Cling to God and know that you are never too far to run back to him.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever experienced what we would call “unconditional love?” Has your love for someone ever been broken?
QUESTION 2. Do you think that you may be too far gone to go back to God? That maybe God decided to stop loving you?
CHALLENGE: Savor the unconditional love from your heavenly Father. Even when you mess up, He still loves you. Even when you’ve run far from Him, He will always be there ready to accept you back with open arms.
cody weston 6

LOVE -CODY WESTON

LOVE

CODY WESTON

Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Despite adamantly denying that we do it, we often label people. Studies have shown it only takes 7 seconds to form an opinion of someone. 7 seconds. That isn’t nearly long enough to hear their hopes, dreams, where they come from, or where they’re going. It’s only long enough to look at their outward appearance. Because of this, cliques are formed, people become prejudiced, and people are instantly placed in your mind as either being better than you or worse than you.

But here’s the thing; when we categorize people and look down on them we’re saying that they’re not made in the image of God. God has imprinted his perfect image on each and every person. It’s on the kid who sits all by himself at lunch, the homeless man on the side of the road, your enemies, your friends, and your family. They are all created in the image of God; so treat them as such. When we don’t, we’re saying God messed up or that God doesn’t care about them as much; and that couldn’t be more untrue. Listen to what Jesus calls the greatest and most important commandment, and love people

QUESTION 1. Do you make snap judgments of others based solely on how they look or dress?
QUESTION 2. Have you ever been ignored or bullied because you weren’t part of the cool kids group? It sucks, doesn’t it?
CHALLENGE: Take the commands of Jesus seriously. Break down the societal expectations, prejudices, cliques, and love every single person you come into contact with, no matter how unloving they are to you.
Rachel Berryhill 1

LOVE -RACHEL BERRYHILL

LOVE

RACHEL BERRYHILL

1 John 4:7-8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Do you have one of those friends who loves you unconditionally and will do anything for you? They go out of their way to make you smile or do something kind or helpful. These friends are a rare find and are excellent earthly examples of God’s love for you. But no matter how much a friend or family member loves you, God loves you infinitely more. There really is no comparison.

God just wants to love you and for you to love him. It’s not a conditional relationship where God stops loving you if you skip out on church or youth group; no, he loves you just the same. And it isn’t about how much good works you can do to earn that love either. It isn’t a mushy worldly love; it is a steadfast, agape love. The Greek word agape doesn’t mean brotherly or romantic love, it means self-sacrifice. The ultimate love. God calls us his beloved, or in other words he just wants us to be loved. Accept that love and find so much joy and peace in the agape love of our heavenly father.

QUESTION 1. Do you ever find yourself trying to earn God’s love because you think that if you don’t he won’t love you as much?
QUESTION 2. Is it hard for you to accept God’s love? Why or why not?
CHALLENGE: Pursue and accept a relationship with God who made you in his own image and even sacrificed his son for you. He loves you so much.
Alysha Moroni 1

LOVE -ALYSHA MORONI

LOVE

ALYSHA MORONI

Luke 10:25-29 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Looking at Jesus’ response to the “expert in the law” we often pay special attention to the first part of his response without giving much attention to the latter. For many Christians it’s easy to attempt to love God, but when it comes to loving our neighbor…well, let’s just say we often times like to skip that part. When it comes to our neighbor, Jesus is not speaking about our literal neighbor who lives next door to us; rather, Jesus is pushing us to understand our neighbor as anyone we come into contact with. Jesus pushes us to love all people. No matter how stuck up, annoying, or mean people are, Jesus calls us to love them. One way to show that we really love God is to show grace and love to our neighbor.

QUESTION 1. Is there a neighbor in your life that you are angry with, hold bitterness towards, or just find hard to love?
QUESTION 2. In what ways can you show love for God and your neighbor this week? Being mindful of your answer to question one, make a list of ways you can show love this week.
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to find the ways that you are not showing God’s love and go out and love God and your neighbor with all your strength, heart, soul and mind!
Kinsey Mishke 1

LOVE -KINSEY MINSCHKE

LOVE

KINSE MINSCHKE

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

 Have you ever tried really hard to get someone to like you, specifically the opposite sex? You go out of your way to be extra superficially nice to the person. You dress a certain way and you do things that you wouldn’t normally do in the pursuit of being liked. But in the end, no one knows who you really are and everything becomes surface level. Have you done this with God? You think that if you are a super awesome Christian who never messes up then God will love you. But the more and more you mess up the farther away from God you become and the more superficial it gets.

The lie that you need to earn God’s love is a ploy of the enemy to drive you further and further from God while the whole time God is trying to pull you closer and closer. There is nothing that you can do that will earn God’s love because God already loves you infinitely more than you can ever realize. And yes, when you mess up and sin God is certainly disappointed, but he will never stop loving you or pursuing you. We have to stop believing the lies and find perfect peace and approval in the never ending love of God.

QUESTION 1. Do you believe that you have to earn others’ love? What about God’s love?
QUESTION 2. When you mess up does it make you feel farther from God and that his love is suddenly unattainable?
CHALLENGE: Don’t let the lie creep in that you need to earn God’s love. He loves you exactly how you are.
Ashley Mcnary Love jul 18 large

LOVE -ASHLEY MCNARY

LOVE

ASHLEY MCNARY

Have you ever questioned God’s love for you based on your circumstances? For example, have you ever asked God why you didn’t get that job, or why a loved one got sick, or why your parents got gotten a divorce? The list can go on and on, but we all have our own questions and circumstances that we bring to the table. The question is, what are you still holding onto? Do you doubt God’s love for you, or others?

It seems to be human nature that we base God’s love for ourselves on our immediate circumstances, or even on the hand we’re dealt in life. But what we really need to understand is that our God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us regardless of our circumstances (Duet. 31:6). Our God is an awesome God. He is loving, but that doesn’t mean He will give us everything we ask for in life. God’s love goes far beyond our circumstances. God has promised to give us what we need, which fortunately for us, is not always what we want! (Philippians 4:19

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves you and he will always love you! Regardless of your circumstances, God’s love can comfort you through the known and unknown, today and forever! So don’t wait. Quit holding on to resentment and let God be the love of your life!

QUESTION 1. In what ways are you questioning God’s love for your life today?
QUESTION 2. Are you resenting God for not answering your prayers the way you wanted?
CHALLENGE: Live a life that is filled with joy and always remember that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
holly goodnight 2

LOVE -HOLLY GOODNIGHT

LOVE

HOLLY GOODNIGHT

Psalm 23:6

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God’s pursuit of us is practically unfathomable. Why would a perfect God love us sinful, disgusting human beings who continually reject and rebel against him? And then to love us so much He sends His son to die in our place so we can live eternally with Him. It can be hard to understand this love because we don’t see anything like this in our world today.

The love God is offering us is agape love. Many of us experience romantic love every day, but this kind of love is nothing like agape love. Agape is pure, completely selfless love. It is so selfless that Jesus sacrificed himself for everyone, including the people who will never love or accept him. How heartbreaking it must be when we turn our backs on Jesus and his love.

Ask yourself what you are doing with the agape love of God? So many of us are halfheartedly loving him back by giving him a Sunday here or there or reading our Bibles once a week; but Jesus deserves our whole hearts, our whole love, and our whole lives. Anything less is selfishness. Pursue God just as he is pursuing you and love him with everything you have, because he first loved us.

QUESTION 1. How are you pursuing God? His perfect love deserves more than just a few minutes a day.
QUESTION 2. Do you tell others about God’s love? How can we keep such perfect love to ourselves?
CHALLENGE: Make him a part of your every day and get to know him intimately. Don’t just reluctantly give in to God’s pursuit, but relentlessly pursue him as well.
Josh Beaton 2

LOVE -JOSH BEATON

LOVE

JOSH BEATON

1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

 You’ve just been told that one of your best friends is sleeping with his girlfriend. He grew up in church with you and he’s been a part of your circle of friends for years. What do you do? Your first reaction is to tell others what he’s doing. Gossip a bit, slander a tad, and spread all sorts of dissent towards your friend to all your other friends. But what will this accomplish? Wouldn’t it be much better to approach your friend out of a place of love and talk to him about what he’s doing?

Confronting a friend one on one about something he or she is doing that is sinful is entirely biblical. But if it comes from a place that is anything but love then that person won’t hear you and will probably shut you out. Even if you do confront your friend out of love he may still shut you out because he doesn’t want to hear the truth, or he thinks you’re judging him. If that happens, keep praying for him and love him, and whatever you do, don’t gossip about that person. Be careful though about confronting your friends who aren’t Christian as they probably won’t understand and it might push them farther away. Be wise in this area and seek God’s guidance.

On the flip side, if you are living in a sinful lifestyle and one of your good friends approaches you out of love, don’t shut him or her out. Even if it’s embarrassing or hurts, know that he or she loves you and that God loves you. As Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently…Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

QUESTION 1. Are you afraid to confront your Christian brothers and sisters? Are you afraid they’ll not want to be your friend anymore?
QUESTION 2. Have you ever been called out by a Christian brother or sister? Did it make you angry? Embarrassed? Did it lead you to change?
CHALLENGE: No matter how hard it gets, or how much they push you away, keep loving people. And when you think you have no more love to give, love some more.
timothy coutts 3

LOVE -TIM COUTTS

LOVE

TIM COUTTS

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Most blessings in this world are earned and there is a real sense of satisfaction and pride that often seeps into our hearts when we know we’ve worked hard to achieve something. A blessing could come in the form of a paycheck, a good grade on a test, making the basketball team, or something as simple as a thank you. Work more often than not gives birth to blessing, and the blessing gives birth to our sense of pride for earning it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, Jesus’ blessing to us is something that cannot be earned. Salvation can’t be earned! There is nothing we can do to earn Jesus’ love or, for that matter, make Jesus love us anymore than he already does. Christ created all things and he became flesh and bone and dwelt amongst us (John 1). He laid down His life for every single one of us and there is nothing we can do to take that away from Him. It was His gift to give and no one else’s. Jesus loved us even before we could have ever loved him. There is nothing we can or ever could do to earn His love.

Unlike most people’s relationships, your love for Jesus doesn’t spur on his love for you. Jesus loves you for who you are, no matter what you’ve done to mess things up. Christ loved you first and this is a countercultural [cultural?] game changer. When you wake up tomorrow morning remind yourself that you don’t have to do anything to earn Christ’s love. Instead, be free! And know that all you have left to do is just respond to His amazing love. Have an amazing rest of your day and let the freedom of Christ’s love shine though you.

QUESTION 1. How does it make you feel when you read that there is nothing you can do to earn Christ’s love?
QUESTION 2. What are some of the ways that you can respond to Christ’s love today?
CHALLENGE: Receive the love of Christ and know that he loves you for who you are despite your imperfections and failures.
bruce bryant 3

LOVE -BRUCE BRYANT

LOVE

BRUCE BRYANT

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 We may think we have love figured out as that feeling of pure happiness that pours over us when that cute girl or guy says, “I love you;” or think that love means giving gifts or a hug when someone is feeling down, or that it’s that awkward should-I-or-shouldn’t-I kiss on that first date. But love is more than a feeling and the only true, pure, unadulterated love we will ever experience on this earth is the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God loved us so much and so unconditionally that he sent the most precious gift into the world to die for us, sinners who deserved nothing at all. But that is the beauty of God’s loving grace, in that we didn’t deserve his love but he freely and joyfully gave it to us. The God of all creation, of infinite galaxies, who transcends time, loves you; and by accepting his love, you are brought into glorious everlasting life with him. Let that soak in. The more we dwell on the love of God, the smaller and smaller our problems on this earth seem to be. When you know that the God of everything adores you, how is it that you find so much to worry about? He is crazy for you, so why wouldn’t he take care of you?

QUESTION 1. What is love to you? How do you express love to others?
QUESTION 2. Have you accepted God’s unconditional love yet? It’s a free gift; you just have to accept it.
CHALLENGE: Live every moment with the knowledge that God loves you and then let the worries of this world pass away as you go on to love others.
dan schlueter love lg

LOVE -DAN SCHLUETER

LOVE

DAN SCHLUETER

Love can be a risky thing. Saying I love you to someone for the first time can be very scary because you don’t know how that person is going to respond. But saying I love you to God is never risky because God says that he loves you first. God told us he loved us by sending his son to live among us, to serve us, and to ultimately sacrifice his very life for us. So if you want to tell God you love him but you’re scared because you think that he might not love you back, you have nothing to worry about; he’s already said he loves you.

QUESTION 1. Think a minute before you answer this question, does God love you? I mean does he really love you with all of the bad things you’ve done in your past?
QUESTION 2. Have you told God you love him lately?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to take the next step and tell God you love him today! He’s already told you He loves you and He showed His love by sending His son. Now show Him your love today.
audrey jenkins 2

LOVE -AUDREY JENKINS

LOVE

AUDREY JENKINS

1 John 4:7-8

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Seasons of spiritual dryness are awful. What once was a vibrant and alive relationship with God suddenly has turned into a chore where you struggle to say even a few words to God. You try to run after Him but nothing seems to work. Is God ignoring me? Is it my fault?

What I have found in my dry spiritual seasons is that I end up finding God when I go and do. Staying complacent and stagnant never works. My problem was that in trying to find God again I was focusing on myself, asking, “What am I doing wrong? Why is God ignoring me?” Instead, the key is to focus on others, and I can promise that you will find God again.

God is a god of love. He loves to love and he loves when you love. You are over there trying to find God all alone and God is over here saying, “Join me here and love these people.” Spend time listening to and loving people and let them love you back and you will quickly find that God isn’t ignoring you. He just wants you to put your focus somewhere else.

QUESTION 1. Are you in a dry season? Has it been lasting for quite some time?
QUESTION 2. Have you tried shifting your focus off of yourself and onto others? What happened?
CHALLENGE: If you are in a dry season with your relationship with God, try going out and loving others and letting them love you back, and you will find God in a totally new and beautiful way.
natalie barentson 2

LOVE -NATALIE BARENTSON

LOVE

NATALIE BARENTSON

Matthew 22:35-40

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I grew up going to church and hearing that I needed to love God and love people. I always knew those were good things to do, but my life really reflected that loving anyone but myself was secondary to me. I loved God because he blessed me. I loved others because of how it would benefit me. Even in my claim to “love” others more than myself, I was incredibly selfish.

I wish I could say that I have fully outgrown this and that I have mastered Jesus’ command. However, I have been learning that truly loving people selflessly is a constant choice we have to make. We cannot just walk through the motions of loving people because love is so much more than just doing nice things for others. Love must flow from the selflessness of your heart. It must be sincere. That is the type of love that Jesus calls us to give to God and to others.

Everything else that we do in the name of Jesus stems from this command. Imagine what this world would be like if we all learned to love one another selflessly, just like God loves us! Imagine what your relationships would be like if you were all about serving and loving others and they did the same for you and everyone else. What a beautiful world this would be! Maybe that is why Jesus made those the two greatest commandments.

QUESTION 1. If Jesus were to examine your heart, who would he find you spending most of your energy loving?
QUESTION 2. Who do you need to focus on loving more sacrificially this week?
CHALLENGE: Spend today thinking more about how you could love others than how they could love you…then live out that love!