14-DAY LOVE CHALLENGE

Preface
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine
Day Ten
Day Eleven
Day Twelve
Day Thirteen
Day Fourteen
References

Preface

Jesus clearly stated the highest, most important task of those who would follow Him and inherit eternal life was to do, take action, in two specific categories.

  1. Love the Lord God with all your
    • Heart (the real you, center of your physical and spiritual life)
    • Soul (your everlasting life)
    • Strength (ability)
    • Mind (thinking)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself

Love can be characterized in many ways but the primary definition is to have powerful attraction or warm concern for another. 

In this 14-Day Love Challenge, we want to hone-in on these two great commandments.  We will do that by hearing, understanding, honoring, and taking action on what God says as we study 1 John.

Days 1-13, five suggested action items to choose from will be provided.  They will be focused on loving God with all we really are (heart), all our eternal existence (soul), all our ability (strength), all our thinking (mind), and having a warm concern for others. 

Each day, you will read a passage from I John and a brief commentary.  This will help you to honor God and to understand the passage.  Then, you will take action on one or more of the suggested actions relative to the passage.

The purpose of this Challenge is to propel you forward in your powerful attraction to God and warm concern for others.  We could think of and take action on many humanistic ways to love God and others.  However, since God is love and the source of all love, we will be learning from the best as we study His Word as given to us in 1 John.

Day 1

Before we get into the study of 1 John, let us first explore some details that will help us get the most out of this Challenge.

1 John was written by a man named John.  He was a Disciple of Jesus also called an Apostle.  He was chosen by Jesus to be a follower (disciple) or learner of Jesus.  He was “sent forth” by Jesus to be a messenger of God.  John was known as the “Beloved Disciple”, the one Jesus loved.  He was given the responsibility of caring for Jesus’ mother, Mary.  It is believed John lived the longest of any of the disciples and died of natural causes.

The Epistle (Letter) of 1 John was written 85-95 AD from John’s home in Ephesus.  It was written to Christian Church members in various churches around the area.

John wrote 1 John for the following reasons:

  • To bring clarity and understanding of the Truth and Righteousness of Jesus.
  • To encourage believers to pursue closeness with God.
  • To dispute wrong thinking and teachings to which the people had been exposed.

Studying 1 John will benefit us in two main ways. 

  1. It will enable us to experience fellowship with God the Father, His Son Jesus, and to have joy produced by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  2. It will allow us to be instructed on not sinning, believing on Jesus, and knowing we possess eternal life.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

Read and/or listen to the Book of 1 John.

Action:

  • Identify your commitment to love God in reality.
  • Take some time to consider what it means for you to love the One who gave you a forever existence.
  • List a few areas of your life where you have been given ability to love God.  What has God given you that you’re good at?
  • Think about who wrote 1 John and why it was written.  List a few things you want to know to help you love God.
  • How do you perceive this study can create more concern for others in your life?

Day 2 – 1 John 1:1-4

Read and/or listen to 1 John 1:1-4.

God has been before there was a beginning.  Jesus, God’s Son, was with God in the beginning.  God is love.  Love existed before anything was ever created.

John tells us about this love.  God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, took on human form.  He was seen by John and other men.  John testified of the physical form they saw of Jesus.  The men saw Jesus and touched Him.  These men had a first-hand, a direct eye-witness relationship with Jesus.  It is from this experience John writes in 1 John.  John encountered the very life of Jesus.

John had companionship with Jesus Christ, God, who took on human flesh.  Jesus was love in human form.  John tells us about this fellowship he experienced so we can experience the same oneness with God.

John makes it clear the single most important relationship in John’s life is his closeness with Jesus and the Father.  He tells his hearers, and us, because he wants all to have the same life with Jesus.

The life of Jesus brought John joy.  John wants his readers to have perfect joy as he does.  John says joy is only available as we have fellowship with God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

*Spiritual joy never disappoints.

Action:

  • What is your joy level?  How can your joy be made perfect (increase)?
  • Compare when you began to when God began.  What is significant about the comparison?
  • Take one of the things you identified you were good at (Day 1) and focus on companionship with God with that ability.
  • Think about how John’s first-hand experience with Jesus will help you love God.
  • John showed his love by sharing his companionship with Jesus.  Share your companionship with Jesus with someone today.

Day 3 – 1 John 1:5-10

Read and/or listen to 1 John 1:5-10

Communication is key to all relationships.  God became flesh in the Person of Jesus.  John heard the communication from God by hearing Jesus.  John shares with us God’s proclamation.

  • God is light (Truth, Reality, Complete Understanding)
  • God is NOT darkness (Absence of Light, Without Understanding)

Notice the chart below that displays how our words and actions are evaluated by God.  This is what God says through John.

IF WE SAY IF WE DO THEN GOD SAYS THEN GOD DOES
We have a relationship with God Things God would never do (UNGODLY THINGS) We Lie    
We have a relationship with God Things God would do (GODLY THINGS) We belong with
people of God
Cleanses us of all things that are not like Him.
We have no sin   We deceive ourselves  
The same things about our sins as God (CONFESSING SIN)   I will keep my word and do what’s right Takes away our sin and all our ungodly actions
We have never sinned   We call God a liar.  God’s Word (Jesus) is not in us  

Notice those who have their sins removed and cleansed are those who acknowledge right views of sin.  Those who have fellowship with God are dependent on God’s forgiveness of sins.  He is faithful (Keeps His Word) to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all sin.  Fellowship with God enables us to “get on the same page” with God about thoughts, attitudes, and actions in our lives.

Action:

  • How real is sin (trespassing God’s perfection) in your life?  What action can you take today to say “The same thing as God about your sin” and “Do Godly”?
  • Will sin hinder you having an everlasting relationship with God?  If so, what can you “say” and “do” to remove the hindrance?
  • How can you use your strengths not to sin?
  • Look at the “IF WE/THEN GOD” Chart.  Think about how what you say and do affects what God does.  Consider whose word has the deciding judgment.
  • Practice the God-like attitude of forgiveness to someone today.  (Notice God never forgives us because we deserve it.)

Day 4 – I John 2:1-14

Read and/or listen to 1 John 2:1-14

John had experienced the affection and encouragement of Jesus first-hand.  He had heard Jesus call him “My little child” or “Darling”.  John expresses that same affection to his hearers.  He encourages them, and us, with the words “do not sin”. 

John conveys there is help when we sin.  He doesn’t leave us without guidance.  When we trespass God’s perfection by our thoughts, attitudes, or actions; John tells us we have One who lovingly comes alongside us before God the Father.  This help is Jesus Christ who Himself causes our sins to be forgiven (removed, remitted).

We don’t have to think we are the only ones who can’t get it right before God because we hear God’s word tell us, the forgiveness of God through Jesus is available for all sin in the world.  The sacrifice of Jesus was enough for each of us and for everyone to be forgiven.

John tells us the key thing to know is that we have companionship (oneness) with Jesus.  We have this fellowship by hearing and doing the teachings of Jesus.  He clearly shows the way to be sure we are a companion of God and that our sins are forgiven. He speaks this to the young, the old, those just beginning in their companionship with Jesus and those leading others.  The test of our fellowship with Jesus rests on the following:

  • How much we treasure God’s Word.
  • How much we conduct our lives in the likeness of Christ.
  • How much love we have for other believers.

The question John implies we each must answer is:  Has God come into our heart and closed the door behind Him in order to be our God by removing our sins and being the One we follow?

Action:

  • What % of the thoughts, attitudes, and actions of your life are directly or indirectly based on Jesus’ teachings?  What are some steps you can take to increase that %?
  • How important does God say what you do is?  Is it more or less important than what you say?
  • God forgave you for His name, not for your name.  How can you use your ability to display God’s name and His forgiveness?
  • What are 3 things you should have in mind and keep in mind to “know and show” you have fellowship with God?
  • How can living in the fellowship of God with His understanding and His love enable you to love other believers?

Day 5 – 1 John 2:15-24

Read and/or listen to 1 John 2:15-24

There is a definite separation between the world and the Father (God).  We can’t love, be greatly affectionate to, both the world and the Father.  This is because the Father doesn’t belong to and isn’t associating with this world. 

The world is temporary, passing away, being removed farther and farther from God every day.  The Father is eternal and everlasting.  The world has a beginning and will have an end.  The Father has no beginning and will have no end. 

Those who do the desires of God are in total opposition to do the desires of the world.  The world is known by its affection for the things that satisfy now.  The world has no consideration for anything that lasts forever.  The Father is known by His eternal existence. 

Jesus was in the beginning with God and His Kingdom will have no end.  The person who does the desires of God has the life of Jesus in him.  This person will have eternal life.

God wants life-service not lip-service.  We can know that we abide in God and He in us as we do the teachings of Jesus.

We should be warned of others who say they are followers of God and belong to Him but they refuse to accept and/or do the teachings of Jesus.  We should call them liars, like God does, and separate from them for they are passing away like the world.  (We should take this warning for ourselves and change our own ways if this describes us.)

Action:

  • Does your heart categorize in terms of temporal and eternal?  How could your love for eternal things increase if your love of temporal things decreased?
  • How does your everlasting existence flourish when you do the desires of God?
  • List the abilities God has given you to love Him that will last forever.  What action can you take with that list?
  • How does evaluating aspects of your life in terms of eternal vs. temporal enable you to know what is important and not-so-important to God?
  • What is one way you can love another believer today in respect to knowing the Truth of God?

Day 6 – 1 John 2:25-29

Read and/or listen to 1 John 2:25-29

God has promised to give us eternal life.  God is the only one capable of providing eternal life.  This is because He is the only One who HAS eternal life.  God had no beginning.  Therefore, He will have no end.

John warned his hearers to be careful and leery of false teachers.  Some were teaching a relationship with God could be had by a means other than forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ.

The way his hearers could know they possess the eternal promise of God is by the following:  (This is the way we can know too.)

  • The Spirit of God dwells in you.
  • The Spirit of God teaches you the things of God.
  • The Spirit of God is Truth (right, that which is actually so).
  • The Spirit of God teaching you to stay in God.

The indwelling Spirit of God gives us confidence in God that we belong to Him and He dwells in us.  We know that we are children of God when we do the things of God.  We are looking like Him.  If we do those right things when we can’t see Him, we know that when we see Him at His coming we will not be ashamed for we have practiced doing the Father’s will through the Spirit He has given us.  The Spirit of God is the nature of Christ.

Action:

  • Do you believe you really have eternal life?  What is the basis for your belief?
  • How does knowing you have eternal life keep your day-to-day life in perspective?
  • Exercise your talents to further doing the right things of God.
  • How does your mind affect your abilities/skills in doing righteousness?  Does what you think about having eternal life affect your practice of righteous living?
  • How can you love someone today by doing righteousness?

Day 7 – 1 John 3:1-10

Read and/or listen to 1 John 3:1-10

When we have fellowship with God, we do not have oneness with the world.  God calls us His children.  We, God’s children, have and live out the nature of God.  We are different, separate from the world. 

Children of God have hope that one day we will be free from the world and all the unrighteousness in the world.  This hope produces the following:

  • Purifying Ourselves – doing all we can to keep committed to God.
  • Practicing Righteous Living.

Alternatively, if we desire to continue in a life-style of thoughts, attitudes, or actions God abhors, we should be warned we don’t belong to God.  We are in fellowship with Satan, God’s enemy.  Since Jesus came to destroy Satan and remove sin, we will be destroyed with Satan when we habitually practice sin and have a life-style of unrighteousness.

The person who practices the nature of God has the Spirit of God and is in fellowship with God.  The person who practices the nature of Satan, in opposition to God, is not in fellowship with God. 

These characteristics help us identify people who are accurately called children of God and those people who may say they are children of God, but who are not. 

Action:

  • What is the heart of your life?  What/Who is central as most important?
  • How does how you live affect what you believe and to whom you belong?
  • Anything you have ability to do has been enhanced by practice.  Why do you think John uses the word “practice” righteousness?
  • How does knowing Jesus’ purpose in coming was to take away sin and destroy the works of the devil affect what you think about sin?
  • Talk with a fellow believer today about the qualities of love the Father showed us by calling us sons/children of God.  How can the quality of love you show to one another be enhanced?

Day 8 – I John 3:11-17

Read and/or listen to 1 John 3:11-17

In Genesis the first brothers ever born were not in fellowship because one (Abel) had fellowship with God and one (Cain) did not have fellowship with God. They both offered sacrifices to God.  Abel offered the sacrifice God commanded.  He did righteousness.  Cain did not offer the sacrifice God commanded.  He did not do righteousness.  The brothers were ultimately separated when Cain killed Abel because he was unrighteous and his brother was righteous.

Expect to be hated by the world, even those who are closest to you.  Those without fellowship with God do not practice righteousness and they oppose you when you do practice righteousness.  They are inwardly evil and inwardly want to kill you.  They desire to kill, steal, and destroy.  They are murderers within just like Satan, the one to whom they belong.

Our fellowship is with God.  We love like God. The love God shows is His own death to save us.  We should practice laying down our own lives for others.  We should give up ourselves for others.  This act of righteousness shows we are children of God. 

When we see a brother in need, we should express compassion and pity.  We should not just feel compassion and say words of compassion.  We should do something to help.  When we see our brother in need, we should lay down our life to help.  When Jesus saw our need, He loved by laying down His own life to help.

Action:

  • How compassionate are you from your heart when you see a believer in need?
  • If we live forever, how can we view the world’s goods as a means to help others?
  • Are there abilities you possess that can be used (given of your life) to help others in need?
  • What are your thoughts about how God has clearly un-grayed the line between the righteous and unrighteous?
  • Put love in action today.  Sacrifice something to help a brother in need.  Do it in the same manner as Jesus sacrificed His life to help you when He saw you had a need.

Day 9 – 1 John 3:18-24

Read and/or listen to 1 John 3:18-24

We know and have confidence we belong to God.  We can look for the following evidences.

  1. We love in our actions and in reality. 
  2. We keep God’s commandments.
  3. We love one another.

If we are weak and uncertain and inwardly we are not sure if our actions show “enough”, we can believe God.  He builds our confidence as we pray and practice doing His will.

We watchfully obey and follow His plan habitually in everything.  This adherence to His standards yields confidence we belong to God and possess the Spirit of God.

When we know God’s will or plan, we can pray in the same mindset as God.  We can order our lives to practice the righteous ways of God.  Our prayers are answered because:

  • We prayed according to the will of God.
  • We practiced righteousness in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions toward God and others.

Obedience to God in word, deed, and truth yields blessing and provision.  We know we possess the Spirit God gave us as we continually do all the things that please Him.

Action:

  • Does your heart condemn you in knowing you are God’s child?  Trust God inwardly and do what He says with all your heart.
    • Keep God’s Commandments.
    • Please God in your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
    • Love others.
  • What do you think will make it easier to know you are God’s child in Heaven than it is on Earth?
  • Are there some actions you can implement to believe more readily on Jesus Christ as the source of all your ability?
  • Look up Ephesians 2:8-9.  Is our fellowship with God a direct result of what we do?
  • What one action can you take to love another believer today in not just what you say but in what you do?

Day 10 – I John 4:1-6

Read and/or listen to 1 John 4:1-6

The Beloved Disciple lovingly warns followers of Christ to be careful.  He warns us we should not believe everyone who says they are in fellowship with God.   John laid out some divisions to help us.  There are only two choices.  We should follow the direction of John and see if the person, their mood, and intent pass the quiz.  We can use this test for ourselves as well.

THE SPIRIT QUIZ

  SPIRIT OF TRUTH SPIRIT OF ERROR
BELIEVES The same thing as God – Jesus came in the flesh as God Disagrees with God – Jesus  did not come in the flesh as God
ORIGIN From God (Eternal) From World (Temporal)
SPEAKS Of things that will last forever (Eternal Focused) Of things that will not last forever (Here and Now Focused)
FOLLOWERS/ THOSE IMPACTED Those who know God hear God and follow God for the “Eternal” Experience Those who hear people of the world and follow the world for the “Now” Experience.

Our evaluation of others is necessary.  We are given the guidelines here to determine who is in the family of God and who is not.  We ourselves can be warned in this to hear the characteristics of people who have the Spirit of God/Truth to ensure we pass the test.

When we feel inferior because we may be “missing out” on the “living it up” now, we are comforted hearing verse 4 of chapter 4.  We get the better of the world.  The “better” we get is the very Son of God and Spirit of Truth who takes residence in us.

Action:

  • When the “here and now” want to dominate our life how can seeing the “Quiz Answers” help us realign our heart to pass the Spirit Test?
  • What value does your soul place on eternity, knowing God, and being called a child of God?
  • What abilities has God given you which you can use to impact others to know God, hear God, and follow God for the “eternal” experience?
  • How does knowing Jesus has already gotten the “better of” the world bring you comfort and encouragement?
  • Are there people who you could sacrifice for today to help them be in tune with the Spirit of Truth rather than the Spirit of Error?

Day 11 – I John 4:7-21

Read and/or listen to 1 John 4:7-21

Let us love.  God is the foundation of our love to others.  When we love one another, the love of God is made flawless and complete in us.

The key to know we are in fellowship with God is identifying whether or not we have love to one another.

Love one another = Fellowship with God

Do not love one another = Do not have fellowship with God

There is no qualification that our love to others be earned or deserved.  People should not have to earn our love or deserve it.  We hear in this passage the love God has for us is not earned or deserved.  If our love to others has its source in God, then our love to others isn’t based on the other person’s earning or deserving it.  We display the love God showed to us when we love one another.

What is the love God showed to us?

  1. He loved us first.
  2. He sent His Son to be the sacrifice to pay the penalty for all our sins.
  3. He gave us eternal life through Jesus.

We love others with the love God showed to us.  It is not something we manufacture or make up.  It is the Spirit of God in us that we use to love others.  The Spirit of God and the love of God are put on display when we love others.  We can only love others because He first loved us and gave us His Spirit.

When we love others with the same love God loved us, we have confidence we belong to God.  We are not anxious about our standing before God when He comes to judge the world and condemn all the wicked.  His love in us has displaced all our fears about the wrath of God and His judgments.

It is not just a matter that we say we love, but that we do love.  We prove we love God when we love others.  God has decided when we do not love believers we can see, we do not love God who we cannot see.  As believers we MUST love one another.  It is not an “option”.

Action:

  • Who is at the heart of your love to other believers?
  • How long does love last?  Is there an end to God’s love?
  • Whose ability are you using to love others?
  • How is knowing that you are using God’s love to love others help you to show love to others?  (Especially when the person doesn’t “deserve” the love.)
  • How important is it for you to love other believers?

Day 12 – I John 5:1-12

Read and/or listen to 1 John 5:1-12

John is wrapping up his letter.  He’s coming to the end.  He gives us the bottom line in these verses.  He begins in verse 1 with the reality believing in Jesus Christ makes you a child of God.  In verse 12, he clearly defines having belief in Jesus Christ gives life and no belief in Jesus Christ gives no life.

So what’s in between?  How does this belief happen?  How is having this life possible?

John begins with the evidence of behavior.  We can know we are God’s children when we love God and keep His orders which are not difficult.  We saw in Chapter 4 it was God’s love we used to love others.  We have all we need to do right towards God and others.

The ability God has given us to believe Jesus is the Son of God (faith) is the means by which we “get the better of” the temporal life.  We are able to believe Jesus is the Son of God because:

  1. He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
  2. His sacrificial death takes away our sin.
  3. He puts His Spirit of Truth (reality – the way things really are) within us.

God testifies to this in Heaven with The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  We testify to this on earth because we are transformed and continually being changed into the image of God.  We know we’ve had an “experience”.  We have the experience solidified by hearing what God says about cleansing us, taking away our sins, and putting the Spirit of Truth inside of us.

We either do or do not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  If we do believe, we have eternal life.  If we do not believe, we call God a liar, and we do not have eternal life.

Action:

  • What in your heart and of yourself makes God love you and give you the ability to believe Jesus is the Son of God?
  • What is your confidence of going to Heaven based on?
  • What abilities has God given you to have faith?  (reading, hearing, comprehension)  What can you do to exercise those abilities?
  • Faith (the ability to believe Jesus is the Son of God) comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  What can you do to increase your faith?
  • The only way you can “share your faith” with others is to share the Word of God.  How can you love someone and do that today?

Day 13 – I John 5:13-21

Read and/or listen to 1 John 5:13-21

The whole purpose of John’s letter is to encourage those who believe on the name of Jesus.  John wants all believers to be sure we have eternal life.

When we are sure we are in companionship with God, we can pray with boldness.  We can be sure our prayers will be heard and answered because we pray by the Spirit of Truth abiding in us.  We are encouraged to pray for other believers who are not adhering to God’s commandments but continue to believe Jesus is God’s Son.

We are to ask God to assist believers to keep pure, in the love of God, and continuing to practice righteousness.  All this is made possible by The Spirit of Truth living in us and them.  We have confidence The Spirit of Truth will keep us from sinning. 

The Spirit of Truth allows us to know the following about The Son of God:

  1. Really came to earth.
  2. Gives us understanding to know Him.
  3. Enables us to have fellowship with God.
  4. Imparts to us Eternal Life.

The final word from John is don’t worship any image.  Worship the TRUE and LIVING GOD.  John the beloved disciple experienced Him.  He shares the Son of God with us so that we may experience Him who was from the beginning too.

Action:

  • How well does your heart believe your prayers will be answered?  Is what you pray said in The Spirit of Truth or The Spirit of Error?
  • Consider your future.  What does Jesus have to do with your Eternal life?
  • iHThink about the words you say in prayer?  Are they words of faith (the ability to believe Jesus is the Son of God)?  What can you change to make your prayers be more faith-filled?
  • Do you have faith?  How much?  What can you do to “exercise” the faith you’ve been given to make it “stronger”?
  • What should be the focus of your love to other believers?  When you talk with other believers what understanding have you received from 1 John that will help you encourage other believers?

Day 14 – 1 John

Read and/or listen to the book of I John

Action:

  • Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

References:

The Full Life Study Bible

J. Vernon McGee Thru The Bible Commentary – I John

The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Vines Complete Expository Dictionary

Webster’s Dictionary