Within the Kingdom of God rests God’s authority and domain; but it also contains His people and the culture of which He calls them us live. In order for us to experience a life where the Kingdom of Heaven invades our earthly lives, we must adopt the culture of how Heaven operates. Just as we interact with one another as humans, here on earth, Heaven is full of God’s angels, resurrected believers and most importantly, His Son Jesus, all of whom interact with one another. And just as our earthly culture is revealed through our interactions, our words and our actions, God’s heavenly culture is revealed through the interactions of those in Heaven, along with what God allows to exist in the heavenly places. As we spend time with God and read His Word, we begin to understand the products of His culture are peace, satisfaction, abundance, confidence, security, acceptance and identity – all of which are products rooted in the revelation of God’s love. In Pastor Tracy’s message, The Kingdom is Love, she unravels how as we come to know God’s love as the culture of Heaven, we will experience a life where our earthly bodies, relationships and circumstances will reflect the Kingdom of glory.
The world’s view of God’s love has been distorted because of how it has been relayed through past generations. We do live in a fallen world, and unfortunately as a result we often hear the world’s interpretation of love more than we hear God’s interpretation; we experience the world’s view of love through broken interactions done its name. These experiences shape how we view love, causing us to see and experience it as conditional, absent, shameful, abusive and impure. Through these experiences our interpretation of God’s love quickly becomes contaminated, resulting in the way we reflect love to those around us to also be contaminated. Wow we experience and receive love from others determines how we reflect it, so in order to rid ourselves of these distorted perceptions of God’s love and embrace the culture of Heaven, we must first allow God to fill our hearts with His perfect love – a love that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not easily angered, is not self-seeking, does not fail and casts out all fear (Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
The receiving of God’s love is not one that remains within our head knowledge. It is a love that is received as we continuously experience it (Ephesians 3:17-19). When we submit ourselves and spend time in God’s presence and word, we experience God’s love as He washes away our past sins and failures and opens the door for His perfect plan to manifest itself in our lives. Our faith begins to rise towards God’s faithfulness in both our perfect and messy situations and we witness a love that only grows stronger when we make mistakes. Intentionally receiving liberal doses of God’s love aligns us for the transfer of God’s love to take place in our hearts and souls (mind, will and emotions, transforming us from the inside out. These experiences pull on our hearts, moving us in a way that fully receives God’s love; Only then are we able to reflect it to the broken and hurting world around us. When we’re filled with God’s love, we are simultaneously filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and are equipped to lay aside our pride, walk in humility, act patiently with one another, bear each other’s burdens and express the fullness of God’s tenderness and mercy. It is God’s love that allows us to reflect the culture of Heaven.
- What have you experienced that has caused your perception of love to be distorted? How have those experiences caused you to define love? How have they shaped the way you love others?
- What may be limiting you from receiving God’s perfect love? Are there any aspects of God’s love you have a hard time believing? How can these hindrances limit you from receiving all God has for you?
- How does staying in community allow you to grow in love? What aspects of God’s love may be difficult for you to show towards another? What things can do to grow in those areas of love?
- How can you intentionally receive God’s love on a daily basis? How can you allow God to release His love on you when you may feel yourself drift away from it?
Thank God for loving you to the point where He sent His Son to die for you (John 3:16). Praise God that you are able to love because He first loved you. Pray for the fullness of God’s love to overflow in your heart. Ask God to remove any wrong perceptions you have of love and replace them with His perfect love. Pray that God would increase your faith and trust in His love. Thank the Holy Spirit for the strength, patience and power to love others as God loves you. Praise God for removing all your fear. Ask God for opportunities to grow in love and reveal Heaven to those around you. Thank God that He is faithful to pour a greater measure of love upon you every time you are in His presence.
Help lead your group members towards the aspects of God’s love that may have been distorted through their past experiences. Encourage them to read the love confession each morning and night. Give your group members ways they can love others throughout their week. Encourage them to open their hearts towards God’s love every time they are in His presence.