Welcome to the first week of our summer study!
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
-Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
This week we’re learning about God the creator, and what He has created us for.
Start this time of study with prayer, whether you’re studying alone or with a group. Ask God to step into this time and bring about wisdom and understanding. Later in the study you’ll have a time to offer specific prayer and praise, but turn first to God before turning to his Word.
Then begin your time with the following questions.
Where do you see God’s creative presence most visibly in the world around you? Where can you see God at work in your life? In the life of the community around you?
How is your puzzle going? Do you see a glimpse of what God is working on in your life?
Can you think of people you should be moreconnected with? Who could you begin to journey with more so that you can more fully see and experience what God has in store for you.
Read Ephesians 2:8-10(NLT)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
19When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
• What do we learn about what God has created us for in Ephesians?
• Galatians shows us differences between the life we’re capable of building for ourselves, and the life God would give us. What are some of the differences?
Take some time to reflect on how this week’s scriptures has affect your life. Focus especially on practical steps you can take to live out what you’ve learned.
• The fruit of the spirit are all relational — what’s different about have purposes based on relationships and people compared to purposes based on things or achievements?
• How is “love” different from the other sort of goals and purposes the world calls us to develop?
• What does it tell you about God that he finished his creative work in Genesis by creating us? What does it tell you that he designed us to love, and to be in relationship both with Him and with each other?
• What are some of the “good things” you’ve already experienced in your life — think more about relationships and experiences instead of achievements! — that you thing God created you for?
• What are some ways Jesus modeled that practice of love through his life? What are some ways you can follow his example and practice that sort of love to someone in this upcoming week?
If you’re doing this study with others, take a moment to share prayer requests. If you’d like, you can write these down as a prayer and Praise report. Close your discussion with prayer.
Looking for next steps, and want to go a little deeper? Take a little more time and dive into these additional passages. Journal your thoughts and answers. If you’re working through a particular passage, try writing down the scripture and then paraphrasing it in your own words.
We usually think of goals and purposes related to achievements. But God showed us even in the creation of the world, that relationships are the culmination of his creative work. Jesus modeled the same truth, centering his miracles around people and relationships. And so when we think of our lives, what purposes and good things did God truly create us for? Fortunately we have the model of Jesus, who called us to follow him and model our lives after his, when it comes to discovering what we were created for. We can take comfort that we don’t need to save the world — that’s the work Jesus already completed through the resurrection! However, we do get tolovethe world as part of our created purpose.
Read Matthew 22:36-40(NLT)
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied,“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
• Who is someone in your life that might especially need some love and care right now?
• How would you see them differently if you considered loving and caring for them as a part of your purpose?
• What are some practical steps you can take to love God? To love that person?
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
• Can you think of someone who has loved you well? How did that experience change you?
• Where is love on your priority list now? What are some things that are high on your priority list that need to move down? Things that need to move up?
• What are some practical ways you could practice love and care to your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors?
Take a few minutes and plan out some practical steps you can take to love the people around you in the week to come.