I have been leading Tuesday Bible study at SH for the past 4 years. We most recently completed “What Love Is”, a study of the letters of 1, 2 + 3 John. The study struck a chord with me because we live in a world at this particular time in history when the word ”love” means just about anything under the sun, and therefore almost means nothing at all. John tells us “this is what love is ….”. I had the pleasure of Jean Collier joining our study, a dear friend and devoted mentor of 1 of our ladies.
I truthfully didn’t fully realize what I was getting myself into with this particular study. The concepts were deep and the unique style of John’s writing stretched and challenged the ladies. Yet this was a most rewarding study as the ladies rose beautifully to the challenge. Each week great questions were asked and I could see light bulbs go on as the Holy Spirit taught and gave new insights. The women learned that John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ life so he has credibility and believability in his claim about Who Jesus Is and what agape love is.
The ladies kept track of the names of God we learned during the study so we would incorporate those Names into our prayers and our lives. We learned that God is the Word of life, the Resurrection and the Life. He is Light, God with us, Savior and Messiah. He is the Righteous One, our Advocate when we sin and our Propitiation; yes we learned what propitiation means – the removal of divine wrath. More fully, Jesus’ death is the means that turns God’s wrath from the sinner!!! He is our Atoning Sacrifice and the Holy One. He IS Love.
One of the lessons underlying 1, 2 + 3 John was the Gnostics who left the church and were trying to lead believers away from Christ with their “enlightenments”. They were “in” the church but never “of” the church. The Scriptures refer to them as antichrists. The ladies could quickly see how this deception still happens today. The ladies saw their need to be in God’s Word and have spiritual discernment so they will not be lead astray. We learned that if what we say and what we do don’t line up then we are liars. “If we claim to have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, we lie and don’t live in the truth.” We can deceive our own selves. We learned that anything we live for that isn’t motivated by a love for God and His will, will prove temporary. But whatever we do while abiding in Christ will last forever. This is another underlying theme of the study – to remain in Christ, to “meno” in Him. When we remain in Him He holds us; He keeps us continually; He will not depart, enduring forever. We learned that the Holy Spirit seals us and anoints us when we hear and believe God’s Word. We even had an anointing session which was beautiful and specific to each woman.
One of my big hopes of the study was that the girls would learn and KNOW how crazy in love Jesus is with them. I need to be reminded of this myself as often I don’t feel worthy or deserving of God’s love; and that’s the whole point! We are not worthy or deserving! He chose us before the foundation of the world and we love because He first loved us first. Then He came in the flesh and taught us how to love like He loves – to wash another’s feet, to lay down our lives for another.
Lastly, the theme of obedience runs through John’s words. We learned that obedience is inextricably linked to love. God and Jesus both show their love for us. God’s love – John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus’ love – 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know WHAT LOVE IS: Jesus laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our sisters.” So how do we love God back? The greatest gift we can give Him is our obedience.
In closing, I started coming to SH 4 years ago, my mentee was there and I fell in love with the other residents. I had a desire to give back and to bless the residents. Every time I leave SH I feel more blessed than “being a blessing”. I lead Bible study in my church and neighborhood for years before leading the precious women at SH. The SH ladies are so authentic. They make themselves vulnerable every week in a way that continues to astound me. God has humbled me through them. I greatly admire and respect them. I am so very grateful for the living, loving, laughter, tears and prayers we have shed and shared. I don’t have words to express my thanks to my forever treasured sister and friend Joy Fagan. She shared her vision with me and as soon as I got to know her I was in. Thank you Joy for ALL you have taught, shared, trusted, listened and spoken truth to me. You are Jesus with skin on, sister!!! Thanks to the rest of the amazing staff and volunteers who welcome me each week and let me be a Jesus vessel.
Safe Harbor House