What is love? This six-week Bible study helps teen girls understand what true love looks like. By focusing on the life of Jesus, these girls will come to understand that Love is, first and foremost, a Someone. The more we understand Jesus, the more we understand God's original intent behind this overused, abused, and muddled word: love.
Each week girls will do an in-depth study of one of Jesus' relationships described in the Bible. By examining the way Jesus interacted with others, they will see the perfect example of love. Through four repetitive phasesread, realize, respond, and retainteen girls will learn a method of studying the Bible that they can apply to any Scripture passage and that will motivate them to read more frequently and independently in the future. By analyzing the Bible stories, each girl will in turn be able to analyze her own relationships to see if they are based on God’s idea of love, and will walk away with a deeper understanding of the love relationship God seeks to have with her.
- 6 sessions of study
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
LOVE IS ...SIX LESSIONS ON WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE
By JENNA LUCADO BISHOP
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Jenna Lucado Bishopa
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWEEK 1
An Introduction to the Most Confusing Word in the World
Day 1Love Is: A Someone
Eric was my first love.
Yes, Eric. Just Eric.
Don't ask me what his last name was. I didn't know then, and I don't know now. But were last names important as a kindergartner? Absolutely not! The only requirements I had to fall in love as a five year old were the following:
He had to be cute.
He had to be nice.
Oh, and if he gave me presents, like a cherry Ring Pop, that meant he was really "the one" for.ev.er. (Or at least until recess was over.)
Eric was cute. Check.
Eric was nice. Check.
Did he give me ring pops? No. Which leads me to the problems with this first love of mine.
You see, Eric was a prince. And though my plastic, pink, princess crown my mom bought me at Toys-R-Us qualified me as royalty in my little mind, Eric's royal status was of a different level.
On top of the prince thing getting in the way, Eric was ... well ... a cartoon. That was somewhat of a hurdle in our relationship. And the icing on the cake? He was taken by my favorite Disney princess (and best friend), Ariel.
So prince, plus cartoon, plus dating my BF, equaled unrequited love.
What about you?
Take a minute and write down whom your first "love" was. What qualities did he have that gave you the butterflies?
Okay, maybe my love for Prince Eric wasn't necessarily love as much as it was a five-year-old crush. So what does real love look like? In order to answer that question, we have to go to the book that defines true love. It's not one of Shakespeare's plays or a Jane Austen novel. No, the greatest book about love, the source on love, the definition of love is the Bible.
Read 1 John 4:16 and 1 John 4:8. What are the similarities between these two verses?
Did you catch this: both verses contain the phrase "God is love"?
If that were a math problem what would it look like? (You didn't think math would ever be used in a Bible study, did ya?)
Did your answer look something like mine?
God = Love.
This equation means the more you know God, the more you will know not only what Love is but who Love is. Because God IS love.
Okay, press pause on that thought, and now read John 14:910. Write down what Jesus was telling His followers, the disciples.
Jesus was telling His followers that He and the Father (aka God) were one. So how can knowing this help our quest to find what real love is?
Well, to know more about what love acts like, sounds like, lives like, we look at the life of Jesus.
Going back to our mathematic equation, it would look something like this:
God = Love
God = Jesus
Jesus = Love
Love isn't just a verb, a feeling, a choice, a phase, a noun.
Love is a Someone.
And this Someone loves you. Yes, Love loves you!
In fact, He cannot help but love you because He IS love.
Write down some initial characteristics, images or adjectives that come to mind when you hear the name Jesus (i.e., a man in sandals, gentle, miracles).
Did you happen to include the word love in your answer?
I don't know how you picture Jesus. I don't know what your relationship with Him looks like. Maybe the concept of a relationship with Him sounds kind of weird, or maybe it's a relationship you have known all your life.
But for today and over the next handful of weeks we are going to spend together, I want you to learn to associate the word love immediately with Jesus.
That means when you are listening to a love song on the radio, think of Jesus. That means when you are watching a romantic chick-flick, think of Jesus. When you read the word love, hear the word love, sing the word love, express love, receive love, think of Jesus.
Maybe you have heard that famous Sunday school song over and over: "Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so."
But do you know?
No matter how old we become, we can never fully grasp the love God has for us. But does that mean we shouldn't try? No! I'd rather spend my life discovering new treasures about God's love than never going on the adventure. Let's dive into God's love deeper than ever before! The Bible is our map on this treasure hunt. We are going to get more acquainted with God's Word and His love for us.
So let's continue looking closely at this "treasure map" by reading these famous verses below. Circle all the characteristics of love in the verses below.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:48)
Okay, now reread those verses and anytime you read the word love, or a pronoun representing love (the word it), cross it out and replace it with Jesus.
The more we know Love as a Someone, the more we know about what love really is, how to love others, and how to see ourselves as loved.
Let's spend a moment talking to Love. Your prayer can look like mine if you'd like, or you might want to come up with your own. Regardless, just spend some time with Jesus asking Him to help you know what love is.
Day 2Love Is: Tie-Dye
I've confused the meaning of the word love, a lot in life. Beginning with that five-year-old little crush, bleeding into the way I treated my sisters, leaking over into my dramatic "friendships" in middle school, and running into my high school dating life ...
I haven't loved others well, and I've settled for relationships with those who don't love me in return.
I can remember my first boyfriend saying the three little-in-size, yet profound-in-meaning words I had dreamed of hearing my entire life, "I love you."
We were sitting in the Sonic parking lot, sophomores in high school, sipping on some slushies.
"Really?" I thought. "This is when you are going to tell me the words I have dreamed of hearing my entire life?" To me, slushies and fast food don't make for the most romantic setting.
He was moving the very next day from my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, all the way to New Jersey. New Jersey! So I thought, "Well, maybe I should say the words back. After all, he's moving. I'd be a jerk if I didn't say it in return. And I do really like him. Maybe it's love."
So what do you think I did?
Yep. I said it. "I love you too" came out of my mouth, and his face turned bright red.
"Wow, he's blushing!" I thought.
Then I realized it. Nope.
Just the reflection from the neon, glowing, red Sonic Drive-In sign.
I didn't know what those words meant when I said them. Maybe you can relate. You don't know exactly what love should look like in a friendship, with family, or maybe even with a guy.
Does the word love ever confuse you? If so, why do you think that word can be unclear? Write down your thoughts.
I think love can be confusing because the world tosses out so many different definitions, examples, and advice about what it is. It's like a tie-dye t-shirt. All of these opinions, pieces of advice, and beliefs swirling around, bleeding into each other, leaving us dizzy and wondering, "What in the world is love?"
Too Many Definitions of Love
Merriam-Webster defines love as the following:
1. Love is strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2. attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers
3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
The famous definition, "Love is blind," originated from the most historically renowned love author, William Shakespeare.
The Beatles said love is all you need.
Martin Luther King said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." Now it's your turn.
Write your definition of love in the space below.
Too Many Examples of Love
Maybe it's the influence of your parents or grandparents. Maybe it's watching your friend navigate through her first dating relationship or seeing an older sibling struggle through a friendship. Maybe it's all the romantic comedies you have watched or seeing a friend you look up to fight with her parents.
The relationships you watch influence your definition of love. No matter how healthy or unhealthy they are, these relationships will leave a thumbprint on your heart. They have set an example.
List some relationships you have watched (good and bad) that have influenced the way you see love.
Too Much Advice about Love
Our friends, our family, the television, magazines, books, doctors, Web sites ... no matter where we turn, different people or mediums hand us "answers" to our questions about love. For me, growing up I typically turned to my friends for love advice. But what about you?
Who or what has given you love advice, or who/what do you turn to for answers about love? (Again, this can be love in friendship, with family, a boy, whatever.)
World Love Versus God Love
There are love languages, love bugs, love letters, love novels, love poems, love spells, love handles.
You can want love, fall in love, be in love, hate love, lose love, love love.
If every definition, example, and piece of advice were a different color, we would have a tie-dye masterpiece. Thousands of colors swirling around, running into the other. What a confusing mess!
Amidst the world's messages about love, God's message becomes faint.
Compare and contrast the verses between the world and God. Write down the differences you see between them based on the verse provided.
Overall, what did you learn about the characteristics of man versus the characteristics of God?
What does this teach you about listening to the world's messages about love versus listening to God's message of love?
To know what real love is, we have to turn to Jesus.
Does this mean we should never listen to other people to receive counsel on love? Well, you tell me. Read these verses and write down your thoughts.
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Prov. 19:20 NIV 2011)
The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps. (Prov. 14:15 NASB)
Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. (Eccl. 10:12 NIV 2011)
Listening to wise counsel is good, but remember that not all advice is wise. So what do we do? We filter the words of others through the Word of God. God's words are always flawless (Prov. 30:56). So everything you hear about love, read about love, see about love should be filtered through what the Bible says about love.
Jesus is our definition of love, our example of love, and our primary advice-giver on love. Will we still struggle with love and make wrong decisions in the name of love? Absolutely. And that's okay. We will never have it all figured out. But thankfully we have a God who does. So let's keep looking to Him. The Author of love. The Source of love. The Love above all loves.
Jesus = Love.
No confusing tie-dye about that.
Let's close by thanking Jesus for being our guide on this love journey. Pray along with me, and then feel free to make your chat with Jesus more personal with a prayer of your own.
Day 3Love Is: A Bull's-Eye
I've misused it, misunderstood it, misrepresented it.
Insert any word you can think of that starts with mis, and I've done it to love.
How do I know I've messed up love? Because I've compared my heart to Jesus' heart. Yesterday we said that we always use Jesus and His Word as our definer of love, example of love, and advice-giver on love. But we also need to look at Jesus as our standard of love. If I compare myself to His standard of love, this is what I find:
I've missed the love target. (There's another mis word.)
But I don't think I'm the only one. In fact, I know I'm not the only one.
We've all messed up love, all missed the love mark.
Well, sure, one of our answers could be what we learned yesterday. We mess up love because the world has confused its definition. But there's a deeper answer. A three-little-letter answer that has caused a whole lot of problems. It is the problem.
Our reaction to the word love is a little different from our reaction to the word sin, isn't it?
Love draws a smile. Sin draws a frown. Love is a common conversation topic, but I doubt you ever sit around with your friends and say, "Let's talk about sin!" Love makes your stomach flutter. Sin makes your stomach sick.
So why am I bringing up sin if this is a study on love? Because ...
To understand how beautiful the love of Jesus is, we have to understand how ugly our sin is.
To begin our chat about sin, I'm going to give you a simple definition. But before I give you a definition, write down your own. What is sin?
Everyone typically has his or her own way of defining sin. So let's look at a simple definition that will put us on the same page.
Let's travel back in time. Farther back than your grandparents' "good 'ole days," farther back than Abraham Lincoln's tall hat or Cleopatra's gold bangles. Open up your Bible to the first page. That's how far back we are goingto the very beginning. The creation of the world.
In the first couple of pages of your Bible, we see the life God originally made us for. We see Adam and Eve living in the Bull's Eyea perfect place, and an up-close-and-personal relationship with Perfect Love, with their Creator. Could you imagine? A place with no drama, no insecurity, no jealousy. Wow.
Read Genesis 2:25. What does this verse mean to you?
When we know no shame, we know no sin. Shame is the result of sin. Adam and Eve knew a life without sin. They experienced the freeing life God called us to live. So what happened?
Well, if you know the story, Adam and Eve were enticed by the serpentotherwise known as the enemy of God, the devilto disobey God. Instead of living within God's perfect love and perfect way of living, they chose to go outside of it. They chose to live for themselves over their Creator.
You are welcome to read the story for yourself in Genesis 3. But for now, we will focus on the fact that Adam and Eve decided to dishonor God by doing what they wanted to do instead of what God asked them to do. They decided to go outside the bull's-eye, to miss the mark.
This sin separated them from being in a perfect relationship with a perfect God.
Read Isaiah 59:2. What does this verse say sin does to God and His people?
We have all missed the mark, stepping outside God's plan for us. This means we all have a gap between us and God, a separation between us and Perfect Love.
Read Romans 3:23. Based on this verse, who has sinned? Who has fallen short?
So because we have sinned, we have tainted love.
The heart is deceitful above all things. (Jer. 17:9)
As humans, we don't have the capability to love purely, because love comes from the heart, and what are our hearts like? Well, as we see in Jeremiah, our hearts have sin in them. They are messy. Full of junk. And because of that, the way we love can be pretty messy too.
That's why we have misused love, misinterpreted love, misunderstood love, missed the mark on love. That's why our idea of love is so messed up. He said he "loved" you, but then he abused you. They said they "loved" you, but then they excluded you. Dad said he "loved" you, but then he left you. Mom said she "loved" you, but then she hurt you.
I know this isn't fun, but write down a time when you were hurt by someone you thought loved you:
Okay, to continue with the "not fun" activity, write down times when you have hurt others that you loved:
Remember: we have all sinned. I know it's unfair that he hurt you, or she betrayed you. But our hearts are all messy. It's in our nature. We have all fallen from God and are separated from God. We are all outside of the bull's-eye.
If God is love, and we have separated ourselves from Him, then that means we have separated ourselves from true love.
So what do we do?
If sin separates us from God, how can we step back into a relationship with Him, like Adam and Eve had in the garden? How can we step back inside the bull's-eye, where we live inside perfect love? Is it even possible? We will answer those questions tomorrow.
But for now, let's talk to God and tell Him how sorry we are about the sin in our lives and the way we have missed the mark on His idea of love. I will start the prayer, and then spend some time getting personal with God about the sin in your heart. Remember, He loves you. He already sees your heart. So don't be afraid to share it with Him.
Day 4Love Is: The Cross
I've stared at a blank page for an hour now, asking God how in the world I'm supposed to open up the lesson for today. How do I begin to express my thoughts about the story that split our calendar, the story that redeemed humanity, the story that bridged the eternal separation that sin caused, the story that brought man into the presence of Perfect Love again, back into the bull's-eyethe story of Christ's death on the cross?
And so I've decided that no illustration, no gimmick, no story, no joke is necessary. Anything I add will only take away. The cross stands alone.
Let's just read it.
John 19. Go for it.
What you just read? Yeah, that's love. The greatest love story ever told.
It far outweighs the famous love of Queen Victoria for her husband Albert. Do you know that love story? For twenty-one years, Queen Victoria of England was married to the love of her life, Prince Albert. They had nine children. He died tragically of typhoid fever, and Queen Victoria never stopped mourning. The rest of her forty-year life she wore black signifying her devotion to him. She traveled with his portrait wherever she went so that she could wake up to his face.
Excerpted from LOVE IS ... by JENNA LUCADO BISHOP Copyright © 2013 by Jenna Lucado Bishopa . Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Note from the Author 7
Week 1 An Introduction to the Most Confusing Word in the World 11
Week 2 Love Is: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman 41
Week 3 Love Is: Jesus and the Sinful Woman 65
Week 4 Love Is: Jesus and the Bleeding Woman 85
Week 5 Love Is: Jesus and the Adulterous Woman 103
Week 6 Love Is: Jesus and Mary Magdalene 125