D. I. A. Disciples in Action curriculum assisting young people in their discipleship journey



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Application

[Ask your group for examples of how to express love to God. Allow a few minutes for discussion.]


God is Love

The Bible describes God as Love in 1 John 4:8. It says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This simple statement is heavy with truth. If you do not love others around you, you do not know God. The verse does not say that God is lovable or that God is loved or that God is loving, but rather God is love. This means that God does not get love from some other wonderful place and then gives it to you. It begins with Him. If He did not exist, love would not exist. It is impossible to separate the two. Therefore, we cannot concoct or generate love on our own. It does not originate with us, but with God.


Because love begins with God, He does not need our love to feel validated or whole. He is not insecure or lacking when we do not love Him. He instructs us that the only way to show that we love Him is to take the love that He gives us through our relationship with Him and share it with those around us.
(interaction) [Have a sheet of paper with the words “I love you because...” written at the top. Supply a pen and then have the participants write a very brief personal compliment about the person sitting next to them. The compliment has to be about the person—not about their watch or dress. (For example, a student can say, “you have great taste,” not “you have nice pair of shoes.”) Watch the paper go around the room. If there is a large group, you may have to send a sheet down each row, but everyone has to write a very brief compliment about the person next to them. You may read 1 Corinthians 13 while they do this or play a song. If you have time at the end, read aloud some or all of the compliments written. Let them know that they have just literally shown their love for God. Allow a few minutes for discussion]
Jesus told His disciples, “I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me]. If you keep My commandments (if you continue to obey My instructions), you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father's commandments and live on in His love. I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you (John 15: 9-12, Amplified).
So we show our love to God by how we treat people around us each day. The verse says, if you love me, keep my commandment, and His commandment is to love one another as He loved us.
How much did He love us?

Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us” (Amplified) .


The entire Bible leads up to this point. The Old Testament sanctuary services point us to the cross of Calvary and to Jesus, our wonderful Sacrifice. All biblical teachings find their end in Jesus our Messiah and the fact that He loves us so much that He was willing to give the ultimate gift, His life. This was done while we were still sinners, or still His enemies. Needless to say, many would not do anything positive to an enemy, much less give them life.
(interaction) [Ask “How many of you like money?” Hold up a five dollar bill. Then ask, “By a show of hands, who would like this money? Everyone’s hand will undoubtedly go up. Next, ball the bill in your hand and ask the question again. (All hands go up.) Next, throw the bill on the floor and stomp it and ask again. (Fewer hands will go up.) Next, cough on the bill and ask. If hands still go up, rub the bill under your arms or do something else creatively gross. Youth will laugh, and always a few will still raise their hand. The point is: No matter what happened to the bill, it never lost its value. It’s still five dollars. It’s the same with God’s love: regardless, of what we’ve done or what has been done to us, we never lose our value in His sight. It’s the instructor’s choice to keep or to give away the money!]
This is the Godly love we are to show to one another. Regardless of race, gender, looks, smell, or family, when we love because God loves us, there will be no limit. This is how we attract people to Christ. We win them with love and acceptance. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other" (John 13:35).
A disciple. An Ambassador

A disciple is one who follows another. As Christians we are not only called to be disciples, but also to make disciples of others. This is done through how we love each other. God even makes it easy for us to love. He doesn’t tell us to be abnormal, but rather through your gifts and talents you are to bring others to Christ. All our gifts and talents were given by a loving God who wants to show His love to others through us. You are His ambassador. Whether you are a singer, an artist, a spoken word artist, an athlete, or a great talker, God gave you that gift to reflect His love.

Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, said our gifts have a specific purpose. “Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of Christ. This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:12-16, GOD’S WORD Translation).

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All our gifts are to be used through His love and are designed to build His kingdom. When we are using our gifts in this manner, His love will automatically draw people to our side and then we will have an opportunity to share Christ with them.



Reflection

God sincerely desires to have a deep and loving relationship with you. He wants to reveal more of His love to you each day, but our hearts have to be sensitive enough to receive Him when He does.

Since love is shown through action, try to do your best to describe what God’s love looks like.


  1. Can you think of times when you have not been very loving because of how someone looked?

  2. How is your own opinion of yourself affected when you consider how God values you? When you consider how God values you, does it change your opinion of yourself or does it remain the same?



Application

Sometimes it’s much easier to just say “I love you” than to really show it. How do you think you could change the way you show love to your annoying brother or sister or even your parents?

The first place you learn to show God’s love is in your family. Give an example of something you can do to show love to your family.


  1. Do you know what your gifts and talents are? It is important that you know, because these are the methods God will use to win others to Himself. If you do not know your gifts, here are a few easy steps to finding out:

  2. First, find out what you really enjoy doing. Next, find out what you are complimented on the most. It may be singing or just how you speak, or even the fact that you are always the positive one.

  3. Lastly, read 1 Corinthians 12 and find out where you fit in.



Dig Deep

What is love?

“Encourage the expression of love toward God and toward each other. The reason why there are so many hardhearted men and women in the world is that true affection has been regarded as weakness and has been discouraged and repressed. The better nature of these persons was stifled in childhood; and unless the light of divine love shall melt away their cold selfishness, their happiness will be forever ruined. If we wish our children to possess the tender spirit of Jesus and the sympathy that angels manifest for us, we must encourage the generous, loving impulses of childhood” (Desire of Ages, p. 516).


It is important that as young people, the valuable lessons are loved and utilized to avoid the negative attitudes Mrs. White speaks of. A deeper reading of 1 John 4 will also give invaluable insight in how we should relate to those around us.
A recent newspaper article reported this survey:

If you had to choose between your significant other or your pet, who would win? The Associated Press reports that in a recent survey, 14 percent picked the pet. The story doesn't get into the reasons WHY the respondents picked lover or pet, but I'm really curious about it. If you fall in love with someone who only loves you on the condition that Fido, the dog, goes elsewhere, then that's probably not the right person for you anyway. But if you fall in love with someone who loves you madly, but is terribly allergic to Fluffy, the cat — well, then, Fluffy would likely need to find a new home. But take this quote from the story, from Fidel Martinez: “I've had numerous relationships with women. My dog has never let me down.” (Yuma Sun Newspaper, January 26, 2011 by Roxanne Molenar-Assignment Editor)

Some people find it easier to love their pet than to love their neighbors. This may be because pets give unconditional love. With humans, that’s not always the case. We always take a risk with loving because it may not be returned. However, the thing that causes us to shy away from love is the very thing that makes love worth it. That thing is our humanity. Often the people with the greatest capacity to hurt us may have the greatest capacity to love us.
Ellen White gives us this counsel: “The divine love emanating from Christ never destroys human love , but includes human love , refined and purified. By it human love is elevated and ennobled. Human love can never bear its precious fruit until it is united with the divine nature and trained to grow heavenward” {HP 202. 3}.

DISCIPLE IN ACTION


  • Share with your accountability partner one way in which you will do something practical to show God’s love to a close family member. Contact your partner mid-week to share your progress.

  • Use this week to discover your talents or gifts. Find out what you love to do and the areas in which you are complimented the most. Share your findings with your accountability partner.



Prayer Time:

  • Take time to pray about ways to express God’s love to the people around you.

  • Ask God to reveal His love to you through others and learn how to praise Him for it.

  • Pray for God to bring someone into your path this week with whom you can share Jesus

LEADER’S INFORMATION

  • The leader should make the interactive sessions exciting and natural. Feel free to adjust each exercise to the size of the class.

  • Make sure to familiarize yourself with the love chapters in Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 3, 4, and John 15.

  • Before doing this session, read Steps to Christ, chapter 8, “Growing Up in Christ.”

Session 20

DEBRIEFING SESSIONS 16-19



Time:  90 minutes. Try to spend approximately 15-20 minutes discussing each section below, leaving time for small group prayer and commitment at the end.

Discipleship begins and ends with Jesus—the focal point!

Summary

In Sessions 16 through 19, we have explored an interesting progression: We have moved from learning about what it means to have human relationships centered in our relationship to God, to understanding that God has provided all we need for redemption, to stewarding the resources, both tangible and intangible, that He has given us, to passing on the Good News and helping others begin or continue the same journey. At first glance, it may seem that these four subjects don’t track together very well, but consider it further. Everything (everything, from Session 1 onward) begins and ends in the love of God. If we have any desire at all to love those around us, it has to begin with loving God and centering all things in Christ and His sacrificial spirit. This leads to true redemption, not just of our souls, but of our earthly relationships. These two sides of the Christian life, loving God and loving others, lead us to commit all that we are and all that we have to Him, which is what we define as stewardship. And why do we commit all that? Simple! Because now that we know what it means to live a whole, free life in Christ, we want everyone around us to share in that joy. So we pass it on, with excitement and enthusiasm. That’s infectious, so they pass it on, and they pass it on. . .forever and ever, amen!



Here is a round-up of the four Big Ideas we studied:

  1. As members of the body of Christ, we must be willing to accept others where they are and help lead them to a redemptive relationship with God.

  1. God loves me so much that He made me, gave His Son to save me, and walks with me daily to restore me. I don’t have to do anything to earn that.

  2. God has blessed me with many gifts, and wants me to manage them for Him and His work, for my own and others’ blessing.

  3. Christianity is not to be lived in a bubble or in isolation from secular society, but rather, because of the active and indwelling love of Christ, it should be an infectious experience that affects everyone with whom we come in contact.

During session 16 we discovered that Christ-centered relationships in the local and global church include giving and accepting forgiveness; being supported and nurtured by the community of believers; loving and mentoring those who are younger, as they mature into adults; and keeping informed and responding to news and stories of the global church.

Session 16: Christ-Centered Relationships

  • How did the personalization of the story of Saul's conversion affect you? As you thought and prayed about the questions, did you find your attitudes toward hurtful people changing? Have you forgiven someone who badly hurt you or someone you love?

  • Share a time when someone reached out to you in love and forgiveness. How did that affect you?

  • Have you thought about the idea of being a mentor to someone younger than you are? What might you be able to share with someone who is, perhaps, just learning to love and follow Jesus?

  • We all believe the church should be united, but what does that mean and what does it not mean? In this context, discuss the difference between unison singing and harmony singing. What insights can you gain from this metaphor?

  • Share some ways you each keep contact with believers in other parts of the world. Have any of you gone on a mission trip at some point? How much did it mean to you to have contact from home?

 

Session 17 helped us understand that God has provided everything that is needed for our redemption, and that Christ died in our place to redeem us to Himself.

Session 17: Redemption

  • What are some ways you've been noticing brokenness since you studied this session together?

  • Have you tried to find some ways to help heal the brokenness, in yourself, your friends, your enemies? What is happening in that arena?

  • The author said this:

  • Here is an important point about which there’s more controversy than there needs to be. Jesus did not come to say, “Here’s how it’s done, just watch Me and you can climb out by yourself.” He did come to say, “This is the way I want you to live after I pull you out.” There’s a difference.

  • Discuss this thorny issue. Where do you stand? Why?

  • Share some of the mistakes you feel you've made in loving others, both those done through selfishness and those you honestly meant well, but messed up through awkwardness or simple human frailty. What are some of the feelings this raises, both when you first realize you've made a mistake, and when you turn and accept God's forgiveness? What helps you to try again rather than hiding away and refusing to try anymore?

 

In session 18 we learned that everything we have belongs to God, and supporting the church with personal resources, does not only mean tangible gifts like our finances, but also the intangibles, like our time, talents, and spiritual gifts.

Session 18: Stewardship

  • What does stewardship have to do with love and restoration of relationship?

  • How have your temporal blessings helped or hindered your walk with God and others?

  • How have your intangible gifts, such as talents and spiritual gifts, been used in ways that help or hinder your own and others' spirituality? Is there anything you want to change, do more or less of? How?

  • Share what has happened in your life as a result of being more careful and intentional in your stewardship of the resources, tangible and intangible, which God has entrusted to you.

  • Have you been successful in encouraging another to use his or her gifts for God? What have been the results?

  • Have you changed your budget, either of money or of time?

 

During session 19 we learned that Christianity is not to be lived in a bubble or in isolation from secular society, but rather, because of the active and indwelling love of Christ, it should be an infectious experience that affects everyone with whom we come in contact.

Session 19: Passing It On

  • What have you learned since studying this session about how your love for God impacts your ability to be loving toward others?

  • Here is an interesting exercise: Write down the names of ten people who are mentors to you, one way or another. In the original sense of the word, you are a "disciple" to these people. Now, write down the names of ten people who might be considered your disciples. Consider what you are teaching these followers, as opposed to what you might want to teach them, now that you're paying attention.

  • Share what has happened as you and your accountability partner have tried to show love better in your families.

  • It might seem like an odd idea, but what could we humans learn from pets that might actually strengthen our relationships and make it easier for others to keep on loving us faithfully? Do you think animals might be closer to the unconditional love with which God began Creation? If so, why?

SERIES FIVE



Sessions 21-26

SESSION 21:

developing positive relationships with those outside the church by kimberley tagert-paul

SESSION 22:

understanding that god provided everything for my restoration by debbonnaire kovacs

SESSION 23:

embracing the evangelistic mission of the church by balvin braham

SESSION 24:

helping believers discern where god is working by kimberley tagert-paul

SESSION 25:

helping believers use spiritual gifts to fulfill a personal call to mission and ministry by Michelle riley-jones

SESSION 26:

debriefing session by debbonnaire kovacs


READ THIS FIRST!

INFORMATION FOR SESSION 21:DEVELOPING POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH THOSE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH

Many Christians are sometimes hesitant to share their faith with people outside of the church. Discipleship assists in overcoming that hesitation. Reaching beyond the church doors is essential in discipleship.

A short skit is included in this lesson. You may want to have your group prepare for this ahead of time by assigning parts in advance. It is very simple and requires your audience to use their imagination. Be ready with other suggestions to help your group reach beyond its borders and bring the light of Christ into their world.
Session 21: Developing Positive Relationships with Those Outside the Church

To develop positive relationships with those outside the church, I am:


  • showing respect to and praying for non-Adventist and the un-churched because all are of infinite value to their Creator.

  • being a good neighbor, participating in community life, and helping those in need.

  • being ethical in all my business dealings and in my professional and personal life.

  • reflecting the character of Christ in all my interactions with others.


Big Idea

As Christ’s disciple, I am called to minister God’s love to others outside the church as well as inside of the church. My life can be an example that will bring others to Christ and then to the truth of God’s Word.


Connector

Look: Colossians 2:6-10, 2 Corinthians 9:13, John 17:23

Memorize: “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23 NIV).
The Journey

Exploration

God Loves Me as Much as He Loves Jesus

Have you ever been asked a question you were sure you knew the answer to—so confident that you knew there could be only one answer—yours? A co-worker asked me one of those questions one day. It was really quite simple, or so I thought. She asked if I thought God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. What? Was she crazy? Could she truly believe that God loves us as much as His only Son? Could it be?

I read and reread John 17:23. I had belonged to Jesus, His son, for a very long time, but the concept of just how much God loved me was about to change. A six-month study to prove this concept wrong ended not as I expected. Everything I read pointed to the fact that God does indeed love us as much as He loves Jesus. Amazing. It took a while to let the beauty of this truth sink in, but once it did, I had something more to face.

If God loves me as much as He loves Jesus, how should I love others?

Some people make it easy to love them. Others . . . well, I’m sure you know what I mean. I began looking around me. There were people everywhere. People who thought they didn’t need to change out of their pajamas before going to the store, people who thought shouting on their cell phone while walking in public was acceptable—even when they were using words that shouldn’t even be whispered—people who lived a very different lifestyle than I did. Yet, looking at them, I had to acknowledge that God loved them as much as He loved me—every one of them—no matter how I felt.

As a group, answer the following questions:



  • If God loves us as much as He loves Jesus, what does that say about how we should love others?

  • Are there any exclusions?

  • As a group, perform the following skit.


skit: Who is My Neighbor?
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