Living in Love with Jesus

Clothed in the Colors of His Love
By Dee Brestin Kathy Troccoli

W Publishing Group

Copyright © 2007 Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4463-5

Contents

Materials for Living in Love with Jesus........................................vi
Introduction
Week 1: A Glorious Bride: Embroidered with Gold................................2
Overview of 1 John
Week 2: What Is She Wearing?...................................................20
Week 3: Black and White........................................................39
Principle One: Clothed in Light
Week 4: Walking in the Dark....................................................58
Week 5: Walking in the Light...................................................77
Principle Two: Clothed in Death
Week 6: Autumn Glory...........................................................98
Week 7: It's Not Easy Being Green..............................................120
Principle Three: Clothed in Truth
Week 8: True Blue..............................................................144
Principle Four: Clothed in Mercy
Week 9: White As Snow..........................................................164
Review
Week 10: Clothed in the Many-Splendored Colors of His Love.....................186
Appendix A: Leader's Helps.....................................................203
Appendix B: Songs..............................................................218
Appendix C: Movie Night........................................................222
Appendix D: Resources..........................................................223
Notes..........................................................................225
Acknowledgments................................................................228
Memory Passages


Chapter One

Week 2

What Is She Wearing?

(Kathy)

I tell a story in my book My Life Is in Your Hands of a flight attendant I could not help but notice because of her undeniable radiance. Midway through the flight I got up and walked back to use the rest room. She was seated at the back of the plane, and I even surprised myself when I asked her: "You love Jesus, don't you?"

She looked up at me, and with a glow in her eyes, she said, "Yes. How did you know?"

I told her that I had watched her, and her actions and her countenance spoke loudly to me about her love for Him.

The river of life inside that flight attendant splashed onto everyone around her. And if she had never spoken a word that day, all those coming in contact with her would have seen clearly the God of the universe living inside her heart.

When people meet us, do they recognize Jesus in us?

What is she wearing?

The answer must be Jesus.

(Dee) This week we are beginning our overview of 1 John. The main message of this letter is that if we know Jesus, then His life must be evident in us. If He is the heart of us, it should be evident in our countenance, our actions, and our choices. When Kathy sings "The Heart of Me," this is the message of 1 John. If Jesus truly lives within us, then we will feel what He feels, see what He sees, love as He loves. His love, His life, will flow from us to others.

This life begins when we put our trust in Christ, for it is then that His Spirit is born within us. We cannot be beautiful in and of ourselves. It is only Christ that makes us beautiful. But the exciting part is that this supernatural life of the Lord can be nurtured until it overflows to others. People will be drawn to us and will even ask questions about the hope within us. That is when we can tell them honestly that the difference in us is Jesus.

Video Notes for Week 2

What Is She Wearing?

Thoughts I want to remember: ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

1. The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the _______________of _________________. (1 John 2:6 Phillips)

2. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says the Samaritan was doing a better job of bearing the ____________ of a believer.

3. Francis Schaeffer said, "The world cares nothing for doctrine; the world is watching to see how we ___________."

4. Jesus said:

A new command I give you: __________ ______ __________. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will _______ that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

5. One way you can tell what is most important is by what is said when __________ is running out.

6. When you look at the life of Jesus, what you see is _______________.

7. At the last supper, when time was running out, Jesus said:

My children, I will be with you only a little _________________. (John 13:33a) As I have __________ you, so you must __________one another. (John 13:34b) By this all men will know that you are my ______________, if you ________ ________ ____________. (John 13:35)

Icebreaker (Hear from several women for each question.)

1. If you knew your death was imminent, as many people did on 9/11/2001, and you could call someone, whom would you call and what would you say? ____________________________________________________________________

2. What stood out most to you in the video? Why? ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

Day 1

The Imprint of a Christian

(Dee) I was showing my grandchildren how to make an imprint of a leaf. I gave them each an autumn-colored crayon and a leaf from a backyard tree. Seven-year-old Emily, the eldest, led the way. She placed an oak leaf under a piece of white paper and rubbed the long side of an unwrapped Indian red crayon over the top. The more she rubbed, the more an elongated oak leaf emerged. She grinned, showing the space where her two front teeth had been, and proudly held up her creation for her siblings to admire.

Five-year-old Jessa earnestly rubbed a harvest gold crayon over an elm leaf. "Gramma, look!" She gave a little cry of delight as the imprint appeared: the stem, the veins, the tiny teeth all around the edge-a distinct and perfectly compact elm leaf.

Three-year-old Simeon hopped up on the chair, insisting: "I can do it!" With a little help and encouragement to be gentle, he rubbed a blazing crimson crayon over a maple leaf. He beamed as it emerged. "I did it! I did it!" And he had. There it was-that most familiar of leaves, the maple, aflame in autumn brilliance.

There was no mistaking an oak for an elm, or an elm for a maple. Each had its own distinct imprint.

But what is the imprint of a Christian?

When people brush up against us, whether it is a quick brush or a more intense one, can they tell who gave us birth? Do they recognize the hands, the heart, the love of Jesus? The heart of 1 John can be found in this verse:

The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the stamp of Christ. (1 John 2:6 Phillips)

If the image of Christ has faded in you from the time when you first knew Him, John's letter will tell you how to revive His life in you. This study is a topical study of the letter of John. We will look at four characteristics of the Lord that, as we apply them to our lives, will make His stamp clear in us.

Because He is light, we must walk in the light.

Because He laid down His life, we must lay down our lives.

Because He is truth, we must live by the truth.

Because He is mercy, we must be merciful.

Remember the story of the ten virgins? They all seemed to be ready for Jesus-but five were genuine, and five were counterfeit.

1. Today, read through the five short chapters of 1 John (near the very end of your Bible) to gain familiarity with the themes. Simply note, as you read, the many times John makes a differentiation between the genuine believer and the counterfeit believer. Some phrases to watch for are:

If we claim ... If we say ... Anyone who ... Everyone who ... Who is the liar?

Then come back to this page and list just a few of the characteristics that differentiate the genuine believer from the counterfeit along with the corresponding reference. (Sometimes John only shows one side, and you will need to imagine the opposite.) We will be looking at this more closely in the coming weeks, but for now, see if you can discover just a few of the differences between the counterfeit and the genuine.

Counterfeit Genuine

1:6 Claims to have fellowship with God 1:7 Walks in the light as he is in the light yet walks in darkness ________________________________ _____________________________________ ________________________________ _____________________________________ ________________________________ _____________________________________ ________________________________ _____________________________________

(Kathy) When I first read through 1 John, I thought, What?! I fail every day! Is John saying I am damned? If you are having those feelings, hang on, because next week you will gain insight into John's "black and white" statements. You will see that they actually can increase your confidence rather than making you want to run for the hills.

Begin learning this week's memory passage.

Day 2

Counterfeit Clothes

So often we make the mark of a true believer something quite different from what Jesus does. The Pharisees thought it consisted of appearances and adhering to certain rituals. They were very critical of Jesus because He lived differently from the way they did. He healed on the Sabbath, He ate with sinners, and He treated women, even those with a shameful past, with respect. Most biting of all, Jesus called them hypocrites. In an attempt to trap and expose Jesus, the Pharisees and the Sadducees questioned Him. It is interesting that their questions began right after Jesus told the story of a man who came to the wedding banquet not wearing a wedding garment. Jesus had skillfully answered several of their questions when an expert of the law came up with the most important question.

2. Read Matthew 22:34-40.

A. What question did the expert in the law ask and why? __________________________________________________________________

B. How did Jesus answer? What do you think He meant by verse 40? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

3. In Matthew 23, Jesus exposes the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. What does He say in each of the following passages?

A. Matthew 23:4_______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

B. Matthew 23:5_______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

C. Matthew 23:23______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

D. Matthew 23:25-26 __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

4. Luke also describes this interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees and includes the story of the good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:25-37 and study the painting on page 26 by Jacopo Bassano. Note the Levite in the background-his posture and hurried gait. Note the determination and effort of the Samaritan.

A. Why, according to Luke 10:29, did the Pharisee ask, "Who is my neighbor?" ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

B. Who fell into the Pharisee's trap? Why? ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

It is important to realize that Jesus was not saying that the Samaritan was a believer, nor that the priest or the Levite who hurried past the wounded man were necessarily unbelievers, but that the Samaritan was doing a better job of bearing the mark of a Christian. He was bearing the image of Christ, for he was showing Christlike love. The Pharisees were making the mark of a believer something quite different from Jesus' example. How important it is to realize that we, even though we may know the Lord, are susceptible to the same trap.

The following story Kathy tells illustrates this so clearly, but we want to preface it by saying that this is not to be interpreted as bashing a particular belief, for that is the exact opposite of the message of this book. The Lord has given us a deep love and appreciation for the Church, the body of true believers, and for the unique dimensions that various denominations can bring to the body of Christ. But this story illustrates how sometimes even believers can fail to bear the stamp of Christ. We confuse the genuine imprint with a lot of other things, influenced by man's wisdom-by what our particular denomination or circle of friends emphasizes as important.

(Kathy) I was a new Christian when I was getting asked to sing at many different places on Long Island and in New York City. I was immediately thrown into a sea of churches: Assembly of God, Catholic, Baptist ... I was often drowning in the confusion of all the different theologies I was hearing.

Speak in tongues. Don't speak in tongues. Be immersed. Be sprinkled. Raise your hands. Don't raise your hands. Sing quietly. Sing loudly. Don't sing at all.

I'd often come home from singing at church events or coffeehouses with a heavy heart. I found that the simple realization that Jesus loved me and wanted me to love others was suddenly clouded by what seemed like so many divisive ways of expressing Christianity. Arrogance permeated so many places. People thought their church "did it right." People thought their beliefs were "the true beliefs." People thought everyone else was "a little off base." It affected me deeply because in my idealism, I expected we would live together as one big happy family, being cherished by a big and holy God. I remember being saddened at the creeping feelings of disillusionment that were slowly smothering my newfound joy.

I came home late one night, after singing at yet another church service. I went into my bedroom and sat on the floor against the wall. I was weary, confused, and discouraged. Looking up to God I said,

Lord, I don't know what to make of all of this. Is this the way Christians are? Is this what I am going to be around?

I let out a big sigh and remained quiet for a while. My kite had been soaring so high and now it felt as if it were taking a nosedive. Since then I've learned it is in times like these, in the stillness, that Jesus comes gently. This is what I sensed He was saying to me that night:

Open the Gospels. Look at Me. Look at My life. Take in the things I've said. I will teach you.

He is so wonderful like that. When we are at the end of ourselves, He comes to us and shows us Himself. Even now when moments of frustration arise, when there is obvious hypocrisy or twisting of the Word of God, I go back to that moment.

I continued to travel all over the New York area and had quickly become a national recording artist. At the time, I traveled by myself, with just my guitar and a little box of records to sell. I was constantly meeting new people: in hotels, on planes, at lunches and dinners. Conversations with complete strangers had become a way of life.

One particular time, I was invited to eat lunch at a restaurant with a senior pastor and some people from his congregation. We sat at a very long table because there were twelve of us. I was on one end and the pastor was on the other. We were all immersed in little clusters of conversation. All of a sudden the pastor said,

"Kathy, can I ask you something?"

All conversations ceased. All eyes turned to me.

"Sure, Pastor."

Because this was the first time he had spoken directly to me, I was expecting the simple exchanges of getting to know one another, such as: Where are you from? How was your flight? Or even, How was your lunch? Instead, this is what he asked me:

"Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?"

An awkward silence engulfed the table. Many thoughts raced through my mind. Am I before a jury here? Is everyone waiting for the right answer? Why would he ask me this? If I say, "Yes," am I in the club? If I say, "No," are they all going to lay hands on me right here at the table?

I don't want to address the subject of baptism by the Holy Spirit here. What I do want to address is how we approach one another. Do we have sensitivity, gracious timing, and respect for another's beliefs? We are often more concerned with people's "spiritual state" than with trying to understand or get to know them. We don't know their background, their religion, their culture-we may not even know their names-yet we quickly present our agenda.

At that moment, I didn't feel that the pastor cared about me. In fact, I felt somewhat shamed. The only thought that came to my head and quickly out of my mouth was:

"Well, Pastor, are you asking me if I love well?"

He responded with a nervous laugh. I just smiled and went on in conversation, asking about him and his family. I knew my words to the pastor seemed pointed, but they simply were an overflow of what I had been reading in the Gospels and my recent frustration of how we express our Christianity.

As believers, we may be quick to give our thoughts on salvation, or doctrine, or even immorality, and what we say may be true and vital, but if we don't care about an individual's state of mind or heart, the person will certainly know it. You would be surprised how much more respect you get from someone when you really listen and show him you care.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Living in Love with Jesus by Dee Brestin Kathy Troccoli Copyright © 2007 by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli. Excerpted by permission.
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