Day 4 - For God so Loved
“Welcome back!” Mr. Malku said, “How has your week been since the last Change Agents Group meeting?”
“Great,” Melissa said. “I got an X-ray and my arm is healing perfectly!”
“That’s good news,” Mr. Malku said. “Anyone else want to share about their week?”
“I had fun on Saturday,” Stephen said.
“You came to Sabbath school!” Shane cheered.
“That was really fun,” Stephen said. “It’s like another Change Agents meeting, but a bit different.”
“It was great to have you there,” Mr. Malku said. “Well, we have two weeks to review. Last week we had Dr. Adamson here and we learned about his Four Pillars of the Good Life. Did any of you practice humility over the past week?”
“It’s hard,” Nic said. “I want to be humble, but I’m just so awesome!”
“Even if you do say so, yourself,” Drake said.
“Just kidding,” Nic said. “I did offer my seat on the bus to an old lady.”
“Very nice,” Mr. Malku said. “Anyone else?”
“Um, I’m not sure if this is humility,” Chloe said, “but I helped clean a mess I didn’t make at school. It was recess when I stayed in to help!”
“That is certainly humility,” Mr. Malku said. “How about what we learned the week before last. We talked about how God is always with us because He is the God who sees, hears, and feels. Have any of you experienced the presence of God while you were lonely?”
“I have,” Melissa said. “I don’t like complaining about my arm, but it hurts sometimes and itches nearly all the time. When I’m alone I ask God to calm all the sensations down. And He does!”
“That’s wonderful,” Mr. Malku said. “Anyone else? How has God been present to you when you felt alone?”
“Last week when we were driving home from here,” Stephen said, “my dad was really quiet. I thought he was mad about feeling cornered by Christian kids. So I prayed and asked God to help him, and me. When we pulled into our driveway he put his hand on my knee and we just sat there. I could tell he wanted to say something. After what seemed like hours he said, ‘God is Good, Stephen. God is Good.’ Then he opened the door and got out! He wasn’t mad at all. He was just thinking!”
Mr. Malku wiped a tear from his eye. “That’s very special, Stephen. Thanks for telling us that story.”
“You’re welcome,” Stephen said.
“We’ve been praying for your dad,” Mr. Malku said. “Every morning our whole family prays for him. Last week it was very clear that your dad’s heart is open to Jesus and His Holy Spirit.”
“I think you are right,” Stephen said. “My dad just takes a long time to decide anything. He thinks a lot!”
“Well, he is a scientist,” Drake said. “Scientists are supposed to think about stuff!”
Stephen nodded and the rest of the group smiled at Drake’s comment.
The voice of Mrs. Malku sang out from the kitchen, “Dinner is served!”
“And the Kingdom is growing!” everyone chanted together as they raced to the table.
After prayer and a few minutes of eating, Mr. Malku said, “For our group study today, I have printed a piece of paper for each of you.” Mr. Malku handed small sheets of printed text around the table. “I want you to read it out loud and put your name in the blank. Liam, would you please start?”
Liam read, “For God so loved [Liam] that He gave His one and only Son, so that if [Liam] believes in Him, [Liam] shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The reading continued around the table, each person putting their name in the blank.
When they had finished, Mr. Malku asked, “How did that feel?”
“Really great,” Nic said. “It’s amazing God loves us that much.”
“That’s the Gospel,” Shane said. “It’s powerful.”
“Let’s go around the circle again,” Mr. Malku said. “This time I want you to put the name of the person sitting to your left in the blank.” The group read around the circle again.
“What did you think of that?” Mr. Malku asked.
“That’s special,” Chloe said. “I love telling people Jesus loves them.”
Melissa added, “It was really nice to hear a friend tell you something so wonderful.”
“Good,” Mr. Malku said. “Now I want you to think of someone you love who doesn’t believe in Jesus. Put their name, and their connection to you, in the blank.”
Stephen said, “I’ll start. ‘For God so loved [my dad Marcus] that He gave His one and only Son, so that if [my dad Marcus] believes in Him, [my dad Marcus] shall not perish but have eternal life.’” By the time he finished the sentence Stephen had tears in his eyes. The rest of the group took their turn. When they were finished they were all very quiet.
“How did you feel that time?” Mr. Malku asked.
“It made me realize,” Stephen said, “how much I really love my Dad... and Jesus.”
“I think that’s how this text is supposed to be used,” Liam said.
“Why do you think that?” Mr. Malku asked.
“Because it made me care,” Liam said. “I want to go tell that person right now!”
“Yeah,” Shane added, “I feel like we should go tell the whole world.”
“But like this,” Chloe said. “Telling them on TV or a webpage or something like that isn’t good enough. Everyone needs to hear about Jesus from someone who loves them.”
“Yeah,” Melissa said, “someone who cries when they think about Jesus loving that person.”
“That is lovely, girls,” Mr. Malku said. “I think you are on to something pretty important. Let’s clean up the table and head back into the lounge room. We will finish up in there.”
Group Interaction Time
Read James 2:12-17.
What does this tell us about our actions? Are they important?
Do our actions save us? If we are following the law, acting as Jesus would act, do our actions have the potential to help save others? How?
If we, knowing the good we should do, follow through and bless the world around us, what are we demonstrating about our faith?
“Let me ask you another question,” Mr. Malku said. “In John 3:16, what are the words Jesus put in the blanks?”
Everyone pulled out the paper they were given at the table.
Nic read, “For God so loved...”
“The world!” Chloe and Melissa shouted together.
Nic continued, “that He gave His one and only Son, so that if ...”
“Anyone,” most of the room said together.
“believes in Him ...” Nic read.
“They!” the room answered.
“Shall not perish but have eternal life,” Nic finished.
“Very good,” Mr. Malku said. “So who can believe?”
“Anyone!” Shane said.
“And if they do,” Mr. Malku said, “they will be given what?”
“Eternal life!” the group answered together.
“And why did God do this?” Mr. Malku asked.
“Because He loves everyone,” Chloe said.
“For God so loved ...” Mr. Malku said.
“The world!” Chloe answered.
“The word used in the original language of John 3:16,” Mr. Malku said, “is kosmos. God so loved the kosmos.”
“The universe?” Drake asked, truly surprised.
“That’s what cosmos means now,” Mr. Malku said, “‘The universe seen as a well-ordered whole’ but in Bible times it meant “the world as a created, organized entity.”
“I always thought salvation only affected people,” Drake said. “Evidently the death of Jesus makes a difference for the whole of God’s creation – even the trees.”
“It may sound silly,” Mr. Malku said, “but Jesus could have used a word like ‘people’ or ‘his children,’ but in this verse Jesus chose to say kosmos. Why?”
“Maybe because He does love the whole World,” Shane said. “Including the people—and the trees.”
“According to Romans 8:19,” Mr. Malku said, “‘Creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.’ What do you think that means?”
“That if we are the children of God, we should help nature,” Nic said.
“Because God loves the world,” Shane said.
“This is huge,” Drake said, sitting forward on his seat. “This means Jesus’ gift of eternal life is supposed to inspire us to make life better for the planet.”
“I think you are right, Drake,” Mr. Malku continued, “Just a few verses later, Paul says ‘Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.’”
“What can we do, now?” Melissa said. “I mean, to make a change in the world for Jesus Christ!”
“Good question,” Mr. Malku said. “It is time to plan our monthly group outing. What should we do to reveal the children of God to the world?”
“We could clean up the junk in the river,” Nic said.
“Or weed a garden for an old person,” Melissa said.
“We could build some birdhouses,” Drake said. “And put them up around the neighborhood.”
Everyone liked that idea and started talking about it rapidly.
“OK,” Mr. Malku said, “I’ll organize a woodworking shop for us on Sunday. Let’s build some birdhouses!”
“Until next week,” Mr. Malku said, “what are we?”
“We’re Change Agents!” the group chanted.
“And why are we Change Agents?”
“Because we’re changing the world for Jesus Christ!”
“Very good!” Mr. Malku said. “I’ll see you back here next week. Who wants to pray?”
“I’ll pray,” Chloe said. “Dear Jesus, We know you love us and now we know you love the whole world, too. Please help us to care for the world this week. Amen.”
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