But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. — Galatians 5:22-23
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:8-9
When you first became a follower of Christ, you likely soon discovered there was much to learn. You might have found yourself wanting to know more about the Bible, the principles and promises in it, and how they affected your life. But it wasn’t only information you craved. You also wanted to grow in the relationship you had just started with the living God.
No matter how much you’ve learned since that time, you’ve certainly realized there is always more to learn. You’ve also discovered that God desires more than intellectual comprehension and understanding. He wants you to put into practice what you’ve learned. He doesn’t just want you to “follow the rules” and check off items on a list; rather, He cares about the attitude of your heart. He wants you to be “salt and light” to the world around you so that everyone who comes into contact with you knows how much He loves them — so much so that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for their sins by dying on the cross.
God wants each of us to share the life-changing power of His truth and love with those in the world.
When we do this — when we live in that place of harmony between truth and love — we will not only reflect God’s character but also experience the joy and fulfillment for which we were created. God wants us to experience this joy, and when we’re in sync with Him, we naturally discover the contentment that comes from aligning the truth of His promises with the power of His love. We experience the abundance of His amazing grace.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to kick things off, discuss the following questions:
What kind of student were you in school? How would your classmates have described you? Quiet and studious? Outgoing and driven by achievements? The teacher’s pet? Average and unassuming? Something else?
If the words truth plus love describes the Christian life, what two words — what plus what — describes your feelings as you contemplate starting this study? How do both of those words reflect your expectations?
Invite someone to read aloud the following passage. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read, and then discuss the questions that follow.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown…
Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When any- one hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. — Matthew 13:3-8, Matthew 13:18-23
What is one key insight that stands out to you from this passage?
What does the seed represent in this parable? What do the different types of soil represent?
Watch the Video:
Play the video segment for session 1. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts that stand out to you.
God wants us to have holiness in our lives so we won’t hurt ourselves, we won’t hurt others, and we will walk in the joy that he has for us… this great happiness.
In the first half of Ephesians, Paul only tells his readers to remember what Jesus has done for them. This is the true picture of the Christian life: everything we are called to do is built on the joy we have received and what Jesus has done for us.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 13:1–8 about a farmer who is scattering seeds. The seed lands on different types of soil, which represents the different ways people receive the gospel:
The “rocky soil” people
The “shallow soil” people
The “weedy soil” people
The “good soil” people
The message of the gospel can have a “trickle effect” in the lives of the people around us.
Several obstacles to joy that we might be experiencing in our lives:
#1: The obstacle of comparison
#2: The obstacle of uncertainty and fear
#3: The obstacle of an overburdened schedule
#4: The obstacle of distance from Jesus
Four practical ways you can get your joy back and experience more of the happiness that God wants for you:
#1: Rest and reset your schedule
#2: Plan a party
#3: Make a list of the things for which you’re grateful
#4: Remind yourself of the good things God has done
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.
Read Galatians 5:22–23. Why do you think Paul refers to these as “fruit” of the Spirit? What is required for this fruit to take root and grow in our lives?
Read 1 John 3:7–10. Why does God call His followers to pursue holiness? How does pursuing God’s holiness lead to joy?
What are some of the challenges of sharing the gospel with “rocky soil” type people? With “shallow soil” people? With “weedy soil” people?
In what ways has comparing yourself to others, dealing with uncertainty, and having a too-busy schedule stolen your joy?
What practical steps can you put in place this week to rest and reset your schedule? What will you do to “plan a party” and just celebrate your life?
What are several items you can list right now for which you are thankful? What can you do this week to remind yourself of everything God has done for you?
Briefly review the outline for the video teaching and any notes you took. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from this session.
Close by praying aloud together for a few minutes, asking God to work in each person’s heart as you reflect on what it means to balance truth plus love in your life. Write down any specific requests in the space below so you can remember to continue praying throughout the week.
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What did you think of Session One of Truth Plus Love? Come share on our blog.