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Quarter At A Glance
by Tom Thatcher
Our Love for God, the title of this quarter’s studies, can be a rather humbling subject. While the Lord’s love is “everlasting” (Jeremiah 31:3), ours is inconsistent and “never-lasting.” Still, the command to love God is, as Jesus stated, “the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:36–38). Lessons this quarter are drawn from both the Old and New Testament, since loving God is seen throughout Scripture as humanity’s principal response to God.
A Nation’s Foundation
It is only fitting that this quarter begins by studying the passage where the original command to love God is found: Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. The Israelites were preparing to enter the land promised to them by God when Moses spoke his farewell address that makes up the book of Deuteronomy. Joshua spoke his own farewell address to the Israelites who had entered the land and triumphed over the residents there. He challenged God’s people to discard any gods that remained among them, and he made his own choice unmistakably clear: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15, lesson 2).
Four lessons are taken from the book of Psalms, the collection of songs that express God’s love for us and our reciprocal love for Him. Psalm 103 (lesson 3) encourages us not to forget the Lord’s abundant blessings. The other lessons from Psalms form the final unit of the quarter, “Songs That Glorify the God of Love.” Lesson 11 highlights expressing love for God in the primary place of worship for Old Testament believers: “mount Zion, … the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2). Lesson 12 focuses on God’s mighty deeds (66:3–7) and answered prayers (66:16–20). Lesson 13 invites readers to praise God for the protection and security found in “the shadow of the Almighty” (91:1).
The Ultimate Gift of Love
Our love for God takes on a whole new meaning when we come to the New Testament. And why shouldn’t it? Here we see, as did Simeon, the salvation brought about by the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26, 30). This is the focus of lesson 4, which falls on the Sunday before Christmas Day.
The other lessons from the New Testament (5–10) challenge students to love God in a manner befitting such a marvelous gift. Lesson 5, the final study of the year, may provide a source of New Year’s resolutions in calling students to loving acts that demonstrate their love of Jesus. In lesson 9 Paul exhorts us to imitate the Savior’s sacrificial love as we esteem others (Philippians 2:1–11).
We show our love for God essentially the same way that Old Testament believers were to show theirs: by a life of obedience. “This is love,” writes John, “that we walk after [God’s] commandments” (2 John 6, lesson 6). We must not allow our love to erode by becoming too closely attached to this world. James is clear about that: “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4, lesson 7).
Furthermore, our love for God is meant to deepen even in the midst of this world’s difficult circumstances. Paul’s chains in Rome could not hinder either the progress of the gospel (lesson 8) or his personal walk with the Lord (lesson 10). In fact, not even death can shake the Christian’s confidence. As Paul so beautifully states, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, lesson 8). Our love for God took on new meaning when God came to live in our world; it will certainly take on new meaning when we go to live in His!
Unit 1: God Is Worthy of Our Love
Lesson 1, December 2— Love and Obey God—Deuteronomy 6:1–9
Lesson 2, December 9—Love and Serve God—Joshua 24:1–3, 13–15, 21–24
Lesson 3, December 16—Love and Worship God—Psalm 103:1–17a, 21, 22
Lesson 4, December 23—Love God for the Gift of Jesus—Luke 1:26–31; 2:22, 25–35
Lesson 5, December 30—Love God and Serve Others—Matthew 25:31–46
Unit 2: Loving God by Trusting Christ
Lesson 6, January 6—Walk in Love—2 Thessalonians 3:1–5; 2 John 4–11
Lesson 7, January 13—Submit to God—James 4:1–10
Lesson 8, January 20—Rejoice in All Circumstances—Philippians 1:12–21
Lesson 9, January 27—Imitate Christ—Philippians 2:1–11
Lesson 10, February 3—Press On in Christ—Philippians 3:7–14
Unit 3: Songs That Glorify the God of Love
Lesson 11, February 10—Our Loving God—Psalm 48:1–3, 9–14
Lesson 12, February 17—Our Mighty God—Psalm 66:1–9, 16–20
Lesson 13, February 24—Our Rescuing God—Psalm 91:1–8, 11–16
Diligent study of these lessons will not only bless you spiritually, but also aid you in discovering God's plan for your own life.
-John Alva Owston