Teaching Series
Grounded in Love
Sunday—Our Community

Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Community
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Ephesians 5:1-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: Ephesians 5:1–2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Walking is an interesting way to describe a relationship, isn’t it? How can putting one foot in front of the other over some distance without falling epitomize a relationship with Jesus? I can think of a couple of walks that do in fact demonstrate this for me.

Dean was one of the first people to pop into my office days after I started in my new church assignment. I didn’t know him at all. He came in, plopped down in a seat across from my desk, and started asking me questions about myself. Personal questions. One of the questions he asked was, “What are some of the things you and your son enjoy doing together?”

I was honest. I said, “We like to shoot guns. We drive up into the forest, set up pop cans, and shoot at them until we run out of bullets.”

He looked at me, incredulous. “You shoot guns? You are a pastor! I’m going to have to contact the conference about that.” I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not, but he sounded serious.  

That next Friday night, my wife and I were invited to his home for supper. I was super nervous about going because of our previous interaction. When we got to his home, we were escorted into the family room. On the walls were the heads of several different animals, displayed as hunting trophies. I looked at Dean, confused, and realized that this guy had been pulling my leg earlier. He shrugged and said, “I found them that way in the forest.”

Not long after, Dean called and asked if I’d like to go for a walk with him. We drove about an hour out of town to a trail in the Cascade Mountain Range where we walked together for seven miles. We talked religion, politics, family, food, history, and science. It was on this trip that I learned to trust Dean’s opinions and advice. It was on this walk that I learned to love Dean as a dear friend.

After our walk, I would frequently stop by Dean’s home unannounced. I’d sit and chat, help him around the house, or run errands for him. I sat next to Dean on his deathbed as he battled an unforeseen disease. I tearfully presided over his funeral after his untimely death.

The love I feel for that man has its roots in a walk. A great walk.

That’s what a walk can do for you. That’s what a walk with God can do for you. Traveling life in a constant walk with the Lord can cement your trust and love with Him. A walk with God can increase your understanding of His character. A walk with God is a life-changer.

Recalibrate: What’s the best walk you’ve ever been on?

Respond: Go for an actual walk and talk to God as you are putting one foot in front of another. Cherish the time spent with Him.

Research: Here’s a wonderful article on the spiritual benefits of walking.

Remember: “You are God’s children whom He loves” (Ephesians 5:1, ICB).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.

“Walk in the way of love.” This beautiful phrase is found in Ephesians 5:2. As you walk with your little one in your arms or beside you, my biggest prayer is that you will walk in love with our heavenly Father, with each other, and with our world. Walking this way is the best thing you can do to grow your little wonder up in love. Walk in the way of love today.

Work on memorizing The Words to Remember for this week (“You are God’s children whom He loves,” Ephesians 5:1). Draw a picture of your family. Make it as realistic as you can, and then share with your family what makes each one of them special to you! God made us all in His image, so we may all look a bit like God. But we don’t just look like Him. We get to love like Him too! How does your family love like God does? Talk with your family about how each of you shows a piece of God by loving each other and the people around you.

When I was in elementary school, I had a bad habit of lying. I used to tell anyone anything to get them to like me or tell a lie to get out of trouble or just lie for the sake of it.  I would tell someone I had been skydiving even if I hadn’t. I would tell my parents I had done my chores when they weren’t done. I would lie to my teachers about my dog eating my homework; I didn’t even have a dog! I remember one time specifically where I got caught in a lie that involved a homework assignment. I felt terrible. I prayed and asked God to help me with my bad habit. I can’t say that it happened overnight, but, with time and prayer, I was able to stop my bad habit! If you ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life, He definitely will. He loves you so much that it’s what He enjoys doing!

My freshman year of college I had a mentor named Janet. We would meet once a week and talk about a range of things. I would pour out my struggles to her and we would cry together, laugh together, and share interesting things we found in the Bible together. But the one thing that stayed the same was that each week we would go on walks. We would spend an hour walking throughout the rather small neighborhoods of College Place, Washington. While we walked together, we would match each other’s pace and listen to each other. Those walks helped me as I attempted to navigate through my first year of college. Going on walks with Janet helped me understand what it means to walk with God and to walk in love. When I choose to begin my day with God and invite Him to be part of my day, my steps align with Him. If we want to be like Christ, we need to live like Christ and walk daily with Him. What are some ways that you can walk with Christ? Maybe that means starting your day by reading a Bible verse and claiming it, or maybe it means going on literal walks with God and praying to Him. Whatever it may be, I challenge you to find one way today that you can walk in love and with God.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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