Four short Bible studies based on the Faculty Four Loves. A great resource for faculty led groups to use together. Some groups have chosen to do a study one week, apply it the next and pray over it the third—giving enough material for a whole semester. An easy-to-print PDF file containing all four studies is available to download below.
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
— John 15:8-17
When Jesus gathers his 12 disciples together in this Upper Room just before his death and resurrection, we learn what Jesus is keen for them to know, understand and live out in their day to day lives.
In John chapter 13 we see Jesus begin this time together by washing his disciples’ feet and asking them,
“Do you understand what I have done for you? 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
What Jesus desires for his disciples:
Jesus begins and ends this section with longing for his disciples to bear much fruit:
What kind of fruit might he have in mind?
What is “fruit that will last”?
How would bearing fruit bring glory to God? Joy to us?
Why does He include a promise of answered prayer?
As faculty, in what ways do we long to see more fruit?
What Jesus demands of His disciples:
How have God the Father and the Son modelled what they demand of the disciples?
What would it mean to “remain in someone’s love”? What would it mean to lay down your life for someone?
In what ways as faculty can we remain in God’s love? In what ways can we lay down our lives for others?
Jesus calls us friends:
What impact might these words have on the disciples?
What impact do these words have on us as faculty?
Bible Study 2: Love Your Campus
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.
10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
— Jeremiah 29:4-14
This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This included the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans and other skilled workers. Also, scholars like Daniel and his 3 friends.
In what ways may the life and career of a faculty member entail aspects of being transported to a different culture and context? When might it feel like being ‘exiled’ or under the thumb of one who has you in ‘exile’?
Instructions to the Exiles (verses 4-7):
What intriguing instructions does God give the exiles?
What significance and value would each of these carry?
As faculty, what would it mean to seek and pray for the peace and prosperity of our campus? How have we seen our own positions prospering when we have sought the peace and prosperity of our department and/or campus?
Warnings to the Exiles (verses 8-9):
The exiles are urged not to be deceived by teachings around them. What kind of deceptions have we encountered in the university context?
What impact can these deceptions have on us? On our students? On our colleagues?
Promises to the Exiles (verses 10-14):
What promises does God give the exiles? What effect does God say these promises will have on us?
Let’s hear these promises as if they are given to us today. Which of them have captured your attention or given you special encouragement? Please describe.
Let’s pray for each other and for peace and prosperity.
Bible Study 3: Love Your Discipline
10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
18 LORD, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”
— Chronicles 29:10-19
Observing transitions between leaders and the reflections they have and the counsel they give to their replacements is often quite instructive. One of these transitions is from King David to his son King Solomon. Let’s consider David’s prayer at the end of his reign and the beginning of Solomon’s and reflect on how this prayer may shape our own love for our discipline in the university.
What mentor have you valued in your own discipline that has helped to grow your love for your work? How are you mentoring someone in your field to love the scope and challenges of your discipline?
King David Praises God (verses 10-13):
For what does King David express his gratitude to God?
How might acknowledging God as Creator and ruler help to grow our love for our academic discipline? Can you give a concrete example of that?
How do we communicate this spiritual dimension of our love for our discipline to our students and colleagues?
King David’s Confession (verses 14-17):
How would you describe David’s attitude in this part of his prayer?
In what ways might these attitudes be difficult to nurture in the context of our discipline?
What positive steps can we take with each other to nurture these attitudes?
King David’s Prayer for His Son Solomon (verses 18-19):
What does David long for and ask God to give his son?
How do these requests capture even more deeply our love for what we do?
What would you want your colleagues to pray for you as you devote yourself to your discipline?
Bible Study 4: Love The World
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – 23 I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved 24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
— John 17:20-26
The disciples never forgot the last time Jesus, their Teacher, gathered them together shortly before his death and resurrection. He served them by washing their feet, reassured them by promising another Comforter who would dwell within them and prepared them for the challenges ahead. Finally, he prayed for them, not that God would take them out of the world, but that He would protect them from the Evil One and set them apart for special work.
In what ways do your life and career intersect with or engage the world?
What Jesus Longs For:
When someone is near death, we listen very carefully to them. What is on Jesus’ mind and heart at this hour?
Why is pursuing unity, intimacy and hope so difficult?
Imagine hearing this from Jesus today. What impact do these words have at this time in your own life, work and relationships?
What Has Already Been Accomplished:
What resources does Jesus reference in His prayer that would help fulfill the longings He has?
How could you draw on those realities as you face various challenges – in prayer, in attitudes, in behavior?
What Purposes Jesus Has in Mind:
“Love for the world” – What does Jesus long for? What does this include?
As members of the academic community, how could we embrace, model and fulfill these same purposes?
Let’s join Jesus in praying these same things for one another, for our campus and for the world!