Week 7: Fighting For Your Barista

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In each of our last few posts, we have filled in the blank with a different person in our life; friends, family, parents, kids, spouse. Now in the final post of this series, we chose barista to say, this message will apply to whomever you need it to apply to.

Whether you need help with a student, teacher, coworker, brother-in-law, spouse, ex-husband, ex-wife- the causes of conflict are the same.


Four Causes of Conflict

1. Poor communication

Most conflict flows from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Conflicts start with something seemingly small or insignificant, but it grows by how we react. Whether we just checkout and shutdown or get forceful and angry, the conflict grows.

2. Unfulfilled expectations

All anger begins right here. You have never gotten angry except when you had an expectation of something and it didn’t happen. You had an expectation that you’d be treated a certain way, that your kid would do something the first time you asked, you expected to have a highway free of cars or have peace & quiet at home and it didn’t go that way. We hold people to a standard and a pressure that only God can fulfill in our life.

3. Despising differences

We think we want everyone else to be just like us, but the more different you are, the better a team you are. Your family doesn’t need to be a group of people that think just like you. Your workplace doesn’t need everyone to be the same. We can be different, but still united. When we start despising those differences, rather than uniting them, it causes conflict.

4. Sin nature

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 NIV

People are fallen. We are all sinners. So often our spirit is alive and longs to be with God and to honor God, but our flesh is still prisoner to sin. This is why we try to feed the spirit and starve the flesh. Since we are still in this fallen world, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard and it causes conflict.

What can you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them. They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit and they’re led by the flesh. Maybe you’re dealing with someone who did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you.

Those are the types of relationship we are going to focus on in today’s post. What to do when a spouse isn’t faithful and they’re not committed to fighting for the marriage anymore. The coworker or friend or family member who is not repenting and not wanting to fight for the relationship.

The Bible talks about this in 1st and 2nd Timothy. The writer, Paul, is telling his friend Timothy about the kind of people who have turned from the truth.

These two guys begin to work out the very same thing many of us are working out and struggling with. People who ignore wisdom, understanding, distort the truth or have turned from the truth.

Paul offers specific examples of people Timothy knew. These examples are a warning to us that there will be those who cannot accept sound teaching and those who disappear at the first sign of trouble.


When Others Have Turned From The Truth

1. Remember those who are faithful.

Yes, there are those who are disloyal, but are there any who have remained faithful?Look where Paul is talking about those who have deserted him and abandoned him.

“As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me–even Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.” 2 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

Immediately after saying that everyone had deserted him, Paul offers a quick insight into the faithfulness of Onesiphorous. He had been supportive in the past and most recently, when he arrived in Rome he diligently searched until he found Paul and ministered to him. Paul commends this brother to Timothy.

This is a principle in life we have to learn and remember: When we want to focus on who’s not there, we need to remember those who are faithful.

There are going to be people who don’t show up this week. There are also going to be those in your life who abandon you and desert you. They weren’t faithful to a vow they took, a promise they kept or a covenant they signed. People who have turned from the truth of God and His word.

Even though there are people turning from the truth in this passage from 2 Timothy, Paul remembered, celebrated and commended the faithful.

Do you thank God for the faithful few or moan over the disloyal many?

It is more important to thank God for those who have remained faithful to the gospel and faithful to friendship, even when times have been hard.

2. Refuse to play the game.

Difficult people who have turned from the truth, love to argue and debate. If you fall for this trap you’re going to believe that you can logically explain to them why they are wrong. But people who have turned from truth didn’t come to their position through reason. They got into that behavior from serving their sin nature, not logic.

You can’t reason people out of a behavior they did not reason themselves into. When you try to show them how they’re wrong they will just get mad at you. Facts won’t change them because it wasn’t facts that caused them to make that decision anyway. They made their decision based on emotion and sin.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 NIV

If you’re in conflict with a friend or family member who, they haven’t turned their back on the truth and it’s just a disagreement, you need to work that out and reconcile.

If you find yourself in foolish and stupid arguments with those who oppose the truth, save your breath, don’t waste your time. People who have turned from truth use conflict to get your attention. 

Everybody has a deep need for approval and when approval isn’t possible, they will settle for attention, good or bad. 

“Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.”  Proverbs 26:4 NLT

What’s interesting is the very next verse says the very opposite thing.

“Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.”  Proverbs 26:5 NLT

The advice is different here because your response depends on the situation. Maturity is when you can discern whether or not to answer the fool.

3. Release them to God.

Some people you cannot fix. You have to give them to God. You can still love and care about them, though. Let’s look at some words from Jesus on how to release those who have turned from the truth to God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NIV

Christ is showing us here is it’s impossible to be perfect. That’s why He took His perfect life to the cross for us. But He shows us that the godly response is to pray for them.

When we pray, we see people differently.

Sometimes we wanna vent, call somebody tell them what they did and turn others against them. When we pray for them we see them differently and respond righteously.

If you’ve ever wondered why many people refused to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, you have to look no further than than verse 44 when Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

In our day we have watered down the term “enemy” so much that this command has lost much of its shock value. Today, “enemy” is used primarily in reference to people who are rude to us or treat us unkindly. But in Jesus day, the Jews in Israel had real enemies. For the entirety of their existence as a people they had been fending off enemies — from their slavery in Egypt to the occupation of the Roman Empire.

Telling them to love and pray for enemies is like telling the Christians in Iraq to love and pray for ISIS. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus was saying. When Jesus gave the command to love and pray for our enemies he knew it would one day require praying for Islamic extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda who murder his Bride.

How do we pray for people who want to murder members of our family? This is where the rubber meets the road. Here are three specific ways we can pray for those who are engaged in persecution against Christians, to those who have turned from the truth and are ruining your life.


Three Ways to Pray For Our Enemies

1. Pray for their conversion

That they’ll come back to God. There are two primary reasons we don’t pray for the conversion of our enemies. Whether they be terrorists or those in our life that have abandoned us.

The first reason is that we believe it is absurd to think they’ll become Christians. It seems like a useless plea. Because we forget that God can do for them what he did for us: provide the gift of grace that they might be saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8 NIV

The same grace that saved us can save them. If we truly love our enemy, how could we not at least petition God on their behalf?

The second reason we don’t pray for certain people’s conversion is that we fear they might actually convert. They might actually repent. Like Jonah in Nineveh, we want our enemies to receive what they’re due. Not mercy and forgiveness.

“So he complained to the LORD about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.'” Jonah 4:2

But it is precisely because He is a gracious and compassionate God that we ought to pray for the conversion of our enemies. How could we do anything less then ask God to show them the same grace shown to us?

2. Pray the evil they do may be restrained

It is to their benefit and our benefit that they be prevented from committing more evil. For those who have hardened their heart against God, it would be better if their life was shortened than for them to continue to persecute God’s children.

The protection of innocent people requires human governments to take action. The death of those who are harming innocent people and helpless children, while it may be the only effective way to restrain their actions, we should not rejoice in their suffering or death.

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice…”  Proverbs 24:17

3. Pray they will receive divine justice

In the order of our prayers, this in number three. This isn’t the first thing you pray. God of justice. Thank God that we can seek the divine justice of our holy God.

Sometimes people look certain events in the Bible and point out the wars or the things God did to people, but they conveniently exclude all the events preceding it. The places in the accounts when those people were evil and performing evil in the worst way and would not stop even after multiple warnings.

God’s response was out of love and compassion to restrain the evil on innocent people. In asking that divine justice be done, we’ve got to guard our motives and leave vengeance to God.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21 NIV

How do you plan to overcome the evil in your relationships? How do you plan to respond to those who have turned from the truth in your life. For those who will neither turn to God nor turn away from doing evil. Let’s be thankful enough for the grace of God that we want even our enemies to receive it too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How were you at being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: Romans 7

There are four common causes of conflict: Poor communication, unfulfilled expectations, despising differences and our sin nature. (Romans 7:21-25)

What do you do when there are people in your life who only have one law at work in them? They’re a slave to only sin, they aren’t feeding the spirit, they’re led by the flesh. Or, they did believe but have turned from God. They’re no longer seeking peace with God and peace with you. They’re a prisoner to the law of sin at work in them. They haven’t been rescued from their body that is subject to death.

When others have turned from the truth we can choose to…

  1. Remember those who are faithful.
  2. Refuse to play their game.
  3. Release them to God.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Which of the four causes of conflict are the most common in your life or those around you right now?
  3. Who are the people in your life that have been faithful?
  4. How do difficult people tend to trap you in “foolish and stupid arguments?”
  5. Why do you think it’s so difficult to pray for those who persecute?
  6. Which of three ways to pray for your enemies would be easiest?
  7. Spend some time in prayer, praying for your enemies.

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life would be encouraged as a result of this message?

 

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Week 6: Fighting For Your Spouse (part 2)

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Last week’s post was about the meaning of marriage. Why marriage exists and why it’s worth fighting for. We looked specifically at this statement from Jesus,

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9

No longer two, but one. They are united. United means joined to his wife, holding fast to his wife, bonding and clinging to his wife. It’s an intense relationship.

We can no longer say “This is my family and that’s your family. This is my life and that’s your life. Here are my problems and there are your problems. This is my job and that’s your job, here’s what I make and there’s what you make. Here’s my money, that’s your money. This is my account and that’s your bank account. This is my debt and that’s your debt.”

No, we’re one. This is our job, our money, our account, our family, our life and our problems.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

How good and pleasant it is when a married couple live together in unity! A good marriage is possible, but conflict can make a marriage miserable. All couples fight, but there’s a difference between fighting for personal victory and fighting for unity.

Healthy couples fight for resolution for unity, unhealthy couples fight for personal victory.

There’s a fascinating study conducted by Dr. John Gottman. He studied couples who fight for 16 years, and he studied how they fight. He can watch a couple disagree for only five minutes and determine within 91% accuracy whether this couple will make it or if they will divorce. He says it’s all about how you fight, it’s not if you fight, but it’s how you fight. As couples, we are going to seek God and we are going to learn to fight well.


Three Wrong Turns in Marriage

Have you ever gotten lost on your way to a destination? You wanted to go to a certain place but wound up in a different place. Often times you end up in a different place and it’s an unpleasant place. Every time we get lost, whether it’s unpleasant or not, it’s not the place we intended to go.

That can happen in our marriages, too. Many of us got married thinking it would end up in some place pleasant, but maybe that’s not where you are. Maybe you’ve ended up in a place you did not intend to go. How does this happen?

It happens in marriage the same way it happens when we’re driving somewhere. Somewhere along the line our marriage took a wrong turn. Let’s identify some common wrong turns we take in marriage.

1. We are fighting the wrong enemy.

Somehow we believed the lie that the person we are married to is the enemy. Our culture paints men and women, husbands and wives as adversaries. Your husband or your wife is not your adversary. That’s a lie the world, flesh and the devil want you to believe. Because if you view your spouse as the enemy, you won’t remember who the real enemy is.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV

We look at the person we’re married to and think they’re the enemy. They’re not the enemy, they’re the ally. We are to be our spouses greatest ally.

2. We are driven by wrong motives.

We’re driven by the wrong things in marriage. This is why last week’s post is so important. We’ve got to remember why marriage matters and why God created it.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3 NIV

The word “spend” actually means waste. You waste what you get on your pleasure. How many times do the words you and your appear in that passage? We make a wrong turn when we operate out of selfish motives. Self-interest, self-promotion, self-preservation, self-defense. The key is to focus on God. When two people are focusing on God it brings tremendous unity.

3. We are using the wrong tactics.

We’re demanding our right to be right. The greatest relationships take place between two servants. Two people that aren’t demanding their right to be right, but two people who are trying to outdo one another by yielding their rights to the other.

“An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.” Proverbs 18:19

The difference between healthy couples and unhealthy couples is that healthy couples fight for resolution, unhealthy couples fight to win. We’ve got to make a decision to change course. To quit making wrong turns and get back on track.


When you drive with GPS, it doesn’t matter how many wrong turns you make, it can always recalulate a new path.

That is a picture of how the Holy Spirit guides our lives. Everytime we make a wrong turn, He finds a way out, He recalculates. It may not have been the path He had for us, but He can always find a new path to get us back to where He intended us to go.

No matter how lost you are in your marriage, no matter how many wrong turns you’ve taken, the Holy Spirit can make a way for you. So what are the right turns I can take to get the communication in my marriage back on track? The answer is in God’s word.


How to Fight

“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

The heaven on earth experience God wants you to have in your marriage, man’s anger does not produce that. You’ve got to do it God’s way to get that.

This one verse, inspired by God through His Holy Spirit, can bring healing and teach us how to fight.

1. Stop to listen carefully.

Most of us react rather than respond. When we get into a disagreement, we spout out our reaction and it’s often wrong. We should stop and listen carefully. But so often we are quick to speak instead. We are quick to argue back to make a point, we’re quick to throw a low-blow in, we’re quick to speak and we need to, instead, be quick to listen.

When we start to fight, stop and focus to hear what the other person is saying. Here’s what Scripture says if we don’t do it:

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2

The key is understanding, rather than immediately reacting when we hear something we disagree with. Take time to make sure you hear what’s being said. People don’t hear what you say, they hear what they think you said. Most arguments flow out of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Most arguments are about things people didn’t really say or really didn’t mean. People end up talking past each other.

One of the best ways to solve that problem is repeat back to your spouse what you heard them say. Not in a condescending way or defensive way. You say, “This is what I think you’re saying.” It gives you the opportunity to force yourself to listen. It gives the opportunity to your spouse to be affirmed that you hear what they’re saying. It gives the opportunity for misunderstanding to removed. It gives the opportunity for you to be an ally and begin to understand why your spouse feels a certain way.

2. Guard your words faithfully.

Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Our words can wound so deeply. The more you love someone and the more they love you, the more weight your words carry. You have to guard your words faithfully.

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23

A couple of great questions to ask yourself are, “Should it be said? Should it be said now?” In the middle of a conflict, that’s not the time to bring up other issues or try to fix everything that’s wrong in a marriage.

Let’s look at some things you need to leave out of conflict, some things to guard your marriage. Because even if you follow these follow these rules, you’re still going to get in a fight and you need to establish some rules for the fight.

  • Never call names.
  • Never say never or always.
  • Never raise your voice.
  • Never get physical.
  • Never get historical.
  • Never threaten divorce.
  • Never quote the Bible or your pastor to prove your point.

If you took those things out of your arguments, just you, because you can’t control your spouse. Your arguments would be a whole lot more productive.

3. Handle your anger righteously.

This is so important because you will get angry and we want to handle it being led by the Spirit of God.

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

You can get angry, being angry is not a sin, it’s what you do with your anger. In fact, there are things we are supposed to be righteously angry about.

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Meaning, don’t let too much time pass. Address it, forgive it, let it go. Don’t let it fester because when you do, you wake up every day angry.

Maybe your marriage has taken those turns, but you’ve got to make a decision, that you will say:

In time of conflict, I will fight for unity, not for personal victory.

If you seek God and follow His Spirit leading you in these three things, we believe that the presence of God can bring healing in any relationship.

What marriages need, is to be united in thought, mind and purpose. Marriages need something bigger than their problems and disagreements to live for. What can happen in marriage is that we spend so much time trying to work on our problems, rather than have something bigger than our problems.


 

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We’ve been talking about this Rock Brook Conference for several weeks now, and it’s coming up soon. It’s a church conference about the DNA and the heartbeat of our church. It’s also about how God meets your deepest needs. We all need:

  • Power to Live On
  • People to live with
  • Principles to live by
  • Profession to live out
  • Purpose to live for

So often, we become so distracted in life. We begin to only react to all the urgent things in life we stop living for the important things. Join us March 29-30, to refocus your life and hear the heartbeat of this church. Your life and your marriage can be blessed by it and bring about the righteous life God desires. To Register visit: RockBrook.org/Events


One final tool for your marriage a simple prayer you can pray every day this week. Maybe you want to pray it three times a day this week. But simply ask God for the benefits of this verse in his word.

Pray: “God help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry. I want the blessing of the righteous life You desire.”


Check Back

This message is part 2 of two messages on marriage. Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on the meaning of marriage? Why does marriage matter? God created it: (1) For the connection of men & women, (2) For the multiplication of the human race, (3) For the protection of children, (4) For the perfection of our character, (5) For the construction of society, and (6) For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

We all fight – but, if we seek God and allow Him to teach us how to fight well, we will not only save our marriages from destruction but we will also experience God’s blessing. So, the question isn’t if we fight, but how we fight. Healthy relationships fight for resolution; unhealthy relationships fight to win. Here are three rules we can use to fight fair: Stop and listen; guard our words; and manage our anger righteously. If we decide during non-conflict times to use these rules in times of conflict, our relationships can thrive as God desires. In times of conflict, we will fight for unity, not for personal victory!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  James 1:19-20

Application

1. Which of the three wrong turns in marriage stood out to you the most?

  • Stop and listen carefully.  “…quick to listen”

“Fools have no interest in understanding: they only want to air their own opinions.”  Proverbs 18:2

Discuss how being a good listener would affect the way you interact with your spouse. What steps can you take to become a better listener?

  • Guard my words faithfully.  “…slow to speak”

“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”  Proverbs 21:23

Making firm decisions during times of peace can help us manage conflict. What have you taken off the table that allows you to fight well and what do you still need to take off the table?

  • Handle my anger righteously.  “…slow to become angry”

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

Discuss practical steps you have in place or need to put in place to resolve conflict in your relationships.

Tell Someone Else

Pray for God’s blessing and peace on each group member and their relationships. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and unity to be present.

 

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Week 5: Fighting For Your Spouse

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Today’s post is on marriage and why it’s worth fighting for. If we don’t know the why, we have no reason to do the what. Next week’s post will be full of practical tools on how to fight for your spouse and how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

Whether you have never been married or you’re divorced or you’re separated or you’re widowed or you are currently married, regardless of what state you’re in, the next verse applies to all of us. 

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Hebrews 13:4

Sadly today, marriage is dismissed as irrelevant by many people, as archaic. It’s demeaned by many people. Marriage is delayed. People are delaying marriage more and more, many times for the wrong reasons. There are good reasons for delaying marriage but there are also selfish reasons for delaying marriage. Marriage is being redefined, ridiculed and disrespected. 

We don’t live in a culture where marriage is honored by everyone any more. Even Christians fall for this trap. Part of the problem is nobody knows the basics of marriage any more. So marriage is treated like just one more little lifestyle choice.

Marriage is not just a lifestyle choice. God gave us marriage for a reason.

Most people don’t know why marriage matters. In fact, most people either have an incredibly unrealistic view of marriage, and there’s no way anybody could measure up. They think marriage will solve all their problems. A lot of people think marriage creates problems.

Marriage doesn’t solve your problems. Marriage does not create your problems. Marriage reveals problems.

Marriage reveals perfectionism, insecurities, fears, bittnerness, control, manipulation and lust. If you were able to hide those things before you got married, you won’t be able to for long once you get married.

There are a lot of things marriage can’t do, but it does have a God-designed function. We are only fulfilled in marriage when we look to the designer and the builder of marriage.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 NIV

Unless we let God be part of our marriage, we build in vain. So, let’s look at why God designed marriage.


Why Marriage Matters

1. God created marriage for the connection of men and women.

In God’s plan men and women need each other. Nobody holds the full image of God. Women get part of it, men get part of it and we need each other. God thought up gender. God thought up sex. The Bible goes back to the very beginning, in the creation of the first couple and the first marriage.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18 NIV

The first thing to realize is that marriage, gender, sex, men, women, all these differences, are God-given things.

We see one of the purposes of marriages is an antidote to loneliness. Many companions are important in life. You need companions in all different areas, but there is nothing like the companionship of a marriage.

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.’”  Mark 10:6 NIV

God made males. God made females. God chose who he wanted you to be.

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9 NIV

This passage says three things.

  1. Marriage is God’s plan. It’s not a human plan. It’s not a human idea. It’s not a tradition we can just throw out. God invented marriage when he invented you, when he invented me, when he invented humanity.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
  3. Marriage is to be permanent. What God joins together, no one else should separate. It’s meant to be for life.

 

2. God created marriage for the multiplication of the human race.

It’s how we all got here. You are sitting where you’re sitting because a couple got together and made you. This was God’s idea.

The Bible says that God is love, it’s His character. The only reason there’s love in the universe is because God is love. If God was not a loving God you would not have any love in your life. The only reason you are able to love is because you, as a man or a woman, were created in God’s image.

God said, “I want to love and I want to express my love.” That’s why you exist. If God didn’t want to love you, you wouldn’t exist. So God created the universe, so He could create the human race, so He could express His love knowing that some of us would choose to love him back and then we would live with him forever in heaven.

Think about this: God chose everybody who is going to be in heaven to come into existence through marriage and sex. That’s the way He chose. No one would be in heaven if God hadn’t created marriage. Because everybody has come into existence through the tool that he designed.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 NIV

There are 7.5 billion of us on the planet right now because your parents and their parents and their parents were fruitful and multiplied and filled the world. The point is, that God says one of the purposes of marriage is for the multiplication of the human race, which will multiply the population of heaven. It’s not the only purpose but it’s a big one.

 

3. God created marriage for the protection of children.

“God, not you, made marriage! His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.  And what does he want from marriage? Godly children from your union. So guard the spirit of marriage within you.”  Malachi 2:15 MSG

This is not an indictment for childless couples. There are couples who want kids and for whatever reason cannot have them or have been unable to have them. If you’re married and you can’t have kids, God is not disappointed in you.

What this verse is saying is, we’re all alive because some couple got together. For thousands of years God has used men & women to populate heaven. If men and women weren’t getting together, marrying and having sex then there would be nobody in heaven. God wants it done in the context of marriage for the protection of children. 

We all know that kids grow better, healthier, stronger when they grow up in a stable family. When they grow up in a marriage with a mom and a dad. Why did God create marriage for the protection of children? Because when you were born you were born completely helplessly. You could not do anything.

Children need somebody to protect, guide, train, and care for them. Study after study shows that kids develop best with a mom and a dad. We’re on a broken planet. Not everything works right. But that doesn’t mean that we say the ideal isn’t real. Children thrive in families. Not in institutions. That’s what every child needs growing up – a place of refuge and security. 

 

4. God created marriage for the perfection of our character.

In relationships we learn to be unselfish, we learn to be loving and no relationship has greater impact on your life than marriage. Another fact about when you were bor, not only were you helpless you were completely self centered, no one on the planet earth is more self-centered than a new baby.

A baby does not even have the capacity to think about anyone else. All he or she can think about is itself.  Maturity and the purpose of life is to grow up and realize it’s not all about you. 

In fact real happiness comes in giving your life away and being unselfish and being serving and being loving. The goal of your life is to grow from totally self-centered self as a baby to being an unselfish adult. Life is a laboratory of learning how to love.

Why is love the most important thing in life? Because God is love and God wants you to become like Him and learn how to love.

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  Proverbs 18:1 NIV

Sometimes we’ll be friendly to everyone else, except our spouse. Have you ever said things to your spouse that you wouldn’t say to anyone else?

If the goal is to pursue unselfishness, your marriage can grow your character. If you are married, the number one tool that God uses in your life to build Christ-like character is your spouse. Every day you get hundreds of opportunities to not think about you, to care about them.

Even if your spouse isn’t a Christian, it doesn’t matter. Many times in the Bible, Jesus was selfless for the sake of an unbeliever.

The more loving, giving, serving, sharing, mature, unselfish you become, the happier you’ll become.

You’ll never be happy if you make happiness the goal of your life. Happiness was never meant to be the goal. When you start caring about other people rather than your happiness you’re going to get happy.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:9-10 NLT

 

5. God created marriage for the construction of society.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of every community, church, state, nation, society and culture. If you know anything about history, you know that where marriages are strong, cultures and nations are strong. Wherever marriages and families are weak, cultures and nations are in decline. We know that when marriages are devalued, the more a nation is in decline.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV

 

6. God created marriage for the reflection of our union with Christ.

Marriage is a metaphor, a symbol. It’s a walking, living, object lesson of how much God loves us and how we are to be in relationship with Him. Marriage is a model of a profound spiritual truth.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV

How did Christ love the church? He died for the church. And God says that’s the way husbands are to love their wife. That’s the kind of love you’re to have. Sacrificial love. 

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:28-32 NIV

When you read this it looks like Paul stopped talking about marriage and went a different direction by talking about Jesus and the Church. He’s just laying down a metaphor of our spiritual union with Christ and his love for His family, His body, His bride, the Church.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV

This is the most profound meaning of marriage. There are some benefits of marriage that are obvious and quantifiable, like what it does for kids, women and men. This is the most profound meaning of marriage is not as easy to grasp.

Marriage is more. It’s more than an event or ceremony. It’s more than exchanging vows.

Marriage is a covenant. It’s a covenant where two become one. It is a temporary symbol of a greater eternal reality. It’s a picture of the covenant relationship God has instituted between Jesus and his people.

Marriage is the most sacred of all things, because it’s a reflection of God’s commitment to us. 

No other relationship on planet earth, including parent child relationship, can adequately illustrate our union with Christ the way a marriage between a man and a woman does. This is the strongest reason why we must fight for marriage.

So, before we get into more practical parts of fighting for your spouse next week, let’s not labor in vain. Let the Lord build the house. Let the Lord build the marriage.

In order for relationships to work, let the one who designed them define them.


Twice in the Bible Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven. Why will there be no marriage in heaven? Because you won’t need any of the six reasons marriage exists. In a perfect place, you’re not going to need the multiplication of the human race, the protection of children, the perfection of your character, the construction of society or the reflection of Christ’s union. 

You won’t need a metaphor, because you’re going to experience the real thing in heaven. Here on earth, marriage matters and the Bible says we are to honor it and reap the benefits.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Kids? Kids need fun, growth, protection and serving opportunities from their families.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“We all are given different gifts. God gives the gift of marriage to some and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” 1 Corinthians 7:7 NLT

Why does marriage matter?

God created it:

  1. For the connection of men & women
  2. For the multiplication of the human race
  3. For the protection of children
  4. For the perfection of our character
  5. For the construction of society
  6. For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”  Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

Application

  1. According to John 13:35, why might Satan attack believers’ relationships? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV
  2. Why was creating a companion for man important to God? “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who is right for him” Genesis 2:18
  3. In Mark 10:6-9, what points is Jesus making about marriage and the connection of men and women? “Jesus said, ;But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Mark 10:6-9
  4. In modern society, putting ourselves first is often seen as socially acceptable. In what ways does this socially acceptable norm damage our relationships? What behaviors can we demonstrate in our significant relationships to combat this myth and make us more like Christ? An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.” Proverbs 18:1
  5.  Romans 12:9-10 provides us with four specific strategies for developing and maintaining awesome relationships. Pick one of these strategies and share how you could apply it to the most important relationship in your life. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
  6. Read Ephesians 5:25-33 in several versions (i.e. NIV, NLT, MSG). Marriage is a metaphor for our relationship to Christ. Romans 12:9-10 above gives us a view of what we’re called to think, desire and do in marriage and in our relationship with Christ. Talk about how you want to live these scriptures in your relationships and with Christ.

Tell Someone Else

As a group, use Ephesians 5:25-33 and Romans 12:9-10 to create a prayer to strengthen relationships.

 

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Week 4: Fighting For Your Kids

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Parenting may be the most demanding and the most challenging job a human being could have. Parenting is tough work. It’s not for wimpy people, it takes courage, grit, tenacity, persistence, deep love, unselfishness and a lot of other things.


What Kids Need From Their Families

What do kids need from their families? Let’s take a look at four symbols for a family that brings out the best in their kids.

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It doesn’t require a whole lot of intelligence or strategy to play this game. It’s purely a game of chance. So why does the game Candy Land represent amazing families?

1. Kids need a family that is fun.

This is the missing ingredient in so many families today. Some families, over time, become more and more serious. Who wants to come home from school to that? Who wants to come home from work to that?

The fact is, your family is not a boot camp and parents are not drill sergeants. Your family is not a business and parents are not CEOs. A family is not a laboratory and parents are not research scientists experimenting on differen parenting tactics.

There is no perfect child, no perfect parent and no perfect family. There is no science to being a family, it’s an art. Fun and laughter is a skill that has to be learned. 

Now, most people know that the Bible encourages us to work. The Bible also encourages us to have fun. The Apostle Paul says this to Timothy…

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

“Children are a gift from God.” Psalm 127:3

A gift is given and it’s meant to be enjoyed. God meant for you to play and have some fun. Solomon tells us to enjoy every day, because you don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t know if you’ve got next week, next month.

Your kids know if you’re enjoying them or not. People don’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. That’s important advice for any relationship, especially a parent. Your kids aren’t going to remember much of what you said especially from the early years of their lives, but they will remember how you made them feel.

The greatest gift you can give your kids is your time, because when you give them your time, you’re giving your life. So Candy Land is the symbol of what amazing families give their kids. because amazing families are fun and playful.

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We use this to water flowers, plants, vegetables. In many ways a family is like a garden. You have to grow it and develop it. A garden doesn’t grow on its own. You have to weed it. You have to water it. You have to care for it. This is the second characteristic that kids need from their families.

2. Kids need growth.

If your family’s not growing, your family is boring. You’re just stuck in a rut. Look at how Jesus grew. This is when Jesus was twelve years old.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man.” Luke 2:52 NIV

Notice four kinds of growth there. 

  • Grow in wisdom- intellectual growth/mental growth
  • Grow in stature – physical health
  • Grow in favor with God – spiritual growth
  • Grow in favor with man- relational growth

Take a look at some things you must learn in your family. If you don’t learn them there, life’s going to be tough for you.

-What to do with emotions 

How do I deal with how I feel? In an amazing family you learn how to recognize your feelings, and how to express your feelings correctly rather than incorrectly. A family should be a safe place to learn how to deal with anger, disappointment, joy, winning and losing. We learn how to recognize good emotions from harmful ones.

-How to handle conflict

When it’s appropriate, kids need to see problems being worked out and how we deal when we have differences, get hurt or get mad.

-How to handle loss 

Nobody wins all the time. In fact, for a kid to have an unbroken string of wins early in life with no losses is actually detrimental to them. Because when they get out in the real world and they face loss, it’s devastating. Failure isn’t final and the best place to learn that, is in the home.

-What matters most

You have to help your kids know what is important and what is not. The world teaches that all that matters is how you look, that image is everything. The world teaches that the more money you have, the more fulfilled you’ll be. The world teaches that everything is about sex. The world teaches that the more you can get people to praise you, the more valuable you are. That’s not true. We have to learn what matters most.

-How to develop good habits

Habits determine our character. Now, how do you help your family grow in this? Here are two ways that help people grow and two ways that don’t. This applies in every area of life.

  • People grow through example

Most things are going to be caught, not taught. You don’t have to turn everything into a teachable moment. Jesus always led by example. He washed the disciples feet and then said go and do likewise.

  • People grow through conversations

Most conversations we have with kids have to do with schedules, eating or homework. With so few conversations about the stuff that really matters in life.

  • People NEVER grow through criticizing

We think that being critical of someone will actually help them grow. It has never, ever, ever worked. Nagging, condemning and complaining don’t work. Because when you criticize, you’re focusing on what you don’t want rather than what you do want. Eventually, people realize you are impossible to please. Through all your incessant criticizing they will never measure up.

You have to promote the alternative. That’s called repentance. Changing your mind, changing your belief and changing your focus. Repentance doesn’t mean stop doing that. It means start doing this, walk this way instead.

  • People NEVER grow through comparing

Not all comparison is bad. You need people in your life that help you see areas you can grow in. Unhealthy comparison is comparing someone in your life to anybody else. You should never compare your wife to anybody else. You should never compare your husband to anybody else. You certainly should never compare your kids.

 

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A raincoat is for protection. Jesus said it rains on both those who do right and those who do wrong. Good things and bad things come into everybody’s life whether you’re doing it right or doing it wrong.

Every member of your family is going to go through storms: emotional storms, financial storms, moral storms, physical storms and relational storms. When you go through a storm you’re going to need some protection. Families are meant to be a raincoat in the storms of life.

3. Kids need protection in storms

Not protection from storms, because you’re not going to be able to protect them from all the storms. No matter who in the family is going through a storm, everyone is there to help each other, we protect each other. Families stick together. Families are a raincoat.

“Reverence for the Lord gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.” Proverbs 14:26

Here are three storms we face that families can help with:

ChangeChange is a storm in life and can be upsetting, particularly to kids. You need family for every major event or even minor changes.

Harmful ideasMany children are provided for but they are not protected.  They are going to movies and watching shows they have no business watching, reading books and listening to music they have no business being engaged in and following celebrities youtube channels they have no business following. Part of parenting is making choices for your kids that they can’t make themselves.

Rejection: This is a storm all of us face at some point in life and it’s the most painful storm of all. When we feel betrayed or rejected. When your children are rejected or when your husband or your wife feels rejection at work, the family needs to rally around and be there as a raincoat in that storm. Kids aren’t going to make every team and get every job. So instead of chewing out the coach or the teacher, be there for your kid.

Kids instinctively know they can’t take care of themselves. They know they need a family to take care of them. This is why the most vulnerable people in the world are orphans. Kids need to be cared for. Particularly in the storms of life. Rock Brook is a church full of teachers and nurses and coaches and RBfK teachers and parents who’ve adopted and people who love the kids in their life, their grandkids and nieces and nephews and friends. We are a church that supports life and is pro-life for everyone, from conception to natural death. That’s called family. Families are for life.

 

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Amazing families don’t just care about themselves, they care about others and they actually care about the whole world because God loves the world. Average families are self-centered. They only care about themselves and their own kids. This is the secret that moves you from average to amazing.  You begin to care about more than just your own family.

4. Kids need serving opportunities

The way you serve God is by serving others. Kids need families that understand it’s not about them. Amazing families teach their kids they were made by God for a mission and they were shaped to serve God. Parents are to instill in their kids the value to care about other people.

“Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24

Amazing familes teach each other to show love and we teach each other to do good deeds. Good deeds are called ministry, they are called service. A good example of this is a Cornelius’ family in the book of Acts.

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; they gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”  Acts 10:2

What a great legacy! What if 2,000 years from today, people say your family was devout and God fearing, that you gave generously to those in need and you prayed to God regularly. Average families don’t do those things. Amazing families do.

Are you modeling these things to your kids? Are you teaching your kids to be selfish or think of others? If they see you being generous, they’re going to be generous. If they see you having gospel conversations, they will learn how to talk to their friends about Jesus too.

Amazing families are not perfect families, but they are intentional. They become amazing by choice.

You’re not an amazing family by accident. You become an amazing family by making choices, decisions, commitments and even making sacrifices. If this isn’t your story then today you can say, 

No matter what stage my family is in, I’m going to make the rest of it, the best of it. We’re going to start a new legacy.

“Choose today whom you will serve… As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord!”  Joshua 24:15

It doesn’t matter what other families do, me and my family, we’re going to serve the Lord. Until you make that decision dad, husband, mom, as for me and my family we’re going to serve the Lord, family isn’t even going to make sense.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Parents and taking care of your parents in their old age?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Kid’s need certain things that are best given to them from their family…

1. Fun (1 Timothy 6:17, Psalm 1:27)

2. Growth (Luke 2:52)

What do we learn from our families?

  • What to do with our feelings.
  • How to handle conflict.
  • How to handle loss.
  • What matters most.
  • How to develop good habits.

How?

  • Through example
  • Through conversations
  • NOT through criticism
  • NOT through comparing

3. Protection in storms (Proverbs 14:26)

Types of storms…

  • Change
  • Harmful ideas
  • Rejection

4. Serving opportunities (Hebrews 10:24, Acts 10:2, Joshua 24:15)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What was your family environment like when you were growing up?
  3. Family development occurs in an environment of lifelong learning in which everybody encourages growth in everybody else. What are some ways children can encourage their parents in physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental growth?
  4. Things that can be learned only in families include how to handle feelings, how to handle conflict, how to handle loss, and what values matter most. Briefly describe one of these points that you did or did not learn as a child in your family.
  5. Parents should set a good example for their children. What kinds of deeds are practical to demonstrate to children?
  6. In what practical ways do you think you can teach your children about Scripture?
  7. Compare the aftereffects of criticizing children with the aftereffects of enlightening them with love regarding their misbehavior or wrongdoing.
  8. What are ways family members can protect each other in storms of life such as life changes, failure, or rejection?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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Week 3: Fighting For Your Parents

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We all have parents but, not everyone’s situation is the same. Some of our parents live in another part of the country, while other’s parents live close by. For some of us, both of our parents are still living, while other people, one or both of our parents have already died. Some of us are caring for our aged parents right now, while others think our parents are going to look after us forever. Regardless of what the situation is we all want to finish well with our parents. 

One of the Ten Commandments tells us to, 

“Honor your father and mother.”  Exodus 20:12 NIV

The word “honor” means to treat them with importance. It doesn’t mean you always agree with them. It doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you. But you recognize their importance in your life.

“If anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

If you claim to be a believer in Christ, but don’t care for your family, it means your words and your life do not match. There is no greater model of caring for an aging parent than Jesus.

“When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 NIV

Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, dying, and in the middle of the greatest spiritual and physical struggle of all time He makes sure His mother is cared for in her old age. If you had any doubt about whether this is an important issue or not, that settles it. Caring for your parents is the right thing. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

How do we face this huge challenge in our lives? Wouldn’t you love it if someone would show you a few simple decisions that will really make a difference. They can’t make life perfect, but they can really make a difference.


To Honor My Parents I Will…

#1 – Make the decision to meet their needs

“Do for others what you would like them to do for you.”  Matthew 7:12 NLT

Figure out what you would like your kids to do for you as you get older and that’s what you do for your parents as they get older. Your parents don’t want you to assume control of their lives while they can still live on their own.

Meet needs, real needs, but don’t treat them like they’re old. There will come a day when your parents need you more. Suddenly, the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. When that day comes it can be a confusing time. The Bible calls that day an opportunity to give back, to repay our parents.

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

Start Now.

Prepare to meet their needs now. Honor your parents by visiting them, taking trips with them, writing them, inviting them over for the weekend, doing odd jobs for them, helping them work through issues. Start now – don’t delay.

#2 – Make the decision to accept change/reality.

Jesus was talking with one of His disciples about the changes that would happen as that disciple grew older. Jesus said, 

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV 

We don’t know what’s going to happen to us at the end of our lives. It’s different for every person, but Jesus tells us that as we get older, things change.

One of the changes that can happen is we lose control of our lives. Whenever your parents or anybody feel like they’re losing control the emotion that goes with that is fear. It’s a scary thing to lose control of your life. The only way to counter that fear is to recognize that God is in control even when you’re not. In order to accept this new reality there are a couple things we need to release.

  • Release your dreams

We have dreams about how things are going to end with our parents, but those dreams rarely match reality. Studies show that half of us will be in a nursing home. That may not be how we want it to turn out. So you release those dreams to God and Him for whatever happens. 

“Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NCV

  • Release your guilt

Trying to finish well with your parents can produce guilt. Even people who gave a super human effort in caring for their parents can still feel guilt. It wasn’t your fault that your parents got older. It wasn’t their fault. It was nobody’s fault.

Guilt says, “If I’d done something different, this wouldn’t have happened.” Aging and even death are just a part of life. So you have to recognize it wasn’t your fault.

When you wish it would have worked out differently, share your disappointment with God and release your guilt.

Some of you have genuine guilt about how you handled your parents’ last days. There are things you should have done differently. How do you handle that kind of guilt? You release it to God.

You recognize that He’s a forgiving God. He understands that you and I can make confused and selfish decisions and He forgives us for that. If you don’t deal with guilt correctly, you’ll carry it into other relationships and it will ruin not only your past but the present and the future.

#3 – Make the decision to share the burden.

Many of you are under great stress over this very issue. If someone had told you to take on the load you are carrying, you would known you couldn’t handle it. But it came on you little by little by little and you are now carrying a load that no one is meant to carry alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV 

You may read this verse and think, you’re the one who’s supposed to carry everybody else’s burdens. So God included another verse just three lines later.

“…for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:5 NIV

None of us should carry all of the burdens of life, but all of us are supposed to carry some of the burdens of life. If you aren’t carrying any burdens other than just your own – then share the load and carry somebody else’s burden.

If you’re trying to carry all the burden by yourself, then share the load and let other people help carry that burden.

Have an honest talk with your extended family and decide how to share the load with each other. Don’t get hung up on trying to share the load equally. Instead, try to share the load effectively.

#4 – Make the decision to balance your life.

If I pick up a really big weight and try to carry it, it requires balance. Some of you are carrying a big weight in life and you’re way out of balance. It’s all about other people for you right now. Jesus talked about balance in when He said,

“Love others as well as you would love yourself.” Mark 12:31 MSG

If the way you’re giving care is pleasing to God, you’ll be physically, emotionally and spiritually strong. God doesn’t expect you to ruin your health or do things in a way that makes you feel far from Him and others.

There’s no doubt that the balance in life does shift and change. There are times of crisis and emergency, but that doesn’t mean you have to become unbalanced. It means you need strive for balance all the more.

The only perfect person to walk this earth was Jesus Christ. Even He had to take time to get away and rest in order to come back and minister to people. In order to make it through the process of caring for your aging parents, you have to make the commitment to balance your life.

#5 – Expect to grow.

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3-4 MSG

Now if you are right in the middle of caring for an aging parent. The last thing you want is somebody telling you how you’re going to grow through this. So if you’re in the middle of caring for an aging parent right now, you can tune out this point. 

But for the people who already have been through this or who will go through this in the future, you will grow the most through the difficult seasons of life. 

Through the time spent with your aging parent, you may have conversations or reconciliation you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Your patience might grow waiting for doctor visits and dealing with bureaucrats, lawyers and pharmacists. You will develop new levels of patience in your life.

#6 – Make the decision to trust in God.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Trust in God and He will give you rest in any situation. Maybe in dealing with an aging parent, you have come up against something you can’t do anything about. Have you hit that wall?

Usually when you hit a wall, you just climb right over it. But there are some walls we can’t climb over. Old age is one of them. What do you do when you hit that kind of a wall? 

One option is to run away from it and find a wall that you can climb over on your own. That might make you think you feel better. The other option is to recognize the reality of the situation and look to God who is bigger than any wall you will face and trust in Him. That’s what those circumstances invite us to do, to trust in Him who is greater than anything that we are going to face.

Trust in Him. Don’t go through this alone. Establish a personal relationship with God where you find His strength and His power. That’s one of the decisions you need to make to trust in Him.

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned, the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”  Isaiah 43:2 TEV

Notice that verse says, When you pass through deep waters…When you go through fiery trials. It doesn’t if, it says when. None of us are protected from the tough times of life, but God promises that when you go through those tough times, He will be with you. He will strengthen you. He will not fail you. You can put your trust in Him.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on life change and baptism? When we are in Christ our lives have changed from knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus, death to life, being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus and me to we.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Fight For series by talking about caring for your aging parents. Some of the key scripture passages are listed below.  Read each passage and then share with the group what you find challenging and/or encouraging about each verse. 

“Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12 NIV

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith ads is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.”  1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:2,5 NIV

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and ell developed, not deficient in any way.”  James 1:3-4 MSG

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Application

  1. Briefly assess your situation with your parents.  What are their needs?
  2. What changes or new realities do you need to accept regarding your parents?
  3. Are there burdens you need to share with others? Are there other’s burdens you need to help carry?
  4. Are there areas of your life that have gotten out of balance?  Too self-less?  Too selfish?
  5. What areas of growth can you identify in your life during this season with your parents?
  6. What are some ways you can deepen your trust in God?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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Week 2: Fighting For Your Family

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The word “Fighting” was chosen intentionally, because families are not amazing by accident. There are all kinds of forces working against your family in our society. The family is under attack.

We see throughout history where families are strong, society is strong. Where families are weak, society is weak. Today, there are forces working against your family; economic forces, spiritual forces, moral forces and cultural forces that want to destroy the idea of family.

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. People related to one another by marriage, by blood, by adoption are the foundation of human society.

Where you have strong families, you have a strong society.

This is another reason why all human life is sacred. We are created by God, in His image. Children, from the moment of conception the Bible says are a gift from God. The same worth and dignity is attached to every human being; pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged and every other condition. We are commanded by God and His Word to defend, protect and value all human life. The entire family.


Essentials For An Amazing Family

When the families of Jerusalem were under attack thousands of years ago, the leader Nehemiah said this to the people, 

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’” Nehemiah 4:14 NIV

They were under physical attack as members of Jerusalem, but we need this kind of intensity against all the forces coming against our families. Nehemiah’s saying your family is worth fighting for. Don’t just give up thinking it can’t change or it’s too late.

Whether you’re starting out or at the end, it’s not too late to fight to make your family better.

1. Authentic Faith

There are a lot of people that haven’t figured out that there’s more to God than Sundays. There are many people who don’t know that strength, anointing and their abilities come from God.

If you’re just playing church or toying with God and He’s in your life, but it’s not an all consuming thing, you’re missing an incredible relationship where the Holy Spirit guides you in the middle of your situations. A strength that isn’t only in the middle of a worship service, but there for every situation you face.

There is more to God than religion. We want to lead you beyond attending a church on a Saturday or Sunday to an authentic relationship where you are known and loved. It’s dynamic, meaning that God’s wisdom applies to every situation. Before you make that phone call, before you discipline, the Holy Spirit is working with you and you’re reaping the benefit of knowing Him.

Get close to Jesus. The best marriage advice, the best parenting advice or dating advice is get close to God. If you and your spouse both focus on getting closer to God, you’ll grow closer to one another.

“Reverence for the Lord gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.” Proverbs 14:26 LB

Look who benefits from the reverence for the Lord, the children benefit from you putting God first.

2. Intentional Schedules

Great families will tell you they are very intentional about what to do and don’t do. They make time for just being together, for making meals together and playing games together. If you want to know why the families and relationships especially between parents and kids are struggling in our society, let Cornell University tell you.

The average father in the United States spends 7 minutes a day with his kids, that’s 49 minutes a week.

The average father spends 37.7 seconds a day with his preschoolers.

Intentionally spend time together. You’re going to have busy weeks or seasons, because you work hard and provide, but schedule some time together on either side of those times.

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” Psalm 39:6 NLT

Nobody looks back and wishes they’d have gone to more parties or played more sports. They look back and wish they’d have spent more time with the people they love.

“It is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time…” Ecclesiastes 4:6 GN

3. Discovering Purpose

You can’t discover purpose without God, because He’s the Creator who knows your purpose. You can’t have purpose without authentic faith. When you have purpose, you know how to spend your time.

We need to focus on our family and the unique thing that distinguishes them. Quit trying to be good at everything and focus on the few things God has made you to do with your life.

Parents, there’s an anointing on your life to speak into the life of your kids and help them develop in their spiritual gifts, their passions, abilities and personality.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24 NIV

How do you help someone develop in their calling? There are three types of calling we all have.

  • Primary Calling: Know God
  • Secondary Calling: Grow in knowing God in the time and place God has placed you
  • Heart Calling: Your uniqueness

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Be careful with your words. Don’t let your mouth outrun you. Look at what Jesus did with the kids around him.

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16 NIV

He spoke statements over their lives so they’d be encouraged to fulfill their purpose. He’d show them the anointing on their life and how God made them special.

4. Right Relationships

We are the sum total of our relationships and friendships. Good or bad. You are the product of your friendships.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. Look at who your kids hang around with, you’ll see who they become. Look at your married friends, that’s what your marriage will look like. Your friends are a mirror.

This is why we love small groups. The best decisions you’ll ever make in your life are your relationship decisions. The most important question to ask yourself is, “Who should I do life with and who should I reach out to?”

“A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” Proverbs 27:19 GN

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV

5. Amazing Grace

God’s grace on families is so extravagant. Grace is so amazing, because it makes no sense. Who treats you better than God? He takes all the stuff we do and forgives us.

Relationships need this same grace. There is not a single relationship, there’s not a person on earth that you won’t have to have grace to stay in relationship with them.

Begin by recognizing that your family members are going to mess up. We’ve all blown it, but that’s when we need family the most.

Somebody right now is thinking about bailing on your marriage, on your kids, on your parents. You think they’re unbearable. You think the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake.

The world teaches us that all that matters is how you look, how much money you have or how successful you are. None of it is true.

Our kids are learning a lot of values from movies, from video games, from songs, from their friends, from culture – all these things that aren’t true.

We end up bailing on our relationships based on things that are not true.

It takes the grace of God to be in relationships with others.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

You can offer grace when you go back to the cross. Because the grave is empty, the cross has power. It gives us the power to live in the grace of God.


A Time To Gather Stones

In the book of Ecclesiastes it tells us there is a time for everything. A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to mourn and a time to dance. They all make sense until you get to verse 5.

“There is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” Ecclesiastes 3:5 NIV

This is referring to an Old Testament observance that needs to take place in your heart today. It comes from Genesis 31, where Jacob had an issue with his father-in-law Laban. 

Jacob couldn’t take it any more and decided to run away with his wife and flocks and herds. Laban realizes what happens, gets furious and chases Jacob down across the desert. The night before they were to meet, an angel of the Lord speaks to Laban and says, don’t do what you have planned.

Anybody need this statement right now? Are you making plans to quit on some relationships with your parents or spouse? God may be saying to you what He told Laban, don’t do what you have planned, instead, go reconcile.

Jacob was bracing for the fight. Laban shows up. Laban says these words that now can become our words.

“’Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.’” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “’Gather some stones.’” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap.”  Genesis 31:44-46 NIV

There are two things you can do with a stone. You can take it and throw it at people or you can take it and pile it up as an altar unto the Lord. Every wrong thing done to you is a stone you can either throw or gather to build with.

You have the choice to scatter your offenses all over the place or you can stack them up before the Lord and make an altar. Try tapping into the grace at the cross and give grace.

What does it look like to gather the stones instead of scattering them?

1. Acknowledge your own mistakes.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV

Decide to not focus on the other person’s role and focus on what God has given you to control and you’ll bring your brokenness. Tell your kids you let them down in this situation. Acknowledge your mistakes and lead the way.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

2. Abandon your right to get even.

Christians don’t take revenge, Christians forgive. It’s radical, but the other way isn’t working too well is it?

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 NIV

God will take care of it. Let God take care of it. He will better than you anyway.

3. Apply God’s grace to my relationships.

Maybe you’ve applied it to your life, but not your relationships.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8-11 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message or your conversation of fighting for your friends?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

There are certain “non-negotiables” that apply to all aspects of family relationships. Those essential principles must be in place in order to have a home that proves to be both honoring to God, and fulfilling to us.

  1. Authentic Faith
  2. Intentional Schedules
  3. Discovering Purpose
  4. Right Relationships
  5. Amazing Grace

Read: Genesis 31

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? Which of the five essentials do you need to work on most right now?
  2. We must be sure that our faith is “authentic” if we are to enjoy fulfilling family relationships. What are some indicators which reveal the authenticity or lack of authenticity of our faith? What does authentic faith look like in a family environment?
  3. What should have the highest priority when it comes to our schedules?
  4. Part of the role of a parent is to help assure that their children realize their life purpose? What is the most important thing we can do to make that a reality in our families?
  5. How can you more effectively give grace to those you deal with in life? Write down the various ways God has extended grace to you, and look for ways to give that same grace to others.
  6. If there is a broken relationship in your life, determine that you will be the one to take steps to resolve issues and rebuild the relationship.

Tell Someone Else

Your words are the key to great relationships, either building up or tearing down those with whom you come in contact. Have group members pray with one another to allow their words to be “seasoned” with love and grace, leaving in their wake, people who are edified and encouraged.

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Week 1: Fighting For Your Friends

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We’re in the fight of our lives. Are you fighting with the people in your life or are you fighting for them? We’re starting a new series of posts on relationships today. We’re going to start today with friendship.

One of the biggest secrets to success in your life is the friends you choose, the people you are committed to.

When we talk about friendships and making a commitment to people, the first thing we think about is all the people we really don’t want to make a commitment to. Here’s a list of high maintenance people you may be familiar with.

  • The Martyr — Forever the victim and wracked with self-pity
  • The Critic — Constantly complains and gives unwanted advice
  • The Wet blanket — Pessimistic and automatically negative
  • The Steamroller — Blindly insensitive to others
  • The Gossip — Spreads rumors and leaks secrets
  • The Controller — Unable to let go and let be
  • The Backstabber — Irrepressibly two-faced
  • The Cold Shoulder — Disengages and avoids contact
  • The Green-Eyed Monster — Seethes with envy
  • The Volcano — Builds steam and is ready to erupt
  • The Sponge — Constantly in need but gives nothing back
  • The Competitor — Keeps score of everything

Any faces coming to mind? Did you see your own face on any of those? If you don’t think you fall into any of those categories, you don’t need this post, you need therapy.

The culture we live in, is highly disfunctional. There are many hurting people. Hurting people, hurt people. We have the tendancy to push back when people hurt us. If that’s our perspective, our friendships just become the fruit of convenience rather than commitment.


Why You Need Friends

  • For spiritual growth.

You cannot become all God meant for you, by yourself. You cannot grow to spiritual maturity by yourself. Even the Apostle Paul loved friendship, because:

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”  Romans 1:12 NLT

  • For emotional support.

You need people who support you. Without a good support system, our emotions are blown every which way. Any storm destroys us.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

If you’re not helping out with any other friends you’re not fulfilling the law of Christ which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • For better health.

If you don’t have healthy friendships you’re going to die sooner than you imagine. People without friends don’t live as well than people with deep friendships. One of the reasons is friends give you a place to unload your negative emotions.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16 NIV

Nothing is harder on the body and mind than concealed sin. Unconfessed, concealed, secret sin creates anxiety, fear, depression, gut issues and mind issues.

If all you want in life is to be forgiven for your faults and sins, just confess them to God. But if you want to be healed of them, if you want to get over them, the starting point is to share them with somebody else.

God says we are to live in the light. That means we bring things out of the dark into the light.

  • For social enjoyment.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Friendships are the bedrock of a satisfying life. You can make all the money in the world, have all the achievements in the world, have all the pleasure in the world, but if your relationships stink, life stinks.

“God says, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.'”  Genesis 2:18 NIV

  • For reaching goals.

You will never fulfill your goals by yourself. If you can, then you have weak goals. It takes a team to fulfill a dream.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

How do I develop these awesome friendships? Follow the Golden Rule. Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us a statement that has become known as the Golden Rule.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 NIV

Give people what you’d like to receive. Let’s apply this to friendship. If you really want to have great, deep, meaningful, lifelong friendships it’s really simple:

Be the friend that you would like to have.


Six Golden Rules of Friendship

Whether it’s at work, with your husband or wife or in a small group use these 6 things to build great friendships. They will change your life if you will follow them.

1.  Invest the time.

Deep friendships are not cheap. You must choose to invest the greatest commodity in your life your time, energy and effort.

“A man that has friends must show himself friendly.” Proverbs 18:24

Stop waiting for people to be your friend, and you make the effort. Show them how to be a great friend. Don’t just show up when you need something. Show up over and over again.

“Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” Philippians 2:4

The context of this verse is in a powerful section of scripture that’s describing how we are to live in light of the cross of Jesus. You can’t be a friend to someone without your presence. Physical presence is essential to having a long term, deep friendship. Friends show up.

2.  Earn their trust.

If you want to build friends you’ve got to earn their trust. Trust is what makes it a friendship. This is the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. You talk to acquaintances but you trust your friends.

“Many people declare themselves loyal, but who can find someone who is really trustworthy?”  Proverbs 20:6 GW

How Do You Earn Trust?

People don’t give you their trust automatically. You have to earn it. Honor is given, we’re supposed to give honor to everyone. Forgiveness is given, you are to forgive everyone.

Trust is earned. That’s why friendships aren’t automatic. The Bible says you can earn trust a couple of ways.

  • By being loyal.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 NLT

Loyalty is the difference between a friend and a flake. Loyalty is a commitment that says, “I’m going to put you before myself at this point.” Loyalty is the opposite of self-centeredness. Loyalty helps you right now instead of helping his or herself.

“If you love someone, you’ll be loyal to them no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best, and always stand your ground in defending them.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 LB

Love is just loyalty in action. Now if you have been betrayed, abandoned or abused, you probably have some trust issues. Rightfully soIf you need to get some Christian counseling, get it. God doesn’t expect you to trust the person who manipulated you or controlled you, but you can’t build new deep friendships without trust. You can’t build deep trust if you’re always afraid.

  • By keeping confidences.

Everybody needs one person in their life who is safe. The mark of a true friend is they know how to keep a secret.  If you really want people to trust you, you cannot be a gossip.

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13

3.  Listen with empathy.

You can’t love people without listening to people. In a conversation you have to keep making the choice to listen to what they’re saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next. One of the main things when interacting in a group is learning to listen to the emotion that somebody’s using rather than just the words. Hearing and responding to their emotions.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

If you are quick to listen and slow to speak, you will be slow to anger. What does it mean to listen with empathy? Empathy simply means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 NIV

4.  Accept their flaws.

We all have flaws, faults, defects, failings, weaknesses and sins. Nobody’s perfect.

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.” Romans 15:7 NLT

That doesn’t mean God approves of everything we do, but He accepts us. You want to know what glorifies God? Accepting people like Christ accepts you.

If you’re married or have friends, your spouse or your friends have some characteristics that bug you to death. Those characteristics are probably not going to change. So you’ve got to decide if you will accept that or be miserable the rest of your life. To overlook someone’s flaws is what the Bible means by acceptance.

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 NLT

5.  Celebrate wins and share losses.

Celebrate the wins of your friends and share the losses of your friends. The Bible commands that we do this:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV

Learn how to celebrate not just the good things that happen to you but you need to learn how to celebrate the good things that happen to other people without becoming envious, jealous, critical, resentful or competitive.

A friend celebrates your wins as much as they celebrate their own. If you only know how to celebrate the good things that happen to you, you’re going to be unhappy most of your life.

6.  Bring out their best.

Your best friend is the person who brings out the best in you. The way to get that kind of friend is to bring the best out of someone else.

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Do you have friends that will bring out your best? Would your friends keep you from cheating on a test? Would your friends keep you from drugs or get you on drugs? Would your friends cheer your faith on or ridicule it?

Every marriage goes through bumps. You need to make sure that your best friends are as committed to their marriage as you are to yours. Because then when your marriage goes through a tough time, the friends around you are pulling for your marriage, not against it.

“An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.” Proverbs 24:26 GNT

The older your friendships are, the better they get. A man’s best mirror is an old friend. A true friend makes you face yourself. Sometimes a mark of a friend requires frankness, the kind that loves you too much to let you do the wrong thing.

They can speak into your life with grace and truth. Grace without truth is meaningless and ruth without grace is just mean. 

Do you have anybody in your life who you’ve given permission to get in your face with truth and grace? Where do you find friends like that?

Treat people the way you want to treated. 

Be the friend you’d like to have. The best place to get friends like that is at church. Because you’re going to find similar goals and values. If you want to have sincere, deep friendships, join a Dream Team. Serving elbow to elbow with people creates friendships. Attend Celebrate Recovery or get in a Small Group.

Lifeway organization did a study that surveyed Christian church members. They discovered that in an average church, only about 50% of the people say they have developed significant relationships with people in their church family. But people who are in a Small Groups or a Celebrate Recovery Group, it’s 90%.

In an average church, only 42% say they know their spiritual gift and are using it to serve God and others. But for those in a Small group it’s nearly 75%. In a average church, only 45% say they think about Bible truths throughout the day. But in a Small Group or Celebrate Recovery Group, it’s about 75%. You need to be in a small group you need deep meaningful friendships.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on sleep or the frequency series as a whole?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we started a new series about fighting for our relationships rather than with our relationships. We learned that we need friends for spiritual growth, emotional support, better health, social enjoyment and reaching goals.

We learned from Matthew 7:12 that we are to be the friend we want to have. So, if you want great friends…

  1. Invest the time
  2. Earn their trust
  3. Listen with empathy
  4. Accept their flaws
  5. Celebrate wins and share losses
  6. Bring out their best

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

Application

  1. God gives us the ultimate example of trust because he loves us and stays with us in any circumstance or situation. How does his example give you courage to trust others? How can you use the biblical principle of loving your neighbor as yourself to grow into a more trustworthy person?
  2. Share a time when a loyal friend made a positive impact in your life. How does your appreciation for their loyalty motivate you to become more loyal to your friends?
  3. Why do you think it is easy to turn to gossip instead of holding a confidence? As a group, create a list of strategies to avoid gossip.
  4. An important part of friendship is speaking the truth in love and not standing silently by watching a friend make a mistake.  Share an example when you either watched a friend make a huge mistake while you were silent, or when you counseled a friend who took your advice and avoided a painful situation.
  5. Read Romans 12:15. Talk about how to rejoice with a friend who is rejoicing and mourn with a friend who is mourning.   

Pray: Father, you are the one who first called us to friendship. Jesus modeled being a friend to his disciples. He calls us to love one another as we want others to love us. Help us develop friendships within our small group, and with others. Give us discernment as we develop trust with others. Let us be an example to the world of a loving and trustworthy friend. May you be glorified as we show the world your love. In Jesus name. Amen

Tell Someone Else

Who can you be a friend to this week? How could this message help or encourage someone else?

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