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Lesson: Emotionally Healthy Relationships

Icebreaker

Have you ever given an anniversary gift according to the gift assigned for that year, such as tin for 10 years, etc.?

Prayer

Thank You, Father, for loving us and teaching us to grow in love.

Key Scripture

Colossians 3:12–15 (NLT): “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

The Big Idea

Just as you have to continue to exercise to maintain fitness or continue education to maintain your vocation, you have to continue to grow emotionally to improve your marriage. It is literally impossible to love your spouse if you do not love yourself. You must understand how much God loves you if you are to walk in love toward your spouse. One of the best ways to demonstrate love is by expressing physical and verbal affection. The inability to express affection is a red flag in your life. Never withhold a complimentary word or warm hug from your spouse. Let’s take a look at other relationship skills to improve on.

Discussion

Do you consider yourself expressive of your appreciation and love for your spouse? Who moves in love more: you or your spouse?

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to focus on the needs and desires of others, especially your spouse. Your wife may have been helping the little ones for many hours and feels depleted. Your husband may have finished a full day of work and also needs a recharge. Take your spouse’s needs into account when you reconnect after your workday.

Discussion

Are you able to to walk in your spouse’s shoes and empathize? Share with the group.

Feedback

Communication with your spouse, including feedback, is critical to developing healthy emotions. Don’t dominate the conversation or interrupt. When receiving feedback, have your defense lawyer take a seat. Listen when it’s your spouse’s turn to talk. Confrontation is a natural part of a relationship. We need people who care about us to speak into our lives. Never confront when angry; know the right moment for it. Sweet and gracious is the way to begin a confrontation. You’re not going to make matters worse by talking about a problem, so stop being passive and invest in your spouse.

Discussion

Are you willing to give and receive feedback? Can you say you are sorry or wrong?

Discussion

Listening is an art. Are you a good listener? When confronted, do you feel coached or crushed? Share with the group.

Application

When somebody wrongs you this week, say out loud, “I will make allowances for that person.” Admit that you are wrong in areas where your spouse wants to give you feedback. Don’t bottle up your feelings; instead, express yourself. Remember, confrontation without grace is a rebuke.

Action Point

Make a plan this week to respond correctly to feedback. Listen more. Empathize with someone in a different sphere of life. When confronted this week, say, “I see what you mean. Let me pray about this. Thank you.” The three words that end a fight are “I am wrong.”

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about outreach. Find out which outreach will be taking place in the zip code closest to your group and participate. One of the greatest joys of life in Christ is serving others!
  3. What is the next step for each member of your group? Whether it is water baptism, Cultivate, or A-Team/B-Group leadership, encourage them in it. Also encourage all members to read their Bible and pray daily.
  4. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.
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Lesson: The Four Laws of Marriage

Icebreaker

When you were a kid, at what age did you think you would get married? How did it work out?

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that You put the lonely into families.

Key Scripture

Genesis‬ ‭2:24–25‬ ‭ESV: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

The Big Idea

Have you ever broken a law? Maybe you accidentally sped or did not come to a full stop at a stop sign. Breaking laws can get you into serious trouble. Some of us are breaking laws in our marriages, and we don’t even know it. Inside this verse from Genesis, we find four universal laws that must be upheld in order for a marriage to be successful. If both spouses get in line with the Word, their marriage can make it.

Discussion

Have you ever suffered the consequences of speeding or running a red light? Share with the group. What did you learn from that experience that could be applied to marriage?

The Law of Priority

There are legitimate, instinctive reasons for jealousy. For example, men can prioritize golf or fishing over their wives. Wives can value their children over their spouses. We automatically resent anything that takes priority over us.

Discussion

Have you ever given any of the following things more time, sacrifice, or energy than you gave your spouse? Kids, job, friends, pursuits or hobbies?

Share with the group a change you made, something you sacrificed, in order to set the relationship aright.

The Law of Pursuit

Human nature is to take for granted anything we have. Many times we calculate points earned, mistakenly thinking that we are doing well. Other times our emotions change, and we find ourselves doubting if we married the right person.

One way to intentionally pursue your spouse is to do what Revelation 2:5 (NLT) says to do: “Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”

The Law of Possession

This means that spouses should share everything: the bedroom, money, the house, kids, bank accounts, etc.

Discussion

Most of us don’t start our marriages perfectly. What did you have to learn to share as you became more seasoned in marriage?

The Law of Purity

Impure cultural norms are invading our homes. Adultery is flaunted on TV. Media bombards us with profane images and chat rooms. Pornography in a home increases the chance of divorce by 300 percent.

Discussion

What do you consider to be the greatest threat to the home? Share with the group.

Application

Marriage is not a practical joke the Lord is playing on us. It can work; it can be restored. Follow the four principles discussed in this lesson and the feeling of love will return and increase.

Action Point

Don’t believe the lie that If you and your spouse have lost the passion and romance, there is no way to get it back. Think on these four laws this week, and ask God to change your priorities. Repent from where you have fallen!

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about outreach. Find out which outreach will be taking place in the zip code closest to your group and participate. One of the greatest joys of life in Christ is serving others!
  3. What is the next step for each member of your group? Whether it is water baptism, Cultivate, or A-Team/B-Group leadership, encourage them in it. Also encourage all members to read their Bible and pray daily.
  4. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.

Lesson: Anatomy of Hope

Icebreaker

What is the coldest temperature you have ever endured?

Prayer

Lord, form us into Your image.

Key Scripture

Revelation 22:1–10 NLT: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. Then the angel said to me, ‘Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.’ ‘Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.’”

The Big Idea

Hope is the fuel that powers our lives. The longer we live, the more we realize the overwhelming importance of hope. Scripture teaches that people without a vision perish. Isn’t that true? Without a vision, we become hopeless, and hopelessness is very tough to overcome. True hope is found only in the Lord, and once we discover that, God will use us as both receivers and transmitters of His hope. Let’s look today at several elements of hope.

Hope is a river.

Hope is a perpetual river; it is not a stagnant body of water like a lake or a pond. There is never a lack of fresh hope pouring forth from God’s throne. It flows down the main street, showing how accessible hope is to all. Hope produces fruit in our lives.

Discussion

A good test of the river operating in our lives life is thankfulness. Does gratitude characterize your attitude? What are you looking forward to in the coming weeks?

Hope is a place.

Scripture describes heaven as a place of perfect love. It will be timeless bliss without the need for doctor checkups because we will all be well. No matter the difficulty of our earthly experiences, they will pale in comparison to the joy that awaits us in heaven when they are reversed. Secure in that knowledge, we should long for heaven and allow hope to temper our daily lives. The reality of what is coming should be just as real, if not more so, than what we see and touch in our lives here on earth.

Discussion

Do you have an expectation of life ever after in heaven with the Lord? What comes to mind when you contemplate eternity?

Hope is a person.

Jesus is coming soon. He is so fulfilling and engaging as our Lord that He even lights up all of heaven, replacing the need for the sun for light and heat. Without Christ it is impossible to know true peace.

Discussion

Have you received Jesus as the hope of heaven? When did that happen in your life? Who played a part in your coming to the Lord?

Application

Let your reality be charged with hope for what is coming. Heaven is better than your everyday experience. Jesus embodies the hope that we all hold in common.

Action Point

Increase your hope by cultivating the habit of daily worship. Get into God’s presence each morning, and read the Bible with the rest of us. Sing on your commute to work. Pursue daily growth by trying to get better in all arenas of life. Remember what John Maxwell said: “Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow is going to be better!”

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about the nights of prayer.

Nights of prayer: January 3, 4, and 5.

Nights of revival: south campus only; January 8, 9, and 10.

All services at 6:30 p.m. 3. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.

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“Thank God for men and women being joined together in marriage!”
—-Jonathan Stockstill “Looking for Love, Like 1-2-3”