From This Day Forward Study Guide: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage

From This Day Forward Study Guide: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage

by Craig Groeschel, Amy Groeschel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310697190
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Edition description: Study Guid
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 591,303
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative and pacesetting church meeting in multiple locations around the United States and globally online, which also created the popular and free YouVersion Bible app. He is the author of several books, including Divine Direction, Liking Jesus, Fight, The Christian Atheist, and It. Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit www.craiggroeschelbooks.com


Amy Groeschel is a home educating mom and leads LifeChurch.tv’s women’s ministry. She is also the founder of Branch15, a nonprofit housing ministry that helps marginalized women and has co-authored SOAR, a Bible study for women.

Read an Excerpt

From This Day Forward Study Guide


By Craig Groeschel

ZONDERVAN

Copyright © 2014 Craig Groeschel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-69722-0



CHAPTER 1

Session 1


SEEK GOD


Our first priority in life is not seeking a spouse ... it is seeking God.

* * *


WHO IS REALLY NUMBER ONE? (2 – 3 MINUTES)

If you hang around the church, even for a little while, you will hear the famous words of Jesus about the greatest commandment in the entire Bible. When Jesus walked on this earth, the religious leaders of his day kept trying to get him to say something wrong so they could accuse him of false beliefs and turn the crowds against him.

On one of these occasions, a group of high-level religious professionals came and asked Jesus, "Which is the greatest commandment in the law?" (Matthew 22:36). Jesus replied with confidence and passion, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (v. 37). Then the Savior went on to explain that this is the most important commandment, and second on the list is to "love your neighbor as yourself" (v. 39).

In simple terms, Jesus was saying, "Make God number one in your heart and life. Everyone else, and everything else, should come in second, third, or farther down the list" The whole Bible rings loud and clear with this message. Put God first, seek him before all else, and let nothing else take the central place in your life that only God deserves.

If you ask most Christians if God is really number one in their heart and life, they will say a quick and emphatic yes! But we should all slow down and take a good look at our schedule, finances, priorities, and earthly relationships. Is God really first? Do we seek him before all else and above all else?

There is a biblical word that describes the reality that settles into our lives when another person (or thing) begins to come before God in our heart, schedule, and devotion. The word is idolatry. All through the Bible God is clear that this is one of the biggest sins and pitfalls that his people will ever face. As a matter of fact, idolatry is so prevalent and the temptation to commit it is so great that the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3 – 6) address this issue:

COMMANDMENT 1: "You shall have no other gods before me"

COMMANDMENT 2: "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything ..."


God knows that if we put him first, love him most, and follow him above all, every other relationship in our life will be better, stronger, and built on a firm foundation. This includes a marriage. When we seek God first, he will prepare us and help us to be the spouse we are meant to me.

So, how are you doing? Don't answer too quickly!

Is God first in your life? Is he truly number one?


TALK ABOUT IT (4 – 5 MINUTES)

If this is a new group, give your name and briefly mention one thing you are hoping to learn or experience during this study. Then answer the following question:

When a couple is talking about getting married, lots of people are eager to share advice. Tell about a time you heard someone say something discouraging about marriage. Or, tell about a time someone gave helpful, hopeful, and valuable advice and words about marriage.


VIDEO TEACHING NOTES (18 MINUTES)

As you watch the video teaching segment for session 1, use the following outline to follow along or to record anything that stands out to you.


Two views of marriage:

1. The world, and even some Christians, discourages marriage and focuses on the fact that it is hard and challenging.

2. God invented marriage and wants us to know that it can be an amazing gift and that there is hope for your marriage. God can heal even the most broken and challenging marriage.


Statistics show that 50 percent of marriages don't make it. This can dishearten and discourage us. Or we can determine that we will approach marriage from a different perspective and make specific and serious commitments to build a healthy, lasting, God-honoring marriage.

Rather than just hoping for the best, we can make five commitments that will help us develop the kind of marriage we long to have. These commitments are:

• Seek God.

• Fight fair.

• Have fun.

• Stay pure.

• Never give up.


In many wedding ceremonies the couple will say the words, "From this day forward." This declaration and attitude brings a hope-filled perspective that honors God. We can be confident that if we take the right steps, make the right decisions, and engage in actions that are biblical and consistent with God's design, things can begin to get better "from this day forward."


Seeking God

Many people are not seeking God ... they are seeking a spouse.

Looking for The One! Often we are looking for that perfect person who will meet our needs, make us whole, and bring us ultimate joy and meaning. But this is dangerous and built on a false idea.

Let God be Your One and your spouse be Your two! The only way a marriage will be truly healthy and happy is if we get these things in the right order.

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37 – 40).


Words to those who are not yet married ...

A wise declaration and commitment: "I will seek the One while preparing for my two."

When a person is not yet married, their greatest goal and desire should be to seek, honor, follow, and grow in love with God.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

A dangerous mindset ... putting off "the God thing" until we find a spouse and then trying to get things right with God.


Words to those who are married ...

A wise declaration and commitment: "I will always seek the One with my two."

We make a dangerous mistake when we let anything else become our one and put God in the second place. This includes our spouse, kids, career, or anything else in life.

When we let anyone or anything take first place in our life, before God, there is a word for this: idolatry!

When we put a person in first place in our life and heart, we place undue and unrealistic pressure on them which they can never fulfill.

Finally, when we idolize a person and they let us down (and they always will), then we demonize them.


Craig and Amy ... Seeking the One with Your Two

Understand the critical role of a husband giving leadership in the relationship.

Be natural in how you seek God as a couple.

Many men feel unprepared or uncomfortable taking leadership in this area of the relationship.

A keystone habit to get you started: Pray together every day.

• It can be short and focused.

• It should be natural.

• It should not be a formula.

• It can be anywhere.

• It can be anytime.

• It can be a specific time.

• It grows our humility.

• It builds unity.



VIDEO DISCUSSION AND BIBLE EXPLORATION

(25 – 30 MINUTES)

1. Name some of the things (or people) that can take first place in our heart in the following seasons of life:

• When we are children

• In our teenage years

• In the college and early adult years

• In the early years of marriage (when young children are often in the picture)

• In our middle-age years

• In the later years of life


Describe why putting this thing or person first can be unhealthy and how it could hurt our relationship with God.

2. Tell about a person you know who really puts God first, seeks him passionately, and keeps Jesus in the center of their life. How has this person's commitment to seek God first impacted the rest of their relationships? If they are married, how has their devotion to make God number one in life impacted their marriage relationship?

3. God loves to give us fresh new beginnings, and his mercy is endless (Lamentations 3:22 – 23). Craig and Amy suggest that you can have a new start in your marriage today, "from this day forward" How can this attitude help set the tone for the rest of your married life? Why is it important to forgive and leave some things in the past as we press forward into a new future?

4. What are some of the ways our culture and the media propel people toward the idea that life is about finding "The One" perfect person who will meet our needs, make us whole, and lead us to pure happiness? What are some of the dangers and possible consequences of viewing a spouse (or potential spouse) as "The One"?

5. Read: Matthew 22:34 – 40. If God is going to be our "One," we will need to love him with everything in us. What are specific and practical ways we can do so with our whole heart, soul, and mind?

6. When a husband or wife is growing in their love for God (their "One") each day and putting God first in their life, how can this impact the way they interact with their spouse (their "two") in any of the following situations:

[] When they have a disagreement over a decision or life situation

[] When there has been a breech in trust or a deep hurt between them

[] When the couple faces a loss or time of pain together

[] When their spouse does not care for them the way they hoped or dreamed they would

[] When a spouse becomes ill or faces a time when they can't offer a lot or fulfill some of the normal marital responsibilities

[] Make up your own scenario ...

7. What are some specific and practical ways a married couple can "Seek the One with their two"? Work as a group to form a list of at least eight ways a married couple can grow in their faith together.

8. In the video, Craig talks about how making a person our "One" puts undue and unrealistic expectations on them. If we look to a spouse to meet all of our needs, make us happy, and fulfill our dreams, what are some of the possible negative consequences this will have on our marriage relationship?

9. The danger of idolizing our spouse is that when they let us down, we will begin to demonize them. Craig gave a couple of examples of how this can happen. Add to the list and talk about others ways husbands and wives can make a shift in how they see each other.

10. Tell about your journey of praying together as a couple. Then try to come up with one way the two of you can take a step deeper into prayer and how your group members can cheer you on and encourage you to grow in this discipline.


CLOSING PRAYER (5 – 10 MINUTES)

Take time as a group to pray in any of the following directions:

• Thank Jesus for being so clear that loving God with all that you are should be the first priority in your life. Ask him to help you grow to love him even more.

• Invite the Holy Spirit to show you any place in your life where someone or something is becoming an idol. Ask for power to cast down this idol and put God first.

• Pray for each couple represented in your group to learn how to seek God first as they learn to put each other second.

• Lift up young people you care about (your own children if you have them), and pray that they will not buy into the lies about marriage that the media and culture are selling them.

• Ask for power and creativity to keep finding fresh new ways as a married couple to seek God as your "One"

• Commit to God that you will accept the challenge to pray together as a couple daily.


BETWEEN SESSIONS

LEAVING THINGS BEHIND

God offers you a fresh start in your marriage "from this day forward" The apostle Paul gave this simple exhortation: "One thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead ..." (Philippians 3:13). We all have past hurts and failures that can paralyze us in the future if we let them.

Take time in the coming week to make a mental list of things you have done or said in your marriage that you wish you had not. You might even think of things you wished you had done but have never gotten around to. Now, bring each of these to the foot of the cross and confess them to Jesus, leave them there, and begin a new day. Accept his grace, start fresh, and live in a new way.

If there are negative patterns from the past, change them in the future with the help and power of God, the One who is first in your life. If there are things you always meant to do, ask for power to begin taking action and doing them now ... "from this day forward"


DEALING WITH IDOLS

Review your bank ledger and calendar from the past month and reflect on where you spend your money and your time. Prayerfully consider anything or anyone that might have first place in your life instead of God, or might slowly be creeping there.

Confess these things to God and repent of them. Change your behavior, schedule, actions, finances, and whatever needs to be adjusted to make sure God is your number one priority and that you are seeking him first. You might even want to contact a member of your small group (men contact men and women contact women); ask them to pray for you and check in with you in a week to find out how you are doing with this commitment.


REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Think about how you may have idolized your spouse and ended up demonizing them when they let you down and were not able to match up to your unrealistic expectation. Use the following chart to note a few examples of such behavior on your part. Then, set a goal on how you want to look at your spouse in a way that is godly, balanced, and optimistic.


JOURNAL

Use the space provided (or a separate notebook) to reflect on any of the following topics:

• In what ways do I want to place God in the center of my heart and life?

• Where am I letting people or things take too central a place in my heart and life (instead of God)?

• What is making it difficult for me to seek God with my spouse, and how can we overcome this together?

• What lies of the media or culture do I sometimes buy into, and how I will be on guard to resist them?

• How is my prayer time with my spouse going?


FOR FURTHER READING

As you reflect on what you have learned in this session, please read chapter 1 of the book From This Day Forward by Craig and Amy Groeschel. In preparation for the next session, please read chapter 2.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from From This Day Forward Study Guide by Craig Groeschel. Copyright © 2014 Craig Groeschel. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE, 9,
INTRODUCTION, 11,
Session 1 SEEK GOD, 13,
Session 2 FIGHT FAIR, 33,
Session 3 HAVE FUN, 51,
Session 4 STAY PURE, 71,
Session 5 NEVER GIVE UP, 91,
CONCLUSION, 107,

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