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It's Complicated

It's Complicated - Week 5

It's Complicated - Week 5

Series Theme

Good relationships are possible, but they are not probable.


Series Theme Verse

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Message Title

Call of Duty


Introduction

When it comes to relationships, we’ve been told things like “opposites attract,” and “marriage takes work.” But oftentimes the differences and challenges that may have been so attractive in the initial stage of a relationship can start to drive you crazy as time goes on.

Sometimes as we begin responding to these challenges, we can fall into habits of thinking that we can fix things, manage things, solve the problems. It can become a call of duty, and we can even go so far as believing we can be someone’s savior, or the hero of a situation. Sometimes this can be an unhealthy solution to our own personal need to be needed.

  • Is there someone you know who seems to be caught in a “codependent” relationship – constantly fixing or compensating for another person’s failures? What do you notice about them?


Understanding

Know Who You Are

Oftentimes in these situations, we feel bound by performance (what I DO) rather than our core value and worth (who I AM). We are always answering the question: “Am I ___________ enough?”

For example, workaholics may claim great ambition, but can be subconsciously chasing approval or praise they rarely received growing up. Or in dating relationships, we may think we have to compromise our personal beliefs or standards to please the other person or to be loved and accepted.

Have a volunteer read Romans 8:14-16.

As children of God we are no longer bound by a spirit of slavery which leads to fear. Because God adopted us as his children through the Spirit, we have the privilege of calling him “Abba,” a word as personal as “Daddy” today.

  • Why is it important to know who you are in Jesus?

 

How to Stay in Sync

Have a volunteer read Matthew 6:33.

We can easily forget who we are in the day-to-day activities and busyness of our lives. It’s easy to fall back into old habits and negative patterns of behavior.

  • How can “seeking the kingdom first” help keep us from taking on a call of duty that may not be ours to manage?

  • Do you have any personal strategies you use to stay connected with God that you could share with the group?

 

Deal With It

Have volunteers read Ephesians 3:17b-19, and John 8:31-32. 

The weekend message focused primarily on the person responding to difficult situations with the coping mechanism known as codependency. The reality is that codependence is a dance with two partners. There’s another person involved in the equation, and if you’re that person, you need to take an honest look at your anger, drinking, gambling, over-spending, addictions, or just plain selfishness. The good news is, you too can live in the freedom of knowing and being known by God; of loving and being loved by God

  • How might our lives look different if we could really grasp God’s love for us every day?

  • No matter which side of the codependent equation someone is on, how do you think knowing the truth can set us free?

  • What do you think it means to be “filled to the measure” of the fullness of God?


Application

  • What kinds of things can we do each day to “seek the kingdom first” in what we do?

  • What are some ways you could remind yourself this week to seek the kingdom first – in your conversations, work, family?

  • How can the group pray for you this week?


Friday Night of Hope

If you’re ready to do something about your habits, hurts, or hang-ups, connect with a caring group of individuals who have walked your path and found hope and healing.

Meets every Friday night at 6pm. eastside.com/fridaynightofhope

 


Commentary

Mike’s Scripture Mash-up & Marinade

For those who think that love is something you work for, or something to be earned… Or you tend to think “IF I do this…THEN I’ll be worthy.”… Listen to what God says about you:

“Before you were born, you were special to me. I knew you before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. With My own hands I fearfully and wonderfully created every detail that makes you unique. I have watched you every day of your life, so I know you. I know where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.

If you only knew the thoughts I have toward you. Did you know that My thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world? You are the apple of my eye. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. You did not earn my acceptance through anything you have done. You can’t take credit for it, it is a gift from me. So it is not what you do that makes me love you, for compared to what I deserve your righteous acts are like filthy rags, but it is My love for you that makes you precious and honored in my sight. I created you for My glory, and I will never abandon what I have formed and made.”- God

(Ps 17:8, Ps 23:6, Ps 100:5, Ps 138:8, Ps 139:13-18, Isa 43:4,7, Eph 2:8-9, Is 64:6, Is 49:16, Jer 1:5)

 

Mike’s Scripture Mash-up & Marinade #2

“I am the eternal God, your Refuge. And underneath you are My everlasting arms. My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in your weakness. So do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer present your requests to Me. And My peace, which transcends understanding, will stand guard over your heart and mind.

Rest my child, for I have been good to you. You can trust Me. I have delivered your soul from death, your eyes from tears and your feet from stumbling, so that you may walk before me in the land of the living.

When the cords of death entangle you, when you are overcome with trouble and sorrow, call upon My name. I will reach down from on high and take hold of you; I will draw you out of the deep waters. I will rescue you from your powerful enemy, Though they confront you in the day of your disaster, I will be your support. I will rescue you because I delight in you. I will quiet you with my love; I will rejoice over you with singing.

So, My loved one, rest secure in Me for I will shield you all day long. You can trust in my unfailing love. You are the one I love; come rest on my shoulders.” God

(Dt 33:12,27; Ps 18:16-19; Ps 116:3-5, 6-9; Zeph 3:17, 2 Cor 12:9, Phil 4:6-7, Ps 13:5)

 

It's Complicated - Week 4

It's Complicated - Week 4

Series Theme

Good relationships are possible, but they are not probable.

 

Series Theme Verse

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

 

Message Title

Spiritually Mismatched

 

Message Key Verse

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

 

Introduction

When it comes to relationships, we’ve been told all of our lives this romantic notion that opposites attract, but oftentimes those differences – which were so attractive in the initial stage of a relationship – start to drive you crazy in the reality stage.

And perhaps there is no difference that has potential for greater pain and frustration and hurt in a relationship, than when two people are spiritually mismatched, when you don’t share the most important thing in your life with the most important person(s) in your life.

  • Have you ever been in a close relationship where you were spiritually mismatched?  It doesn’t have to be with a spouse, it could be a good friend, sibling, parent, child, or boyfriend/girlfriend.  What effect did/does that mismatch have on your relationship?

 

Understanding

Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 7:12-14.

As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:9, we’re not supposed to withdraw from the world but rather, as Jesus commands in Matthew 5:13-14, we are to be salt and light, to make an impact on the world for Jesus.

When you have a marriage where one person is a follower of Jesus and the other is not, the person who knows Jesus has the ability to be a blessing to the entire family. 

But this isn’t just true in marital relationships, it’s true in any kind of relationship.   The person who knows Jesus can show His love to the person who does not. Gene gave us some insight on how we can best HELP those in our lives who aren’t followers of Christ.

Harness the Support of Others

Have a volunteer read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

When you’re seeking to be a blessing to the people in your life who don’t know Jesus, you need people in your life who do know Jesus to support and encourage you.

  • Who do you have in your life, other than your spouse, who you can rely on as a support?
  • What kinds of things do you do to support each other?
  • If you don’t have anyone like that currently, who could potentially become that person?
  • How can we as a group support one another?  (Think practically.   Prayer is an important component of this, but if the only answer is prayer, that’s a cop out.  Real friends pray for each other but also serve one another in tangible ways.)

Exercise Restraint

Have a volunteer read 1 Peter 3:13-17.

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

  • Do you tend to exercise restraint towards the people in your life who don’t know Jesus?  Or do you find yourself doing things to try to convince them of your faith that may end up pushing them further away?

Live your Faith

Have a volunteer read 1 Peter 2:11-3:7.

The integrity of your life will speak far more powerfully than any sermon you could ever preach to someone who doesn’t know Jesus.

  • What tangible, practical thing can you do to show someone who Jesus is without saying a word?  Be specific about both what you are going to do and who you want it to impact.

Pray, Pray, Pray

Have a volunteer read Ezekiel 36:26.

  • Who in your life has a “heart of stone” that needs to be replaced with a “heart of flesh”?  Spend some time as a group praying for these people.  If you have a larger group, break off in groups of 2-4 to pray.
    • Ask God to give this person a heart transplant.
    • Ask God to give you wisdom on what to say, how far to push, when to back off.
    • Pray for God to give you patience when you’re boiling over with frustration.
    • Pray for God to help you love them when they are so hard to love.
    • And pray for God to transform you and change you in ways that never would have happened in any other way.
  • How can you make praying for this person a part of your regular routine?

The Other Side

It can be hard for those who are followers of Jesus to remember that it’s difficult for the people on the other side.  Those who are not followers of Jesus may be concerned that they’re being looked down on, that their kids will think less of them if they’re raised as Christians, that their values are suddenly at odds with their spouse’s values, that their good friend or family member is going to turn into a religious nutjob.  Maybe you are someone who doesn’t follow Jesus who feels this way.

  • How can both those of us who are followers of Jesus and those of us who are not be sensitive to the people on the other side?

 

Application

  • How can we as a group move past being acquaintances and be friends who truly support one another?
  • What tangible, practical thing can you do to show someone who Jesus is without saying a word?  Be specific about both what you are going to do and who you want it to impact.
  • How can you make praying for the people closest to you who don’t know Jesus a part of your regular routine?

 

Commentary

2 Corinthians 6:14

6:14a. Paul’s difficult instruction was that believers should not be yoked together with unbelievers. The NIV translation obscures the meaning of the original language. Paul insisted that believers should not be “unequally yoked” (NKJV) or “mismatched” (NRSV). Paul probably alluded to Deuteronomy 22:10, which prohibited the yoking together of oxen and donkeys. Like many other Mosaic laws which may seem odd to us today, this prohibition taught Israel through symbolism that they were to remain pure by separating themselves from the surrounding Gentile nations. Paul used this law in much the same way here.

It is common for Christians to apply Paul’s instruction here to marriages and close business associations between believers and unbelievers. Paul taught against marrying outside the faith, and wisdom should be exercised in all business relationships. Yet, in this passage Paul focused on all associations with unbelievers that led to infidelity to Christ, particularly by involvement with pagan rituals and idol worship. Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to separate themselves from these practices.

6:14b. The first question raised the issue of what righteousness and wickedness have in common. Paul did not speak here of righteous and wicked people, but of righteousness and wickedness as abstract principles. He did this to make the answer to his question as obvious as possible. In abstraction, righteousness and wickedness have nothing in common.

We must be careful not to read our prejudices into Paul’s words here. Although Paul spoke of believers as the “righteousness of God” (5:21) because of Christ’s substitutionary death, he knew that believers did not demonstrate this righteousness in their lives in a perfect way.

6:14c. Paul’s second question focused on fellowship between light and darkness. In Paul’s writings “fellowship” (koinonia) frequently describes believers’ spiritual union with Christ and the consequent union that believers share with one another in Christ. It is clear from this expression that Paul had in mind religious and spiritual connections between believers and unbelievers, not natural or social connections.

The New Testament frequently speaks of believers in association with the light of Christ. By contrast, unbelievers remain in the darkness of sin. Here Paul argues from an analogy in nature that just as light and darkness are opposites, so Christians and non-Christians are spiritual opposites.

 

1 Corinthians 7:12-14

7:12-13. The phrase to the rest is a reference to mixed marriages—a believer married to an unbeliever. Christians were only to marry “in the Lord” (v. 39). The situation Paul addresses here assumes that both spouses were unbelievers when they married but that one of them thereafter converted to Christianity. Since Jesus did not comment on this situation, Paul gave an apostolic ruling: the believing spouse must not leave the unbelieving spouse. One can easily conceive of the self-sacrifice entailed by this ethic. The passage also assumes that the unbeliever agrees that there are benefits to continuing the marital relationship ( is willing to live with him or her).

7:14. A Christian spouse who remains faithful to his or her unbelieving spouse has a “sanctifying effect” on unbelieving family members. Paul is referring not just to the possible future salvation of unbelievers in the household, but to their present protection from pagan values through the influence of the Christian member’s exemplary morals.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

4:9-12. The need for someone with whom to share the good things of life (vv. 7-8) prompts a discussion on friendship. Several benefits of friendship are enumerated (cf. Gen 2:18). First, two can work better than one and so have a larger profit. Note the proverbial form. Second, they can help each other in time of need. Third, they give emotional comfort to each other. The warmth of lying beside each other does not refer to sexual activity, nor are the two necessarily husband and wife. It is an image derived from that of travelers who must lie beside each other to stay warm on cold desert nights. But the usage is here metaphorical for emotional comfort against the coldness of the world. Fourth, they give each other protection; for that, in fact, a third friend is even better! This verse also appears to be a proverb (note the numerical pattern).

 

1 Corinthians 3:13-17

3:13. Even in the ancient world, large buildings were required to be tested and approved. Stipulations within the building contract stated when the inspection day would take place. Paul used the exact words commonly used to refer to this inspection—the day will disclose it. Paul was speaking of the eschatological inspection day when God will examine how builders have built the building of God, the body of Christ, on the foundation of the “foolish message” (1:18,23; 2:2,5).

3:14-17. In this section Paul gives three different scenarios describing three different types of subcontractors who were constructing the building of God. He begins each scenario with the expression if anyone’ s work ... if anyone (14-15,17).

3:14. In the ancient world, a reward was granted to those who constructed the building on time, within budget, and according to specifications.

3:15. Paul warned those who built carelessly that they would suffer loss.

3:16. Paul called on the Corinthians to have self-awareness about the ultimate identity of their corporate body. They were a temple built by God, and the Spirit of God resided among them.

3:17. Paul gave stern notice to those who corrupted the church (chap. 15; 2 Co 11). In a wordplay on the verb destroy, Paul warned that anyone who “destroys” God’s temple will, as recompense, be destroyed by God. The word “destroy” was used in construction contracts to describe building a structure with the intent to defraud. Thus the image here is of a church leader (builder, v. 12) who is willfully negligent.

 

1 Peter 2:11-25

Peter wrote this letter to several congregations in what is now Turkey. These believers were undergoing persecution. This persecution probably did not come from the authorities but from their neighbors who misunderstood the nature of the Christian faith.

2:11-12. Many false rumors circulated about Christians. They sometimes were accused of weakening families. After all, family stresses did arise when one family member trusted Jesus as Savior and others did not. This stress was particularly acute when a wife trusted Christ and not her husband. Christians in some places were accused of cannibalism. Did they not meet weekly to eat the flesh of a man (misunderstanding of the Lord’s Supper)? And others claimed Christians participated in immoral and even incestuous activities (misunderstanding of the “love feast” or fellowship meal that often accompanied the Lord’s Supper).

Peter reminded these believers they were called to live as those set apart to God’s service. Their lives were to exhibit a total transformation from the pagan lifestyle they had known prior to meeting Jesus Christ. If they simply lived so as to reflect the holiness of their Savior and God, they would put all such slanders to rest.

2:13-14. The verb “submit” also can be translated “be subject to” or “rank yourselves under,” and normally includes the idea of obedience. Believers are commanded to submit to government at all levels. Christians are not permitted the freedom to choose the regulations or officials to which they will submit. Believers are to respect human authorities even if they don’t agree with them. Of course, such submission does not include obeying commands that are sinful or contrary to Scripture. The king to whom Peter referred was most likely Nero (A.D. 54-68), the degenerate emperor who cruelly persecuted Christians. In stating that Christians should submit to the king, Peter was focusing on the authority of the office rather than on the character of the officeholder.

2:15-20. Peter first offers an evangelistic reason to respect authorities. Unbelievers are always watching believers to see whether their behaviors match what they profess. Thus, when Christians are “caught” doing good, the government may commend them. When Christians live as good citizens, their actions will counter false accusations made against them. Such behavior may result in unbelievers being more receptive to the gospel.

But if Christians are mandated to submit to the governing authorities, in what sense have they been “set free” by the gospel? Peter says that Christian liberty is always a responsible freedom—the freedom to choose what is right and good. Believers are to live as free persons, delivered from bondage to sin. Christian liberty is never to be used as a cover-up for evil. Therefore, there is a sense in which Christians are not free at all. They always live as servants of God. The word translated “servants” means “bondslaves,” those owned by a master. Here is one of the great paradoxes of Christianity: Only those who have become God’s slaves enjoy true freedom. Christian liberty does not mean being free to do only what we want; it means being free to do what we ought to do.

2:21-25. Peter identifies with his suffering audience, reminding them they, like Jesus, have been called to suffer. Suffering because of one’s faith is not a probable or possible: It is certain. Just as Christ’s suffering led unbelievers to repentance and faith in Jesus, so may the suffering of Christians. Identifying with Jesus’ suffering gives purpose and solace to suffering Christians.

It's Complicated - Week 3

It's Complicated - Week 3

Note to Leaders:

We’re rethinking these discussion guides, so you may notice some changes in the coming weeks.  This week’s curriculum has far more content than you’ll need.  Don’t try to use all of it.

We’d encourage you to pick the one or two questions from each section and each Scripture reading that you feel are most relevant to your group.  Be sure to leave time for some of the application questions at the end. If we just talk about Scripture or about Gene’s teaching but don’t implement it in our lives, it doesn’t do us any good.

You’ll also notice that at the very end of this is some commentary on Ephesians 5.  This is simply provided as a help for you.  Feel free to share any pieces of it with the group that you find relevant, but there’s no need to read it all to them.


Series Theme

Good relationships are possible, but they are not probable.


Series Theme Verse

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Introduction

  • Whether you’re single or married, which of the three marriage myths are you most susceptible to?

o Everything will get better in time.

o Marriage will make me happy.

o A spouse will complete me.

In his sermon, Gene talked about how men and women are equally valued by God, equally gifted by God, and equally loved by God, but we are different.  It’s why this crazy little thing called love can end up in a crazy cycle.

  • What do you think are the most significant differences between men and women? How do you think sin has corrupted these differences?

  • Why do you think God created us with prescribed roles in marriages?

  • Which natural tendency of your gender do you have the most difficulty handling in a godly way within the context of your home? Why? What affect does this have on your marriage?


Understanding

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5:18-21.

Gene talked about how mutual submission is not just the key to great marriages but is also the key to great relationships of any kind.

  • How would you define submission? Why does the word tend to stir up controversy?

  • What does true submission look like? What does it not look like?

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5:22-24.

Submission doesn’t imply losing your sense of worth or self. It is a voluntary and loving choice to follow in a way that displays how Christians follow Jesus. Christians don’t submit because someone forces them to do so; they submit voluntarily. Wives weren’t forced to think of themselves as their husbands’ property. They could see themselves as his partner and receive from him sacrificial love.

  • How is Jesus’ work on the cross an example of submission for us?

  • How does the church submit to Christ? Wives, how might this help you submit to your husbands?  Single women, what do you think about the idea of submitting to your husband?

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5:25-32.

A husband is not to view his leadership as superior but as a responsibility and commitment to sacrifice everything for his wife. Paul also used the imagery of husbands loving their wives as their own bodies. Just as Christ nourishes and nurtures each of us as members of His body, a husband is to humble himself to seek his wife’s best interests, provide unselfishly for her welfare, and give priority to their relationship above all other human relationships.

  • What does the love husbands are called to model look like?

  • Husbands, what is the best example that comes to mind of a time when you have loved your wife like Christ loves the church?  Single men, how do you need to grow as a follower of Jesus in order to be able to better exhibit unconditional love?

  • How might a wife respond to a husband who loves her like Jesus? How does this type of love benefit her spiritually?

  • Who receives more instruction in Ephesians 5, wives or husbands? Why might this be?

Though Ephesians 5 is often quoted to remind women of their struggle of submission, it is the husband who actually receives the greater challenge from God. She must submit. He must love with the love of Jesus. It is clear that each action serves the other. The wife, in submitting, encourages her husband to Christ-likeness and the husband, in loving like Jesus, makes it easier for the wife to submit.

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5:33.

Gene talked about one of the key differences between men and women: men’s desire for respect and women’s desire for love.

  • Why do you think God created man and woman to have such different needs?

Gene also referenced Emerson Eggerich’s “crazy cycle” in his sermon.

The wife is not feeling loved.  She may not even realize it – but she feels unloved, because her husband does something dumb. He’s busy, uncaring, not interested. 

So how does she react? She starts doing the number one thing that makes a guy feel disrespected: nagging. She doesn’t think of it as nagging or nitpicking.  She thinks of it as a suggestion to awaken him to his flaws.  And he feels shredded and his heart is reduced.

Now the more a wife nags and complains, the more he withdraws, and he pours himself into his work, because he feels respected there.  And now she feels he’s disinterested in her.  She feels unloved.

This crazy-cycle can go on for years, for decades of a dysfunctional, unhappy, miserable relationship: “Well I only did that because of what you did.”  “Well I only did that because of what you did.”

At the heart of flourishing relationships is unconditional love and unconditional respect.

Unconditional love says “I will love you in spite of what you do, what you say, how you hurt me.”  It’s how God loves us.

Unconditional respect may sound like an oxymoron, like a contradiction, but unconditional respect for a man works in the same way as unconditional love.  It’s not based on what he does, and it’s not based on a feeling.

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

If you’re struggling with unconditional love or unconditional respect, this is where you can get some traction against that thing that has lodged itself down in your heart.  Do for your spouse what God has done for you.

And by the way unconditional love and unconditional respect do not mean that you ever tolerate abuse.  If you are being abused sexually or physically in a relationship you need to get out.  Tell somebody.  Let us help you.

  • Have you ever been stuck in the crazy cycle?

  • What do you think about the ideas of unconditional love and unconditional respect?  What would it look like if you were to apply them in your marriage?

  • For those of you who aren’t married, how does this affect your view and expectation of marriage? 

Gene gave us three ways to practice unconditional respect:

  1. Respect his desire for conquest.

  2. Respect his desire to analyze and counsel.

  3. Respect his intentions.

And three ways to practice unconditional love:

  1. Love her by getting to know her.

  2. Love her by accepting her.

  3. Love her by making her your priority.

  • How can you implement these practices in your relationship?  Which of these do you think will be most difficult to implement?

  • What other ways can we practice unconditional love and unconditional respect?


Application

What are some opportunities you might have to love those who seem unloveable in your workplace, neighborhood, or community this week? 

Sometimes relationships come to tragic, abrupt endings due to abuse, addiction, and more.  The crazy cycle became a downward spiral that bottomed out. Families end up broken, left to pick up the pieces emotionally, physically and mentally. What are some ways you and your group can support these families in your community? 

Women, what is one tangible thing you can do to show respect to your husband this week?

Men, what is one tangible thing you can do to show respect to your wife this week?


Pray

Ask God to strengthen the marriages in your church based on the truths of His Word. Pray that marriages would reflect the unconditional love and unconditional respect God desires spouses to show each other.


Commentary

Ephesians 5:18-33

5:18. Ephesus was a center of pagan worship and ritual. The Ephesian culture worshiped Baccus, the god of wine and drunken orgies. They believed that to commune with their god and to be led by him, they had to be drunk. In this drunken state, they could determine the will of their god and determine how best to serve and obey him.

Paul was talking about how to commune with the God of heaven, how to live for Him, how to serve and obey Him, how to determine His will. It was natural for Him to draw the contrast between how the god of Ephesus is served and how the God of heaven is served. With the God of heaven, you do not get drunk with wine. Rather, you are filled with the Spirit. Being drunk with wine leads to the sexual sins and immorality of darkness described above. By being filled with the Spirit, you can determine God’s will and serve Him faithfully in moral living.

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Some interpreters equate this command with instances of being filled with the Spirit in the Book of Acts in which miraculous things happened: people spoke in tongues; prophecies and visions were given; people were healed. “Be filled” in this verse is not the same word as the one used in the Book of Acts, nor are the consequences the same. Rather than understanding this command in verse 18 to have anything to do with miraculous or extraordinary happenings, it is better to understand it in context. In this ethical context, it means directed, influenced, and ultimately governed by the Holy Spirit. This filling, then, is best understood, as a command for the believer to yield himself to the illuminating, convicting, and empowering work of the Holy Spirit. As He works in our hearts through His Word, our lives are brought into conformity with the will of God (v. 17).

5:19-21. Four Greek participles—”speak, make music” (melodying), “giving thanks” (thanking), and “submit” (subjecting)—in verses 19-21 modify the verb “be filled” of verse 18, describing the person filled with the Holy Spirit. The first two participles suggest the importance of music and Scripture in being filled with the Spirit. An attitude of gratitude is a third characteristic of being filled with the Spirit. Finally, an attitude of mutual submission among believers is a characteristic of being filled with the Spirit.

5:22-24. Paul knew that both male and female are equally created in God’s image, equally recipients of salvation by grace through faith, and of no fundamental difference in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). The phrase “to your own husbands” reminds us that Paul did not expect each woman to submit to any and all of the males in the church. On the other hand, the verb submit is quite strong, expressing the idea of “follow the leadership of.” This term suggests an organization in which different roles are assigned in order for the group to succeed. (In an army, if soldiers do not follow the leadership of the general, chaos will follow and battles will be lost.) For Christian wives to submit to their husbands, then, is for them to acknowledge their God-assigned role for the success of their marriage. Paul provided an incentive for this submission by the phrase “as to the Lord.” On the basis of their personal relationship with Jesus—and their obedience to Him—wives were to submit to their husbands. He viewed this as an act of service to Christ. Of course, Paul was not implying that Christian wives are exempt from seeking to follow Christ directly as they develop their own personal spiritual lives. Paul had taught earlier in Ephesians that Christ is the Head of the church (1:22; 4:15). Here, however, he made a comparison that he had not made before. There is a parallel between the role that Christ has as Head of the church and the role that the husband has as head of the wife. Moreover, the essential characteristic of Jesus’ headship is not so much dominating as it is delivering: He is the Savior of the body. His headship over the church is that of care more than control. Husbands can never be the saviors of their wives in the same way that Christ is their Savior. Yet Paul implied that wives who see their husbands exhibiting sacrificial care will have no trouble submitting to their leadership. Both husbands and Christ have been called head (or leader). Both wives and the church have the responsibility to submit to their leader. The phrase in everything implies that all areas of life are included in the wife’s submission. Yet surely Paul would have considered it unthinkable for a wife to submit to a husband’s asking her to do something immoral or ungodly.

5:25-30. The words translated “love” and “loved” are forms of the verb (Greek, “agapao”) used in John 3:16 for God’s sacrificial concern for the world. Such love is more than mere affection or emotion; it includes actions based on care for the object of love. Although many husbands have literally died for their wives (and vice versa), Paul’s focus is more on the responsibility of the husband to live for his wife than to die for her. These verse provide the theological foundation for understanding a husband’s responsibility to his wife. To make her holy describes what happens now (in this lifetime) to believers as a result of Jesus’ self-giving. Everything in our conversion as well as in our daily Christian living has as its goal setting us apart for Christ. Paul explained this as an experience of cleansing. The image of washing helps us understand what being holy means. To present the church to Himself describes what will happen (throughout eternity) to believers as a result of Jesus’ self-giving. The verb “present” suggests a bride on her wedding day approaching her beloved groom, and the phrase “in splendor” hints at the bride’s wedding attire. No bride would want to appear on her wedding day in a spotted, wrinkled gown. The words “holy” and “blameless” sum up the effect of Christ’s love and sacrifice for His people. And the Lord will most certainly accomplish this result in His people, for holy and blameless are the same words used to describe God’s plan for His chosen ones from the foundation of the world. Christian husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ does. This means they are to do all they can to make their wives more beautiful (in the spiritual sense of being holy and blameless). Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. A husband is the head; the wife is the body; and the husband loves his body. It is as if their wives were an extension of their own bodies. When the apostle wrote that he who loves his wife loves himself, he used the verb “loves.” Just as a man should seek his own spiritual welfare, so he should seek the highest good of his wife. The husband seeks the highest good of his wife in the physical realm as well. God has so wired us as human beings that a person provides and cares for his physical well-being. The normal pattern of life is for a person to take care of his own physical body. For a husband, this includes the responsibility of caring for the body (wife) to whom he is married.

5:31-33. A couple’s unity is based on recognizing that previous family ties are to be reprioritized after marriage. Husbands and wives are intentionally to leave their parents, the human relationship that normally dominates the life of children. This leaving includes emotional and spiritual separation from one’s parents too—and likely physical and financial separation as well—so that the marriage relationship can be primary. If leave puts the matter negatively, then be joined puts the new relationship positively. Be joined could also be translated “united to” or “bonded with.” The two will be one flesh includes the intimacy of sexual union, but it extends to all other dimensions. The husband and wife are to be united in their values and decisions as they join together emotionally and spiritually. Here Paul returned for a moment to his doctrinal reflection on Christ and the church. It was no mystery that husband and wife join together as one flesh. That teaching went back to Genesis. The mystery was that the redeemed and the Lord Jesus are joined together in one body, which a godly marriage reflects. A godly, “one-flesh” marriage visibly models the one-flesh relationship between Christ (the Bridegroom-Head) and His people (the bride-body). Then the apostle offered one final word for each spouse within a marriage. In summary, a husband’s responsibility is to love his wife as himself. This is the third time in the passage that Paul urged husbands to love their wives. The wife’s responsibility is to respect her husband. This verb is different than “submit,” which Paul had used earlier. The verb rendered respect is usually translated “fear.” Yet here it refers not to a sense of terror but to the high regard a wife expresses for her husband, who sacrifices and serves her so that she may become holy.

It's Complicated - Week 2

It's Complicated - Week 2

KICKSTART

Is there anyone in your life either currently or in the past whose words made a positive impact on you?  If so, what did they say to you?


VIEW:


THROTTLE UP

1. Discuss your thoughts and observations about the video. Did you imagine the “one word” as positive – or negative? Why?

2.  This week in our series “It’s Complicated,” we’re looking at the power of our words to hurt or heal in our relationships. Let’s look at what God tells us about how our words can impact the people around us. Have several people in the group read the following verses, answering the questions after each verse:

  • Proverbs 12:18

  • Proverbs 15:1

  • Proverbs 16:24

  • Proverbs 17:27-28

  • Ephesians 4:15

  • Ephesians 4:29

What type of speaking does this verse describe? What are the results? What are some life examples you have had (Positive or Negative) that come to mind when you hear this verse?

3. Romans 12:2 is the key verse for this series. Take a moment and read Romans 12:1-2. What does this have to do with managing our words?

4. Social media and the news are full of people who respond in anger. Is there someone you’ve seen in a volatile or difficult situation that responded calmly? What did you notice about them?


CHECK THE MIRRORS

1. Ephesians 4:15 said we are to speak “truth” with “love.”

a.  Are you more prone to share love without truth, or truth without love?

b.  What would “speaking the truth in love” look like?

2. To whom do you need to speak words of affirmation this week?  Family? Friends? Co-workers? Neighbors?

3. Is there anyone you need to spend more time listening to this week?


GIVE A LIFT

This month we’re encouraging connection groups to serve together locally. One of the easiest ways to positively encourage and give affirmation to others is by serving. Take a moment to visit http://www.eastside.com/localserve/ and consider options you could undertake together as a group. 


[Optional Expanded Discussion]

1.    As a mature believer in ministry or leadership, what have you learned about how to respond to anger or harsh words?

2.    Do you still have a “hot button” that can catch you off-guard?

3.    Spend time praying for the people of Eastside - our congregation, volunteers and connection groups – that we would all be a family of truth, with love, encouragement and affirmation.

It's Complicated - Week 1

It's Complicated - Week 1

KICKSTART

Growing up, who was the peacemaker in your family?


VIEW


THROTTLE UP

1. Discuss your thoughts and observations about the video in light of those you are close too. How much alike are you?

2.  In our new series “It’s Complicated,” we’re looking at how we navigate our relationships. This week’s topic is: “Why can’t you be normal like me?” What are some reasons that it’s often hard to see things from other people’s perspective?

3.  Read the following verses: Genesis 1:11; Genesis 1:20-21; Genesis 1:24, Isaiah 40:26. What do you observe about how God creates? What do we learn about God?

4.  Read Psalm 139:14. What does this verse say about each of us?

5.  Have a different person read each of the following verses: Philippians 2:14-16; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:31-32; Romans 12:2. After each verse, answer these questions:  

  1. What does God ask us to do in these verses? Why?

  2. How can these verses apply in our everyday relationships at home, or work?


CHECK THE MIRRORS

1.  Where do you see people arguing about who’s right or “normal” in today’s culture?

2.  What is the hardest thing for you in navigating difficult situations (i.e. don’t listen, get too emotional, say things I regret, etc.)?

3.  What’s one step you could take this week to respond differently in a difficult situation?


GIVE A LIFT

A great way to change our own situation is by focusing on someone else’s. Check with our Compassion Ministry at http://www.eastside.com/localserve/ for some ways to serve individually, with your spouse or family, or even as a group.


[Optional Expanded Discussion]

1.  Share one tip you’ve learned in your life that has helped you navigate difficult conversations with significant people.

2.  Read 2 Corinthians 13:11. Are restoration, encouragement, being of one mind, and peace an active part of your ministry or leadership or life? Share any trouble spots or improvements with the group, then pray for each other.