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52 Week Plan – Acceptance

Acceptance Outside the Family of God

Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you. Romans 15:7

Starting with the Basics:
#1:  Let’s make this clear from the beginning.  When I say that someone is “outside the family of God”, I am speaking of a person who does not have a relationship with God the Father by faith in Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior.  In other words, I understand that not everyone follows Christ, loves Him, and receives His gift of forgiveness.
I Corinthians 15:1-7
#2:  I understand that my position is to love others regardless of whether they are inside or outside God’s family of Christ-followers. My role is to love people regardless of their position, but I am especially responsible for loving the “household of faith”.  I think I know why God put that in the scriptures.  How can we even begin to love those outside the faith if we don’t love our brothers and sisters in our own family….the family of God. (Galatians 6:10)
#3:  Perhaps the most effective strategy to help a lost and alone world come to understand and accept the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ is to accept them as valuable, loved people first.  Loving others the way Jesus does… not a suggestion but a commandment.  (John 13:34-35) Though a commandment and seemingly impossible to do…it is not impossible or Christ would not have commanded it.  He gives to all, who come to Him in faith, the Holy Spirit to live within us and bring us the very mind of Christ, the love of the Father, and the power to experience and exercise both in this life.
#4:  Jesus let people know they “belonged”, even when those He accepted as valuable were rejected by others or rejected His love.  How many examples can you recall of people Jesus accepted, when others rejected them?  When the “elders and teachers of the law” tried to label Jesus, He was called a “friend of sinners” (Luke 15:1-2).  They thought that would be a demeaning title, but He actually was a / is a “friend of sinners”.  He befriended many “unacceptable” people and still does.  He accepted you and me as valuable and loved us “while we were yet sinners”.
Acceptance in the Family of God
Loving God and Your Fellow Believers
Light Source #1:  Fresh Encounters with Jesus Christ
I want you to recall your experience of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  Was it a conversion experience or was it more of a process?  (John 6:44)  In whatever way the Father drew you to His Son Jesus, would you recall how much love, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance was offered to you, as you were moved from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son Jesus? (Colossians 1:13)
Let Jesus’ acceptance of you soak into your mind and heart as you quiet your soul for a few minutes.  Express your gratitude to Him again.  I don’t think this will be the last time you worship Him “in spirit and truth” to acknowledge His great love and acceptance of you. Every day is not often enough to express thanks for such a gift. (Psalm 100:4)
Light Source #2:  Frequent Experiences in the Word
(Do The Book)
Let’s Do:  Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.
Think of someone that you definitely have a hard time accepting.  Ask the Lord Jesus to empower you with the Holy Spirit and give you His attitude and heart toward that person or those people.  Consider a person you believe to be outside the faith.
As I am writing this, a Middle-Eastern couple (actually a mother and son, I think) sat for a few minutes at a table near me.  I overheard the language being spoken.  I saw the woman’s “different” attire, and my heart began to move toward judgment …though I didn’t know them or their nationality.  I asked God to stop that process and give me His heart.  I thought about how much they need to know the love of God in Jesus and that they may already be Christians.  My role was not to judge but to love and be ready to speak truth to them if God gave me the opportunity.  They sat for only a minute or two and left.  Long enough for me to use this experience as a real-life example of accepting people who may be outside the faith and accepting others who seem quite different from me.  Truth is – we human beings aren’t really that different even if our language and appearance are foreign to one another.
Would you and your spouse, or your children, or church friends do the Matthew 10:40 verse and prayerfully ask God to love others through you and when possible help them to experience the love of Jesus in your attitude, action, words, or in sharing the Gospel or meeting other needs?  I will do the same.
Light Source #3:  Other Jesus Followers – Have Real Fellowship with Your Spouse, Children, and/or Fellow Christ-followers
As you and your spouse, children, or fellow Christ-followers address the issue of “Accepting Those Outside the Faith as Equally Valuable”, let’s believe that the Holy Spirit will open doors of service to others to demonstrate Christ’s deep, deep love.  He loves even those who may have one time made our list of “Those Most Difficult to Love”.  Whether they are in your family, in your church, in another denomination, or outside the faith altogether, I can think of no better way to take an authentic next step in our walk with Jesus than to love someone into the kingdom.
If you have time, please read the Lazarus story and discuss the obvious (I hope) applications to this month’s 52 Week Plan journey into Acceptance.
Lazarus Story
This story is a fictional account of the John 11 experience of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  If you prefer to read the John 11 account, please read verses 1-43.  My friend Dr. Marvin Bittinger wrote this fictional account of the actual scripture account.  Enjoy either or both.
Lazarus awoke with a start. He had had nightmares before but this one was especially bad. He knew it was only a dream but the fear he felt was real. Still only half awake, he shook his head chasing away the remnants of sleep that still clung to his brain. Perhaps he was in the sun too long yesterday. Maybe the dream had no cause and was just a chance occurrence. Who knows.
He rolled on his side, pushed himself up in bed and put his feet on the floor. The cool tiles felt good to the soles of his calloused feet. While he enjoyed living with his sisters he sometimes wished he had married so he wouldn’t have to sleep alone. A drop of sweat trickled down his forehead. The early rising sun had already made his room uncomfortably warm.
As Lazarus dressed he thought little of the hot flushed feeling and hint of nausea he felt. Ready for the day he opened the door to his room, stepped onto the small porch and began descending the steps to the courtyard below. Awareness of his weakness dawned gradually with each step he took. Seeing through eyes blurred by fever made the already precarious stairs almost impossible to navigate. As Lazarus took the final step into the courtyard, he was overcome with dizziness. Like a drunken man, he stumbled toward the door of the main house. Half way across the courtyard his legs gave way and he collapsed in a disheveled heap.
Martha was her usual active early morning self. The meal of bread and roasted fish was almost ready. Food from Martha’s kitchen was eaten hot and on time. No one dared be late for one of her meals. She left the house and entered the courtyard to find Mary and Lazarus. No doubt Mary was cloistered in some hidden place meditating and praying for who knows what. Since Jesus’ last visit Martha was trying hard to accept Mary’s lack of help with household chores. It still irritated her. Lost in her thoughts she almost tripped over Lazarus as she crossed the courtyard. Concern crossed Martha’s face as she bent down to examine him. He wasn’t responding. While he seemed awake the words he mumbled made no sense. Bloody saliva drooled from the side of his mouth forming a puddle near her feet. Fear seized Martha. She screamed for Mary, hoping she was near enough to hear.
This was Mary’s favorite part of the day. Alone and undisturbed she could commune with God in unhurried intimacy. It also gave her time away from her workaholic sister. Sometimes her nagging made loving Martha very difficult. But she was her sister after all. Suddenly, Martha’s screams jerked her back to reality. These were not the cries of frustration she was used to hearing. Panic was driving Martha’s words. Mary jumped to her feet, gathered her robe tightly around her waist and ran toward the court yard.
Lazarus’ confusion and now labored breathing communicated a sense of urgency to both sisters. Calling Lucius, their hired servant, they carried Lazarus into the house and laid him on a pallet near the door. Martha rushed to the well to draw water to cool his fever. He made little response to their attempts to revive him. Remembering the miracles of Jesus and His love for Lazarus they dispatched Lucius to bring Him to Bethany. Perhaps Jesus would perform a miracle and save the life of their brother.
Time seemed to stand still as Mary and Martha fought to keep their brother alive. A torturous day followed by an endless night had them on the verge of collapse.
Lazarus continued to worsen. Where was Jesus? He should have been here by now. Did He forget? The life and death struggle continued through the day.
Cries of sadness and agony wafted across the courtyard filling the evening air with the sounds of death. No Jesus, no miracle, no hope. Lazarus was dead. The only thing left to do was bury their brother. Jewish custom dictated that Lazarus be buried as soon as possible. Mourning would have to wait. With the help of Lucius, they lifted Lazarus’ body from the pallet and placed it on a large table in the center of the room. Lucius stripped and washed the body while Mary and Martha retrieved aromatic ointment and a linen burial cloth from the rear of the house. Fighting back tears, they gently forced Lazarus’ eyes closed and bound his mouth shut. A sweet smell filled the room as the two sisters lovingly anointed his body with the costly ointment. After unfolding the linen cloth, they used it to tightly wrap Lazarus’ body in preparation for burial.
Lazarus awoke with a start. Although his eyes were open, they detected no light. He shivered as the damp coolness of the tomb penetrated the wrappings enveloping his body. The pungent smell of sweet ointment and decaying flesh pierced his nostrils. Breathing was difficult. Trying to move only increased the claustrophobic anxiety that accompanied his fear of smothering. Suddenly, a bright light penetrated the shroud covering his face. Lazarus’ eyelids
snapped shut in response to the stabbing pain caused by light entering his unconstricted pupils. By reflex he attempted to cover his face with his hand, but the linen wrappings held fast. Through the anxiety and pain he heard a familiar voice call his name; “Lazarus, come out.” Compelled to act, Lazarus struggled to free himself. Rocking back and forth, he turned on his side and forced his feet to the floor. He shifted his weight forward and came to an unsteady upright position. Twisting from side to side, Lazarus waddled toward the sound of the voice. After a few steps he became dizzy and almost fell. Gentle hands steadied him and began removing the linen cloth from his body and face. Soon the grave clothes lay at his feet. Lazarus was finally free. He squinted as his eyes slowly adjusted to the light outside the tomb. The human shaped form in front of him gradually came into focus. Lazarus was staring into the face of Jesus.
The story of Lazarus illustrates an important principle of the Christian life. Lazarus was dead. Christ came and gave him new life. He was born again. But even though he had new life he was still bound in his grave clothes. The grave clothes prevented him from living out the new life Jesus had given him. It was not until his friends came to his aid and removed the grave clothes that Lazarus was able to live out the new life Christ had provided.
When we became Christians, we were given new life and were spiritually born again. As a result we are now new creatures in Christ. Yet many of us are still wearing our “grave clothes”. These prevent us from living out the new life we have in Christ. Not only do grave clothes keep us from experiencing what Christ has done, it also keeps us from sharing it with others. As long as Lazarus was in his grave clothes he could not speak to or serve others. His mouth was covered and his legs and arms were bound.
In the same way, when we Christians continue to wear our “grave
clothes” our ability to speak for and serve Christ is hindered. What are “grave clothes”? “Grave clothes” are anything that keep us bound so we can’t practically experience the new life that Christ has given us. The bondage we experience can be spiritual, emotional, mental or physical.
After reading the story, would you answer these three questions and discuss them with family, small group, spouse, or others you feel would enjoy the discussion?
1.  Who were some “unacceptables” to the people of Jesus’ day but loved and changed by an encounter with Him?
2.  Of your acquaintances who may be “outside the faith”, who might God be leading you to “love into the kingdom”?
3.  What next steps would be appropriate in order to help that person understand how loved they are by Abba, and valued they are by you as a Christ-follower?
Remember John 13:34-35 still applies today.

52 Week Plan – Acceptance

 Need of the Week: Acceptance In Parenting/Family Relationships


Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you. Romans 15:7

How many of us have ever said, “You are allowed to obey 50% of the time today” to our kids or even thought it?  I never did, nor do I plan to tell my grandkids that it would be OK for them to disobey some percentage of the time.  Actually we do hope and even plan for our kids to obey 100% of the time, don’t we?  We know they won’t be perfect at it, but that does not stop us from expecting (hoping) they will.  This week let’s make sure we continue to communicate loving acceptance of our children while some of their behavior is not acceptable.  Separating our acceptance of our child from having to correct their behavior is one aspect of “speaking the truth in love”.
For those of you who do not have children or no longer have them at home, you may want to apply these principles to grandchildren, if you have them, or to a “Child of Focus”.  Most of us have children in our lives either in our neighborhood or church or in our extended family.  So the “Child of Focus” may be a child or some children, who have a special place in your life, though they may not be related.  Usually one doesn’t have to look far to find a child in need.

Thanks for joining us! 

Dave Lewis  
Helping Leaders Live Loved and Give Love Freely….Starting at Home!


A.  What About the Kids?  – They have “needs” too! (Acceptance)
1.  Think of a time that your Children or Children of Focus disappointed you or made you sad by disobedience or irresponsibility.  Have you expressed to them how they made you feel by their action? This is not a suggestion to become overly dramatic and make them feel belittled. When God convicts us of our sin, He does not condemn us.  When He “speaks the truth in love” to us, it is to help us know that our behavior was wrong and harmful to himself or others.  Then the sorrow we feel is to be a “godly sorrow that leads us to repentance” – we feel His sadness over what we did but His love for us…no matter what we did. (2 Corinthians 7:10 – by the way, this whole story of Paul’s handling of a problem in the church at Corinth is a great illustration of his having to say some really hard things to the church concerning some deep sin among the members.  They responded to Paul’s correction and repented.  The people were restored to fellowship in the church.  This is very hard, but very cool also.)
Here is an illustration of how “speaking the truth in love” may sound:
Parent/Adult:  ____________(child’s name), do you remember the other day when you yelled at your little sister?  When you treated her that way, you hurt her feelings and you made Dad and Mom sad.  I love you and your sister and I want you to show love to her.  No matter what you do, _____________(child’s name), I will always love you.  I want you to learn how to use your words to help others feel loved and important.  Let’s pray and ask God to help me and help you to use our words to show love and to help – not to hurt others.  OK?
2. Perhaps settling a conflict and letting your Child/Children of Focus know that even though you and your spouse or friend were at odds for awhile, you have worked through it and have healed the relationship.  When two people have discussed it, asked for and given forgiveness, and continue to love each other, valuable life lessons are taught in conflict resolution and acceptance.  Do you have some examples to use with your child even if you cannot use names?  They don’t have to know names.
3.  Discuss with your spouse or others who have direct influence on your child or Child of Focus the following concepts.  What can you glean from the wisdom of God’s Word and those who have “been there and done that”?
a.  Concept #1:  Helping a child experience being deeply loved and known is one of the most precious gifts he/she can receive from the adult generation responsible for passing down the faith to the next generation.  (Read Malachi 4:5-6 and study the Top Ten Relationship Needs)
b.  Concept #2:  Finding ways to help a child accept responsibility and be accountable for his/her actions should be done and should be done on an “age-appropriate” basis.  (See Dr. James Dobson’s “The New Dare to Discipline” – or other trusted parenting material.)
c.  Concept #3:  Being the person in character and loving relationships is the best way to help a child become the type of person you want him/her to become.  Integrity and great character are both taught and caught.
 B.  What About the Rest of the Family?
Perhaps the most challenging life-long relationships are with our families of origin (parents, grand-parents, siblings, step-family, etc…those we’ve known longest and whose influence is most deeply ingrained….good or bad.)
4.  Take some time to think about and then discuss with your spouse what strengths your Mom and Dad illustrated in your formative years growing up at home. (These are qualities upon which you hope to build.)
5.  Now, discuss what some of the negative or harmful behaviors or characteristics were illustrated in your home of origin.  (These are things you hope to not pass along in current or future relationships.)
Would you and your spouse have an Ephesians 4:15 (learning to speak the truth in love) conversation as you talk about your answers to questions #4 and #5 above?  Continue as you speak the truth in love around these next questions?
6.  How have the relational qualities (good and bad) we learned from our families helped or hindered our having an intimate, healthy marriage relationship?
7.  How have the relational qualities (good and bad) we learned from our families helped or hindered our having a healthy perspective on parenting or even our attitude toward children?
Watching parents with differing styles of parenting can be both thrilling and frustrating:
Thrilling:  As a father and mother “train up their children in the way they should go”, their differing perspectives and honest, loving discussions, especially coupled with prayer, can create an environment for the children to grow into adults with a healthy respect for differences and mentored communication skills that allow both telling the truth and doing it with love.
Frustrating:  When the father and mother have differing styles of parenting, and they often do, but “truth” is told without love and/or “love” is misguided because the truth won’t be heard, then children often grow into adults who cannot “speak the truth in love” and have a disregard for the opinions of others.  This disregard may exhibit itself in passivity to the point of being non-confrontational or the opposite may happen.   In other words, the “truth” may be hurled in an escalating volume until the other parent “gets the point” and backs down.
When the love of God is not illustrated in the home environment, children miss one of God’s greatest blessings.  In Malachi 2, the prophet voiced God’s directive stating that marriage and family were designed to “raise a godly seed”.  Our homes are to be disciple-making (healthy disciples, of course) and evangelizing environments where God’s love and truth are learned, lived, and made available.  Truth and love cannot be force-fed to the children.  This beautiful duo must be caught as they are being taught.  (See Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and Galatians 6:4 and Malachi 4:6)
I know that not everyone comes back or comes to God, but they are worth praying for, seeking a new relationship with, and attempting to love them back into a better place…leaving all the results to them and Jesus.  Our role is to “speak the truth in love” and “love one another as Jesus loves us”.  We don’t control outcomes.  Each person must choose for himself/herself whether or not to respond to God’s call and grace.
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52 Week Plan- Acceptance

Need of the Week: Acceptance In The Family of God.

Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you. Romans 15:7
(Definition used by permission of Intimate Life Ministries)
Acceptance in the Family of God – now there’s an idea !

You already know how much is at stake when it comes to our acceptance and loving each other, right?  Let’s talk about what characterizes acceptance inside the family of Christ’s ­followers. Have you seen clear examples of acceptance among believers – done well or done poorly?  If you are part of a local congregation, this discussion can be very relevant. At least, that is the aim of this week.

Thanks for joining us! 

Dave Lewis  
Helping Leaders Live Loved and Give Love Freely….Starting at Home!
Acceptance in the Family of God
Loving God and Your Fellow Believers
Some Questions:
1. Do you understand why we have done work in ACCEPTING each other in marriage and family? Principle: Accepting others who differ from us or have failed us at home is perhaps the best way to be prepared to accept those who differ from us and / or fail us outside the family.
 2. Do you agree with the above principle? Please discuss this with your spouse and/or the family.
 Acceptance in my local congregation:
3. What experiences have you had with either personal involvement or observed situations where someone inside the church was accepted and restoration attempted, where needed, or not accepted because they were either “too different” or had failed “too” badly?
 Let me give you an example of a story of acceptance and restoration.
The woman in the story is real and her experiences are true. This family of faith did it right!
There is this lady, let’s call her Hope. (Permission given to share her story) When Hope was 15 she had an abortion. Many years later she felt compelled by God to share her story of healing and Grace, but she feared sharing this story within her congregation feeling abortion was the “unpardonable sin” or would be deemed so within the church. But, by faith, she shared her story. Hope knew others were probably in the congregation sitting in shame, who needed healing as well, so she was willing to share for them. As she trembled, she shared how God healed her. As she went to take her seat, one by one, people came to her from the congregation and hugged her, cried with her, and some shared how they too had had an abortion and how much they needed to hear her story.
This congregation accepted her. Though they did not agree with the sin, they accepted Hope, the forgiven person. But what if they hadn’t? Can you imagine the shame that might have overwhelmed Hope? What would that have said about this local Body of Christ – if they rejected her? What would you have done if you were there that day?
 4. Can you recall an example, where a person was rejected unfairly by the people in the church? What was the outcome for the church and for the person?
5. Discuss a situation where a failure should have been addressed, but was ignored. How does “speaking the truth in love” apply to handling situations in the church? How does being able to “speak the truth in love” at home relate to doing this at church or in other places outside the home?
Acceptance of Those From Other Churches, Movements, and Denominations:
Let’s look at acceptance across denominational lines or outside the local body of believers. In our day, we need to come together around the core of living a Great Commission Life from a Great Commandment Heart. As we have worked now with dozens of denominational groups, we are finding that most (not all) can accept each other on this *GC2-basis”, while still holding differing doctrinal beliefs on some key issues.
 *GC2= a common belief that each of us are commanded and privileged to live a Great Commission lifestyle of sharing the Gospel and making disciples AND that we must do so with a Great Commandment love for God and others. (Matthew 28:19­20 and Matthew 22:37­39)
I have come to believe that finding two people who agree on every point of doctrine, though not an impossibility, would be like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. So, should we have a separate denomination or movement for each person or the two who agree exactly – if they exist?
6. Is it even possible to love each other as Jesus loves us, while maintaining strong doctrinal differences? The answer has to be “YES”! Finding this place of loving acceptance while differing and even strongly disagreeing is one of the best ways to show the world that we ARE HIS DISCIPLES! John 13:34,­35 Thought:  Jesus and I are vastly different.  He loves me still!
7. In Acts 15:39, Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply concerning whether or not John Mark was to accompany them on the next missionary journey. Whether they argued or simply had a deep difference of opinion, they found a solution resulting in two different partnerships. The relational problem was eventually resolved because Paul referred to John Mark as a “valuable asset”. (2 Timothy 4:7). My point is this – we will differ and may differ strongly, but there is no place for unresolved hurt and guilt in the family of God.
8. Have you ever left a church to find another but you injured people in the wake of your departure? Have you spoken inaccurately or unnecessarily about people and leaders at the “other church”? As I am writing this, I am confessing to God my wrongs related to speaking inappropriately about churches where I formerly attended and served. My question to God is “Father, after asking forgiveness from You, am I to go to anyone to ask forgiveness, and/or am I to simply say nothing else to anyone about the situation if it will put the “other church” in the wrong light?”

52 Week Plan: Acceptance

Need of the Week: Acceptance

Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you. Romans 15:7

 Our focus: Acceptance In Marriage

Many of us have a tough time separating acceptance of a person from not accepting the person’s behavior.  Of course…it is easy to accept – have a positive, favorable response to – a person when his/her behavior is what we’d hoped. But, what do we do to show our spouse that we are “for” him/her even when they fail or disappoint us in some way.  What if our opinions differ widely on a subject? If you and your spouse have no differences of opinion or of responses, you are unique.

Could we learn to allow the love of God to move us to love our spouse in spite of differences and talk about those differences without “losing it”?  Or do we feel that our spouse is trying to parent us to become the person they want?

Be intentional about setting aside a few minutes this week or planning a date night to discuss Acceptance in your marriage together. 

Husband, would you lead this time by reviewing the statements to be completed or questions being asked so that you know how to make the most of your time? When you are ready, please initiate a “LOVE (Speak)” time with your wife.

As you use this tool – the 52-Week Plan – be sure to make a significant portion of the Marriage Staff Meetings fun and lighten things up a bit.

Having fun together is one reason we offer this tool for your communication and intimacy.  

Thanks for joining us! 

Dave Lewis  
Helping Leaders Live Loved and Give Love Freely….Starting at Home!

LOVE (Speak)

Light Source #1: Fresh Encounter with Jesus Christ

  Do you know anyone in scripture who, after encountering Jesus Christ, went away different than they were before?  Would you list some of those people?  Please choose the person from your list, who seemed to have the one you would have the most trouble accepting, then put that name on a piece of paper.

 Answer this question:  Are you any less deserving or any more deserving of Christ’s acceptance compared to the person you chose?

Please know that the answer to both questions is “no”!

 Please think for a few minutes about your obvious shortcomings, failures, and differences that might make you feel that you are too “flawed” or “inconsistent” to be accepted by Christ or that you are just too “different” to make God’s list of acceptable people.

 Picture Christ standing in front of you, looking into your eyes, and letting you know that He paid for all sins and loves you in spite of those shortcomings or flaws.   This Jesus who is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” accepted Zachaeus, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman at the well, the centurion, Matthew the tax collector, the man born blind, the lepers no one else would touch, and on and on through history right down to you and me.  He accepts you and me and invites us into His family.  You belong in His family because He accepts you not because you deserve to be.  Praise Him for it!

 Important Note:

What if you do not know that you are accepted and forgiven?  If you have never received Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, would you take Him at His word?  After reading these or other scriptures you may already know, please quiet your heart and mind then simply receive God’s offer to you.  He wants you in His forever family.  Ask Him to forgive you and take you into His care for now and forever.

These scriptures may help you understand what I mean.  John 1:12-14 and I John 1:9, Romans 1:16-17, I Corinthians 15:1-7

Light Source #2:  Frequent Experiences in the Word
(Do The Book)
 Lets Do: Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.

1. When you were a child, how did parents typically respond to you and your siblings when one of you “messed up”? How would you like for them to have responded?  Did they know how to make you feel accepted even though you had failed or were different from what they expected you to be?  Even if you needed some form of discipline, did you still know you were loved and accepted despite having to be reprimanded or corrected?

2. In what ways did you then and do you now feel that you are “different from others”?  Even as a couple, how are you “different from other couples”?  Do you feel accepted?  Do you know couples, who are “different”?  How well do you accept them ….? “as is”?

3.  Let’s Do Matthew 10:40 better and better by making sure we welcome our spouse, receive him/her “as is” without making it our goal to change him/her.  Identify your spouses “differences” and even their obvious “failures” to live up to your or others standards.  Ask God to give you His heart for your spouse since He already receives him/her.  Realize that in receiving your spouse “as is”, you are receiving Jesus, and the Father who sent Him to us.  Maybe it would be a good idea to ask God to do any changing of your spouse that needs to happen.  I am not saying that we ignore the shortcomings of our spouse.  I am saying that we first speak to God and then, only if necessary, speak the truth in love to our spouse about any issue that we feel may cause a breach in the relationship.

 In the next section “Light Source #3”, you will have a chance to discuss your acceptance of each other and to talk about the Bible character you chose as your “person most in need of acceptance” from Light Source #1 above.

 Think It Through:

a.  You Belong – Do You Know It?

b.  Your Spouse Belongs – Does He/She Know It?

c.  Could God use you to help your spouse know he/she is loved…”warts and all”?  How?

Light Source #3:  Other Jesus Followers – Have Real Fellowship with Your Spouse

 Having this type of discussion may sound like a foreign language at first…because “rejoicing with those who rejoice” and “mourning with those who mourn” may be foreign to your experience.

 Help your spouse know he/she is accepted – Ask, Listen, and then Respond with Acceptance.

4a. The Question: (Please ask your spouse) -Would you tell me something that happened recently that made you feel happy, special, or fulfilled?

 As your spouse answers the question, be ready to respond to “rejoice with those who rejoice”.  Romans 12:15a

You might say something like this: “I am so glad that happened to you and am excited to celebrate with you.”

  4b. The Question: (Please ask your spouse) – Would you tell me something that happened recently that made you feel sad, disappointed, alone, or rejected?

 As your spouse answers the question, be ready to “mourn with those who mourn”.  Romans 12:15b

Mourning with our spouse leads us to respond similarly to the following: “It hurts me to see you so sad or to know you feel rejected.  I love you and want to make sure you know that I do.”

5.  Would you discuss the answers to the questions #1, #2, #3 above and continue to “know each other” and let your spouse “know you more deeply”? Would you discuss your “person who needed acceptance most” from Light Source #1.  Why did that person hit your heart or head as the most in need?  Is there any identification with your own situation or pain?