Monday, November 11
Theme for the week:
Disciples Forgive Outsiders

• In marriage under God, ‘two become one’ and parallel the mysterious relationship between Jesus and His bride, the church. May God be honored through marriages.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

Fulfill Your Vow to God

1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 A dream comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool.

4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.

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Pondering Point

Solomon’s words are not focused on marriage, but marital vows before God would readily apply.

Many such vows fall by the wayside, unfilled or abandoned. The point here is not to shame those who have taken or later dismissed marital vows lightly; it is to bring to mind the serious nature of such vows – from God’s perspective.

There can be multiple reasons that marital vows get abandoned – pain, rejection or fear to name a few. What causes you to withhold the promise to love, honor, and cherish, to live together as God ordains it?

There is an answer. Are you open to addressing it with God?

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If you are married, sit with God and talk about (pray) your vows regarding your spouse. If not married, discuss other vows you have made before God, such as you may have made in confirmation or an affirmation of faith. How could you re-commit or re-affirm your vows.

Tuesday, November 12
God’s Mission

Luke 20:27-40

The Resurrection and Marriage

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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Pondering Point

The Sadducees, one religious branch of the Jewish faith, were asking a question about marriage in the after-life (an after-life which they ironically didn’t believe in). Jesus points them beyond marriage to a greater relationship, one with God as Father. The husband-wife dynamic ends at death. The Father-God relationship stays with us right on through death into eternal life.

The hope of marriage is beautiful – to imagine loving someone (and being loved) through the ups and downs of life, “forsaking all others,” for a lifetime of unity. And this is truly beautiful when imagination gives way real unity in sickness and health, for better or worse. There is sweet sorrow when a death completes these vows. But even these lived-out vows find their inspiration in the love of God poured out for us in the person of Jesus. His sacrificial love sets the tone – even for marriage. Our ability to keep such promises of love to each other are based in our relationship with God through Jesus. This is why vows are made before Him – not before an altar, but before God – whether in a church, a park, a beach or some boat at sea. To forget this is to miss the greater framework of God’s love for both people in a marriage.

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Father God, help me to frame my marital relationship within the greater relationship of love that You have for me and my spouse. Let us love and forgive each other as You love and forgive us in the name of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, November 13
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

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Pondering Point

For those of you married (or dating), Peter acknowledges that mistreatment of one’s wife can be a hindrance to a husband’s prayer life. One might imagine that poor treatment by a wife might create similar results. Consider this teaching a good reminder not to bother trying to compartmentalize your spiritual life from the other parts of life.

Malachi chapter 2 brings a similar message to light, that our relationship with God is impacted by how one treats a spouse. God shares there that He sees how we interact, and that our actions serve as a testimony to our faithfulness or lack thereof.

As an aside, if you’re getting hung up on the Apostle Peter’s words about women being defined as “the weaker partner,” consider language use in Eugene Peterson’s The Message, where he speaks of women as those who lack some of the advantages of men. That has clearly been the case in many patriarchal societies.

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Father God, if my prayers are being hindered by a sinful lifestyle, please show me that I may take measures to correct them. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, November 14
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

2 Corinthians 13:7

Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

This is a very basic prayer; simple, but hardly easy: We pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. At the time, the Apostle Paul was encouraging his listeners to perform a self-examination relating to their faith and actions. For the marriage vows week, it is a deeper challenge yet. Many put on their best face in public, allowing the worst to come out at home. Let’s move into a time of self-examination and then prayerfully re-center around God and His will concerning our marriage and home life.

Review the week

What are you “doing wrong?” (Notice you are not being asked about what your spouse is doing wrong.) What would God point out? Would he mention listening, respect, kindness, impatience? What might your spouse say you are doing wrong?

Repent (if necessary)

Ask God to give you patience to listen and wisdom to discern the error of your ways. Give Him permission to search your heart and reveal areas that need attention.

Then confess your sins as necessary.

Return (as necessary)

Having humbly confessed your sins relating to your marriage, ask God to lead you in His ways for marriage, with His love, His everlasting love, setting the tone.

Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Try me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24

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[Create your own prayer for recentering yourself in Jesus' eyes.]

Friday, November 15
Discipleship Point and Prayer

Seven principles for practicing humility in your marriage:
1 Listen carefully when your spouse is giving you input.
2 Stop keeping score and stop being competitive.
3 Welcome and seek input from outside your marriage.
4 Pray together daily.
5 Apologize quickly and confess thoroughly.
6 Forgive completely.
7 Practice humility, even if your spouse does not.

pp. 94-97, Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Go through each of the seven principles in a state of prayer with God. Ask for help; Seek guidance; ponder what outside sources might help. Act as directed by the Holy Spirit.

Discipleship Point about “Storying”
in a Small Group setting?

Telling Bible stories, or storying, is one of the simplest ways to share God's Word. With a week about marriage, this is a good time to bring up sharing and listening. Most people remember stories better than mere details – both in terms of speaking and listening.

AND storying does not require one to remember all of the particulars to be effective. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of using us and His Word without direct quotes or a perfect reciting of all details.

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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, let Your word sink deep into my being, enabling me to remember and retell Your stories – and their lessons – as part of my story – and to learn about the stories of others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 16
Scripture's Story for the Week

Where else should one go for a story of marriage than the first couple, Adam and Eve? In their honor, and for sacredness of vows in marriage, here is a joke for you, a first in IMMERSION history:

When Adam stayed out late for a few nights, Eve became upset. "You´re running around with other women," she told her mate. "Eve, honey,
you´re being unreasonable," Adam responded. "You know you´re the only woman on earth."

The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by a strange pain in his side. It was Eve poking him about the torso. "What do you think you´re doing?" Adam demanded. "Counting your ribs," said Eve.

Now, enjoy and learn from this story from God's word.

Genesis 2:4-25

Man and Woman:
The First Marriage

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

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

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

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Prayer Prompt

[Insert your own prayer about your life, marriage and the lessons that were discussed this week.

If you are single and want to be married, pray to God about that.]

Sunday, November 17
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Romans 15:5-6

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alright married folks, are you ready to embrace this blessing upon your union? Just like we want our churches to glorify God with one mind and voice (don’t we?), our marriages would benefit from a similar concept: Is it OUR goal to glorify God in and through our marriage by being of one mind and voice?

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