Sermonlink Series

Relationship Reset

You’ll never WIN at life if you LOSE with people. Jesus is the relationship we need that makes all other relationships work.

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Jump to: Topic #1 | Topic #2 | Topic #3 | Topic #4 

Topic #1

If you get your relationship with Jesus right, you’ll have a shot at healthy relationships everywhere in life.

Key Points:

  • I understand who I am when I understand who Jesus is. (John 1:6-7.)
  • When my identity is secure, I don’t have to impress or fit in. (Mark 1:7.)
  • When I see me the way God sees me, it will change the way I see others. (Mark 6:20.)
Article

John the Baptist is the most unlikely relationship guru on the planet. He doesn’t have the insight of Dr. Phil or the intuition of Oprah, but that is why focusing on him is so helpful. He’s just one of us.

I Understand Who I Am When I Understand Who Jesus Is

So many of our problems have to do with identity issues. Because we don’t know who we are, we get insecure. And in our insecurity, we look for others to tell us who we are. We become a chameleon and change based upon the people we are with. We live at the mercy of other people’s opinions of us. In all these cases we live insecure and fearful lives.

The most important thing we need to understand is that Jesus is the relationship we need that makes all other relationships work. If we are going to win at relationships it beings with a strong relationship with Jesus. He is the absolute key to all other relationships. So it makes sense that a relationship reset begins with him. When you understand who Jesus is, then you will truly appreciate who you are.

John 1:6-7 (GNT) God sent his messenger, a man named John, who came to tell people about the light, so that all should hear the message and believe.

John understood who Jesus was and that he was sent by God on a mission to prepare the way for the Lord. And by understanding who Jesus was, John understood who he was. That is why our relationship with Jesus makes all other relationships work.

When My Identity Is Secure, I Don’t Have to Impress or Fit In

People make a mistake of seeking acceptance on the basis of what others think about them instead of having their identity shaped on what God thinks about them.

Mark 1:7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals.

What will you compromise to fit in with others? What are you willing to compromise in order to be a part of the group? John the Baptist wore funny clothes, lived in a desolate place, ate weird food because he was secure in his identity as a Christ follower. He didn’t have to impress or fit in because he found his security from Christ. He knew his place and was secure in his own skin. And because of his security in Christ, he was also able to humble himself in order for Jesus to increase.

When I See Me the Way God Sees Me, It Will Change the Way I See Others

Here is what is so interesting about John the Baptist. Though he strongly and forcefully preached that people needed to admit their sin, he did this out of genuine care for people. Every person matters to John, from all walks of society. No one was outside the scope of God’s love, even a corrupt, selfish, murderous King Herod Antipas.

Mark 6:20 For Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

John understood that unless Herod accepted his sin before God there was no way that God could forgive him. John didn’t see Herod as and enemy, but as another person in need of forgiveness. He literally put his life on the line to help save another person.

Sermon Resources

Listen to the Preacher’s Podcast:

Download and use any of these free PG Network resources to preach this sermon in your church. Learn more.

Sermon Slides:

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Digging Deeper Notes:

Response Song:

pursuegodnetwork.org/who-you-say-i-am/

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. What is the most difficult part about relationships for you?
  3. What do you think of the statement, “You’ll never WIN at life if you LOSE with people”?
  4. What do you think of the statement, “So many of our problems have to do with identity issues”?
  5. Read John 1:6-7. Why do you think John the Baptist was so compelled to share Christ with the world?
  6. What will it take for you to be willing to share Christ with more people?
  7. Read Mark 1:1-6. Why do you think John was so confident in who God made him to be?
  8. In the past, who have you given the power to define you? Explain.
  9. Read Mark 1:7. John was humble and was secure in who God made him to be. What gets in the way of people being who God wants them to be?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

Topic #2

Relationships aren’t a side dish, they’re actually the meat when it comes to a rich and satisfying life.

Key Points:

  • People are interested in people who are interested in them. (Mark 1:16-20.)
  • Jesus won people with an invitation to a relationship, not a religion. (Mark 2:13-15.)
  • We really win with people when we help them pursue God. (Mark 3:13-19.)
Article

We all seem to have a pretty good understanding of what bad relationships look like. Those relationships at work, or at home that you try to avoid? Boss or coworker that hijacks every meeting and claims every idea as their own. In-law who somehow turns every family meal into an altercation. Friend, who no matter what you tell them about yourself they can find a way to turn the conversation back to themselves. Have you ever wondered what good healthy relationships look like? Jesus modeled how to have healthy relationships in life. Let’s take a look at how.

People Are Interested in People Who Are Interested in Them

Jesus was interested in people and he genuinely cared about them. In fact, this is how He began his ministry. Jesus didn’t come to gain anything from anyone, he was interested in them and wanted to get to know them so that he could be in a relationship with them.

Mark 1:16-8 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Jesus knew that these men were hard-working fisherman. He had been through the area on multiple occasions getting to know them. You see Jesus stayed in their lane, he reached out to them using terminology that they were comfortable with. As fishermen, they knew that when he called them to make them fishers of men that he cared about them.

How do we begin having meaningful relationships with other people? How do we win with others?  Be interested in them! Author Dale Carnegie says it like this: “You will make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Do you want to have healthy relationships? Stop trying to be interesting and start being interested in other people. Jesus didn’t come to gain anything from anyone, he came to give.

Jesus Won People with an Invitation to a Relationship, Not a Religion

When Jesus spoke with people he didn’t say come follow my religion, he said come follow me. Jesus never made it about religion, instead, he made it about people. Jesus didn’t come and say “I want to start a church, I need 12 guys to pull this off” and He didn’t say “let’s do church, or can I talk to you about religion?” He didn’t say that, instead he said, “follow me”.

Mark 2:13-14 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus Told Him…”.

Jesus wanted relationship with people, not to win them to something, but because he genuinely cared about them. Jesus wanted to engage people in relationship, not religion. Not rules and regulations. This is very important in how we understand healthy relationships. Winning with people is about relationship, not religion. It is not our role to condemn or to judge non-Christians, it’s our role to engage and love, just as Jesus did.

We Really Win with People When We Help Them Pursue God

God gives us relationships so that we can teach others about him. He wants us to make an impact in the lives of the people that we are involved with by using us to point them to him. Isn’t it amazing to think that God has empowered us to have influence with others!

Mark 3:13-14 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach…

Jesus calls us to tell others about him, to preach the good news! However, the sad reality is that many of us don’t feel qualified to share our faith with others and we allow our fears to get in the way. But, God has given each of us a special gift to use to point people to Jesus. You see God has already empowered you! It might be serving others, giving to the church, teaching or mentoring. God wants to use you to reach others in your family, work relationships, the church, and others. What is God calling you to do so that he can do something in others?

Bonus Video

Sermon Resources

Download and use any of these free PG Network resources to preach this sermon in your church. Learn more.

Sermon Slides:

Sermon Handout:

Sermon Manuscripts:

Digging Deeper Notes:

Response Song:

pursuegodnetwork.org/reckless-love/

Sermon Segment Videos:

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Describe an unhealthy relationship you’ve been in. What made it unhealthy? Explain.
  3. Describe a relationship you’ve been in that was healthy. What made it healthy.? Explain.
  4. Is it easy or difficult for you to care about others? Explain.
  5. Why are we interested in those who are interested in us? Explain.
  6. Read Mark 1:16-8. What did Jesus mean by making them “fishers of men”? Why do you think he used “fishing” language?
  7. Read Mark 2:13-15. What do you think about Jesus spending time with sinners?
  8. Read Romans 12:4-8. God has given each of us a special gift to reach others. Are some gifts better than others? Explain.
  9. What do you think your spiritual gifts are? Do you feel like you are using them in your relationships? Explain.
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

Topic #3

Conflict can do much good when we go about it in the right way and for the right outcome.

Key Points:

  • Work hard to understand the other person. (Mark 7:5-6.)
  • Engage conflict as an act of love. (Mark 7:13.)
  • Focus on how you do conflict, not on how others respond. (Matt 15:12.)
  • Seek not to win an argument, but to win a heart. (Mark 7:14.)

See Also: Sermon Series

Article

One aspect of relationships that most of us need to reset is how we handle conflict. Conflict handled poorly can be very destructive. But when we deal with conflict the right way – as modeled by Jesus – it can actually be beneficial.

Work Hard to Understand the Other Person

Jesus was dragged into conflict with the religious leaders of his day. They routinely challenged and undermined him. One day, they complained that Jesus wasn’t teaching his followers to observe all the traditional religious rituals.

Mark 7:5-6 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’”

Jesus confronted them pretty aggressively. But he could do that because he knew their hearts. We don’t have that same advantage, so before we respond to conflict, we need to ensure we do everything we can to understand the situation. Often, conflict goes bad because we make wrong assumptions about the other person’s motives or thoughts. It’s better to approach conflict with humility, admitting that we may not have all the facts or may not be reading the situation correctly.

Engage Conflict as an Act of Love

Conflict makes most of us uncomfortable, so we avoid it. We even think we’re being loving by not speaking up. Jesus did not avoid his conflict with the religious leaders.

Mark 7:13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.

Jesus wasn’t just trying to win an argument. He actually cared about these people. They were sadly self-deceived about their relationship with God. And he also cared about the people they were influencing.

Focus on How You Do Conflict, Not How Others Respond

Often we assume that the goal of conflict is to get the other person to respond in the way we want. But we don’t have any control over how others respond. Our goal should be to do the right thing, the right way – trusting God with the outcome. The religious leaders didn’t respond to Jesus the way he hoped.

Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”  

Sometimes people will be offended by what we say. That’s not always bad. The truth may hurt, but facing reality can be exactly what helps a person most. Don’t be put off if people are offended. Just make sure the cause of the offense is not your attitude or how you spoke.

Seek Not to Win an Argument, but to Win a Heart

What separates legalistic religion from the gospel is that legalism is about changing outward behavior while the gospel is about winning the heart. Jesus concluded the whole exchange with the religious leaders by pointing to heart issues.

Mark 7:14-15, 21-22 Then Jesus called the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”…For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.”  

Jesus pointed out that the real problem is not some external ritual, but a person’s heart condition. So in a conflict, the goal is not just to change someone’s behavior. We want to confront the right way, with grace and truth. And we want to confront for the right outcome, to see a change of heart.

It might seem like Jesus burned his bridges by how he challenged the religious leaders. But after Jesus ascended into heaven, as the young church grew, many of the religious leaders became followers of Christ (Acts 6:7). Conflict is often the long game. It’s investing in someone. Conflict done right says, “I want something FOR you, not just FROM you.” God can use a hard conversation to change a heart.

Bonus Video

Talk about this at Flextalk.org.

Sermon Resources

Download and use any of these free PG Network resources to preach this sermon in your church. Learn more.

Sermon Slides:

Sermon Handout:

Sermon Manuscripts:

Response Song:

pursuegodnetwork.org/my-heart-is-yours/

Sermon Segment Videos:

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. When it comes to conflict, are you more of a hedgehog or a bull? Explain.
  3. Talk about a conflict you experienced that went well. What happened?
  4. Read Mark 7:5-6. How do you think Jesus know the hearts of his critics well enough to speak so boldly to them?
  5. What are some steps we can take to truly understand a tense situation – and the people involved – before we jump in?
  6. How can you tell whether or not you’re handling conflict with love?
  7. Read Matthew 15:12. Should you be concerned with how others respond to you in conflict? Explain.
  8. Read Proverbs 27:6. Why is it not always a bad thing when others get offended?
  9. Read Mark 7:14-23. What was the real issue in Jesus’s conflict with the religious leaders? How do Jesus’s words help us understand the desired outcome of conflict?
  10. “Conflict, done right, is an investment in others.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

Topic #4

“Love hurts” isn’t just a sappy line from pop music. Healthy relationships require self-sacrifice. This is what God does for us and what he calls us to do for others.

Key Points

  • Loving others means exposing yourself to hurt. (Mark 8:31-33.)
  • Giving up your plans leads to God’s best in your relationships. (Mark 8:32-33.)
  • Self-sacrifice gives you what you really want. (Mark 8:34-37.)

See Also: Sermon Series

Article

If you’ve ever been on a sports team that won the big game or finished in first place in some contest, then you know the joy of winning. Most of the time, winning feels great. But that’s not always true in relationships. When it comes to relationships, winning can often feel like losing. Winning in relationships and loving people well can be very costly. This was true for Jesus and it’s true for us today.

Loving Others Means Exposing Yourself to Hurt

If you love someone, you are putting your heart on the line. You are exposing yourself to worry, heartache and pain. You love your kids, but you have to let them grow up. You love your best friend, but you have to let them move away. Or worse, a person you love may hurt you, betray you or let you down. If you stop loving people, your heart will never be broken, but you’ll also live without love. Pain is an inevitable part of loving others.

Jesus understood how loving people would be particularly costly for him.

Mark 8:31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected…He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.

In order for Jesus to fulfill God’s plan, he would have to suffer. He would be arrested and killed on the cross. Yet, this was the only way to save people from their sins. Love cost Jesus his life.

Giving Up Your Plans Leads to God’s Best in Your Relationships

Jesus spoke these words about his future to his disciples. His disciples were stunned by what he said and couldn’t accept it. Peter, one of Jesus’s closest friends, actually reprimanded Jesus for what he had said. Peter couldn’t believe that God’s Messiah would have to suffer and die. He thought he knew better than Jesus.

Peter committed the same mistake that just about every human commits. We hear God’s plan and don’t like it, so we offer our own plan in its place. Yet, we will only experience success in our relationships with God and others when we follow God’s plans. If we surrender to God’s will for our relationships, we will start to ask some different questions: How can I best serve my spouse instead of serving myself? How can I best lead my kids instead of indulging my hobbies? How can I best care for my co-workers or employees instead of just getting a job done?

Self-Sacrifice Gives You What You Really Want

After hearing Peter’s rebuke, Jesus actually intensified his words to his disciples.  

Mark 8:34-35 If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.

Jesus carried his cross and died for the sins of the world. That’s a unique calling and it belongs to Jesus alone. However, each of his followers is also called to carry their cross. Jesus calls his people to a life of self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice means to give up your own interests or wishes to help others. This is not an easy step to take. But in God’s economy, a life of self-sacrifice gives you what you really want. It leads to a better relationship with God and others.

Self-sacrifice leads to better relationships with others because everyone is looking for a friend who cares more about the needs of others than their own. This type of friend is more valuable than gold. This type of love may feel like losing at times: constantly forgiving, humbling yourself, setting aside your own agenda. But this leads to the best kinds of relationships.

Bonus Video

Talk about this at pursueGOD.org.

Sermon Resources

Download and use any of these free PG Network resources to preach this sermon in your church. Learn more.

Sermon Slides:

Sermon Handout:

Sermon Manuscripts:

Digging Deeper Notes:

Response Song:

pursuegodnetwork.org/how-deep-the-fathers-love-for-us/

Sermon Segment Videos: 

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Have you ever won an argument but lost in a relationship? Explain.
  3. Give an example of how loving someone caused hurt them. Why is it that we often hurt the people we love most in life?
  4. Read Mark 8:31. What did Jesus’s love for people cost him? What does this teach us about Jesus?
  5. Read Mark 8:32-33. Why did Peter want to correct Jesus? What was Peter’s fundamental mistake?
  6. Have you ever tried to convince God to follow your plan instead of you following his plan? What happened?
  7. Read Mark 8:34-35. What did Jesus mean when he told his followers that they must “carry their cross”?
  8. What are some practical ways that you can carry your cross?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.