The Big Picture
God intends married couples to use money—even challenges with money, even crises with money—to grow closer together rather than it separating them.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
Facilitator's Guide for Week 1
Overview: The primary objectives for Week 1 are to begin to develop close relationships among the participants and to reinforce the study requirements.
Note: The blank space following each agenda number is for you to fill in the scheduled time for each item. For example, if your class begins at 7:00, #1 would read 7:00, #2 would read 7:05, #3 would read 7:10, and so forth. This will help you monitor the time so that the class will end punctually.
1. (5 minutes)
Open in prayer.
2. (5 minutes)
Each person recites from memory: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Use the Quizlet Memory Verse Tool
3. (5 minutes)
If you have not done so before, review with your group the class requirements found in the "Message from Howard" section.
4. (70 minutes)
Ask each person to take 5-6 minutes to introduce themselves, beginning with a facilitator. Ask them to share how they were introduced to Jesus Christ, what they do for a living and something about their family. If someone is too brief, ask questions to provide an opportunity to learn more about the participant.
5. (15 minutes)
Begin the Homework discussion.
1. What was the most helpful information you learned from reading Your Money Counts, and what are two practical principles from the book you can apply now?
Read Isaiah 55:8-9
2. Based on this passage, do you think God’s way of having a healthy marriage and handling money will differ from how most people view marriage and money? What do you think would be the greatest differences?
Note: Compass comments, bracketed in parenthesis, will follow each question. Following the Compass comments there is a space for the facilitator’s answer.
[Yes, the biggest differences are that most people leave God completely out of their marriages and their finances, but according to the Bible He plays a dominant role. God’s perspective of money and marriage is also very different.]
Read Matthew 12:25 and Matthew 19:6.
3. Do you think a married couple should be one in every area of their lives—even including their finances? Why?
[Yes, because the Lord knows that a truly healthy marriage is possible only when the husband and wife experience loving unity in every area, including their financial life.]
4. Describe how handling money has improved your marriage relationship.
5. How has it strained or even damaged your marriage?
6. What benefits do you hope to receive from participating in this study?
Read or listen to the Introduction Notes
7. What information especially interested you? How will you apply what you learned?
Play the Money and Marriage God’s Way (Week 1) DVD and answer any questions.
2. (10 minutes)
Review what to do for next week.
Complete Homework. (Remind everyone to do the homework daily.)
Complete the List Your Possessions Worksheet.
Review the calendar to determine if any regularly scheduled classes fall on a holiday. If there are any conflicts, please reschedule at this meeting.
Schedule a social.
3. (10 minutes)
Complete the Prayer Logs. Participants should have one Prayer Log for each couple, including themselves. Take prayer requests and note them in the Prayer Logs.
4. (5 minutes)
End in prayer.
Reminder: Decide which facilitator will contact the participants this week and record it on the Care Log.
Download the Care Log
Throughout this study you will be learning what God says about money and marriage and how to integrate them to enjoy an amazing marriage and healthier finances.
Here’s the big picture: God intends married couples to use money—even challenges with money, even crises with money—to bring them closer together rather than separating them. Unfortunately, many couples experience money as a wedge that divides them, but God intends money to be as glue that bonds your love for each other.
God loves and cares deeply for you. And that’s why the Bible has so much to say about money. It contains 2,350 verses dealing with money and possessions, and 15 percent of everything that Jesus Christ said had to do with it. God knows that from time-to-time money will be a struggle for all of us, and He wants to equip us to handle it well. And the Bible is equally practical when it comes to how to have a great marriage. God designed marriage to be a blessing.
God loves and cares deeply for you. And that’s why the Bible has so much to say about money.
The Bible makes these remarkable claims about itself: “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The truths in the Bible are timeless. It is a living book that communicates God’s direction to all generations.
The Psalmist wrote, “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:99, NIV). “I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts” (Psalm 119:100). When we think of people who are skilled in financial decision making and know what it takes to have a successful marriage, we often think of experts or those who are older and more experienced. Yet the Bible offers us more insight and wisdom than experts who do not know God’s way of handling money and enjoying a great marriage.
However, I need to caution you: What you learn will often seem radical and revolutionary because it’s so different from the way most couples view their marriages and their finances. But what you learn will transform your relationship and your financial statement—for the better. I can guarantee that because you will be learning what the Lord of the universe knows is best for you.
God expressed it this way in Isaiah 55:8-9: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.’
God has His ways, and they are the best ways. But they’re not always the commonly accepted ways in our culture. God has paths for us to walk, and they are very good paths. But they’re not always the paths that most people follow. God’s ways of having a terrific marriage and stable finances are very different from the way most people think and act. But they are so much higher—so much better—than most people can even imagine.
We’ll be transparent and share our journey with you—the good, the bad and even the ugly! When we were newly married, issues over money were harming our relationship. We didn't know how to communicate in an encouraging and healthy way or how to resolve financial conflicts. We didn't recognize that our backgrounds and even how our parents handled money influenced us deeply. We didn't understand that we had different financial personalities that were intended by God to balance us instead of frustrate us.
I walked into the bank to secure a loan to build a restaurant and ... there she was.
Long black hair, sky blue eyes ... beautiful in every way. From that moment—that first moment that I laid eyes on her—my life would never be the same. I knew she was the girl I wanted to marry. Amazingly, she had similar feelings for me! Thirty-nine years later, I am more thankful than ever for Bev and for the marriage God has given us.
Marriage was the first institution God created. The book of Genesis reads: The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man [Adam] to be alone; I will make a helper [Eve] suitable for him. . . . For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:18, 24).
Here’s a newsflash: God didn’t give you your spouse to frustrate you; He gave you your spouse to bless you and to complete you. He has created each of us with needs that are met by our mate’s unique personality. It’s clear to me that Bev and I complement one another; my weaknesses are her strengths. God uses marriage to provide companionship and eliminate loneliness, raise children and create relational intimacy.
Let me give you just a little Bible math here: When it comes to marriage, one plus one equals one! Jesus Christ Himself tells us this fundamental truth: “They are no longer two, but one” (Matthew 19:6). This unity is designed for every aspect of a couple’s life together: physical, emotional, spiritual, and yes, even financial.
God’s plan for marriage is fulfilled when two people, without losing their unique personalities and abilities, become one. Just as when melting two metals to form a strong alloy, this blending gives the marriage union its unique strength. Independence decreases; interdependence increases. Couples learn to improve this unity over a lifetime as they share more areas of life with each other.
Marriage is first and foremost a covenant. It is an agreement, a pledge, a promise that nothing will be allowed to invalidate the lifelong commitment spouses make to each other. The exchanging of the rings signifies that covenant. The marriage vow, “for richer or poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health” says, “I will love you no matter what.”
Do you realize how significant those last seven words are?
I will love you no matter what.
As imperfect, stumbling, fumbling, sinful human beings, no words could be sweeter than those words. That another person would endure our failures, wrong-headedness and annoying quirks, and pledge to love us and stand by us through it all, as we learn and grow together ... well, it just doesn't get any better than that.
Marital love is to be so deep that in some mysterious way it even mirrors the love Jesus Christ has for the church. “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32, NIV). The term “covenant” describes the love of Christ for the church, and it also describes marriage.
Unfortunately, many people get married with an escape hatch mentality. If their spouse is no longer attractive enough or finances are too tight, they can bail out of the marriage. We need to slam the hatch shut and give ourselves completely to the marriage God has given us.
Here is what I have discovered about making a lifelong covenant with each other: When both partners are committed to their marriage, they both focus on working things out—even in the most difficult situations.
God’s plan for marriage is fulfilled when two people, without losing their unique personalities and abilities, become one.
God desires married couples to enjoy a lifelong relationship. Jesus Himself said, “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV).
The Bible emphasizes the importance of the covenant commitment in Malachi 2:14- 16: “The Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant ... So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God” (NIV).
For years Theresa Miller carried a load of guilt and shame. And understandably so. She had divorced her husband simply because she felt he was too cheap and was unwilling to buy the new cars and expensive vacations she wanted. Later realizing her tragic mistake, she became depressed and reached out to Bev for help.
Bev told her, “To reach closure and experience healing from divorce, first be reconciled with God. Agree with God that your decision to get a divorce was wrong, and genuinely ask for His forgiveness.”
That’s where it all has to begin. Before we can truly reconcile with anyone else, we must first reconcile with our Creator and Savior. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV). What a wonderful promise! He wants to forgive you and fill you with His hope for your future.
If you have been through a divorce, the real questions are, “Can you accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness?” and, “Can you forgive yourself?” God wants your answer to be “yes” to both questions.
Some who enroll in this study are in financial difficulty or their marriage is in serious trouble. But there is hope! I know from personal experience. The reason I am passionate about others learning these principles is that they changed my life, my finances and my marriage. And I have never met anyone who needed to know them more than me.
If you've made financial mistakes in the past or damaged your marriage, do not let a sense of guilt overwhelm you; rather, learn from the experience. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal...” (Philippians 3:13-14).
It is difficult for some people to think of God as being involved in every area of our lives, because God has chosen to be invisible and operates in the unseen supernatural realm. But He is alive and real. The principles you will be learning are a gift from a loving God intended to benefit you spiritually and practically.