We started last week by saying, if you want to be good at marriage, you need to be good at dating.  And if you want to be good at dating, you need to be good at being single.  So really, a good marriage starts when you are single.  To understand what the bible says about being single, we looked at 1 Corinthians 7.  Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth basically said, I wish everyone was single like me because married people tend to be distracted.  Paul even called being single a ‘gift’.

Based on Paul’s letter, we gave a real quick test to know if you are good at being single.  Question 1: Are you free from relationship drama? Question 2: Are you loving God and allowing God to love you?  Question 3: Are you enjoying life?  If you can say yes to those questions, chances are you, if you want to, you are ready to date.  Those are great questions to ask yourself if you are single or married.

Now think about this.  Who do you want to date?  If they aren’t good at being single, they aren’t ready to date.  If they have relationship drama, no they aren’t ready to date.  If they don’t love God and allow God to love them, no they aren’t ready to date.  If they can’t enjoy life, no they aren’t ready to date.  And if you don’t believe me when I say that you should only date people who are ready to date, ask everyone in this room if that’s true.

Big point here.  If you do date someone who is not ready to date, you will bring trouble into your life.  It’s like opening the door to pain and struggle and saying, “Come in and hang out with me for several years.”  And it’s important to understand, that’s not God’s fault, that’s your choice.

Today we want to talk about how to be good at dating.  And here is the problem we have.  The Bible doesn’t really talk about dating.  Nowhere in the Bible does it give us the 10 commandments on dating.  It doesn’t say, therefore, above all else, open the door for your date.  The Bible does, however, teach us about how to be spiritually healthy and how to be in healthy relationships.

So today, I’m going to talk to you like I am talking to my daughters.  And to start, I want you to imagine a puzzle.  A big 1,000-piece puzzle.  It represents your life.  When you are young, you don’t have a lot of pieces put together yet.  As you get older and more mature, you grow up and are able to put a lot of puzzle pieces together.

You go to school and learn new things.  You do homework, you study, you learn that you have to push through hard things. That’s you putting pieces of the puzzle together.  You jump into sports or music and learn how to be better at it.  You learn, team-work.  How to push for a personal best.  You go to work and you learn new things.  You learn how to deal with a boss.  You go to church and learn how to fall in love with God.  You volunteer and learn the more important things in life like empathy and compassion.  All of this activity helps you grow up.  It helps you put the pieces of your puzzle together.

As you grow up, you quickly realize, there is something missing in your life.  There seems to be a big puzzle piece missing.  So, what do we do?  We try to fill that missing piece in our life.  We all do it.  We all try different things to somehow fill that missing piece.  Here is a quick list.  Things, new things like cars, houses, clothes.  New things aren’t wrong, but we can get the from the wrong reason.  Ego, things like achievement, the people I know who are popular, people’s compliments, success and money.  Achievement, success and money are good but we can pursue them for the wrong reasons.  Power, things like titles, leadership roles, control of others.  Being a leader is great, if you lead for the right reasons.  Being a victim, things like blaming others, being lazy, complaining, gossiping.  Appetites, things like food, drinking, sex, drugs.  On and on.  We try to fill that missing piece of our soul, but nothing works.  With every attempt we make, we fail.  We still feel empty.

After we have tried and failed, we realize, we need someone to save us, to help us, to rescue us because we can’t do it.  The missing piece is God.  Scripture puts it like this.

1 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. 2 You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. 3 We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. 4 Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, 5 he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! 6 Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

7 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. 8 Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! 9 We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! 10 No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. MSG Ephesians 2:1-10

Do you see it?

Let’s jump into this scripture.

Vs 2-3 You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. 3 We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it. MSG Ephesians 2:1-10

That’s us.  We are looking for something, anything to fill that emptiness, that missing part of us.  We turn to the world and wonder, what works?  We turn to our friends in school or work, social media, music and movies, anything to fill that emptiness.  But the problem is, the world doesn’t know the first thing about living.  What the world offers looks fun.  It looks exciting.  It seems like it works for other people.  But it’s always, always disappointing.

So, we keep trying to fill that emptiness inside us with what the world offers.  We keep trying to fill that emptiness inside us with what others are doing.  As we do that, we don’t believe God is the answer.  We might go to church but we don’t fully surrender to God.  That is why we are okay disobeying God.  What happens?  We become like the world.  We do what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it.  Ultimately, we continue to fail at filling that emptiness inside us.

Here is the big point of the day.  This is the condition of most people dating. They are searching to fill that emptiness.

And they think, if I find the right person, that person will bring me joy.  And if you believe that, you couldn’t be more wrong.  How do I know?  Because everyone I know is imperfect and they will let you down.  You can’t base your joy in life on a person, only God can do that.  You are putting on your date or spouse an expectation only God can fill.

If you are dating and the person you date expects you to fill that missing piece in their soul, do you realize how needy that makes them?  It’s not romantic, it’s sad.  Do you realize their expectations on you to make them happy are way out of bounds?  They will always pull you down emotionally and it will always leave you feeling tired.  Worst off, someday when that gets old, you will want to break up but you will feel guilty if you do it.

Hear me.  If you think or if you are dating someone who thinks, I need another person to fill that missing piece in my soul, you are not ready to date.  We have some heart work to do.

I have a question for you.  Do you think, I need someone to bring me joy?

If you are married, are you disappointed in your spouse?  You got married with the idea, this person will bring me joy.  Through the years, you have expected them to bring you joy and you feel like they have come up short.  So now, and it might show up in your attitude because they didn’t meet your expectations.  And you are okay letting them know you are disappointed.  And it’s a struggle for you to celebrate them and encourage them.  What happened?  You believed what the world told you.  You need someone to fill that emptiness in your heart.  No, only God can do that.

What does the Bible say about love?

16 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. MSG 1 John 3:16-17

Do you see it?  Love isn’t what you get, it’s what you give.  Please hear me.  Some of the most disappointed people in marriage are the ones who have high expectations and at the same time, they are unable to give love.

Let’s go to verse 5.

Vs 5 He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. MSG Ephesians 2:1-10

God is that missing piece.  God is the only one who can fill that missing part of our lives.  He comes to embrace you, love you and touch your sin-dead life.  And when God breaks through with is grace and mercy you can be fully redeemed.  That grace and goodness that God pours over you then flows to those around you.

And when that happens a couple things change.

First. You believe and understand, my joy comes from God. I need God, not another person, to fill that missing piece of my soul.

Second.  You believe and understand what real love is.

4 Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.  Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, 5 doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 6 doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. MSG 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Third.  You believe and understand, nothing of this world can touch my sin-dead life and redeem it.  There is no man or woman or relationship that can do for me what only God can do.

Let’s read verse 7.

Vs 7 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. MSG Ephesians 2:1-10

To close this out today, what would I tell my girls in dating?

First, be good at being single.  No relationship drama.  Love God and allow God to love you.  Enjoy life.

Second, expect the guy to be good at being single.  He doesn’t bring relationship drama.  He loves God and allows God to love him.  He is able to enjoy life.

Third, dating is about discovering if he is overly wounded or needy or God filled and healed.  Only God can fill that emptiness inside him.  Overly wounded and needy isn’t romantic, there needs to be healing and you aren’t the one who can do that.

Fourth, dating is about discovering if the guy is able to bring his best to you.  Never believe lies like; ‘I can change him’ or ‘someday he will change and be better’ or ‘I believe God sent me to heal him.’

Fifth, dating is about synergy.  That’s when two people together, make each other better.  It’s not 1 plus 1 equals 2.  Dating synergy is when 1 plus 1 equals 5.  Together, you show empathy, you listen, you celebrate each other and it’s easy, not hard.

Lastly, watch how he treats his mother, that’s how he will probably treat his wife someday.  Guys, when you open the door to the car to let her in, see if she slides over to unlock your door or not.