Common Ground: Loving Others Despite Our Differences

A Study of Sibling Rivalries in the Bible

By Amberly Neese

In her new Bible study, Common Ground: Loving Others Despite Our Differences, author, speaker, and humorist Amberly Neese leads women in a study of sibling rivalries in Scripture so that all members of God’s family can find a safe place to come together to navigate conflict and heal relationships.

Whether it is in politics, the professional world, a party, or a pew, every person faces some kind of conflict on a daily basis. It’s not only in-person interactions that can become heated—social media is deluged with opinion-spewing, hurt feelings, and broken friendships. What we so desperately need is hope and practical tools to navigate the tumultuous waters in order to live at peace with everyone.

Book Description

Learn to live at peace with others even when you disagree by studying biblical stories of rivalries in Common Ground by Amberly Neese.

Whether it is in politics, the professional world, a party, or a pew, we face conflict every day. As discussions get more heated and social media is deluged with opinion-spewing, hurt feelings, and broken relationships, we need hope and practical tools to navigate the tumultuous waters and live at peace with everyone.

Fortunately, the Scriptures hold the key to living at peace despite our differences. In Common Ground, a four-week Bible study, Amberly Neese combines stories of sibling rivalries from the Bible with personal experience, humor, hope, and her love of God’s Word.

Stories examined from the Old and New Testaments include:

– Joseph and His Brothers: How to Combat Jealousy
– Moses, Miriam, and Aaron: How to Work Together Despite Differences
– Mary, Martha, and Lazarus: How to Appreciate the Contributions of Others
– Rachel and Leah: Having Compassion for the Plight of Others

These stories point us to peace and reconciliation in all our relationships, reassuring us that it is possible to find common ground with everyone―despite our differences.

Women will find biblical and practical help for:

– Facing conflict
– Navigating broken relationships
– Handling heated discussions (in person and on social media)
– Living at peace despite differences

Components for this four-week Bible study, each available separately, include a Study Guide with Leader Helps, and video sessions with four 20 to 25-minute segments (with closed captioning).

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My Thoughts

This study looks at sibling relationships in the bible and how each one could have been stronger if they had found Common Ground. It guides readers to look at their own relationships and see how they can grow. It would be great to read in groups!! I learned a lot from it, and it was fun and challenging. Definitely let you think outside the box!

About the Author

Amberly Neese is a speaker, humorist, and encourager with a passion for “GRINspiring” others. As a featured speaker for the Aspire Women’s Events and the main host/comedienne for Marriage Date Night, two popular Christian events that tour nationally, she enjoys touching the hearts and minds and funny bones of people all over the country. The Bible says that laughter is good medicine, and she has found it’s also like glue―helping the truths of God’s Word to “stick.” Amberly loves to remind women of the power and hope found in Scripture. Through a flair for storytelling and a love for Jesus, she candidly opens up her story alongside God’s Word to encourage others in their walk with Him.
With a master’s degree from Biola University, Amberly serves as an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University and the Master Connector for Inspiring Growth, an organization developed to equip and encourage growth in leaders and businesses. She is the author of two Bible studies, Common Ground and The Belonging Project, and one devotional, The Friendship Initiative. She and her husband, Scott, have two teenagers and live in Prescott, Arizona, where they enjoy the great outdoors, the Food Network, and all things Star Wars.

For more information, visit her website www.amberlyneese.com


Part 1 of an Interview
with Amberly Neese,
Author of Common Ground

Q: These days it seems like people argue just for the sake of arguing rather than trying to find common ground. Do you have any theories on why every topic seems to be so polarizing?

Honestly, with feelings of isolation and disconnection at an all-time high, I think people try (albeit unsuccessfully) to cling to anything that feels secure to them—at the expense of the feelings and perspectives of others.

Much like an injured animal that tries, in their pain, to bite their rescuer, when we are feeling depleted and injured, we have a tendency to hurt others and undermine community in the process.

Q: Your Common Ground Bible study focuses on four pairs of Biblical siblings as examples for living at peace with others, even when you disagree. Who are the sets of siblings, and what lessons can we learn from each?

Fortunately for us, the scriptures hold the key to living at peace despite ourdifferences in the stories of sibling rivalries in the Old and New Testaments. In Common Ground, we explore four sibling relationships and their lessons:

1. Joseph and His Brothers: How to Combat Jealousy
2. Moses, Miriam, and Aaron: How to Work Together Despite Differences
3. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus: How to Appreciate the Contributions of Others
4. Rachel and Leah: Having Compassion for the Plight of Others

Obviously, in Christ, we are called to live at peace with our brothers and sisters in the faith, so although there are direct lessons we can glean for getting along with actual family members, the scope of the study is for ALL of us in the family of God.

Q: The alternative to hashing out differences on someone’s social media post is to unfollow, unfriend, or snooze a friend for thirty days. Is that really a better solution to conflict when someone is truly a friend, not just an acquaintance?

The most loving thing we can do when we are having an issue with someone in ourlives is to practice Matthew 18 and go to the person directly. Even if that person in only an acquaintance, the most effective (and probably uncomfortable) thing is to encourage them to do what is right. I think unfollowing/unfriending/snoozing can seem peaceful, but true peace comes with truth, not avoidance.

Q: It’s easy to pick up on jealousy in our kids, but is it as easy to identify in adults? How do we maturely mend fences and overcome those feelings as grown-ups?

If we are to find common ground on the battlegrounds of our hearts, ourrelationships, and our social media accounts, we must eradicate jealousy. We must take time to reflect on the goodness of God and the high value He has placed on each of us. We must learn to celebrate the awesomeness in others. When we are willing to do that, it can help shape ourinteractions and relationships for the better.

We must be willing to take a fearless assessment of places in our hearts we might be harboring jealousy against another and confess it.

Part 2 of an Interview
with Amberly Neese,
Author of Common Ground

Q: What can we learn about Moses and his siblings about working together despite our differences?

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam grew to understand true leadership. They also understood they were stronger together. Moses was the shepherd, Aaron was the priest, and Miriam was the prophetess. Moses led the people physically, Aaron led them in the religious practices, and Miriam led them in song. Moses, Miriam, and Aaron were also not without weakness, but their teamwork has earned them a place in our hearts as leaders, pioneers, and example of people who worked hard to find common ground for God’s glory.

Q: How can we move from seeing things as a competition to appreciating the talents and contributions of others?

The first step, of course, is to decide to celebrate others. Moses and his siblings understood that asking for help, recognizing one cannot do it on his/her own, and practicing humility makes one stronger.

Moses and Aaron were both humble enough to work in tandem as the leaders of God’s people. The two brothers: God’s chosen prophet and shepherd, Moses, and God’s chosen high priest, Aaron, were not threatened by the other’s gifts. Moses was relieved when God called on Aaron to help shoulder the responsibility of speaking on behalf of God.

Throughout their ministry, together and separate, they were not afraid to let the other shine. During the long journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, Aaron often took a backseat to his brother. Aaron was not always prominent or active; he often played a supporting role.

If we can learn from their example and choose to root for the rise of others, we begin to understand our connectedness as the Body of Christ.

Q: How does looking deeper into another’s situation help us to find common ground?

Looking more deeply into the life of another allows us to practice empathy and foster connection. If we are going to find common ground with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and frankly, with ourselves, we must put aside our judgment, keep our eyes on Jesus, and stop trying to earn His attention and affection. We can focus on that which we share—the forgiveness and love of God, our need for grace, our desire to know Him more, instead of our differences.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the format of the lessons in Common Ground—what do readers do on their own, then how does coming together as a group work?

For each week of the four-week study, there are personal lessons divided into five sections, or days, which participants may choose to complete each day or all at once depending on their schedules and preferences. In the participant’s guide, there is a Group Session Guide at the end of each week’s lessons to facilitate the session. In addition to these guides, the Group Session Guide Leader Notes provide additional helps including a main objective, key scripture references, and overview for each session. There is a 20-25 minute video for each week, available for purchase, that corresponds to each week’s study.

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My name is Elizabeth. I'm a single mom raising my 2 daughters Althea and Cordelia in Kansas

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