Questions About Eternity

Scripture Passage: Matthew 19:16-29

We all have questions about eternity. John Piper, a Christian pastor and author, said, “Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective.” Jesus had an encounter with a man who had questions about eternity. We can glean three important things from this encounter.

First: Everyone Has an Important Question
The writer of Ecclesiastes (3:11) said that God has put eternity into the heart of man. There is something in us that longs for answers about eternity. The young man who approached Jesus wanted to know what parts of the law he needed to keep in order to gain eternal life. He felt confident that he had kept the commandments and asked what more he needed to do.

• What questions do you have about heaven?

Second: Everyone Has an Idol
Jesus challenged the young man to sell his belongings and give the proceeds to the poor — and then, most important, to leave everything behind and follow Him. Jesus made it clear that following Him would cost the man everything. He needed to trust in Jesus rather than in His wealth. We must examine our own lives to determine if there is anything that we have placed ahead of Jesus.

• Is there an idol in your life that is vying for your attention? If so, what steps do you need to take to sell all you have and follow Jesus wholeheartedly?

Sadly, the young man went away grieving because he had many possessions. The cost of following Jesus was too high for him.

Third: Everyone Has a Savior
After the young man departed, the disciples, astonished at what they had just witnessed, asked Jesus an important question: “Then who can be saved?” (Matt. 19:25). Jesus pointed out that salvation is impossible without God. The young man in the story wanted to be righteous but he did not want a relationship. By asking the young man to sell his goods, Jesus was forcing him to examine his own heart and determine his priorities.

• To whom or to what are you looking to for salvation? Is there anything in your life that keeps you from trusting or following Jesus wholeheartedly?

The Value of Brotherhood | Sisterhood

Scripture Passage: Luke 10:1-12; 17-20

We are now half way through 2020 — a year which, to many, feels like the worst year in recent memory. Yet, as we celebrate our country’s independence this weekend, it is helpful to remember there have always been challenging seasons in our history.

The year 1776 was so difficult it prompted Thomas Paine to pen the famous statement “these are the times that try men’s souls…” What are we to do in times of such difficulty?

Consider the gift of Brotherhood/Sisterhood. Brotherhood/Sisterhood can be defined in this way:

A deep, mutual bond between Christians that is joyfully expressed in service and sacrifice for each other’s good and for God’s glory.

This is important, especially in these times in which we are trying to “keep our distance.” It can be very tempting to withdraw into isolation. However, alone is dangerous. That is why sharing a brotherhood/sisterhood type of bond with our brothers and sisters in Christ can help us survive and even thrive in challenging times.

There are two key aspects of our brotherhood/sisterhood that are particularly important

1. Shared Risk
We were never meant to withstand the pressures and risks of life by ourselves. Challenges, fears, anxieties, and other concerns can be overcome when we lock arms with our brothers and sisters. There is a unique and powerful bond we experience when we engage in life with others at our side. There is something truly powerful in knowing you are with others who are committed to your well-being.

John 15:13: No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

Prov 17:17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

2. Shared Reward
Brotherhood/Sisterhood is more than way to cope with the challenges of life. It’s more than accomplishing a goal or winning a battle together. The relationship we experience with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ is the ultimate reward. If we look back, we may look fondly on events or accomplishments, but more than anything we should consider the value of the relationships we have developed.

The Marines have a wonderful motto that summarizes this beautifully:
Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infintas — which translated means: Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever!

In this life we will be often tested, but as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we experience an incredible reward of being brother and sisters, faithful and forever.

Think About It | Talk About It

Are you as smart as a Marine?  What is the English translation to these Latin terms?

• Saepius Exertus

• Semper Fidelis

• Frater Infintas

• Are you experiencing the gift of brotherhood/sisterhood?  If not, what may be keeping you from reaching out to others?

• If you are experiencing the gift of brotherhood/sisterhood, talk about some experiences you have had and express your gratitude to God.

• If you are feeling isolated, what are some ways you might begin to initiate connection with others? Pray that God might put on your heart a person or group who you might connect with. Examples could be:

∗ A trusted friend
∗ People in your community group.
∗ If you do not have a community group, you could start here: About Community Groups
Men of Kingsland
Kingsland Women

Interacting With A Secular Culture

Scripture Passage:  Matthew 14:1-12

Every Christ follower should be prepared to stand for truth regardless of the cost because of three unavoidable facts about the tension between Christianity and Culture:

1. The Truth Hurts

When people are living in rebellion, we shouldn’t be surprised when they push back. We should absolutely expect the world to have an aversion to the truth. We should, however, influence the world with the truth of God when we can. This is what John did in this passage at tremendous risk. You too can demonstrate a life changed by Christ, speak the truth in love, seek to influence your culture, and also carry the message of the Good News to people who don’t know.

The Scriptures give us some reminders about how to speak the truth in love:

• We are called to be civil. Read1 Peter 2:17.

• We are called to be faithful. Read Acts 5:27-29.

2. Power Exposes

Some people incorrectly assume that all people in power are corrupt. That’s not true. Power exposes real character.  It shows up before there’s influence, but it’s exposed when influence increases. Why? Because conflict increases, problems increase, challenges increase, and as a result character is exposed. In an imperfect world, there are going to be leaders who succumb to the pressure to abuse power and abuse privilege. And when they do, we must not back down.  John spoke the truth. We must do the same.

3. Jesus Wins

We never have to panic – as if we’re on the verge of the church’s demise! There is no panic button in Heaven. Author, theologian, and philosopher Dr. Jim Denison has said he believes our culture is more like the first century culture in which the Church was born than any century since. We have a lot of the same challenges!

However, let’s remember what else happened in the First Century. The Church of Jesus grew faster than it ever has in history. And that could happen again! There is perhaps no greater opportunity in our lifetime to share the good news of Jesus! There’s no reason for us to be in panic mode. We simply stand on the truth! We have the privilege of engaging the culture in amazing ways.

Discussion Questions:

• Is your family prepared to interact with the secular culture on biblical issues?

• How are you going to sustain what you believe in when you are surrounded by those who disagree?

• When have you spoken the truth and received push back?

• How can you grow in the area of speaking the truth in love?

• Like John, are you willing to stand for truth no matter what the cost?

• Do you find yourself carrying a huge burden by trying to please everyone?

• Why is it important to establish boundaries and convictions now rather than later?

• Read John 16:33 and allow it to encourage your family to remember in any situation or circumstance that Jesus Wins!

Three Keys to Restoration

Encounters With Jesus Final_Encoutners w Jesus Wide

Scripture Passage: Matthew 11

  1. Be bold enough to ask.
    Verse 1-3. When we encounter hard situations or are struggling, it’s important to be bold enough to ask. John in this passage probably thought the plan was going different than he expected or thought it would. John is doubting but deals with it the right way by bringing his doubts directly to Jesus.
  1. Be wise enough to know.
    Wisdom focuses on knowledge rather than emotion. Emotions can easily deceive you. In verses 4-6, Jesus is quoting Old Testament prophecy and redirects back to truth.
  1. Be tender enough to accept.
    In this passage, Jesus reminds John how he sees him. It’s important to be tender enough to accept both how God truly sees us as well as believe God is who He says he is.

Discussion:

  • What stood out to you most from the message this morning?
  • How do you relate to John in this passage?
  • Is there Scripture truth you need to cling to this morning? What passage comes to mind?
  • In what areas of your life do you need to take your doubt, struggles or unbelief to God? Be bold and do so!

In those situations, what is the truth about how God sees you? What is the truth about who God is? Seek wisdom and truth.

Pathway to Restoration

Scripture Passage: 2 Chronicles 7:14

Fun Fact: King David provided 100,000 talents (3,750 tons) of gold and 1,000,000 talents (37,500 tons) of silver for the “house of the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 22:14) How much is that?
Gold: 296 million quarter pounders or the weight of 1071 elephants.
Silver: 30 million quarter pounders or the weight of 10,714 elephants.
Value in US Dollars: $58 billion
If $1 bills where stacked, it would reach 3,938 miles high!

Read: 2 Chronicles 2:12-16
How did God answer Solomon’s prayer? What did He say?

Read: 2 Chronicles 7:14
Discuss as a family the concept of revivals. If you are unfamiliar, ask a grandparent.
Define revival from the concepts of this passage. Think in terms of the word “restoration.”
What does restoration mean?

Three Steps along the Pathway to Restoration

1. It’s Not Them, It’s Us — “If My people”
Who are “My people”?
Read 1 Peter 4:17
Who is God looking to start the restoration process?
What does God desire to see in His people?
Discuss the meaning of repentance

2. It’s Not power, but Dependence — “humble yourselves”
What does it mean to humble yourself?
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4: pray for our nations and our leaders
What does it mean to seek His face?
While traveling, have you ever taken the wrong “way”? Ever asked Waze for help?
What does turning from the wrong way mean to you?

3. It’s Not Reform, but Healing
What does our text say that God will do when we humble ourselves, seek Him, pray and repent?
What is the difference between reform and heal?

A Faith Encounter

Scripture Passage: Matthew 15:21-28

Every believer can grow in compassion for others (especially those not of our faith) by observing two ways Jesus expands the disciples understanding in His encounter with the Canaanite woman.

Jesus expanded the disciples’ compassion by crossing borders and dealing with their hearts.
We need to be willing to cross our borders and step into unknown territory for the sake of the Gospel. We are to see all people as they are: with worth and value in the eyes of a merciful God. We need to engage others with compassion!

Jesus expanded the disciples’ faith.
Jesus was sent to all — and all are welcome at His table by faith. We need to hear each other’s stories about the day we realized we needed to humbly come before the Savior and ask for help, for forgiveness, for mercy. May we never think Jesus has crumbs for us, but a feast at His table!

Discussion Questions

• Do you see people as an inconvenience or a nuisance? Why or why not? How can you change your perspective to be more like Jesus’?  

• You need to tell your faith story! Parents, tell your kids how Jesus saved you by faith and how you were a mess like the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus. Tell your brothers and sisters in the church to emphasize the power of faith. Tell your neighbors and co-workers and classmates if they will allow you.  

• Ask someone to share their story with you. Ask your brothers and sisters in Christ who are different from you, to tell you theirs.  

Jesus’ Encounter with Demons

Scripture Passage:  Matthew 8:28-34

Spiritual Warfare is a normal part of life as believers. As God’s children, we do not need to be afraid of Satan and his demons. The enemy is completely defeated by Jesus and as God’s children He gave us victory over the enemy. However, we do need to identify how the enemy works in our lives and how to fight spiritual battles.

1. The Enemy’s Strategy
The enemy can’t get to God so his target is God’s children. The enemy attacks us in a variety of ways that are often subtle. The enemy lies to us about God, ourselves and others so that he can steal our joy, keep us from connecting to God in prayer and cause division in our relationships.

2. The Christian’s Victory
As believers, we’ve been set free from the power of the enemy through Christ. The way we overcome the daily attacks of the enemy is through prayer!

A. Recognize how the enemy is working all around us.
Ask God to give you discernment to help you see when and how the enemy is lying to you and attacking you and your family.

B. Invite the Holy Spirit to fully possess you and lead you.
As Believers, the Holy Spirit was given to us at the time of salvation. Ask the Spirit to help you and empower you daily.

C. Claim the victory in Jesus that is yours.
Remember that Jesus gave his life on the cross for you so that you can live in victory. Jesus defeated the enemy for you because He loves you. When you feel attacked by the enemy, invite Jesus into the situation and He will give you victory.

Discussion:
What are some ways the enemy attacks you to keep you from praying? 

How does the enemy attack your relationships with others to create division? 

Where in your life do you struggle and you need God to give you victory? 

Prayer:
God, thank you for the victory you gave me through Jesus. Thank you for setting me free from the power of the enemy. Help me to have discernment to quickly recognize how the enemy is working in my life. Expose his lies. Empower me by your Spirit to pray and stand firm daily in your victory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Note: Please visit our Freedom From Fear page for helpful resources.

Secrets of the Second Mile

Scripture Passage: Matthew 5:38-41
Roman Soldiers had a custom that they could force regular citizens to carry their load for one mile. Jesus challenged His followers to voluntarily go the second mile. There are two reasons the second mile is such an important journey.

1. A Journey from Obligation to Opportunity

The second mile has a different attitude. When you are doing something of your own accord and not by requirement, you are taking control of the situation. The second mile is our opportunity to rise above. The first mile is the slave mile. The second mile is the smile mile. If you go the first mile and that’s all, then you’re going to hate it every step of the way.


2. A Journey from Annoyance to Appointment

When we walk the second mile, it allows us an opportunity to get to know someone and share Jesus with them. People will notice your second mile attitude and be receptive to you.

Jesus went beyond the second mile by giving His life as a ransom for us.

Think About It | Talk About It

• Are you living your life as a “Second Mile Christian”?

• What is a situation in your life where you could go the second mile? What is stopping you?

• Can you  think of someone that has gone that second mile for you? How did that change you?

The Essentials of Powerful Prayer 

Scripture Passage: Matthew 8:5-10

God is calling His people to an important role: helping people pray through real concerns about the future, about the challenges we have ahead. The story of the Centurion illustrates how to ask things of God by faith. When you realize how God’s power works in our prayer lives, it transforms the way we pray.

There are three basic factors of a powerful prayer.

The first factor is: The source of my faith (Matt.8:5-8)
Faith is believing God will do what He says He will do. The Centurion’s great faith came from his understanding of who he was counting on. He received a miracle because he came to Jesus. Christ must be the source and person in whom we rest our faith. Jesus has come to redeem our spiritual authority to walk by faith and claim God’s promises.

The second factor is: The submission of my will (Matt.8:8-9)
If you are in Christ, He has given you all the power you need to overcome the enemy’s attempts to destroy you. You can ask according to the power he has given you. Any authority you have in Christ through prayer comes from being under the authority of Jesus. When you submit your will to the Father in prayer, He chooses to answer. Unless you submit to the authority of Christ in your life, you are not going to be able to live by faith.

And finally, The Size of my God (Matt.8:9-10)
It was clear that the Centurion knew about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He knew that Messiah was coming. And He knew that Messiah had power. The Centurion demonstrates great faith by recognizing the way in which Jesus’ authority could extend to him. The more you know of God, the more you’ll ask of Him. The more you know of God, the more you’ll know what to ask!

When Jesus came, he redeemed us and restored the authority God had given us under Him. You have been given a greater power to bring God’s power into any situation in which you dwell. You can anticipate God working in all areas in your life. You have the freedom to pray to God for your heart, your home, your Church, and beyond. You have the power of prayer available because God is faithful and He is at work.

Think About It | Talk About It

• Why does knowing the source of our faith matter? 

• Why is so important to be obedient to Jesus authority? 

• Where can you anticipate God’s working through prayer? 

• Why does it matter to know God’s power is available in your prayer life? 

Happy Mother’s Day

Scripture Passage: Luke 10:38-42

Many of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha — praising Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet while chastising Martha for staying busy. However, Jesus is really speaking about priorities and how life changes once we live with intentionality because of those priorities. It is possible to preserve the most lasting things of life by recognizing three key lessons that Jesus taught Martha.

1. You can’t have it all.
God has a calling for each and every person’s life. This calling is not to be in every sport, play every instrument, take every work opportunity, and make yourself as busy as possible trying to be successful. God has a plan for your life, and He will call you to those things that are best for you.

2. Your Yes’s Define You.
The way that you act shows your real priorities regardless of what you say. Martha loved Jesus, but she had too many things she was trying to prioritize at once while Mary prioritized learning from Jesus and being under His authority.

Mary realized that their time together was short and knew she needed to put Jesus at the forefront. This does not mean that moving forward in action is wrong, but it means that there is an order to things and that sitting at Jesus’ feet must be at the top.

3. Only One Thing Matters.
In Christ, we can rest and know that we do not have to be busy to be loved or known by Jesus. We can see that He is always enough for us and He will guide us. We do not need to strive. We can rest and allow Him to be in control.

Talk About It 

• Do you feel like busyness has become a goal or even a status symbol in your life? 

• Why is it difficult to step back from our hurried schedules and minimize so that we might live intentionally?  

• Jesus is not saying that we should be inert but that we should prioritize Him. How can you begin your day sitting at His feet, allowing that to permeate the rest of your day? 

• During this season we have had to say “no” to so many things. What are the things that you could continue to say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to Jesus? 

• Why do you feel the need to control your life? Why is it so painful to surrender and allow Jesus to be our authority?