Overcoming Fear

Scripture Passage: 1 John 4:16-18

God doesn’t call us to live in a state of fear. He doesn’t want us to be anxious or oblivious. Instead, He’s called us to be confident and bold!

Three ways we can overcome a life of fear and gain confidence in God’s promises:

1. We Overcome Fear Through the Promise of His Presence
God will never leave you on your own. God will never leave you nor forsake you. That’s good news. Your Heavenly Father is with you right now as you read this.

2. We Overcome Fear Through the Promise of His Provision
God’s love is made complete (literally, brought to maturity), and: ‘because as he is, so also are we in this world (verse 17).’ Because as God is, so are you. You are His family. What belongs to Jesus now belongs to you.

We encourage you to read through these passages on your own or with your family and be reminded that what belongs to Jesus, now belongs to us.

His sorrow is now our sorrow. Phil 3:10
His concerns are now our concerns. Mt. 25:40
His enemies are now our enemies. Jn 15:18
His wisdom is now our wisdom. Jn 16:12
His purpose is now our purpose. Jn 20:21
His authority is now our authority! Mt. 28:18
His future is now our future! Col 3:4
His joy is now our joy. Jn 15:11

3. We Overcome Fear Through the Promise of His Love
“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love” (vs. 18). God’s love surrounds all our troubles and fears. God’s love is what allows us to boldly and confidently come before Him. We certainly will face troubles in this world, but praise be to God who allows us to draw near to Him and experience His ultimate grace, forgiveness and confidence.

Discussion Questions:
• What about today’s sermon touched you?

• What are some of your fears right now?

• How does God’s presence help you overcome fear?

• Is there any area of your life where you’re not believing God for His provision?

• What Scripture passages from today’s message speak to you the most?

Thank God for His great love for you. Rest in God’s presence, provision and promise of love today.

Red Flags in Relationships

Scripture Passage: 1 John 3:10-18

Today’s passage offers practical advice on how we can cultivate healthy relationships in our lives. This passage also cautions us to watch for how others might be engaged in unhealthy relationship with us.

Red Flags in Relationships

1. When I’m disconnected from God | 1 John 3:10
You can focus on yourself or you can focus on God. The very nature of our faith draws us into relationship. It compels us to love one another because of how God has loved us.
As you move closer to God, you move closer in relationship with others.

2. When I see others as competition | 1 John 3:11-12
Biblical competition is about building up whereas my natural instinct is to eliminate the competition.

• Are you a life-giver or a life-taker?

• One of our habits is to bless. Do you let others know every week, every day that God loves them, that you invest in them?

3. When I settle for words | 1 John 3:13-16
You need to back up your words with actions. My natural instinct is to show reciprocal kindness—you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. But my supernatural instinct is to show sacrificial kindness—not worried about what I’ll receive in return.

John talks about agape love which is selfless and kind. Loving is not what you get out of a relationship but what you give.

Discussion Questions

• Am I in healthy relationships with other people? Do my relationships reflect the love of the Father or reflect red flags?

• Have I been loving others in the same way that God loves me?

• Have I received the extraordinary gift of love that God has offered me?

Joy Restored Through Obedience

Scripture Passage: 1 John 2:1-6

We have a shortage of joy in our world. We too often pursue the wrong things in our efforts to have our joy restored. According to the Scriptures, our joy can be restored through obedience. We can experience a deeper sense of joy by recognizing a few counter-cultural Insights on obedience found in 1 John 2:1-6.

1. Joyful Obedience is Rooted in Love
In Christianity, God has said, “I love you so I will save you. Now you obey.” The greatest motivator is doing something because you want to and not because you have to.

• Do you obey God because you want to or because you have to? Is your obedience a joyful response to the goodness of God?

2. Joyful Obedience is Grounded in Knowledge, Not Emotions
Obedience, by nature, is beyond your own emotions. Writer Tim Keller observed, “Obedience is the same thing as discipline. Obedience is a willingness to have your will crossed.”

• Are you willing to choose what God wants instead of what you want? Are you willing to go beyond your own will to embrace His will?

3. Joyful Obedience is a Reminder of My Salvation
Can someone be involved in sin and be saved? Sure! John reminds us that when we do sin God is there for us.

Christian apologist Norm Geisler explains: “If a pig and a lamb fall in the mud, the pig wants to stay there, but the lamb wants to get out. Both a believer and an unbeliever can fall into to the same sin, but a believer cannot stay in it and feel comfortable.”

• Obedience is our ultimate opportunity to express our devotion to our Heavenly Father. What steps can you take to more consistently express your gratitude to God through obedience?

4. Joyful Obedience Moves Toward the Good

The word “remain” (1 John 2:6) is the idea of staying with the Lord — walking by His side. The idea is movement toward God – not that you’re just running away from other stuff. The best way to avoid unwanted decisions and habits is to consistently move in God’s direction and to honor Him through obedience.

You can strive to be able to say “I’m accepted by God because I obey,” and you will always fall short. Or you can say, “I obey because I’m accepted,” and you will seek to honor him out of gratitude.

• Take a moment to thank God for accepting you and determine to draw nearer to Him.

Joy Restored

Scripture Passage: 1 John 1:4-9

John wrote this letter “so that our joy may be complete.” In order to have the fullness of joy God wants for us as believers, we must confess our sin. There is a difference between admitting sin and confessing sin. To confess means we agree with God about the sin.

Following are some points to help us with confession.

A. We are to confess sin continually. The word is in the present tense, meaning we make a continual habit of it.

B. We are to confess sin completely. In order to agree with God about sin, we must be specific about what the sin is in our lives. As we ask God to reveal sin, He brings it into the light.

C. We are to confess sin confidently. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive our sins” I john 1:9. There is no sin God isn’t able to forgive.

The Gospel produces two things simultaneously in us: humility and confidence. We are worse than we think, but God is better that we’d hoped.

Discussion Starters:
• Do you ask God to convict you of sinful areas in your life? Why or why not?

• Is there any sin you are still feeling guilty for even after confession? What should you do?

• Is it better to confess sins all throughout the day as you notice them, or save them for your quiet time?

My Mission | My Home

Scripture Passage: Ephesians 5:15-17

One of the greatest challenges of life today is focusing on the most important priorities we have.

• Does my life match my priorities?

• What do I need to say no to?

• What do I need to say yes to?

Kingsland’s theme for the year: My Mission, My Home

As a church, we are committed to reaching 10,000 homes — which includes our respective homes. Here is an easy way to remember how to reach your own home and to equip your family to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ, one home at a time.

H = Hold to the Habits
Rest, Bless, Gather, Go

O = Own the Table
5 meaningful meals a week.

M = Mark the Milestones
Celebrate the spiritual markers in your life.

E = Engage Beyond the Home
Be the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world.

Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 25:15).

• Are you willing, like Joshua, to consecrate your own home for the work of the Gospel?

That’s a decision every person—and every household has the opportunity to make. Do not make the decision out of a sense of guilt or coercion, but out of an overflowing anticipation of what God has in store for those whose homes are consecrated to Him.

Discussion Questions

• Do you know what God has called you to do?

• Have you determined what it will take to live according to that calling?

• What do you need to say no to? What do you need to say yes to?

Called to Hospitality

Scripture Passage: Luke 14:12-14

1. Hospitality is an Act of Generosity (v.12)

Hospitality is one of the ways we practice the spiritual discipline of giving. God calls us to share the gift of hospitality to those outside our normal circle of friends by opening our hearts and lives to others.

2. Hospitality is an Act of Reconciliation (v.13-14)

God uses Hospitality to tear down the barriers between people leading to reconciliation.

God uses Hospitality to reconcile people to Him who may be far from Him.

3. Hospitality is an Act of Compassion (v.13-14)

Hospitality is reaching out to the lost, the hurting, and those in need of God’s blessings. We can help others feel welcome when we open our hearts to them and extend God’s blessings.

Discuss and pray about making the following ways of sharing hospitality a part of your lives:

A. Invite a neighbor/acquaintance into your home to get to know them.
B. Connect more intently and deeply with those in your life.
C. Open your home to a Community Group.
D. Volunteer to help on Sunday mornings.
E. Share one meal per week with someone outside your comfort zone.

What Did You Learn This Year? 

Scripture Passage: 2 Timothy 3:14

Near the end of his life, Paul was confined to a Roman prison cell with little hope of release. That imprisonment was the occasion for Paul’s final letter to Timothy, his young protégé, in which he gave him some final words of advice. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in what he had learned.

• What has God taught you this year?

As a church, there are three important lessons that we learned corporately this year.

1. Our circumstances do not define us.

Many of us learned some valuable lessons as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. One of our members remarked, “I have learned that I am not a hurricane victim. That is not my identity. These events will not define me or my family.”

The story of God’s people is always a story of God’s hope prevailing in spite of tough circumstances. God has chosen to use broken people in broken circumstances for His perfect good.

• What circumstances did you face this year that caused you to more strongly cling to hope in God?

2. God has a plan for us.

Paul defined his life as a fight and a race — but he did not always know his next opponent or where the course of his race would take him. What he did know, however, was that God had a plan for his life and he only needed to have hope in the Author of that plan.

• In what ways have you seen God’s plan for your life unfold over this past year?

3. We need us.

We get a glimpse of Paul’s loneliness in his letter to Timothy. He appealed to his young friend, “Make every effort to come to me soon … and then again, make every effort to come before winter.”

The Scripture is clear about the fact that we need one another. Doing life alone is dangerous.

Take a moment to thank God for all of those who were there for you this year in your moments of need. Determine to be there for others in the coming year.

Mary’s Surrender

Scripture Passage: Luke 1:38

“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Has God ever asked you to do something that was a huge stretch for you?

 Accept a new position?
 Have a tough conversation with a friend? 
Make a significant financial sacrifice in order to advance a cause? 
Travel to a mission field outside of your comfort zone? 
Whether you accepted the call or not was determined by your willingness to surrender.

Mary was informed by Gabriel, the angel, that she had been chosen by God to carry and birth the Savior. What an incredible honor! However, Mary wasn’t just simply informed that she was going to give birth to Jesus. She also accepted the role.

Luke 1:38 teaches us the requirements of genuine, all-in surrender.

Submission to God’s Plan

Mary responded by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant.” She placed herself under the authority of God. If you think you’re the boss of your life and you’re unwilling to allow God to be the boss of your life, you’re never going to surrender.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word submit in this way: “to yield oneself to the authority or will of another.” In other words, submission is a willing act.

Is there any area of your life that is off limits to God — an area that you are unwilling to yield to His authority? What could happen if you yielded that area of your life to God’s authority?

Confidence in God’s Goodness

Sometimes we get the impression that to surrender to God is to throw away all the good things that could have happened had we held on. That, however, is the opposite of reality. Mary willingly surrendered because she knew God wanted something glorious for her.

When you consider the people of the Christmas story, you’ll see surrender at every turn:

• Mary was willing to surrender her plans for the future in order to experience the miracle of the virgin birth.

Joseph was willing to surrender his reputation in order to experience a partnership with Mary in God’s plan.

The shepherds were willing to surrender their flocks in order to get a glimpse of the Messiah.

The Magi were willing to surrender their own status in order to bow before a child who they knew to be the King of kings.
Christ Himself was willing to surrender His own rightful place on the throne of Heaven in order to save us.

This Christmas, purpose to follow Mary’s example. Be willing to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to His Word.”

The Magi and Truth

Scripture Passage: Matthew 2:1-11

The manger is traditionally surrounded by Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, some animals, and three kings – people seeking after God. Most nativities include three kings at the manger. The Bible does not say how many wise men there were nor does it refer to them as kings. The “three kings” are often referred to as “magi” — a term that means “wise men.” And, these wise men did not actually arrive on the day of Jesus’ birth but instead at a later time when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were living in a house.

The magi are best known for their pursuit of the King. They were seekers of truth. The biblical account of the wise men points to three important things we should know about truth.

1. God’s Truth is Enduring.
Unlike popular ideas about everything from parenting to dieting, God’s truth does not change from one generation to the next. Instead, God’s truth is eternally up to date.

What ideas have you known to change from one generation to the next?

2. God’s Truth is Universal.
The wise men did not just learn about the truth, they responded to it. Once they saw the star in the East, they followed with all their hearts until it led them to Jesus.

With whom can you share the truth about Jesus this week?

3. God’s Truth is Reliable.
The wise men were led to Jesus by the Scriptures rather than by the star. The Scriptures told them what they needed to know about the One they were seeking.

Make time to read the Christmas story with your family and rejoice in the gift of the Scriptures and that they point us to God’s most precious gift — Jesus!

Wonderful Christmas Surprises

Scripture Passage: Luke 2:15-20

1. A Surprising Audience

Shepherds in Jesus’ day were regarded as social outcasts and were among the most scorned individuals. Their work made them ceremonially unclean and kept them from participating in the religious life of the community. And yet, God chose ordinary shepherds, not priests or kings, to be the first to hear the news of His Son’s birth — and the first to welcome Jesus.

What is the significance of the birth announcement being made to ordinary people?

2. A Surprising Glory

The shepherds’ night watch was dramatically interrupted by the sudden appearance of an angel of the Lord. When the angel appeared to the shepherds “the glory of the Lord” shone around them, supernaturally lighting up the night.

In what ways have you seen the glory of God invade and illuminate the ordinary?

3. A Surprising Invitation

The shepherds were invited to look for Jesus in the most unlikely place — a stable. This is a beautiful metaphor of God’s love reaching into the ordinary and messy places in order to make a difference.

How can God use you to to take His love into messy situations?