Serving What We Cannot See

Scripture Passage: Esther 4: 8-15

Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not mention the name of God. The unseen hand of God, however, is prevalent throughout the book. Esther was a part of a large group of Jews living in Persia. She was an orphaned girl raised by her older cousin Mordecai.

Though Esther was a Jew, she became the queen!

When Esther became a queen, Mordecai counseled her to kept silent about her ethnicity. Haman, the prime minister, despised the Jews — especially Mordecai. He plotted to destroy Mordecai’s entire race from the country. He manipulated the King to allow an edict to destroy all the Jews in every province of Persia. Mordecai believed Esther was the very best hope for the Jews to hold off extermination. Read his message to Esther in Esther 4:8-13.

Three Essential Decisions That Prepare Us for Kingdom Impact

Expect God to Use Your Pain | No matter how challenging our circumstances are, God can use them for our good! It could be that the challenges we are facing are the very things that God will use to impact our lives and the Kingdom. Search for Him in those difficult, challenging days

Read Esther 4: 14–16.

Realize Comfort is an Illusion | We must embrace the challenges in our lives in order for God to do His work. He will succeed in fulfilling His purposes, whether in our life or the life of someone else. Discomfort is a part of serving Jesus. We will have to stand for what is right, stand on the Word of God. If you do not, you will miss what God wants to do in your life.

Learn to Trust the Invisible | The Book of Esther beautifully establishes the picture of two competing kingdoms – the kingdom of man and the unmentioned (but constantly present) kingdom of God.

The entire book demonstrates God’s invisible hand at work. We never visually see the manifest power of God’s Kingdom but we see the evidence of it everywhere.

Through your challenges, God is at work behind the scenes. The beauty of the Kingdom of God is that the most significant, eternal, exhilarating rewards are for those who embrace the call to serve that which they cannot see!

A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance: “God is preparing His heroes and when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.”

• Have you turned your challenges over to God?
• Are you embracing the work He wants to do in your life?

Trust Him today, it will change your life and the Kingdom.

Beware the Idols

Scripture Passage: Psalm 115

According to Ronald Allen and Gordon Borror, authors of “Rediscovering the Missing Jewel” — “Worship is an active response to God whereby we declare His worth. Worship is not passive, but is participative. Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response. Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration.”

The first 4 of the 10 Commandments given in Exodus 20 were related to worship. It is, therefore, no accident that the idolatry command comes first! We will never break commands 2-10 unless we put other gods before the One True God.

Idols are everywhere!

Keller, author of “Counterfeit Gods) “points out: “A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you could spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources without a second thought.”

• What thing, person, or future promise in my life is so important that should I lose it I would feel life hardly worth living?

Consider some of the things we can idolize:
• Career or money
• Social status
• Even religious activity!
• Boyfriend or girlfriend
• Beauty or fitness
• Peer approval
• Competency or skill
• Something related to our family or children.

True Worship is the Path to True Fulfillment

Our Kingsland mission statement speaks of “True Fulfillment in Jesus.” It all hinges on the tragedy that so many people are living lives in pursuit of false fulfillment. They’ve made “good things” into “god things” and they wonder why that job or school or car or house or vacation doesn’t satisfy. If we are worshiping false idols, we’re not doing what we’ve been designed to do.

• Take an idol inventory of your life.
• What do you spend your time thinking about?
• What do you fear being discovered about you?
• What are you most fearful of losing?

It’s so important to identify idols. Idols not only rob us of a great worship experience, they also rob us of embracing the Gospel! We want to worship only the One True God!

This Is The Day

Scripture Passage: Psalm 118:24

One of the greatest gifts we’ve been given by the Lord is the gift of this day. The Scripture offers us some wise counsel on the best way to live every day.

1. We should treat every day like it’s our only day.

The Apostle Paul understood how important this was and spoke about it in Philippians 3:13 — “One thing I do: forgetting what is behind…”. Yesterday is gone and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Therefore, we should make the most of this day — the day that the Lord has made — and fill each moment with the kind of living that honors Him.

• What do you need to prioritize in order to make the most of this day?

2. We should treat every day like it’s the Lord’s day.

We are stewards of every day that the Lord gives us. One way to be good stewards is by making the most of daily opportunities to advance God’s purposes in the world. Keep in mind this simple acrostic that can help you to BLESS others:

B = Begin with prayer.

L = Listen to others. Take a genuine interest in them.
E = Eat with others. Invite them to your table.

S = Serve others.
S = Share your personal story and talk about how Jesus has changed your life.

• Who will you bless today?

3. We should treat every day like it’s an extraordinary day.

When God calls us to do something we should do it then and not procrastinate. Procrastination isn’t just a bad idea, it’s a sin. James 4:17 reminds us, “So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.”

• What has God has called you to do today?

Praise the Lord

Scripture Passage: Psalm 117

Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. This psalm is also the middle chapter of the Bible with 594 chapters preceding it and 594 chapters following. In God’s worship, it is not always necessary to be long; few words sometimes say what is sufficient, as this short Psalm helps us to understand. Psalm 117 is a summons to all peoples to praise the Lord.

Praise translates the Hebrew word “hallel” which means “to shine” or “to glorify” to “to praise.” The Bible often instructs us to praise God. As His people, we should develop the habit of praising God often and with a loud voice so that everyone can hear.

In what ways do you express your praise to God?

Christian pastor and author John Piper said, “Missions exists because worship does not.” God invites all peoples to praise Him. We must go to the nations to share with them the beauty of Jesus so that they too can join us in praising God.

How can God use your praise to inspire the nations among us to look toward God?

The Psalmist also invites us to praise the Lord because His steadfast love endures forever. As we look back on our lives, we can see the evidence of God’s never-ending and faithful love “toward us.” Seeing the fingerprints of His love should cause us to praise Him.

Take a moment to reflect on the evidence of God’s steadfast love in your life and then praise Him.

Declare His Mighty Acts

Scripture Passage: Psalm 145

This month, Kingsland’s student missions teams served from Houston’s inner city to the ends of the earth. More than 400 students and sponsors traveled the world to declare God’s mighty acts among the nations. As God’s people, we should look for every opportunity to talk about His greatness.

1. We should speak passionately about God.

Speaking passionately about God is our most powerful apologetic. When David spoke about God he did so in the most personal and intimate ways. Because David knew God intimately, he was able to speak passionately.

Does the intimacy of our relationship with God work its way into our daily speech and conversations?

2. We should speak often about God.

Speaking often about God not only impacts our generation, it also helps the next generation to learn of His greatness. Like David, we must “declare His mighty acts” and speak of them often.

The early church spoke often about Jesus and how wonderful He is and how He could transform lives. How often do you speak of Jesus and how wonderful He is?

3. We should speak often about God because He is the only eternal topic.

So much of what we speak about is temporary. It’s easy to allow our speech to be characterized by fleeting topics. Speaking about God, however, is different. He will not pass away nor will His word pass away.

What steps can you take to intentionally make God and His greatness a part of your daily speech?

The Power of God’s Word

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is a love poem about the Bible. Reading God’s Word will change your life.

Three compelling reasons to read the Bible.

1. Read the Bible because it’s a supernatural source.

While the Bible was written down by man, it is God’s revelation to us. Man couldn’t have written it without the inspiration of God. Forty different authors over hundreds of years in different locations could never have matched up without God’s influence. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is “God breathed.”

2. Read the Bible because it is a trustworthy source.

The early church authenticated the books in 397 AD. The Bible speaks of science in ways that weren’t known at the time. Prophesies foretold were fulfilled. The whole Bible has unity and continuity.

3. Read the Bible because it is a transformational source.

The Bible is the story of someone who came to earth to rescue us. The Bible isn’t some practical tool box to fix your life — it tells us to “fix your eyes on Jesus” and then everything starts to look different.

• Read the entirety of Psalm 119 today.
• Are you reading the Bible regularly? Why or why not?
• How can you help each other stay in the Word?
• Write down your Bible reading plan.

The Power of Restoration

Scripture Passage: Psalm 80

Restoration means to take something back to its original condition, its original owner or its original purpose. Psalm 80 is a prayer for restoration as God is the only one with the power to restore our hearts, our homes and our nation.

Prayer: God, I need you to restore my heart. Help me to trust you and your power to restore my heart. I need you to restore my home, my relationships and our nation but I recognize that it begins in my heart. Help me to take these steps towards you and allow you to restore my heart.

1. Remember Your Identity
Our identity (who we are, our value, our purpose) is not defined by our successes or our failures. God gives us our identity and we are His children (1 John 3:1).

Prayer: God, help me believe that I am your child.

2. Return to the Creator
The responsibility of restoration belongs to God. We can’t fix ourselves or other people. However, we need to ask God to restore our hearts and trust Him as He restores us.

Prayer: God, help me to trust you to restore my heart.

3. Renew Your Service
God uses His children to accomplish His work on earth. You are created in God’s image and God has a purpose for your life. The enemy lies to us and tells us we are a failure and need to go back to our old ways.

Prayer: God, help me reject the enemy’s lies and believe what you say about me and your plan for my life. I’m drawing a “line in the sand” today and asking you to restore my heart and my home. I choose to believe you and serve you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Redefining Leadership

Scripture Passage: Psalm 131

Kingsland is blessed with many men who are seeking God’s heart for their lives, interceding in prayer for the marriages and their kids, leading strong both spiritually, relationally and working hard to provide, all the while trusting God as the ultimate provider.

Psalm 131, written by King David, contains some very practical lessons on servant leadership that men can apply as they lead their homes.

1. Redefined Power | 

Power is the ability to create change. Smart parenting involves both the use of hard and soft power. Parents must balance their use of both and exercise wisdom, humility, and grace as they lead their children.

Do you tend to be too hard on your kids or too soft? What is the danger of these extremes?

2. Accepted Limits | 

Dads must help their children understand the value of boundaries. Doing so can help keep our kids on track.

What boundaries have you set for your kids and why? How do you explain to your kids the value of boundaries?

3. Faith-filled Contentment
Great leaders and great parents reach a maturity in their walk with God that anchors their souls to God’s faithfulness — so that when storms arise, or times are confusing, they can be at rest.

In what ways do you or should you model contentment for your kids that assures them you are trusting God?

Bible Truths About Same-Sex Attraction

Scripture Passage: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Kingsland goes to many of the geographically “hard places” when it comes to missions. We are also willing to go to the “hard places” philosophically as well. The topic of same-sex attraction is one of those hard places. When it comes to this topic, some churches are so weighted on the side of truth that they express hatred. Others are so weighted on the side of grace that they forsake biblical teaching.

Forgotten Truths About Same Sex Relationships

1. Same sex attraction or gender confusion will not send you to hell anymore than heterosexuality or gender certainty will send you to heaven. 

Paul exhorted the Corinthian Christians to not continue to embrace the things they did before coming to faint in Christ. Jesus talked about denying ourselves in order to follow Him — and that includes the things Paul wrote about, including our ideas, ambitions, dreams, and even our sexuality.

2. Homosexuality goes against God’s plan. Homosexuality is mentioned eight times in the Scriptures (four in each testament), and lesbianism (homosexuality between females) one time. In no instance is it commended. It is always described as wrong and unnatural.

3. Each of us, regardless of our background or sexual preference, are invited to be transformed by Jesus. There are many situations where we can buy into the lie that we cannot change. 1 Corinthians 6:11 tells us otherwise — “And some of you used to be like this!” So some of those who had been redeemed, who were a part of the Body of Christ, used to be involved in same-sex relationships.

We have the best news on earth for anyone who is missing out on God’s design for their lives in any shape or fashion. Jesus transforms lives. Kingsland should be the safest place on earth to open up about feelings of same-sex attraction. We won’t win any popularity contests by saying that there’s a better way, but we’ll honor God by loving people and speaking the truth in love.

The Value of Life

Scripture Passages: Psalms 8, 139, 103

The Bible affirms that life is sacred — that we are made in God’s image, that we are His special creation deserving of being treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, rank, or riches.

Every act of kindness as well as every act of violence that is committed in the world today is motivated by an underlying worldview and what that particular worldview teaches about the value of human life. What an individual believes about the value of human life can motivate them to either aggressively hurt others or to compassionately move in the direction of the hurting.

For too long, we have limited the scope of our understanding of the sanctity of human life to abortion alone. Abortion is indeed a violation of the sanctity of human life — but beyond this particular violation there are many others.

•  What are some other ways in which the sanctity of human life is violated in our world today?

As the primary faith trainers in their homes, parents must intentionally teach and model for their children what it means to value all human life — including their own. An individual who feels that their own life has little or no value is likely to have little or no regard for the welfare of their neighbor.

Our children must know that they are of inestimable value to God and to us. By so doing our children are more likely to affirm the worth of others, less likely to harm others, and more likely to stand against and to defend those whose lives are in danger.

• In what ways are you helping your children understand what it means to value human life?

• How are you guarding your children against media and messages that teach a disregard for human life?

• What can you and your family do to stand as champions for the value of human life?