The Faithful Servant

Scripture Passage: Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents gives us a glimpse into what we should be doing while we await the return of Jesus. God has entrusted each of us with resources to invest to advance His purposes in the world. These resources include more than our finances. We must also be good stewards of our gifts and the opportunities He places before us to share and show the love of Jesus to a world in need.

The master in the story commended the servant who wisely invested the funds entrusted to him. His master called him faithful. Faithfulness can be defined as the state of being unchanging, steadfast, and found to be reliable in the duties assigned. In other words, a faithful person is a person you can count on. Jesus is telling us how to live in the last days! And our response to the reality that Christ’s return is imminent could be wrapped up in one word: Faithfulness.

God calls each of us to be faithful in three areas.

First, we are called to be faithful in the small things (Matt. 25:21). We must learn to be faithful in the small things. The big things in life are made out of little acts, little words, little thoughts. You can’t have the much without having the little.

● What small things has Good called you to do?

Second, we must be faithful in social things (Matt. 25:40). We need one another. We are called to be faithful to one another — even when it’s hard. Hebrews 10:24-25 admonish us to gather for worship because we need one another.

Donald Whitney, in his famous book Spiritual Disciplines, wrote this long before Coronavirus: “There’s an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the ‘meeting together’ with other believers.”

● In what ways are you remaining faithful in worship during this pandemic season?

Third, we must be faithful in spiritual things (Matt. 25:21). God wants us to be near to Him — to rise above the mess of this world and to connect regularly with Him.

● In what ways are you drawing closer to God during this pandemic season?

Encounters with Jesus and the Future

Scripture Passage: Matthew 24: 3-44

The Bible has much to say about the future. One in five verses of Scripture are prophetic in nature. The disciples asked Jesus three questions about the future: (Read Matthew 24:3)

• When will these things happen?
• What are the signs of your coming?
• What are the signs of the end of the age?

What will be the signs of Jesus ’return?

• In 1 minute, brainstorm together all of the signs that you can think of: i.e. stop sign, 3rd base coach, for sale sign, etc.

• What is the purpose of signs?

Extreme responses to prophetic signs are sensationalism and skepticism.

Discuss these two extremes as it relates to weather. Who is a good example of someone who leans toward sensationalism? Who is a good example of someone that is skeptical?

Neither is an appropriate response to weather systems or prophecy.

Jesus offers three rational steps to take when considering the “signs of the times.”

1. Fig Tree — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:32-35)

• How does it provide an example of confidence?

2. Noah — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:36-42)

• What does the story of Noah teach about being aware?

• Mom & Dad: talk with your children about your experiences with their childbirth: pregnancy test results, excitement, plans & preparations, long wait – 9 months but then the day comes, how you knew it was time, etc.

• Good news: relate the good news of their coming into the world to the good news of Jesus’ return.

3. Thief — Get Ready (Read Matthew 24:43-44)

• When you leave home for a vacation, what do you do?

• When a major storm is coming, what do you do?.

• On a piece of paper write this question at the top and answer, “What 5 things do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?”

• On the reverse side write this question and answer, “What would you want to accomplish if you knew that the Lord was going to come in the next 7 years?”

• If the two list are different, what changes do you need to make?

The Meaning of Greatness

Scripture Passage: Matthew 18:1-6

According to history, 114 world leaders have added the world “great” to their name, as Herod the Great or Alexander the Great. Tony the Tiger boasted that Frosted Flakes were great! We also have Great Lakes and a Great Barrier Reef.

What is greatness? What makes someone great?

The disciples asked Jesus an interesting question about greatness: “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answered by pointing to a child. He didn’t call a professor to demonstrate knowledge, or a ruler to demonstrate position, or an old man to demonstrate experience, or a rich man to demonstrate wealth. He pointed to a child!

We can understand true greatness when we see why Jesus focused on children.

1. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like dependence.
In Jesus’ day, children were viewed as having little importance, no authority, and as someone to be looked after rather than looked up to. There’s really nothing a child can take credit for without acknowledging that the resources, power, protection, and ability to do it came from his parents.

Salvation happens when we realize our total inability to justify ourselves by our own good works, and we instead place our trust in Jesus.

• What lessons can you glean from watching the dependence of children on their parents?

2. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like boldness.
Jesus said, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child — this one is the greatest in the kingdom. Notice that twice Jesus referred specifically to the child in His lap by saying “this child.” This was a child who was seeking to be near Jesus.

Your measure of boldness will be determined by your sense of security in Jesus. If you’re insecure, you’ll be fearful. If you’re secure, you’re be bold.

• How would you rate your boldness? How can you become a bolder follower of Jesus?

If you seek greatness through only dependence, but you never respond boldly to the calling he gives you, you will miss out on so many blessing He has for you!

If you seek greatness through only boldness, but you think you can pull this off on your own, you end up failing miserably in the long run. You’re a flash in the pan, because your weakness is eventually exposed, no matter how bold you are.

• When you seek the Lord, are you willing to come as a child?

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!

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.

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? 

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?