How To Handle Hardships

Scripture Passage: 2 Corinthians

Although the sun is shining and all looks well in Katy, thousands of families continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Many of our local subdivisions look like war zones with debris flanking streets and volunteers working like ants to clean out homes damaged by flood waters. Many families are still displaced from their homes and wondering how and when their lives will return to some measure of normalcy. The Bible offers wise counsel on how to handle hardships.

1. It’s ok to be weak. | 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 54:7; 12:7-10
We are all frail creatures of dust. Our weaknesses should point us to the strength that God provides.

• How have you or others whom you know become more aware of your weakness in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey?

2. It’s ok to be confused. | 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Paul wrote about being perplexed but not despairing. To be perplexed is to have serious questions. That’s ok. To be despairing, however, is not ok. Despair is a type of arrogance that says things will not turn out well. The Scriptures encourage us to trust God when facing difficulties (Prov. 3:5-6).

• What hard questions have you wrestled with because of Hurricane Harvey?

3. It’s ok to be sad. | 2 Corinthians 7:5-6
It is God Himself who comforts us. His comfort often comes through those who move in our direction when we are facing difficulties.

• How have others comforted you and how has God used you to comfort others who suffered loss because of Hurricane Harvey?

4. It’s ok to have needs. | 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Your needs matter. Be willing to acknowledge your weaknesses. We need one another. Be willing to accept help.

• Who has come alongside to help you in the past days? If you helped others, discuss what this meant to you and your family?

5. It’s ok to have abundance. | 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Those who have been blessed with an abundance have opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Those who have less have the opportunity to experience the joy of receiving provision from God. Allow God to bless others through you if you have abundance.

• Celebrate the ways God has provided for you or give thanks for the opportunities in which God used you to provide for the needs of others.

The Faith of a Desperate Man

Scripture Passage: Luke 18:35-42

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging.  Hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening.  “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him. So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those in front told him to keep quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to him. When he came closer, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see.” “Receive your sight.” Jesus told him. “Your faith has saved you.”  Instantly he could see, and he began to follow him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. (CSB)

Change can be hard, even when we know it’s for the better.

Every Believer in Christ can overcome a desperate situation by recognizing 3 secrets of the blind man:

  1. Don’t miss an opportunity. In all the chaos currently around us, don’t miss the opportunity to bring the focus on Jesus. Kingsland’s has a goal to reach 10,000 homes for Jesus. Harvey is an open opportunity to engage with people. Opportunities have an expiration date. Reach out to those around you.
  2. Break Up With the Crowd. The blind man screamed out to Jesus even though the crowd was trying to quiet him. Doers make talkers uncomfortable. Step out in faith and trust that God will come through.
  3. Ask for Great Things. The blind man could have asked for more food, but he asked for it all – his sight. You seldom get more than you ask for.

When the blind man received his sight, the entire crowd praised God. You have the chance to change those around you by making yourself a candidate for change.

Discuss around the table today (or any place you gather):

  1. What can you do right now to make a difference in the world around you?
  2. What scary changes have you gone through? Discuss ways God came through for you?
  3. The blind man in the Bible had no control over anything in his life. Think of a time in your life when you felt totally out of control. How did God use that time?

The God of All Comfort

Scripture Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – Experiencing God’s Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.”

Two things we do in order to experience God’s comfort:

1. We must receive Gods comfort. | You are not able to recycle to others what you have not yet received. We have all experienced pain in the past week. Seek the Lord by going to Him and be honest about your hurts and broken heart. God has given you permission to mourn.

2. Redistribute Gods comfort. | God is not only developing people through his Word, He is also developing people through your word about Him. God is not only healing people through what He does, He is also healing people through what you do in His name. We participate in God’s work when we comfort others with the comfort we have received from him.

Discuss around your table today (or any place you gather):

1. Storms cause fear, uncertainty, and can be hard to process. Process out loud together what the last week has been like for you. Encourage one ​another to remember that God loves us, God is with us and God takes care of ​us.

2. Be honest with God about what’s going on around you. Ask Him to heal your broken heart, bandage your wounds, and restore the joy of your salvation for those things.

3. What have you been through that God can recycle?

For more information about what you can do to serve in response to Hurricane Harvey or for help on damage to your home, go to our Katy Disaster Response site.

Rising Above the Chaos

Daniel Slide

Scripture Passage: Daniel 7

God placed reminders throughout history that He is above the immediate circumstances. So many times our outlooks and attitudes are tied to our environmental circumstances. But our outlooks and attitudes SHOULD be tied to the anticipation that God will carry out His plan. He is up to something right now!

Every Christ follower can rise above the chaos by understanding three reminders of prophecy in Daniel 7:

1. Crisis is Part of the Plan
God is in control of history–even the difficult history! Belief that God is in control of all of history leads to confidence that He is in control MY history. When we give up trying to control God to orchestrate our plans, we can experience the freedom of allowing God to guide us through our decisions.

2. The King is Still on the Throne
Despite the chaos going on in Daniel 7, verses 9 and 13 give us a glimpse into the throne room to see who is in control.

3. The Kingdom is Forever
God is eternal. He has always been, and His reign and power will never end. When you think of how many earthly powers have risen and fallen, it is empowering to think about the role we can play in God’s eternal Kingdom.

Talk About It

• Is there an area of your life that feels like chaos right now?

How does the thought that God is still at work and is still in control in the midst of that chaos affect you?

• Take a few seconds to think about the concept of eternity. How does that affect your perspective on your day-to-day life?

The Blessing

The Blessing: A Choice, An Urgent Choice, A Powerful Choice

Passage: Deuteronomy 30:19-20

This week Brad Flurry continued our series on Restoring the Home by talking about blessings within our home.  A blessing is defined as choosing to give honor by intentionally ascribing God’s promises to another through the giving of unconditional love and acceptance. In looking at Deuteronomy 30:19-20, we see that we have two choices that we can make: to bless or to curse.  From that choice, there are two destinations: the road of blessing leads to life, but the cursed road leads to death.

Two truths about the choice of blessing:

1st Truth: The Blessing is an Urgent Choice

o   Joshua 24:15 reminds us that we have today to choose who we will serve. We need to choose to trust and follow God today, in this moment, and not wait for the future.

2nd Truth: The Blessing is a Powerful Choice

o   The impact of the blessing is far reaching and we can see this in Genesis 27:34, as Esau cries out for his father’s blessing.

Two Practical ways to bless the people in your lives:

#1: Bless who they are, not what they do.

o   We are blessing them for who they are, a child of God created with infinite value, dignity and worth, not for what they accomplish.

#2: Bless them by your presence and participation in their life.

o   We are blessing them by showing them that they are valued.

Questions:

o   What is one way that you can bless your family this week?

o   Who is someone in your life that has blessed you? How?

o   Who is someone outside of your family that you feel called to bless?  How will you do that?

The Message of the Cross

The cross has always been controversial. The Apostle Paul had a lot to boast about, but he chose to boast only about the cross. In Galatians 4:16, Paul says, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The cross has always been the message Christians share, but as the culture changes, the way the cross is presented must change. Our current culture in Katy, TX is very similar to the time of the early church. Paul would want us to remember:

  1. How Katy sees the Cross – We are coming out of Modernity. (You can check the Kingsland website for a video of Pastor Ryan giving more detail about this.) The essence of Postmodernism and how the world is interpreting itself can be noted in several ways:
    1. Words don’t have any meaning – you choose your own truth
    2. Morality doesn’t have any absolutes
    3. Tolerance is the most important priority
    4. We shouldn’t change the message of salvation or water it down, but we should share it in a different way.
  2. How my life reflects the Cross – Jesus met needs and then shared truth. Our faith must be attractive, then it might be relevant and then it might be true. When our postmodern culture sees the relevance of our faith, they may decide to seek God.

The old paradigm was to share the truth and then invite a person to seek Jesus. The new paradigm is to:

R – Relationship – develop a friendship with non-believers

E – Experience – People know what it is to be unfulfilled. Through your friendship, they see your home transformed.

S – Story – Share the fulfillment you have through Jesus.

T – Truth – Then you are able to invite them into a relationship with Jesus.

The same result, but we must earn the right to share truth.

  1. How our world desperately needs the Cross – The cross turns the world’s idea of power upside down. Jesus had ultimate power but shoe to use it to save us.

Our research shows that 7 out of 10 of our neighbors in Katy don’t know Jesus. We also found that 74% of non-believers would go to worship if a trusted friend invited them.

Discussion:

How are you sharing the Gospel with those around you?

Who can you invite to Easter services?

Practice telling each other how the grace of Jesus has changed your life.

Prayers For a New Year

Scripture Passage: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

What do you think about how Jabez’s prayed?

It’s Okay to Pray for Yourself

Jabez was bold to call upon the Lord to bless him. He desired to have God’s best and biggest blessings! We have the same freedom to pray with that kind of expectation.

Have you ever prayed this kind of prayer?

It’s Okay to Pray for Influence

Jabez also prayed for God to enlarger His boarders. That is not only referring to his land borders but also his areas of influence. Jabez didn’t ask these things for selfish gain but to be used for God’s glory.

Have you ever prayed for God to do something greater than what you could do in your own strength? If so share!

The Most Important Request is for More Of God

Jabez prayed that God’s hand would be with him! As believers, since the resurrection of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us all the time! One of the most significant requests we could ask is to have God take all the pieces of our lives and form them together for what He wants to do!

Are there any parts of your life you are still holding on? Pray and ask the Lord to loosen your grip on those pieces and allow God to bring healing, forgiveness and strength to them!  

Remember: God can use your life and bless you and your family in ways you may have never expected when you ask Him to do things beyond what you can do in your own strength! By His power and for His glory let’s move into this New Year with great anticipation for what He will do through our church family at Kingsland to impact the Kingdom of God.

We All Have A Story

tim-leeLast week at Kingsland, Tim Lee, Purple Heart recipient and decorated war hero who served in the United States Marines, shared his story. In doing so, he reminded us all that we too have a story.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV)

Reflect on your own story. Take an opportunity to share your story at the dinner table or later today with your family. Encourage other family members to share their story.

Consider these questions:

• Is your life complete?
• Are you placing anything before God in you life right now?
• Has there been a time in your life when you have moved away from God?
• Are you rebelling against God’s authority in your life right now?
• Are you living in such a way that your are hurting the cause of Jesus Christ or helping the cause of Jesus Christ?
• Are you living for God?
• God has a plan for your life. Are you in the will of God?
• Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
• Are there things in your life that are not right with God?

Creation: In the Beginning

“In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1 

3 Logical Conclusions:

1.) The Fact of Creation Points to a Creator.

Question: How does the fact that creation points to a Creator give you confidence and assurance in your faith?

2.) The Complexity of Creation Points to a Creator.

Question: What is the significance of considering probability in relation to creation?

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” – Isaiah 40:12

“Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name:” – Jeremiah 31:35

3.) The Beauty of Creation Points to a Creator.

Question: How does the beauty of Creation deepen your faith?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

Final thought: While the Bible may not be a science book, scientist Hugh Ross has stated that as we move forward in time, science is and continues to prove the Bible to be true.

Jesus and Political Landmines

Mark 12:13-17

How many of you have had an argument with a friend about who you are going to vote for, or not vote for? There are a lot of political landmines out there right now! But guess what…Jesus faced them too.

Here are three principles for how he responded to these political questions:

1. Jesus Did Not Oversimplify His Answers.  

Notice that Jesus didn’t ignore the question, like so many do today. But NEITHER did He allow them to define the question.

Our access to online and cable media today is such an amazing thing, isn’t it? We have more information at our fingertips than ever, but most often, what is delivered to us is profoundly over-simplified.

Don’t do to Jesus what He refused to do Himself: don’t categorize Him according to an over-simplified political bent.

2. Jesus Did Not Expect Government to Be God.

When Jesus asked for the coin, he was given a Denarius. Those are relatively easy to come by today (expensive, but available). Many have lasted through the ages. In fact, when you’re in the Holy Land, you can purchase one. They’re also in all the museums.

It’s really interesting to examine the coin Jesus was holding. The image that was on it was Tiberius Caesar. Jesus holds up this coin. Surely this would be the moment where Jesus would strike down the government of Rome once and for all and bring in the RIGHTEOUS Kingdom. But He doesn’t.

What does He say? “This is Caesar’s face on this coin. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Jesus was not overly impressed by Caesar nor overly troubled. Caesar was just Caesar.

We’re not looking for a savior this election to bail us out. We already HAVE a Savior!

3. Jesus Had a Greater Kingdom In Mind

This new understanding of the Kingdom impacts how you view:

First, an understanding of God’s Kingdom takes you out of fear mode and puts you into faith mode. You can and should still have concerns over a 20 trillion dollar national debt. You should still stand for justice among innocent lives. But you do so with a faith that God is able to bring about lasting, eternal redemption even in the midst of a mess.

Second, you begin to see people on the other side of your arguments as real people who are created by God instead of the enemy. You stop thinking that the people on the left or the right of you are the enemy and you start seeing your heart when it is self-sufficient is the enemy.

Third, you participate in the political process when you have the opportunity as an ambassador from the Kingdom of God. It’s not your agenda anymore, or your parents’ party’s agenda, but God’s agenda that drives you. And that might mean you have to listen without getting defensive and move past the myth that you have to find someone who is just like you to vote for.

But most importantly, you seek first the OTHER Kingdom – the rule and reign of Christ in your own life, and seek to be His hands and feet and voice to those around you.

 Discussion question: How do you answer political questions?

 Key Question: Have you been hoping in the wrong kingdom???