Paul had accomplished some pretty big things. He had every right to think he was the bomb; that he had arrived. But after all looking at all he had accomplished, he decided to write it off as “garbage” when compared with the greatness of knowing Christ. We can take a lesson from Paul in this regard as we should be considering our relationship with Christ and serving Him to be of first priority. But, that just isn’t the case in most instances. So how do I do that?, you might ask. Begin with Bible study and prayer at a regular time each day. Wait and see what God will do.
1. What changes in my life will I be willing to make in order to make my relationship with Christ a bigger priority?
2. How can I change my plans, goals, and desires to be more in line what Christ will be teaching me through our renewed relationship?
Challenge: Begin with Bible study and prayer at a regular time each day. There are many great Bible reading plans available. Don’t let the “I’m too busy” disease get a foothold.
Have you ever been broken? Brokenness is empty-handedness before God. It makes no demands. It is falling into the embrace of your loving Father and finding Him to be enough. If not, here are some things that God will break in order to get our dependence on Him. Stubbornness. “I am going to do this my way, pride. “I know better; I am better, willfulness. “You can’t make me!”, and independence. “I can make it without You”. If these are a pattern, God will use means necessary to bring us to Himself. You and I will never experience true intimacy with God until we are able to come before Him in genuine humility, utterly desperate for Him. We need to be broken.
1. Describe a time in my life when I’ve experienced true brokenness before the Lord. What brought it about, and what resulted from it?
2. What are some areas of my life I need to loosen my grip on and surrender to God now?
Challenge: Read Psalm 51 and meditate on David’s words of humility and utter dependence on the Lord
Ecclesiastes details Solomon’s pursuit of pleasure. He constructed a palace so opulent it staggered world leaders; accumulated innumerable jewels and possessions; pursued advanced studies; and was with a different woman every day. He explored it all, yet with tears of frustration. God designed us so that we cannot find fulfillment or lasting enjoyment apart from this eternity. The more we try to satisfy our deepest longing by good and bad horizontal means, the more likely we are to miss God’s vertical invitation to experience Him. Do you sense that same longing in your soul? Have you known the emptiness of looking for satisfaction in the next raise or relationship or reward? Look to the Lord. He has the answer.
1. How have I found Solomon’s discovery to be true—that no earthly pleasure truly satisfies my soul?
2. Even knowing this futility, where am I spending myself on the pursuit of earthly pleasures?
Challenge: This week when the challenge comes (and it will) to be dissatisfied and longing, try picking up your Bible and praying to the Lord. He may just change the source of that longing.
We all know we need more patience. But things in this world are teaching us how to operate on less and less patience. If things don’t happen quickly and right when we want them, we aren’t happy.
Thank goodness God doesn’t struggle with patience. God IS patience. It is part of His character. When we feel our patience growing thin remember this……. If God was not patient with us, we would not have a chance for anything.
1. What are some of God’s other characteristics?
2. What’s one thing you’d say you have no patience for?
Challenge: Become more aware of that one thing you get impatient over and try to change your mindset whenever it occurs.
Have you ever been on a spiritual high? Maybe after a mission trip or retreat, only to return to the everyday problems of life. Suddenly everything that can go wrong does. When we come to the end of our rope, like the father in the scripture reading, that is when God starts moving. When we are feeling powerless, that is when we fall before Jesus and cling to His supernatural powers.
1. Do you feel or have you felt like the father in this story?
2. Have you ever felt like the spiritually high times will be enough for a while and you can become self-reliant for a while?
Challenge: Pray for God’s supernatural power to move into your life.
We are such addictive creatures, usually of things that are not good for us and harm our lives in many ways. But what if we focused on things of the Lord? What if instead of getting a high from the results of our bad addictions we try praying and seeing results in our prayers, the more we will want to pray. Or the more we share our faith and see others come to know Jesus the more we will want to share! If we begin doing the things of the Lord we just might experience more joy, peace and contentment then we ever have!
1. Is there an addiction you suffer from? (ex: over-working, tv, shopping, a need to always win…etc)
2. Have you experienced becoming addicted to positive things?
Challenge: Find a negative addiction you have and work on replacing it with a positive addiction.
Zacchaeus was small in every sense of the word, stature as well as character. But Jesus saw something in him that only God can see in a person. Zacchaeus received the grace and mercy of Jesus and it changed the way he lived. His transformation was public, personal and urgently important.
1. Who is someone you struggle to show grace to?
2. What steps can you take today to show them grace?
Challenge: Read the whole story of Zacchaeus in Luke19:1-10.
At the core of addiction we feel we are unworthy of God’s love and lost faith in His power. We try to overcome on our own but can’t fight the urges. We return to the additive behavior to battle the pain and the spiral continues. In addition to getting professional help, remember God loves knows your struggle, He loves you anyway. He always has.
1. How does Romans 3:23 help you view those around you that struggle with addiction?
2. Do you feel you are in a loop with what you are struggling with?
Challenge: Keep someone you know that is struggling with addiction in your prayers.
The resurrection of Jesus is something that should be on the forefront of our minds. We should rejoice in our heavenly inheritance every day. Peter’s words should be encouraging to us and bring us joy despite our trials. Until we receive our inheritance in heaven, we are shielded by God’s power through our faith in Him.
1. What are you shielded from?
2. How does being shielded by God’s power through faith strengthen your hope?
Challenge: Take time this week to rest in Jesus’ presence. Give thanks for what He has done for you and will do for you.
Too often we find ourselves exchanging the broader perspective of seeking God with seeking our own personal comfort when tragedy strikes. And, some have gone as far as giving up on God entirely in a storm. It’s impossible to know why God allows certain bad things to happen. However, if we always knew why we had to suffer, our faith wouldn’t have room to grow.
1. How have you handled the storms of life? Do you seek personal comfort, or seek God’s will?
2. How can you strengthen your faith in order to prepare for the storms of life?
Challenge: Ask God to provide opportunities that will help strengthen your faith in Him.