Abraham’s faith was put to the ultimate test when God told him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac – the child that he and Sarah had waited so long for. I wonder what went through his mind? I’m amazed by how Abraham obeyed immediately and without questioning God. It seems that by this time, he truly understood that everything (and everyone) belongs to the Lord. Even when Isaac asked about the absence of a sheep for the sacrifice, Abraham showed his trust in God by replying that God would provide. And He did!
1. How would you feel if God asked you to give up something or someone you love?
2. What can you do to develop the kind of trust needed to obey God like Abraham did in this instance?
Challenge: Take a new step this week toward trusting God more fully and loosening your grip on everything (and everyone) you call your own. Read 1 John 4:9-10. Remind yourself that God the Father followed through with the ultimate sacrifice when He gave up his only Son for us. Oh, what LOVE!
Remember the vow Hannah made to God in yesterday’s passage? This was not only symbolic, but a literal promise to give Samuel away to serve the Lord. After the boy was weaned, (between age 2-4 years) Hannah and her husband followed through with her vow. They brought Samuel to the Tabernacle, explained Hannah’s prayer and God’s answer, then left him with the high priest. The Lord gave Hannah the strength to give up her blessing so God could use him for His purposes.
1. How do you see all of the people and things God has put under your authority/control?
2. What steps can you take to reflect the reality that your children/loved ones/money/possessions actual belong to God?
Challenge: When excessive worry creeps into our lives, it is often the result of a false sense of control over the object of our concern. Memorize Philippians 4:6-7 and experience the freedom of giving back to God what has always been His anyway. We can trust His love and care.
Hannah’s inability to have children grieved her deeply and was fuel for relentless taunting from her husband’s other wife, who did have children. After suffering for years, she cries out to God and vows that if He will grant her a son, she will give the child back to Him. The Lord answers her prayer and Samuel – who would later become a prophet, judge, and leader – is born! Sometimes our suffering is part of a bigger plan and God uses it to bless those who love Him – bringing glory to his name.
1. When you or your loved ones are going through difficult times, what is your first course of action?
2. How do you feel about waiting for God’s timing?
Challenge: Read John chapter 11. Consider why Jesus waited until Lazarus died to go to Bethany in response to Martha & Mary’s request for healing. Do you see how Jesus’ timing produced an even greater miracle? Afterwards, many more people believed in Him!
I used to think that worship was something that happened only on Sunday. I used to think that worship was only about me. But then God did a thing in my life and showed me that worship was not about me and that worship was a thing that was done daily. Our scripture today tells us that every word and deed is an act of worship that should point us and those around to the glory of God. Every attitude and action in our lives should be lived in gratitude to God.
1. How do you worship daily?
2. Do your attitude and actions reflect the glory of God to those around you?
Challenge: Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being…” so this is the challenge…What word or deed, attitude or action, will you exhibit that will allow you to worship in a way that show Jesus and brings glory to God. Have a blessed day.
Sing praises to the Lord. Shout with joy to Him. Worship the Lord with gladness. There are many songs that give praise to our wonderful God and King. In the song “O Come To The Altar” it says “Leave behind your regrets and mistakes, Come today there's no reason to wait Jesus is calling, Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy, From the ashes a new life is born, Jesus is calling.”
1. Why should we come to God with singing?
2. What is your favorite song to sing or play that helps you worship God.
Challenge: Choose a song that expresses your need for our God and sing or play this song when you are at having a bad day or when you are at your weakest.
You will have bad days. The storms of this life will come. It is during these times that you may not want to talk with God. You may not want to ever reach out to Him. Satan wants us give up and tells us lies such as, “You are not good enough” and, “You can’t handle it.” This is when we need God the most. This is when we need to say, “God, I need you” and ask him to intervene.
1. According to verse 9, how does God’s power work best?
2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:9. Why does Paul boast in his weakness?
Challenge: Read Psalm 30:10. Tell God that you need him. He hears us no matter where we are. Psalm 30:12 tells us to sing praises to Him. Praise God, even when it may be hard to do.
Serving each other as part of a church is a sacrifice we are called to via scripture. Every ministry is a form of worship, as we do it out of joy and love for God and one another. Members of Hillcrest have a role, using their specific talents. If you have served in the same ministry for years, you will experience burnout or indifference in your ministry. There are many ways to rebuild the inner desire to worship through our ministry. Some examples are Scripture, prayer, meditation and wise counsel from others and even sabbaticals. Each of these is a form of worship, and showing mercy and grace to each other is another form of worship.
1. What part of your ministry hinders your worship?
2. Are there other people that you notice may be suffering from Spiritual weariness? How can you help them overcome their indifference?
Challenge: The next time you are growing indifferent toward your personal ministry and service, turn to Scripture, prayer, meditation and wise counsel to rebuild the desire to worship.
Through dance we can fully express, through every movement of our bodies, the desires of our heart to God. It is an active form of worship that is hard to replicate. Personally, dance has enabled God to open my heart to his words for me. Like David, God calls us to be unashamed and to be open to his truth.
1. How have you unashamedly “danced” before the Lord?
2. How can dancing as David did, in active worship, impact your life now?
Challenge: Take five minutes today to glorify God unashamedly. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but let the Holy Spirit speak through every movement.
Go back to Monday’s challenge. If you’ve tracked your time online, what is that number after 4-5 days? What else could you do with that amount of time? Hit the gym? Read some books? Write a book? We reap what we sow. We harvest what we plant. How we spend our time will come back to us.
Paul is also clear to not become weary doing good. I love this. I think, though, that sometimes we become weary because we’re trying to do too much. We’re too involved. One of my passions, no surprise, is helping churches connect with public schools. I am not weary when I am doing this work or serving in a school setting. There are other causes, however, like prison ministry, that are more burdensome for me. Thankfully others have a passion for those causes and I can join them in their work rather than orchestrating the work. We can’t do everything; but we can do something.
1. What could you have done with the time you spent online this week?
2. What area of “doing good” energizes you and does not burden you?
Challenge: If you were unsure how to answer questions 1 and/or 2, I’d recommend taking something like the Strength Finder survey to get a sense of how God has wired you. For more information or to take the survey, contact Pastor Brian or Jackie McNamara. Be one of the first 5 people to email either of us the code “Soul Provider”, and we’ll set you up to take the Strength Finder for free!
When I was a kid, the popular game system was either Nintendo or Sega Genesis. The game to play was Super Techmo Bowl and Bo Jackson was unstoppable! But whenever I didn’t like how a certain outcome in a game was going, I would simply hit the reset button. It was like the game I was losing had never happened! In today’s passage, Jesus hits his personal reset button. While we’re talking this week about doing more of what we want to do, we can’t neglect personal time. Jesus was about as busy as a guy could be. And even he knew he had to get alone, get quiet, and get with His Father. We should follow his practice.
1. When in the day are you closest to God? Morning? Night? Midday?
2. Where in your life are you closest to God? At the office? In your bedroom? On the couch? Somewhere else?
Challenge: Time with God need not be long or fancy. Pick the time that works best for you and the place where you feel closest to God. Designate five minutes each day reading this devotional, praying, and hitting your reset button.