In the book of Ruth, Naomi lost her husband and her sons—true tragedy. However, through that sadness, God’s plan was set in motion. Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Ruth met Boaz, married, and eventually through that line, God’s ultimate plan and salvation would be born—Jesus.
1. What difficulties/pain in your life might God have used to further “His” plan for your life?
2. How hard is it to recognize or accept “His” plan is part of the pain?
Challenge: Look back to a particular painful moment in your life and look for the ways that pain furthered God’s plan for your life.
The Lord had promised Abraham that his descendants will be like the dust of the Earth (Genesis 13:16—a large number). Yet, he was 100 years old before Isaac was born. God has a plan for us; we just need to be patient as the plan unfolds.
1. What is something you have prayed for and remains unresolved?
2. Have you been patient while waiting?
Challenge: Pray about that something and ask God for the patience to wait on His timing.
The Israelites were witnesses to God’s awesome power during the plagues of Egypt and yet showed fear when the Pharaoh and his armies pursued them. Yet again even though they had fear, God saved His people. All that was asked of them was to be still.
1. When something troubles you, what are your go-to methods for dealing with it?
2. What about “being still” could help you?
Challenge: Ask God to help you with one of your troubles and simply “be still” allowing Him the opportunity to work, or talk to you.
Without our faith in Jesus, we have nothing. It is solely through our faith that we see the results of what He can do. It is our individual faith, which we choose through our acceptance of Christ, which saves us from a darkened world.
1. Have you ever tried to do life on your own?
2. What was the result of your attempt to do it yourself? Would you do it again?
Challenge: Think of those who are trying to “Do it myself.” How is it working out for them? Is there a way you could come alongside them to provide a little stability and guidance? How can you possibly help God do it Himself?
Jesus’ response to our faith is not based on its intensity. At the same time, His love for us knows no boundaries. Jesus is prepared to meet us anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. All we need to do is accept Him into our lives.
1. If Jesus is willing to meet us anytime, anywhere and at any cost, then why are we so timid to do the same for Him?
2. How and where has Jesus met you?
Challenge: Our care and attendance to each other are supposed to be a reflection of the work God is doing through us. What steps can you take to ensure this is happening? Who are you aware of that could benefit from your care?
We frequently fail to see the big picture that God has painted for us. Jesus tells it point-blank that his death is mandatory in order to fulfill the command of the Father. The disciples viewed Jesus’ relationship with God as an opportunity to save Himself, but Jesus understood that God had chosen the undesired human answer as the sacrifice that had to be made to save all.
1. How might your life be different if it weren’t for unanswered prayers?
2. What is it about some of your own prayers that may be holding God back from granting approval?
Challenge: Take a listen to Garth Brooks song Unanswered Prayers putting aside his lyrics about losing one relationship and gaining another. Insert your own lyrics, your own story of unanswered prayers. Do you have the results yet, or are you still waiting to see what God has in store for you?
It is crazy to think that as we grow older and gain wisdom (so we hope) we also tend to grow in our skepticism. Jesus’ validation of himself is irrelevant. He need not give us any further proof of his abilities than the work he has already done.
1. If you were standing in the presence of Jesus, what would you ask of him?
2. Would your request be different in person than it is through your prayers?
Challenge: Much like a mountain climber’s accent to the peak, we seldom follow a straight line in our faith walk. There are moments filled with the obvious, just as there are those riddled with confusion. Revisit the moments of confusion and reflect on how those experiences have impacted your relationship with God. What has changed? Was it for better or was there an unexpected outcome?
Our faith is the key to accessing the power of the Holy Spirit. We are able to do great things not as believers in the sense of one’s self; God is working through us as believers.
1. How is your communication with God?
2. If you were put on the spot right now and asked to stand up and explain how God is using you for his work, what would you say?
Challenge: Believe prayer can have its own medicinal like qualities to soothe a troubled heart. Repeatedly read and meditate on Philippians 4:6-7, then put this plan into action.
“The borrower is slave to the lender.” We have all heard this saying, but there is real truth to these words. Our finances are a powerful tool that we can use to bless others, but can also be an area of fear and frustration if not tended to properly. As we deal with our money, we need to be in prayer on how God would want us to use the funds he has entrusted us with. He can provide financial deliverance, but we need to do our part as well.
1. How are your finances? Are you able to bless others or just getting by month to month?
2. What changes do you need to make to improve your financial situation?
Challenge: One way to allow God to bless your finances is to develop the habit of a tithe. Giving God back the first portion of your financial blessings is something to strive for, if you are not currently doing this. If you are, continue, then watch Him work and perform miracles with the money you give.
God has the power to heal, but may not heal in the way we would like. Physical struggles are something we all will deal with at one point in our lives. When loved ones are sick, we ask God to heal them and make them well, and many times He does. The tough part is when God decides the best way to heal them is to bring them home to be with Him.
1. How has God provided healing to you or your loved ones?
2. How does that coincide with what God feels about healing?
Challenge: This can be an extremely difficult and challenging issue to think about and deal with. Are you in the midst of praying for healing for yourself or a loved one and struggling with the outcome? If you need someone to pray for you or walk with you during this struggle, let someone at Hillcrest know. We love you and want to be here for you both during your struggles and your praises.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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