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 verse talks about God being faithful, always giving us strength in the face of temptation. He promises us he will show us a way out of our temptation so we won't give in to it. This kind of deliverance from temptation is so valuable and ready for us to call upon.
1. What is the greatest temptation you are experiencing right now?
2. Has God provided a way out for you? Have you asked?
Challenge: The next time you are tempted to sin or go away from what you know God wants for you, ask him for a way out. From personal experience, He will provide you the way out, you just need to watch for it!! He is faithful and will provide just what you need when you need it.
God cares about our everyday struggles as well as our major life struggles. This is apparent to me as this morning my vehicle broke down and is presently sitting on the side of the road not running. Even during these kinds of everyday hassles, God provides a way out and is our help in times of trouble. Never forget he has your back, in big things and everyday things.
1. What came up this week that you would consider an everyday struggle?
2. How did you see God show up and help?
Challenge: Really think about how God has helped you in tangible ways. My neighbor is out of town and left me the keys to his vehicle if we needed it. God knew we were going to need help and provided the way days ago and I didn't even know it. I suspect these kinds of stories are true for you as well, if you can see past the struggle and really look for Him at work.
When reading this passage, it is helpful to remember we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the evil one. If you focus on who you are really fighting against, it may take some of the hurt, anger and frustration away that you feel towards a person who has offended you. Your fight is not with them personally, but the situation Satan is using to get in the way of what God may be trying to accomplish.
1. What was the last argument or issue you had with another person?
2. Was the disagreement valid or a seed that was planted by Satan and allowed to grow?
Challenge: Take a look at your answers to the questions above. Think about how you could have handled that disagreement differently with the understanding of who you were really fighting against.
Yesterday, we talked about obedience. Today we will discuss honor. Honor is simply the “attitude of obedience.” Obeying our parents is our main task when we are young, but honoring them should continue for their entire life and even beyond death. Perhaps one of the best ways we can honor our parents is to pass on their Christ-honoring values to our children, if that is what they exhibited. Honoring involves all that we as sons and daughters do with our lives; the way we work and talk, the values we hold, and the morals we practice.
1. In what ways are you showing honor and respect to your parents or family members?
2. Are you living in a way that would bring honor to them? Why or why not?
Challenge: If you have been lacking in the “honor” area, commit to change that today. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the help you need to honor well.
Obedience is defined as a “genuine willing adherence to a request of one in authority.” There is a difference between obeying and honoring. To obey means to do as one is told; to honor means to respect and love. Children are not commanded to disobey God in obeying their parents. Adult children are not asked to be subservient to domineering parents. However, children are to obey while under their parents care, but the responsibility to honor extends throughout their entire life.
1. In what ways do you see obedience being demonstrated in our world today?
2. How do you think our mindsets could be changed if we all demonstrated an attitude of obedience?
Challenge: Using a Bible concordance or BibleGateway.com, do a word search for “obedience” or “obey.” What do you find?
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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