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.
. . . or you can have your successes. You can’t have both. I love the excuse offered in today’s proverb: “There’s a lion in the road!” Perhaps there once was a lion in the road. Perhaps a lion in the road is possible as in Dumb & Dumber “you’re saying there’s a chance” possible. We love our excuses. We love to say we don’t have enough time. Don’t have enough money. Don’t have enough energy. We’re too out of shape. Too much in debt. Too busy at work. Our excuses become like a lion in the road. We convince ourselves there’s a lion in the road when in fact, there is no lion. There are just excuses.
1. What’s your “go-to” excuse?
2. If you didn’t use that excuse, what difference might that make in your life?
Challenge: For today only, jot down every time you think or speak an excuse. At the end of the day, review your excuses and replace them with words of ownership. For instance, a co-worker asks you to go to lunch with her. You reply: “I can’t. I am too busy.” You may be too busy- on that day- or you may not want to go. When you review the excuse, replace it with “I am choosing to finish this project today” or “I would love to go to lunch with you next week- when works best?”
Ask any author, creative, or entrepreneur what household task they prefer doing before working on their business, finishing their book, or writing a marketing plan. They’ll have one. It could be doing the dishes. Folding clothes. Mowing the lawn. Paying bills and checking accounts. These things are not bad, but they will feel like false progress. In today’s proverb, there’s a huge benefit to not having any oxen- a clean stable! But not having oxen means no harvest. You may have to allow for some mess in order to make true progress on what matters to you.
1. What completed task(s) in your life makes you feel like you’ve done something but could be seen as false progress?
2. Where in your life do you desire to make real progress? Work? Family? A hobby?
Challenge: To achieve progress on something, you often have to let go of something else. The challenge will be that the thing you desire to make progress on- say exercising more or spending focused time on your business- may mean a “messier stable.” What things can you temporarily let go of to pursue progress on things that matter?
Most of us innately understand it’s not good to be lazy. Most of us would also probably never admit that we are lazy. We work or go to school, we come to church, we hang out with friends. And the truth is that most of us are probably not lazy, in terms of doing nothing each day. But most of us can probably find time in our days where we are lazy- time spent on social media, watching Netflix, etc. It’s not that these things are bad. It’s that if we feel like we don’t have any time or if we’re beginning to feel lazy, these are areas to look at.
1. Who is someone in your life you think is lazy? Why?
2. Now, identify characteristics you share with your lazy friend. How are you lazy (or have the potential to be lazy) like your friend?
Challenge: Spend this week auditing how much time you spend online: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat, watching shows, online shopping, etc. Go next level and ask a spouse, family member, or friend to help you. If you’re like most folks, you’ll discover you’re online anywhere from 10 to 50 hours a week!
You’re not going to want to hear this but, “Guess what?” It’s not about you! I know, your mom said you were special and your school sport gave you a participation trophy even though you sat the whole season on the bench but…so what! Look, you are special. God made you and he loves you and you are his gift to the world. There is no one he loves more than you. But remember this, there is no one he loves less. Each person is special to God and your opinions, thought and desires should never trump those of your neighbor. In fact, Jesus said we should be willing to sacrifice our desires for the desires of another. He gave the ultimate example when he gave his life for ours!
1. Are there things in the way we do church that you are unwilling to give up?
2. What is something (one thing) every church should do?
Challenge: Love…it’s not only what we do, it is who we are because God is love. So go and love and divide no more!
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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