The tongue is one of the smallest muscles in the body, yet is capable of causing the most damage. It is important as followers of Christ we control our tongue or we may be doing more damage than good for the kingdom of God.
1. Do you remember a time when you gossiped? Did it hurt someone?
2. Do you have a problem with gossiping?
Challenge: Say something nice about the person rather than gossip.
We should be living our lives as if today is our last day on earth. We all have certain struggles or temptations that we find hard to overcome. God knows are weakness and He is waiting for us to ask Him for help. He will help us overcome our struggles if we will only seek Him first.
1. What are your greatest temptations that you find difficult to resist?
2. What safeguards do you have in place to overcome these temptations?
Challenge: Share your struggles with a friend and make a point to seek Christ when you feel tempted.
Paul instructed us to work with integrity. We are encouraged to work as if Jesus was our supervisor. We are called to do what is right when nobody is watching. We should work hard and with enthusiasm. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
1. Are you working to please man or God?
2. Do you understand the reward that the Lord has for you?
Challenge: Consider who you are working for; man, or God. What changes do you need to make in your work life to be right with God?
When God said he was sorry that he had made Saul king, was he saying he had made a mistake? Can God make a mistake? Does God change his mind? Can God change his attitude toward us or our actions?
1. What is something you have done that has caused God to change his attitude toward you?
2. Are you more concerned with what others think about you than the condition of your relationship with God?
Challenge: Consider an area of your life that may prove your efforts are for appearances or for others, instead of to develop your relationship with God.
The Israelites were warned against choosing a human king. The king would do whatever was best for himself. The alternative was to keep God as their king. Isaiah tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. His ways and thoughts are higher than the heavens. While a human king wants what is best for him, God wants what is best for us. He works things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He will work things to benefit us in His plan for our life.
1. When has something that seemed bad, turned out better than expected?
2. Have you experienced an unanswered prayer that you were grateful for later?
Challenge: God’s perspective is longer range. We may go through difficulty that prepared us for something later. Trusting God as our king will benefit us, because he always wants what is best for us, and good for us according to his plan.
God told Samuel to warn the people of the consequences for choosing a human king. This king would take sons and make them serve as soldiers, daughters would serve in the king’s house, the people would become slaves to the king. The king would take the best fields, vineyards, and olive groves. The king would take a portion of their income and animals. This description sounds a lot like their time in Egypt. Except this time when the people would eventually cry out for relief, there would be none. After hearing all this, the people still chose to have a king, so they could be like other nations.
1. Why do think it was so important to be like other nations?
2. In what ways do you want to be like other people?
Challenge: Consider a time someone warned you against a bad decision. What lessons did you learn?
God gave Moses the 10 commandments after he led the Israelites out of Egypt. The first four commandments teach us how to act towards God. They were specific about having no other gods and we should not make an idol to worship. These instructions teach us that God needs to be in first place in our lives. Nothing else should come before him. No possessions, no other relationship, no activity, no hobby, and no king. God desires our loyalty and devotion.
1. How do you react to the idea of no other gods?
2. What things or people have you placed before God?
Challenge: If you review how you spent your time this past week, what do you see? Are there any changes you need to make?
Samuel spent his life following God. His sons watched Samuel’s devotion and were eventually appointed as judges, but they didn’t follow their dad’s commitment to God. As the Israelites watched their dishonest ways, the people didn’t trust them and revolted by asking for a human king to lead them “as the other nations had.” God recognized that the people were actually rejecting him as their king.
1. Why did the people reject God as their king?
2. How do you relate to the Israelites?
Challenge: As you reflect on your answers above, are there things about God that you reject? What are the things that make it hard to follow God? Can you begin to pray about them, and ask for God’s help?
What does following God look like? The Israelites were asked to put away idols to foreign gods and serve God only. Their devotion included fasting, confession of sin, crying out to God for help, and sacrificing burnt offerings. All these actions were to demonstrate their commitment to God. While the Israelites focused on God, he protected them and they were successful in battles against their enemies.
1. What things in your life keep you from being a devoted follower of God?
2. What would your devotion to God look like?
Challenge: Examine your life. What keeps you from spending time in God’s word, keeps you from church, or keeps you from joining a small group? What changes could you make to follow God?
This section depicts Samuel’s transformation from “boy,” (3:1) to “prophet,” (3:20), from being a juvenile, ignorant of the Lord, to one who functioned as the Lord’s impeccable and revered spokesman. With this event the child Samuel, the first named male prophet since Moses, begins his career as a prophet who will be like Moses (cf. Deut 18:15–19). In it all, the Lord once again demonstrated his propensity for confounding human systems, and bypassing the exalted in favor of the humble.
1. What is your next step of surrender today?
2. Are there any practices you need to start? Is there anything from your life that you need to remove?
Challenge: Start a written list of the things you want to surrender to the Lord. Follow up that with a list of things you will pray for strength to remove, and remove them. Keep pushing ahead and pray for the Holy Spirit to embolden you to live a life worthy of what He called you to.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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