Moses died on the way to the Promised Land. Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot. Both were known for their miracles. Yet they both appear miraculously centuries later with Jesus. Their appearance with Jesus shows they were not forgotten after leaving Earth.
1. What does the appearance of Moses and Elijah reveal about eternal life?
2. How does knowing eternal life exists urge you toward sharing your faith with people who have not given their life to Christ?
Challenge: Pray to God to open doors to share your faith with someone about the greatness of eternal life in Heaven this week. Then take that step and share about the joy that knowing about eternal life has given you.
Eternity starts at the beginning of time, before the Creation even existed. God was there! He gave us the Earth, the Heavens and everything that we have today. He was there to create us out of His image. He knew everything we would need, both here on Earth, and what we will see in Heaven.
1. If God was present at the beginning of time, how do you see God’s presence at the end of time?
2. How does accepting God’s creation today prepare us for eternal life?
Challenge: Spend some time this week outside in the fresh spring air, enjoying and caring for God’s creation.
Like Christ crying out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Stephen asks God to not hold the sin of him being stoned against those stoning him. Many people have been and still are being persecuted for their belief in God and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those that have endured have also shown great faith in their beliefs. Loving God and loving others so that all people may be able to come to God is worth the pain, even death.
1. Have you heard other stories of martyrs? What do these stories make you think or feel about your faith?
2. Have you experienced persecution due to your faith, and if so, how?
Challenge: Pray for believers everywhere who are being persecuted that they might be able to endure and continue to share their faith with those around them either through word or deed.
Spotting differences among us is easy. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people is comfortable. However, Paul urges us to make every effort to keep the church (followers of Christ) unified. This is harder than it might sound. Luckily, we have help. We have all been called by the same God, and given the same grace. And that is as solid of a foundation as you could hope for.
1. Does keeping peace with everyone seem like a realistic goal? Why or why not?
2. What does it mean to be called by Christ? How does that affect how you treat those around you?
Challenge: Write down an area of success you’ve had in a difficult relationship. Then consider how you or the other party chose to share grace along the way. Prayerfully consider how to bring this same grace into areas that have been more divisive.
Jesus tells us, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” But what does that really look like? The disciples began by taking the message to other people who were Jewish. However, God shared with Peter in Acts through a vision that it is not just one group of people that the good news be shared with, but all groups. This is how Peter ends up sharing the Good news with a group of gentiles. This is also true today. It is easy to stay within specific boundaries. However, God commands that we share with all people.
1. How do you decide whether someone is approachable, whether it is to talk to, help, or any another interaction?
2. What do you think might make you seem unapproachable to another person?
Challenge: Step out of your comfort zone. Interact with someone you wouldn’t normally, either with a conversation, or a helping hand.
Eternal life with God in Heaven. What an amazing gift to be given, and yet hard to believe. Still John reveals that Jesus taught about the Son of God needing to be risen up for those who believe to have eternal life. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, everyone who believes gets to have eternal life. Jesus’ death reverses the consequences of sin which is death. This reversal is something that only God can attain, and that is with the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s son.
1. What does the death and resurrection of Jesus mean for your life?
2. What makes it difficult to believe fully in the death and resurrection of Jesus?
Challenge: Journal about the above questions, and if needed, meet with someone who is a mentor to discuss any questions/concerns you come up with.
The struggle is real. Knowing what is good and right, while at the same time wanting what is sinful. Paul reveals his own struggles with this to the church in Rome. Sin is a really strong power within our lives, and infiltrates our desires even when we want to do right. Human strength alone cannot withstand the power of sin. This is why Paul also rejoices in God because God through Jesus and the resurrection is strong enough to defeat the sin in our lives for us.
1. How has sin entered into your life?
2. How has God helped you battle this sin?
Challenge: Pray about it - ask God to continue to help you remain steadfast, and combat sin in your life. Thank God for the times that He has helped you with the struggle of sin.
God loves His children. It is not His wish to create children merely to punish and hurt them. That is the farthest thing from His mind. God will sometimes discipline, and even call home, His children, but it is never out of hate, but out of love that He does so. He restored mankind (for a time) through Noah and his sons. That is what God is always about each and every time with us.
1. God restored Noah and his sons. Do we remember that He wishes only to love us and to have us love Him?
2. Do we know that the only proper way to live and love is to love Him, since He first loved us, which is why He created us in the first place?
Challenge: Let’s remember that everything that happened with Noah then, and with Jesus much, much later, was always about restoring God’s children to Himself. God is merciful, loving, and just (all three). He does not create creatures to hurt, but rather to love, and to be loved by Him. Let us remember to not do, say, or think evil, for that is contrary to the love that He breathed into us when He created us, and sent His son to die on the cross for us. There will be no more floods, and sin has lost its sting, for Jesus took on our sins and killed death once and for all. God loves us every day. Amen.
When God’s power and wrath were given full sway by Him, of course the earth was literally washed way. Animals of all kinds, save for those on the Ark, gone. God’s most precious creation – mankind – also gone, save for Noah and his family. When God rains justice, it is total.
1. Do we often ponder the power of God and His will?
2. Do we think about what happens if we choose to cross God and disobey His will for us?
Challenge: God loves His children very much, but He cannot and will not tolerate evil. As shown here, He will wipe it away absolutely clean. Let us remember that He is truly the Lord of the universe, and that He ordains our days from the moment we’re born to the day He calls us home. It is a day to look forward to for believers, unlike those in the time of Noah. Amen.
There is no sugarcoating what happened when Noah moved his family and all of God’s creatures into the Ark God commanded that he make. God was determined to destroy the earth, and every living thing in it. That included His greatest creation: mankind. It was necessary. Because sin and evil had so consumed them, God had to destroy them. So, He did.
1. Do we really ponder the idea that the wages of sin is death? Literally?
2. Do we remember that God is just and that He can bear no evil in His presence, no matter what? Not one little bit?
Challenge: God is justice itself. He will bring justice and righteousness where it is not, which means evil will literally be wiped out. Woe to those who engage in it, for God will have his justice. Pray that we would daily remember to do justice and live righteously with others, as He commands us.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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