Yep, it just might happen. You might make a mistake, you might mess up and you might hurt someone you love. It’s not a happy thought and it’s not something we want to happen but try as we may, it probably will. The goal is not to be okay with failing. Wanting to do something different is the key ingredient to finding healing in the mess and lessening future mistakes or eliminating them all together. God wants to do great things through you and even with your mistakes, he will!
Question 1 - Why do you think failure happens in life?
Question 2 - Is sin something we can overcome? What does overcome look like?
Challenge - There are things we all need to confess. Pray for forgiveness and the strength to overcome your failures.
In this passage, Paul makes it clear that we are to be ready for Christ’s return, but not concerned about the details of how or when. He says to focus on living in the light, being full of faith and love. We can plan for the future, but can’t let those worries distract us from our calling in the present. Being ready doesn’t mean having a perfectly organized plan established, but rather living each moment led by the Spirit – being who the Lord has created you to be.
1. How do you respond when your plans are derailed? Are you able to seek God’s redirection?
2. What worries about the future do you need to let go and allow Christ to handle?
Challenge: The next time you sense God nudging you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone, be willing to put aside your schedule and step forward. Letting an opportunity to be led by the Holy Spirit pass you by will always turn into regret later. Practice being ready to accept God’s call!
I believe the most effective distraction Satan uses against us is “the American Dream.” Christians are just as susceptible to getting caught up in achievements, possessions, and the never-ending pursuit of pleasure as non-believers. We are raised to set goals, get an education, seek a career, buy a house, and show that we can succeed in life. While these things are not bad, they too easily replace our focus on seeking God’s kingdom and his will for our lives.
1. What attachments or worldly pursuits distract you most from serving God?
2. What tangible steps can you take this week to seek the Kingdom first?
Challenge: Make a list of everything in life that is important to you. Include your goals for accomplishments, relationships, possessions, etc. Then go back and ask God about each item. Ask for his wisdom and direction. Maybe some items will need to be crossed off or modified. Maybe God will prompt you to add something new!
Too often these days, Christians get caught up in arguments about our beliefs, or more likely, what we are against. Usually these debates don’t convince the other party, and then the person is left with a bad impression of the church. Although some believers are gifted apologists and can successfully reason with those who are seeking truth, we should avoid foolish fights with difficult people. Also, don’t let conflict with other Christians distract you or them from the Kingdom work you’re each meant to do.
1. The next time a discussion starts to turn into a useless argument, what can you say to turn it around and respond in love?
2. Are you able to “correctly explain the word of truth” with kindness and patience? (v.15)
Challenge: When conversing with non-believers, instead of trying to convince them, focus on making them feel cared about and planting small seeds of truth where you can.
Simple idleness is another common cause for Christians to drift away from the good work God calls us to do. We live in a culture that highly values entertainment, thus much of our time is spent on TV, movies, gaming, etc. While it takes effort to pursue whatever passion the Lord has put in your heart, it’s so much easier to plop on the couch and pull up Netflix. We all need breaks and time to relax, but how often are we just being lazy?
1. Do you ever “get tired of doing good?” (v. 13) How can you find your motivation again?
2. How do you feel about Paul’s command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat”?
Challenge: Take an honest inventory of how you spend your time for the rest of the week. Do you feel your amount of leisure time is appropriate? Pray for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and guidance in making changes if they’re called for.
Just as Nehemiah’s enemies tried to distract him from the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 6), Satan attempts to distract you from your calling. If he can, the devil will keep you so focused on your temptations to sin, that you will think yourself unworthy to serve God in a big way. We do need to deal with the sin in our lives, but do not forget that God chose you and considers you his “prized possession.”
1. Which temptations claim the most of your time and energy on a regular basis?
2. What can you do to remove, block, or avoid these temptations so you can focus on your calling?
Challenge: When your struggles with sin try to drag you away from the good work God has purposed for you, stand firm. When Satan’s accusations cause you to feel shame, remember that Jesus himself referred to us as “the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop.” (Matt. 5:14-15)
Ridicule can cut deeply, causing discouragement and despair. The Jews were continually ridiculed to dissuade them from building the wall. Instead of trading insults, Nehemiah uses the superior weapon of prayer and the work continued. Just like Nehemiah, when we are mocked or made fun of, we can call on our God who has promised to be with us and never leave us! This should give us encouragement and strength to carry on. Remember to focus on God and His purposes when things get hard. Nehemiah reminded the workers of their calling, their goal, and God’s ultimate protection. We should strive to do the same.
1. When tiredness and discouragement set in, how do you combat these feelings?
2. Do you try to handle the above feelings on your own strength? What has been the result?
Challenge: The next time you feel discouragement and fear, spend some time in prayer. It will help ease the burden as God works in and through you.
The blueprint of God’s Word as a deterrent to Satan’s advances is no more evident than in the story of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. I mean, Jesus is God and He could have produced His own resume and shut the devil right down. However, He does something very interesting and something that Christians should take note of. Jesus was hungry and weak after fasting for 40 days. I am hungry after fasting for 40 minutes. Satan must have thought He was ripe for the picking. However, He answered Satan’s 3 pronged assault (physical needs/desires, power/possessions, and pride) with clear and concise nuggets from God’s Word. He didn’t try to fight on His own, although it would have been no problem. He used the power of the Holy Spirit in God’s own Word to fight the enemy. We would do well to do the same.
1. Of the 3 pronged approach that Satan uses, (physical desires, power/possessions, and pride) which one is the greatest struggle for you? Why do you think that is?
2. How will you take action to combat the area you identified in question #1?
Challenge: Continue to persevere in prayer and Bible reading to combat the schemes of the enemy. If it is good enough for our Savior, it will be good enough for us.
Why do I need an antidote? I don’t feel sick, you might say. However, we are all under attack by a hidden enemy who wants nothing more than to tempt us with sin’s destructive lure. His aim is not just to hurt us; it is to kill us with sin’s sword. We are constantly under siege and find it increasingly difficult to live a Godly life in this time and place. However, there is an antidote. God has graciously provided us a blueprint in His Word. He calls us to “put on the full armor of God so when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” (Eph. 6:13) It gives us the “belt of truth”, “breastplate of righteousness”, “shoes of peace”, “shield of faith”, “helmet of salvation”, and the “sword of the Spirit- the Word of God”. Any questions?
1. The next time temptation arises and the enemy runs his schemes, what will I do to combat this?
2. In what ways have you seen prayer be effective against the “schemes” of the devil?
Challenge: Continue to use the blueprint above in God’s word to combat the schemes of the enemy.
Our enemy, Satan, does not fight fair. He is a defeated foe, but continues on with his shenanigans as if he is unaware. Life on earth is continually plagued with battles of temptation (schemes v.11) that Satan puts in our path. This word carries the idea of cleverness, crafty methods, cunning, and deception. Satan’s schemes are further propagated through an evil world system over which he rules. Although we are assured victory through Jesus Christ, we still must engage in the struggle until Jesus returns. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan. We will discuss that more tomorrow.
1. How have you experienced Satan’s “schemes” in your day to day life?
2. How do you best battle those times of temptation? What has worked? What has not?
Challenge: Continue to pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to enable you to withstand the devil’s schemes and tricks. Read your Bible and gain strength to live out your faith in Jesus every day.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
Receive this devotional in your inbox every Monday - Friday.