Lessons from Jewish history were passed down from generation to generation so that we could remember God and could avoid the mistakes of the ancestors. Poems were recorded to help each generation learn from God and to know how to obey Him. We have all the necessary pieces of information at our fingertips that will help us to live a faithful life.
1. Are you making the best effort to know God and discover what His plan for your life is?
2. What ways can you improve your relationship with God and obedience to Him?
Challenge: This week, find 40 minutes in your day to read your Bible (20 mins) and then sit quietly (20 mins), listening for God’s still, small voice.
I love the story of Queen Esther. She had a remarkable and inspiring level of faith. For all that she had endured in her young life, she never doubted what God was capable of. She never turned away from God. Esther’s obedience to Him is what gave her courage to do what needed to be done in a frightening situation.
1. When have you needed to be obedient to God in order to get through something frightening?
2. How has obedience to God strengthened your faith?
Challenge: Identify an area in your life that you are avoiding because you are too afraid to face it. Then ask God for 30 seconds of courage to face the challenge.
The dictionary defines contentment as, “a state of happiness and satisfaction.” The secular world’s propagation wants us to believe that we can buy our happiness and satisfaction. It’s what the Superbowl commercials are all about. It’s always fun to buy new things. Those new things bring us happiness, joy, and contentment… for a little while.
1. Do you rely on your physical possessions as a source of contentment and security?
2. If you were to lose all of your possessions, would your faith in God alone sustain you?
Challenge: Identify something (other than God) that you rely heavily on (ex: food, phone) and abstain from it for a few days. Every time you are tempted by it, turn to God in prayer instead. Journal about your experience.
Just as a husband and wife need to be faithful to one another, we need to be faithful to the Lord. When people break their vows and are unfaithful to their spouse, they commit adultery. But did you know that Christians can commit spiritual adultery? We do this by loving this world system. Here is a paraphrase of this verse: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him." We don't want to commit spiritual adultery. God has called us to be faithful to Him.
1. In what ways have I been guilty of spiritual adultery?
2. What will I change in order to be more faithful to the Lord?
Challenge: Take time this week to thank the Lord for his provision. Give praise to Him and put Him in first place in your heart.
We are told that honoring marriage means that we honor the marriage bed (v. 4). The sexual relationship between husband and wife is a precious gift from God and is to be kept undefiled. Doing this of course means avoiding such obviously gross practices as adultery and sexual immorality (v. 4). Sexual immorality would involve any kind of practice expressly forbidden by Scripture. Such practices also violate God’s law and are thus immoral. When we honor marriage, we maintain it as a God-glorifying relationship that draws us to Christ and not away from Him. As God’s will for marriage is honored, so too is His will for all of His people.
1. How have I handled a situation where temptation could be a possibility? Have I limited my exposure to those situations? Why or why not?
2. How can I keep strong in the times of obvious weakness?
Challenge: Whether we happen to be single or married, this command applies to all of us. We are to avoid anything that could, whether in the present or the future, bring defilement to the marriage bed. Look at your life, and seek to learn how this command applies to you. In prayer ask God to make you obedient to His will for marriage.
Temptation originates from evil desires inside us, not from God. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when we dwell on the thought and allow it to become an action. Like a snowball rolling down a hill becomes an avalanche, sin, especially sexual sin, will continue to grow more destructive the more it is left unchecked. The best time to stop a tempting desire is before it is too strong or moving too fast to control.
1. How does knowing that temptation originates from desires within me change the way I will combat it?
2. In what ways can I take steps to safeguard my marriage against the enemy of adultery? (See Tuesday challenge)
Challenge: If you are struggling with temptation (and even if you aren’t), find time to read your Bible and pray and wait expectantly as God works.
Yesterday we learned about the relationship between adultery and coveting. Today we will explore the relationship between adultery and lust. The OT was pretty clear when it said not to have relations with anyone other than your spouse, but Jesus took it a step further. He said the desire (lust) to have relations with someone who isn’t your spouse is mental adultery and sinful. He was emphasizing the intention behind the act. Obviously, sinful action is more dangerous than sinful desire, but every destructive sin is hatched from a wrong desire resulting in wrong actions.
1. How have I been led to believe that there is nothing wrong with a wrong desire that hasn’t resulted in action?
2. In what ways will I take steps to solidify my desire for and relationship with my spouse?
Challenge: Attend a FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage conference. It is held November 2-4, 2018 at the Sheraton in Sioux Falls. Sign up at https://familylifeministries.org/weekend-to-remember/ and use group name “Hillcrestsf” and save $100 off the registration cost. It will be a great way to reconnect with your spouse as you explore some great material on “oneness” in marriage.
This was God’s command, applicable to both men and women and protected the sacredness of the marriage relationship. God had instituted marriage at the creation of man and woman and had blessed it as the means of filling the earth. The commandment against adultery establishes the boundaries that prevent one of the most enjoyable and unifying aspects of the marriage relationship from becoming a force of destruction. Isn’t it interesting how close adultery and coveting are in proximity in the list and how close they are at the root level? Adultery is coveting someone you can’t and shouldn’t desire.
1. Take a closer look at the two commandments referenced above. How are they alike? How do they differ?
2. What actions will I undertake to avoid vulnerable situations and love my spouse more completely?
Challenge: God’s prohibition of adultery shows His wisdom and mercy. To cheat on one’s spouse is perhaps the greatest act of betrayal possible in human-human relationships. We must do what we can to keep ourselves from falling into adultery. May we avoid situations that make adultery more likely and, by the Holy Spirit, may we love our spouses all of our days.
We eat our share of forbidden fruit. We say what we shouldn’t say. Go where we shouldn’t go. Pluck fruit from trees we shouldn’t touch. And when we do, the door opens, and the shame tumbles in. And we hide.
So what does God do? Exactly what He did for our parents in the garden. He sheds innocent blood. He offers the life of His Son. And from the scene of the sacrifice the Father takes a robe — the robe of righteousness. And does He throw it in our direction and tell us to shape up? No, He dresses us Himself. He dresses us with Himself.
Christ covers each of us with His robe of righteousness and sacrificial blood. Whatever sins we've committed in the past, stay there. Whatever regrets we have or mistakes we have made do not define us forever. This is what it means to be a Christian. We are accepted by God when we admit our sins and seek Christ as our Saviour. His robe of righteousness covers our past and completely shields us from God's wrath so that when God looks at me, He sees not what I used to be, but He sees Jesus.
Perhaps you are worried about a past mistake. Maybe you still feel shame over some personal sin. Or guilt and anxiety may still be wounding your soul. Christ can cancel those wounds and wrongs. He can make all things new and let you begin again. All you have to do is sincerely ask Him for forgiveness.
1. Can you think of a time when you brought sin and God brought a robe of righteousness?
2. What did that robe do to your sin?
Challenge: Be thankful to the Lord this week, do not argue with His mercy and kindness. Simply praise Him for making us as beautiful as a majestically pure white snowfall washed in His love. And do your best to live uprightly for Him!
Have you ever been really hungry? My stomach is like a clock. By 11:30 a.m. I am hungry for lunch. At 12:00, I am thinking that I will hopefully be eating any time now. And at 12:30, I will say to myself, "I am starving to death." In reality, I am not starving to death at all. But I am hungry. Thanksgiving is an even greater challenge. After all the preparation, when it is finally time to sit down and eat, I am really hungry.
Are you hungry for God? Are you thirsty for spiritual things? Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). A happy person passionately desires a righteous life. It is a thirst for God himself.
Our hunger for God could be determined by the way we see spiritual things. As you get ready for work, school, or whatever it is you are planning to do, will you make time for the Word of God? Do you hunger for what God has to say to you as you start your day? How about prayer? Is that something you make time for as well?
Happy people are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They want to be right with God. They want to walk with God. They long for these things. That is where happiness will come from—not from the things of this world.
1. Do you starve for a holy life?
2. Do you hunger for God's best for you?
Challenge: Make the righteousness of God your passion and the hunger and the thirst of your life. Don't settle for the little half-hearted satisfaction of being a millionaire. Make it your prayer to hunger and thirst in such a way that we establish righteousness.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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