What is your favorite worship song that you have heard recently?
Lord, thank You for singing over us!
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4 ESV).
Jesus is nothing but victory! Heaven does not have any sickness or unemployment. The enemy, however, does not want you and me to know that we have access to freedom and victory. Even when we achieve it through the cross of Calvary, the devil wants to dilute that truth and make us doubt our liberty. The truth is, however, that we became overcomers the day we got saved. The position of defeat ended in our lives!
Now, what are we going to do with our victory? Jesus paid the price, but you and I have to walk it out. If you are given a gift card, for example, you still have to swipe that card to receive the benefit of it. In a similar way, we have to claim our victory won on the cross. Our faith is what it takes to redeem this Calvary gift card.
Have you ever received a gift card that you never redeemed? Why did you not use it? Share with the group.
It is finished! Jesus won the victory, and no one can remove that victory.
Victory is the atmosphere of heaven, even when you look around and see no sign of victory. Victory is not an emotion. You cannot think that an emotional high is victory. Victory is far more than an emotion. It is a fact.
How familiar are you with the cross in the Scriptures? Forgiveness, peace, and healing are found in Isaiah 53. Are you aware of the many other promises that are yours in the Bible? What are some of your favorites?
Victory never changes, but you can lose your focus or grip in a moment and slip into defeat. Defeat is the opposite of victory. You can know you are defeated when you find yourself turning to anger, food, isolation. Sneaky defeat can manifest itself in sarcasm, gossip, negative news, fighting on social media, or drama of any kind. These things cause you to lose the tone of victory and by default lead to defeat. If it is not victory, it is defeat!
When we feed constantly on negative news, we become depressed. How are you doing concerning social media and the news? Do you feel overwhelmed? Share with the group.
Like using a gift card to obtain the products or services of a store, you and I have to use our faith to access the victory gifted to us at Calvary.
“Learn how to talk right. Learn to talk heaven talk. That is where the victory is!” (Norvel Hayes) Rely on the Holy Spirit, the one you are dancing with. The Holy Spirit understands only victory and will not work for those who entertain defeat.
What would you say is your dream vacation?
Lord, let me be childlike in Your presence!
John 12:27 ESV: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
Just as it is in physical stretching, spiritual stretching is difficult. In fact, it can be downright strenuous and painful. Stretching, however, is necessary. You can’t get where you need to go unless you stretch. The issue is not really about the pain, but it is about the purpose. God doesn’t delight in making you suffer, but He does delight in bringing you into the purpose for which you were apprehended. Stretching is necessary because your purpose is necessary, and you can’t ever reach your purpose without stretching.
Do you do any stretching before you exercise? If so, why? What does your stretching regimen look like?
Stretching is hard. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). As difficult as stretching may be, the things you really want are out of reach until you are stretched.
Share a time when you felt stretched by the Lord. What did you learn from that experience?
Stretching was part of the crucifixion. Jesus was stretched until His arms were out of joint. When we are feeling disjointed and extended beyond our capacity, we know we are being stretched, and this means we are taking up our cross. Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed is the sign that we are stretching beyond our present capacity.
Stretching is good. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press [reach] on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14 ESV) The end result of stretching is reaching. Don’t give up or give in when you are being stretched by the Lord, but instead, reach for the prize!
How does understanding that stretching is normal and essential affect your response to times when God stretches you? Over time, have you grown in this area? If so, what have you learned?
The things you really want—your purpose, your destiny, your calling—are out of reach until you are stretched. There are things that God has ordained for you to do that you will never lay hold of unless you are stretched.
If you lean into the stretching and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you, you will achieve the desired results. If you fight against it and contend for comfort, you will miss the purpose of the stretching.
What was your first job? How much did you earn?
Father, reward each seeker with Your presence.
1 Peter 4:10–11 ESV, emphasis added: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies.”
We are all priests, from the youngest believer to the most experienced minister. As a priest, you have a specific role to carry out. That’s right—you are a priest and you have a function. Think of yourself as a steward of a special gift that you are endowed with.
Your ministry to the Lord requires you to spend time in His presence. Next, your ministry for the Lord calls you to shine the light of Jesus on others. These profound truths build upon each other in that when you spend time in His presence, you become better equipped with patience, words, and insight to reach out to others. Conversely, the more you pour out into people, the more you need time in His presence to refill your well.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a priest? Share with the group.
Waiting The Bible teaches that part of the priest’s occupation was to go into the temple and wait upon the Lord. Sad to say, most of us are in such a hurry that most of our prayers are always on the run. However, the Bible tells us that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.
Peter urged us to be self-controlled and sober-minded. We must slow down and wait upon Him. No one can pray when their mind is fearful and distracted. Calm down!
Are you hurried in the morning? Is it hard for you to slow down and spend time with God? Share with the group.
Worshiping Wake up before anybody else in your home, kneel down in reverence, lift up your holy, priestly hands, and start worshiping the Lord: “My Savior, thank You for cleansing me. You are my healer, my deliverer, my provider.”
Are you satisfied with your devotional life? In what ways would you like it to improve? Share with the group.
You minister reconciliation—“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV). To “love one another earnestly” means to love when it stretches you! It describes the tight muscles of an athlete straining to finish a race. Some people do indeed stretch you, but remember, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” We also minister by inviting people to our B-Group and to church services.
Do people know about your passions, such as hunting or LSU sports? Are you just as vocal about your passion for Jesus? If not, why do you think that is so? What could you do to become a more vocal Christian?
You are an end-time priest. You have two functions: ministry to God and ministry to people.
Focus this week on waiting on the Lord, worshiping in His presence, and then interceding for another, in that order.