Week 1 Devotionals
Memory verse: Hebrews 11:6: And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. (NLT)
When we expect God to help us, we are paying Him the highest compliment. Reflect today on what your expectations of God are. Do you pray and request things of God, then spend the rest of your day hoping He has heard your prayer and may grant your request? Or, do you focus on doing His will for the day and wait confidently in expectation for God to grant your request?
We have learned that expecting the best is the confident assurance that God is in control of the future and that He plans what is best for our lives because He loves us, based on Psalm 32:8. “I will guide you along the best pathways for your life. I’ll advise you and I’ll watch over you.” (NLT)
We know that God can do anything. When we trust Him and expect Him to do what’s best for us, we bring Him honor. Let’s honor our great God today by expecting the very best from Him.
God gave David the ability to defeat Goliath because of his faith. David’s attitude was the difference. What if David had said: “I think I can defeat him” or “perhaps God will grant me success?” David knew what his God was capable of and therefore there was no doubt in his mind. 1 Samuel 17 says: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel…This day the Lord will hand you over to me…” (NIV) Do you hear David’s confidence? Can you sense his unwavering purpose? David didn’t think twice about his age, his stature or his status – he trusted God to take care of
those things. He expected success to be the result of his faith in God. When we have faith it increases our abilities. John Emmonds tells us this: “The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.” What fears do you allow to trap you and stifle your faith?
Dear God, I give You my fears today. I trust You to take care of me. Please give me confidence to expect the best today so that my abilities might be increased and Your name be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Having faith encourages others.
David’s one act of faith resulted in the defeating of Goliath and the Philistines. But more than that it encouraged and united the entire nation of Israel. Israel’s energy and optimism was renewed. Faith has the amazing power to make us optimistic. Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Do you look for the good in all things? Are you projecting faith to others, or are you a discouragement to others? Having faith and being an encourager is a great help to others. Read this illustration about an “expect-the-best” kind of person from Edna Butterfield: “My husband, Ron, once taught a class of mentally impaired teenagers. Looking at his students' capabilities rather than their limitations, Ron got them to play chess, restore furniture and repair electrical appliances. Most important, he taught them to believe in themselves. Young Bobby soon proved how well he had learned that last lesson. One day he brought in a broken toaster to repair. He carried the toaster tucked under one arm, and a half-loaf of bread under the other.” When was the last time you displayed that kind of optimism? Ponder today one area of your life where your faith is lacking. Take a moment to write 3 optimistic sentences to encourage you in that area.
Tune in to God every morning.
David spent his first moments of the day with God. He had four secrets to optimism and this is the first one. He tells us in Psalm 5:3: “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” (NIV) You don’t have to be a “morning person” to appreciate David’s words in this psalm. He doesn’t say “before the sun comes up.” Morning can be defined as any time before noon, so late-sleepers rejoice! David is simply expressing that before he does anything else, before he talks with anyone else, he seeks God’s will for his day. If you’ve ever watched the sun rise or sat in the stillness of the quiet dark of the morning, you can understand his thinking. Before the demands of a new day begin, he ponders God’s creation in the stillness of the morning and anchors his thoughts in God. That way, no matter what comes his way, he is confident of who is in control. God’s mercies are new every morning. If, for you, that means 10:30am after a cup of coffee, fine! Just tune in to Him and let him set your frequency for the day. Wait in expectation for His word to you. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Dear Lord, may I take time this day to wait in expectation before you. May You hear my voice in the morning and may Your name be praised. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Think on God’s promises throughout the day.
David’s second secret to optimism is that he thought all day long about God’s promises. Even when things were going poorly for him, he did not wander from this practice. It’s easy to remember all the things that God has promised you when things are going your way. However, how often do you recite the good promises of God in the midst of a very bad day? Is your optimism still high on those days? Are you still smiling and being an encourager to others? David had some bad days. He tells us in Psalm 119:95 that “though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind upon Your promises.” (LB) THAT is a bad day. But David didn’t waver from his determination to ponder God’s promises and to keep them in the forefront of his mind. How did he do this? He tells us in Psalm 119:11. He says “I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart.” (Mes) That means he memorized them. He said them out loud, over and over until they became truth to his heart. He stored them on the tip of his tongue so that when fear or discouragement threatened to overtake him, he had them as handy as his slingshot. He trusted God because he knew the truth of His promises. Those promises had been realized with the defeat of Goliath. David had proof of God’s goodness. We have that proof too. Maybe not as tangible as watching Goliath fall and feeling the earth tremble under the weight of him, but God’s goodness is evident if we attribute it to Him. Any success that we realize is evidence if we attribute it to God keeping his promise to us. If you attribute it to coincidence, fate or providence, then you’re missing out on the blessing. Philippians 4:8 says “You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best not the worst, the beautiful not the ugly.” (Mes) Again, optimism must win out. If we fill our day with thoughts of disappointments, thoughts of how others have wronged us, or other things that are not pleasing to God, we have no room or energy to think on His promises.
Dear God, bring Your promises to mind for me today. Fill me with Your spirit and let the promises of Your word settle in my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Trust God’s love even when things look bad.
We have all had times in our life when things looked bleak. Everyone has experienced circumstances that seemed hopeless. We’ve even asked ourselves “where
is God when this is happening?” David experienced times
of hopelessness too. He was battered by the same trials that we face, but he was confident that God was in control. He trusted that God loved him even when things weren’t going his way. This is his third secret to optimism. We hear his words in Psalm 42. He says “O my soul, don’t be discouraged! Don’t be upset! Expect God to act. For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do.” (LB) David expected God’s best, even if he couldn’t see what that was in his present situation. When was the last time that you faced a difficult time with that kind of optimism? David knew
that God was in control and he trusted that God was
doing what was best for him, even if it meant dealing with a difficult situation. David didn’t try to figure out why, he just trusted that God knew the why and that He had his best interests in mind. When was the last time God gave you an explanation for why something happened to you? It rarely happens. God doesn’t explain why you experience pain, troubles and circumstances that you don’t understand.
It’s doubtful we could comprehend any explanation that He would give and He doesn’t owe us one. So what do we do? Be like David and his unwavering faith in his God. Trust in God’s love for us. Are you going through a dark time right now? Think back to a time when God helped
you. He has provided for you time and time again. It is easy to forget those times in the midst of our current crisis. George Mueller says this: “God delights to increase the faith of His children...I say, and say it deliberately--trials, difficulties and sometimes defeat, are the very food of faith...We should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.” Similarly Oswald Chambers says: “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.” Trusting in the fact that God is good and He loves you and He is in control and He wants what is best for you is a deep level of faith that God wants to grow in you. Believe it!!
Talk with other believers.
David didn’t surround himself with pessimists. He didn’t surround himself with cynics or people with negative attitudes. In fact, he tells us in Psalm 119:63 that “I’m a friend and companion to those committed to living by Your rules.” (Mes) This is David’s fourth secret to optimism. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us that “bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV) David knew this and worked to make sure the influences around him were going to build him up and give him support. Are your friends Christ-followers? The people that really know you best, do they know Christ as well? Are you getting any positive support for your faith? If not, get involved in a small group study where you can share some of your struggles and be encouraged to learn that you’re not struggling alone. Learn a truth about God’s promises together and be encouraged. God wants fellowship among his believers. He tells us “let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Instead, let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25, GN)
Dear Lord, impress upon me today the importance of fellowship with other believers. Help me to realize the value of those relationships, they are close to your heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.