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Monday | The Comparison Game
In Psalm 73, Asaph is stewing in jealousy over the prosperity of the wicked. He doesn’t understand how they could be so successful while the godly are not.
1. Read Psalm 73:1–15. Do you ever ask similar questions to those Asaph was asking here?
2. What particular areas of comparison do you struggle with most when you’re thinking about other people prospering?
In verse 16, there is a turning point in Asaph’s heart. It takes place when he enters God’s sanctuary and “discerns their end.” When we worship, when we seek to behold God’s glory with the eyes of faith, when we seek to align our hearts with his, our perspective is transformed.
3. Read Psalm 73:16–22. From this passage, particularly verses 16-17, what is it that needs to change in your heart in order for you to see things the way God sees them in these areas of comparison?
4. Spend a moment to pray now that God will change your heart to see things the way he does.
The rest of the chapter is a focus on where true prosperity and success is found: in the presence and reward of God. Asaph arrives here, but many of us fail to ever get this insight. We continue running after the world’s promises of success and prosperity, rather than heaven’s.
5. Read Psalm 73:23–28. This type of perspective, this desiring of nothing on earth besides God, comes from filling up our hearts in worship, pouring our hearts out in prayer, and filling our minds with the Word. How might you move forward in one of these three things this week? How might you approach God differently this week as you think about this truth?
6. Spend time now asking God to change your perspective that you might see success and prosperity the way he does.
Tuesday | True Success
Success, or greatness, is different based on our perspective. Success to God can be totally different than success to the world. A person who God calls great often is totally opposite to the person the world calls great.
1. Do you see people around you pursuing greatness based on the world’s standards that you know will be empty in the end?
2. What about you: what are the biggest areas of your life where the greatness you’re pursuing is based on the world’s perspective of success rather than God’s?
The Bible describes greatness in totally different terms than the world does. Take a look at a few of these areas: Wisdom—Proverbs 9:10, Wealth—Matthew 6:19–21, Authority—Matthew 20:25–28, Reward—Matthew 5:11–12
3. Read the passages above. Which of these areas do you feel that your idea of greatness is more aligned with the world’s perspective than with God’s?
4. Take a moment now to ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any other areas of your heart where you are pursuing the wrong type of greatness. Write them down.
Our ultimate picture of greatness comes from Jesus, and as a Christian we are to be “little Christ’s.” We are to love the same things he loved, do the same things he did, and pursue the same things he pursued. Yes, impossible, and no, we won’t have arrived this side of eternity. But check your heart; for this should be its deepest desire.
5. What might it look like to change the type of greatness you are pursuing in some significant areas of your life?
6. If you have more time, read Isaiah 53. It’s a picture of Jesus and what greatness looked like for him. Ask God to help you pursue Jesus’ definition of success.
Wednesday | Future Glory
Not only is our perspective of greatness all wrong, but our perspective on time is as well. Our culture is addicted to the immediate. Whether it’s 2-day shipping, 2-hour grocery delivery, or 2-millisecond internet speeds, we want things now. This makes it increasingly more difficult to understand and pursue a future reward and glory that we may never see in our lifetime.
1. Read James 1:9–11. James puts the temporary nature of wealth bluntly into perspective. Do most people around you live like they believe wealth is temporary?
2. Whether it’s wealth for you like in this passage or whether it’s approval, comfort, pleasure, peace, power, reputation, control, work, or family, what is the main area of your life that you find yourself choosing immediate temporary reward rather than delayed eternal reward?
Part of the reason it’s so hard to pursue God’s definition of success is because we can’t see it and it’s not right now. Success in God’s economy is found in the pursuit of a future kingdom we can’t see for a future reward we can’t feel. It’s why Hebrews 11 talks about faith as the key to this pursuit. All the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 (and all Christians) did not receive the promised kingdom and reward they sought after their whole lives.
3. Read Hebrews 11:13–16, 39. How does this strike you thinking about spending your life for promises you may never see on this earth?
4. From the way you live your life, would it seem that heaven is a “better country” to you than earth? Why or why not?
5. Spend some time asking God to help you seek treasures in heaven rather than on earth. Think of specific ways that you can reset your perspective to seek these things.
Thursday | Training
Paul encourages Timothy to do an interesting thing in pursuing the kingdom of God over the kingdom of the world. He encourages him to train. To train like he would train for a marathon or a fight or a spelling bee, except to train for godliness.
1. Have you ever trained for something big before? What did it take?
2. Read 1 Timothy 4:7–8. Have you ever thought about your spiritual life as something that needs training? Explain.
It’s an interesting concept because most Christians would say that we are to just “be godly.” Rather than describing it as something we practice at and train for, most of us would describe godliness as something we are supposed to do and godly is something we supposed to already be. The fact that we are to train for godliness should give us hope that we aren’t expected to automatically be godly. But it should also sober us to think that we are to intentionally train ourselves to be more like God.
3. Read Galatians 5:22–23. Spend some time asking God to show you which of these fruits you most lack in your life. Write them down.
4. What would it look like for you to train yourself for godliness in these areas?
Paul goes on to give us our motivation for training ourselves for godliness. He says it’s because we “have our hope set on the living God.”
5. Read 1 Timothy 4:10. What we strive and toil for often reveals what we’re hoping in. What does where you spend most of your energy say about what you are hoping in?
6. Spend a moment asking God’s help in setting your hope on heaven rather than fleeting things on the earth.
Friday | Lay Aside
After recounting that the people of Hebrews 11 didn’t received what they were seeking after, it goes straight into what that means for us. Because “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” because of the faith of these men and women who have gone before us, because they have witnessed to the joy of pursuing heaven over earth, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
1. Read Hebrews 12:1. Think of a time you’ve ever had to exercise endurance to gain something you’ve wanted. 2. Why do you think ‘endurance’ is the word that was chosen to describe how we are to run the race?
Living the Christian life doesn’t mean being perpetually miserable here on earth. But, in order to deny ourselves the pursuit of quick-fixes, immediate pleasures, and the praise of man, it does take endurance. It’s difficult to run a race when we’re constantly being distracted by things trying to pull us off course, weigh us down, and take us off course.
3. What are some common distractors in your life that draw your attention away from pursuing Christ? 4. What might it look like practically for you to lay one of these aside this week?
Ultimately, the reason we are pulled off course and distracted is a heart issue. It’s an issue with our faith and where we believe our deepest joy will be found. Jesus is our example and the source of our faith. Hebrews says that he endured the cross for the joy set before him.
5. Read Hebrews 12:2. Spend some time thinking of the “joy set before you” which is the new heavens and new earth. It’s the same joy that Jesus looked to in order to find strength for the cross.