Heavenly Help Challenge
Experience Holy Spirit in Everyday Life
What a Good Student Does • May 26, 2019
If one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is our teacher (see yesterday’s devotional), that implies we are His students. But what does a good student do and how can we position ourselves to become effective learners of the Helper? Here are a few suggestions: Pay attention—eliminate distractions and prioritize your focus on the Helper. Ask for help—good teachers encourage students to bring their problems to them. It is okay to ask the teacher for help. You weren’t meant to solve every problem on your own. Grow your trust—when life throws a test at you, the Helper wants to help you pass it. Lean in and trust He is there and working to help you learn, grow, and be effective. Take advantage of open book tests—the Helper loves helping you understand and apply God’s word, the Bible, to everyday challenges and tests. God has provided remarkable wisdom to life’s most difficult challenges in scripture. Ask the Helper for divine inspiration, wisdom, understanding, and power to apply God’s word. Be curious—consider the awe and wonder of nature and ask the Helper to teach you through it. Let the Holy Spirit inspire you through metaphors, like the daily sunrise, as reminders of God’s faithfulness and power to help you learn and grow. Be flexible—be willing to learn in different ways, not just how your normally like to learn. This is the mark of a lifelong learner. We all have our preferred learning styles, but the Helper likes to use a variety of methods to teach us. Psalm 86:11 (ESV) “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” REFLECT & APPLY: Reflect on your last few days and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal moments to you in which he was trying to teach you something or transform and area of your life. He might speak to you about unhealthy mindsets, responses, or missed opportunities. Ask Him to lead you on a journey of transformation in everyday life.
What Makes a Great Teacher? • May 25, 2019
Are you familiar with the concept of a master teacher? A master teacher is one who not only knows their subject matter, but is also an expert at communicating that content to students in a way that is engaging, memorable, and even transformational. That is who the Holy Spirit is to us. In that famous Last Supper teaching we’ve been studying, Jesus tells his followers, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV) The Helper, our Master Teacher, knows how each of us learns. He understands your weaknesses and what motivates you. He is dialed in to the lessons you need most to grow in your identity as a son or daughter of God, and he is committed to helping you succeed in the class of life. Teaching is more than a transfer of information. In many respects, it is about transformation, and no one knows how to lead you through that process better than the Helper. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (GW) “We are being transformed into that same image [Christ’s character] from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” REFLECT & APPLY: In your life, what might be some areas in which the Holy Spirit could be leading you through a process of transformation (to think and respond more like Jesus)? Ask Him to help you learn according to your unique personality and learning style.
The Foundation of Authentic Trust • May 24, 2019
Yesterday, we briefly explored why transactional faith is not a healthy way to develop trust in God. A better ground for trusting Him is His character rather than the outcomes of our prayers. If you think about it, our deepest relationships are not grounded in what a person does, but who they are in their character. In a similar way, as we grow to really know and experience the character of God (through the help of the Helper), our trust in Him deepens and our relationship grows. The ultimate expression of God’s character was demonstrated through the sending of His Son to die in your place. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The next time we encounter challenges and struggles, let us turn to the Helper, not away from Him. He is able to help us, and, believe it or not, the Holy Spirit will pray for us according to God’s purposes so that even our struggles can be used by God for good. Romans 8:26-28 (NLT) “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” REFLECT & APPLY: Is there a disappointment in your life that you have had trouble processing or a struggle you’re facing that you aren’t sure what to do with? Take a second to consider that God sent his only Son to die for you, meaning that he absolutely has your best intentions in mind, even if you can’t feel it. Ask the Holy Spirit for help in praying for God’s will to be done in the middle of your disappointments and struggles, and trust that he is working all things out for good!
Is your Trust in God Transactional? • May 23, 2019
Trust is something with which almost everyone struggles. Perhaps you had a friendship that ended in betrayal—maybe an unkept confidence or a moment of miscommunication. Whether we realize it or not, we often withdraw our trust when we feel betrayed. We also determine how much we will trust someone based on what happened previously when we trusted them. In the same way, we tend to trust God based on the outcomes of our prayers. If we get the answers we want, we trust God more. If God does not answer our prayers, we trust Him less, and maybe we pray less, too. If our trust in the Helper is based on outcomes, then our faith and relationship in God becomes transactional. This means that we pursue God (i.e. seek God, pray, read our bible, go to church, practice spiritual habits, etc.) based on what he does for us. If I get my way, then I’ll stay close to Him and develop “good” behaviors. If God doesn’t do what I want, then I’ll put distance between us. This filter for trusting the Helper is not realistic nor beneficial for our lives because God’s ways are our higher than ours. He is sovereign and omnipotent, not our personal puppet. Sometimes he will not give us what we want in order to give us what is actually best. Isaiah 55:9 (NIV) “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” REFLECT & APPLY: Does your trust and faith in God tend to be transactional? Ask the Helper to show you. If you see signs of it, ask God to help you turn from this dead end, and help you cultivate an authentic trust in Him based on what he has done for us through Christ.
The Perfect Parent, Part 2 • May 22, 2019
Whether you had the best parents, the worst parents, or no parents at all, the truth is that the Helper wants to come alongside you and be your perfect parent. An earthly parent has limited ability, but the Holy Spirit wants to parent you according to his unlimited ability. He wants to comfort places of loss, heal wounds, fill in gaps, and transform areas of brokenness into places where His strength, love, and forgiveness abound. Jesus went to the cross for your sins so that he could “adopt you into his family.” Just as an orphan must relearn how to operate in the context of their new family upon adoption, we have to adjust to life with a new father as well. It may be hard to accept the reality that you are no longer an orphan, but rather a son or daughter of Christ, but it is the truest thing about your identity. The Helper can help you accept this as your new reality. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Romans 8:16 (NLT) “For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Galatians 4:6 (NLT) “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’” REFLECT & APPLY: Take a minute to carefully reflect on the passages above. Thank God for his spiritual adoption of you through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to help you grow in your understanding and experience of God’s fatherhood.
The Perfect Parent, Part 1 • May 21, 2019
None of our parents who raised us were without mistakes. Despite their best efforts, they did not raise us perfectly. As we continue to mature, how should we respond to that? If we are going to live out God’s calling and destiny, we are must acknowledge the shortcomings of our parents and how those deficiencies affected us in both small and big ways. The way that we see ourselves, interact with those around us, and how we respond to pressure are all affected by the way we were raised. By stepping up to these realities, we invite the Helper—the Spirit of Truth—to speak into our lives and bring about our transformation. The Helper does not want us to remain in the entanglement of human shortcomings, rejection, emptiness, or debilitating pain. The only way out of such a mess is to grow close to the Holy Spirit, ask Him for help, and follow Him along the journey of truth, one step at a time. It is a path that includes surrender, redemption, and transformation. Psalm 27:10 (NLT) "Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close." Isaiah 66:13 (NIV) "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." Hebrews 13:5 (NLT) “God has said, 'I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.'” REFLECT & APPLY: Which parent—your mom or your dad—was the more difficult relationship for you when you were growing up, and why? In what ways could the Holy Spirit help you resolve those difficulties with that parent?
Adopted, Part 2 • May 20, 2019
In yesterday’s devotion, we discovered that the Holy Spirit helps us experience adoption as God’s sons and daughters. In ancient Roman culture, adoption involved a legal process in which the parents sought out and freely chose the child. In other words, the child was desired. The adopted child received a new identity. Any prior commitments, responsibilities, and debts were erased. Also, in ancient Rome, adoption made the child a legal heir to the father, a shareholder in all his possessions and estate. As a follower of Jesus today, the implications of ancient Roman adoption apply to you. You are sought after and desired by God! You have been legally adopted by a loving, strong, wise, and caring Father! You have received an entirely new identity! All of your spiritual debt and guilt has been erased! You have become an heir of God, a co-heir of Christ Jesus, and a member in the family of God. All of this was made possible through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. John 1:11-13 (NLT) “He [Jesus] came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:13-14 (NLT) “And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” REFLECT & APPLY: It is the joy of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about God’s fatherhood and make it come alive in your heart. Thank Him for your adoption and receive it by faith. Take time to meditate on the verses above and ask the Holy Spirit to help you experience God’s heart for you in a fresh way.
Adopted, Part 1 • May 19, 2019
The behaviors and feelings of orphans include isolation, apathy, defensiveness, perceiving themselves without comfort, a lack of sensitivity, independence, distrustfulness, vulnerability, fearfulness, and helplessness. Furthermore, orphans often struggle to form healthy relational attachments. While many of us may not be outright orphans, we can relate to feeling abandoned, neglected, or rejected. When we are honest, we can admit that we don’t always manage those feelings well and that we use coping techniques. Those behaviors might include addictions, staying busy, unhealthy eating habits, extreme exercise, becoming hyper-religious, or entering into unhealthy relationships. The most helpful way to resolve this struggle is to remember that having the Holy Spirit – the Helper – makes us God’s adopted sons and daughters. We are no longer orphaned! The apostle Paul wrote that Gods’ Spirit helps us experience the reality of God’s fatherhood. Read the verses below! Romans 8:15-16 (NIV) The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16 (TPT) And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty,” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!” REFLECT & APPLY: Thank God for the incredible truth of Romans 8:15-16. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and grow in your experience of it.
Confronting the Orphan Mentality • May 18, 2019
There is a good chance you had an experience in your childhood that made you feel abandoned. Perhaps a best friend moved away and you missed them. Maybe your parents got divorced and there were moments you felt one of them had left you. As an adult, perhaps you experienced a similar sense of abandonment. Maybe a spouse left you for a military responsibility, a temporary job assignment, or another relationship. Abandonment can lead to feelings of alienation and aloneness. Some might call this an orphan mindset, a fundamental belief that you are alone in the world, left to take care of yourself. This mentality can be expressed as inadequacy: “I can’t do this on my own,” or “I never seem to get it right!” It can also be revealed through the frustration of not being understood: “Why does everyone always misunderstand me?” It can manifest itself through drivenness: “I am on my own to make life work,” or “There is no one I can trust to make this happen.” And, of course, it can be expressed as loneliness: “I’ll never fit in,” and “Why can’t I make friends like they do?” In John 14:18, Jesus confronts this orphan mindset by making a remarkable promise to His followers. He says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Remember in the previous verses (16-17), Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit. In those statements, Christ used the pronoun “he” to describe the Helper, the Spirit of Truth. Now, in verse 18, Jesus shifts “he” to “I.” This implies that Jesus would be coming to His disciples through the Holy Spirit and dwelling in them. In John 14:20, Jesus says, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Compare this with John 14:17, where Jesus says that the Spirit “will be in you.” When we put all these statements together, it should be clear that the coming of the Helper is none other than the coming of the Lord Jesus in the Spirit. In other words, to have the Spirit is to have the Son. It is sharing in a oneness or union with Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the antidote to our orphan mentality and all of its destructive expressions. We need the ongoing, illuminating grace of God to help us believe it and walk it out. John 14:18 (NIV) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” REFLECT & APPLY: What attitudes or behaviors in your life might reveal an orphan mindset? Take a moment to invite Jesus to speak into those areas. Thank Jesus for his promise in John 14:18 and ask Him to help understand and apply it more fully.
Trick or Truth • May 17, 2019
Without truth, we can deceive ourselves. For example, have you ever thought your opinion was more important in a situation than it really was? Or have you ever justified an expensive purchase by telling yourself it would make you happy only to discover the joy was short-lived? In addition to internal self-deception, we can also be deceived externally such as when someone lies to us. Scripture states that when the devil lies, he speaks his native language because he is the father of lies (see John 8:44). The devil continually tries to deceive us into believing lies tempting us to doubt God’s character. When we make subtle agreements with these lies, we create landing strips in our hearts and minds for fear, hopelessness, condemnation, and insecurity. When Jesus describes the Heavenly Helper as “The Spirit of Truth,” we should be encouraged. As we learn how to integrate more of the Spirit’s involvement into our daily lives, we can recognize deception, break agreements with it, and grow in God’s freedom. The Holy Spirit is our beacon of truth in a deceptive world. John 14:17 (GW) “That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.” John 8:32 (ESV) “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” REFLECT & APPLY: In what areas of your life are you most susceptible to deception (i.e., finances, relationships, habits, coping with stress, etc.)? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s love and truth to those areas.
Another Savior • May 16, 2019
As we’ve seen in John 14, Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as our “Helper.” But we need to understand that the meaning of this word is much deeper than our common understanding of a helper. The Greek word used is “paráklētos,” a technical word that could be translated “defense attorney.” It means “one called to stand next to you as a helper.” Various translations of the Bible use the words Helper, Counselor, Comforter, Advocate, Encourager, Intercessor. However, each of these words alone falls short in explaining the full meaning. The Aramaic word that Jesus would have spoken is “paraqleta,” which is taken from two root words: (1) praq, “to end, finish, or to save,” and (2) lyta, which means “the curse.” What a beautiful word picture, the Holy Spirit comes to end the work of the curse (of sin) in our lives and to save us from its every effect! Paraqleta means “a redeemer who ends the curse.” Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, our Savior. As Jesus is the Savior from the guilt of sin, the Holy Spirit is the Savior who saves us from the power of sin by living through us in fullness. Holy Spirit is the one to protect, defend, and save us from our self and our enemies and keep us whole and healed. He guides, comforts, and leads us into all truth. He’s always with us, completing the work of salvation that began with Jesus. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just help us escape death; He makes it possible for us to experience the full life that Jesus promised. John 10:10 (NKJV) “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 14:16-17 (TPT) “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me—and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and will live inside you.” REFLECT & APPLY: Take some time to thank God today for the work of His Spirit in your life, and ask Him to make you more aware of how He wants to continue the process of salvation and transformation in you.
Recognizing Our Need for Help • May 15, 2019
In the book, HEAVENLY HELP, Sarah Bowling writes: As a kid, I was extremely independent and was almost insulted when people tried to help me. Clearly, this was not a great thing, and thankfully, as I have aged, I have become less independent—kind of. If the truth be known, I can acknowledge I need immeasurable help, even though it is a challenge for me to actually receive it. Here are a few ways I need help: • Make decisions that are constructive and healthy • Plan for the future • Accurately assess the past • Think truthfully about things that can be emotionally cloudy for me • Not always say what I am thinking • Wisely spend money for purposeful outcomes • Keep healthy routines in my daily life living including exercise, Bible and prayer time, eating wisely and balancing time with achievements • Maintain healthy relationships, boundaries, seasons, and interactions The more I think about where and how I need help, the more I recognize that I am a needy person who needs lots of it. And when we talk about needing help as it relates to the Holy Spirit—our professional and divine form of help—this means that nothing less than 100% joy, fellowship, truth, and glorious freedom are ours. Receiving help from the Holy Spirit equals living an abundant life! Hebrews 4:16 (TPT) “Let us go with complete trust to the throne of God. We will receive His loving-kindness and have His loving-favor to help us whenever we need it.” REFLECT & APPLY: Do you consider yourself to be an independent person, or can you readily accept help? In what ways might you need God’s help? How could receiving the Holy Spirit’s help lead to more joy, truth, and freedom?
Heavenly Help • May 14, 2019
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared some of His most compelling and intimate thoughts during the Passover meal with his disciples. He knew his followers would need help to remain faithful after His death, resurrection, and return to heaven. So, during the Last Supper, Jesus prepared his friends by teaching them about the Holy Spirit. You can read the entire conversation in John 14-16. In John 14:16 (ESV), Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit by promising, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” This statement is a remarkable affirmation of the Trinity. In it, we see God the Son asking God the Father to send God the Spirit! It is crucial to understand that the Holy Spirit is a part of our Triune God. He is not a second-string deity or optional accessory. The Holy Spirit is on the same level of importance as God the Father and God the Son. Furthermore, when Jesus asks for “another” Helper, He uses a Greek word which means “the same quality,” or “another of the same kind.” In other words, Jesus asks the Father to send the same quality, essence, and nature of help that Jesus gave His disciples. While Jesus was with His followers on earth, He revealed the nature and character of God. He helped them understand things from God’s perspective. Jesus also imparted divine love, grace, wisdom, courage, peace, and authority. In the same way, God’s Spirit—the Third Person of the Trinity—has been sent to help YOU. Jesus not only provided forgiveness of your sins, He made a way for you to receive divine help to live free from sin every day, in every season. You are not alone in your journey. Jesus made it possible for the Heavenly Helper to be with you 24/7. John 14:16 (ESV) “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever." REFLECT & APPLY: What has been your understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit? Take a brief moment to thank God for the gift of Holy Spirit.
A Fresh Start • May 13, 2019
Thank you for signing up for this devotional challenge from Rust City Church! During the next 21 days, we will explore what the Bible says about the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit and some of the ways He desires to help us. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, a familiar scripture for many is Acts 2—the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In this challenge, however, we’ll be focusing on Jesus’ teaching in John 14-16. Here, Jesus eats His last meal with his closest followers and prepares them for his impending departure by instructing them about the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ words in John 14-16 provide remarkable insights about God’s Spirit. Through them, we will discover what it means for the Holy Spirit to be our helper. We’ll explore how God’s Spirit enables us grow in truth, live as sons and daughters rather than orphans, and teaches us everything we need to navigate life successfully. We will also take a look at the gifts and fruit of the Spirit, and attitudes that enable us to receive all that the Spirit has to offer. This 21-day Challenge is based on the book HEAVENLY HELP: Experiencing the Holy Spirit in Everyday Life by Sarah Bowling. Our prayer is that through Sarah’s book and this 21-day Challenge, God’s Spirit will become more integrated into your daily living and with His help, you will experience transformation and growth. Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. REFLECT & APPLY: Take some time over the next few weeks to read John 14-16. Pay special attention to all that Jesus says about the Holy Spirit. Thank Jesus for these promises and instructions and ask for His help in understanding and applying them.
DISCOVER THE HOLY SPIRIT
Starts Monday, May 13
There are so many questions about the Holy Spirit, and we want to help you discover answers about who the Holy Spirit is, why he's important, and how to connect with him in your daily life. Our "Heavenly Help" 21-Day Challenge starts on Monday, May 13. Content will be available each day on the Rust City app. You can sign up (under settings on the lefthand menu) to get a push notification reminder every day! Make sure you join us on Sunday, May 12 (Mother's Day) at any of our campuses for an exclusive interview with Sarah Bowling, the author of the book HEAVENLY HELP, on which we based this challenge.