READ: Luke 17:20--18:14
THINK: To listen to some believers you'd get the impression that faith is knowing exactly what will happen and getting what you want right away. Some even consider it a lack of faith to keep praying for the same thing over and over. They would simply say, "believe and receive." After all, God hears us the first time; we don't have to beg Him for what He already knows we need. But we don't comprehend how much God longs for our company and our conversation. And He wants us to keep bringing our requests to Him time and again--until we see how He chooses to answer. It's not that God is reluctant to respond. But rather, He expects us to demonstrate persistent dependence on Him. That's the essence of real faith, which will become increasingly vital in the trying times ahead.
RESPOND: What does it mean that "the kingdom of God is within you"? (See 17:21 note.) How is God's kingdom and the way it operates different from worldly kingdoms and the way they operate? Can people become part of God's kingdom through their own efforts? Why or why not? How does God's kingdom develop and function within a person? How will this inner change affect outward attitudes, actions, and lifestyle? When will God's kingdom be revealed in its ultimate glory? When Jesus comes to take His followers from the earth, and then finally returns to judge the world, why and how will people be unprepared? (See 17:32 note.) In what ways will Jesus' final return be vastly different from when He first walked the earth (cf. vv. 24, 25, 30)? Why is it so important to be persistent in prayer? (See 18:1 note.) What does the widow's story teach about some reasons for prayer? If you don't have to beg God for justice, why does He want you to keep praying? (See 18:7 note and 18:8 first note.) In what way does persistent prayer show faith? (See 18:8 second note.) Why is this so vital for the days ahead? How should you view yourself as you approach God in prayer? (See 18:9-14 note.) How does this affect God's response toward you?
PRAY: Ask God to reveal the reality and character of His kingdom through you in powerful and persuasive ways, bringing hope, healing and new life to those who have yet to find their place in God's kingdom.
ACT: Spend some extra time today with God in prayer. Talk to Him about several things that have been on your mind for a while--things you may not have prayed for lately. As you pray, listen for God's response and guidance.
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