August 12 – 16, 2019


Hebrews 12:14-15 – Root of Bitterness

“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” —Hebrews 12:14-15

I had a Great Aunt Eura whose final years (she died at 92) were consumed with deep bitterness. As she talked about herself, she revealed the roots of her anger:  divorce, no children, failed finances, forced retirement, broken family and friendships, loss of family and friends due to death, and her own failing health. She said God had let her down, too. So, so sad!

Who of us has not had our feelings wounded by our sin or by the sin of others? Some hurts are smaller and require less attention for healing. But other wounds, deep and painful ones, require serious attention to prevent infection and ruin. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to pursue peace in every relationship and to be careful so that a “root of bitterness” won’t cause problems.

God does not want our anger and hurt to fester into bitterness, ruining every aspect of our lives. Hebrews tells us that when someone is bitter, “many become corrupted”—not just the bitter person, but everyone else near that person. We are to “work at living a holy life” as it will become the source of how we see God and others.

Bitter people are hard to live with because they look for fights. They may say they aren’t argumentative, but they thrive on it for the attention it produces. Instead, God wants us to stop this process before it starts: to pursue peace with all people. When they hurt us, we are to forgive them quickly. We need to watch out so that patterns of recrimination don’t steal our joy, sap our energy, and ruin our ability to represent Christ.

Bitterness is serious business. Its infection can kill us—and it’s contagious. Heavenly Father, help me to pursue peace with everyone every day and remove any bitter roots of anger and frustration. Give me strength to work at living a life set apart (holy) for you.


What does it mean to pursue peace with someone who disagrees with you? How can you overcome bitterness?

Prayers for Christina Hack, Chi Alpha, San Diego

Pray for Christina Hack, who is serving with Chi Alpha San Diego. She ministers to college students at San Diego State University, helping them to love God, love themselves, and love their campus. She especially loves mentoring girls as they become the women of God they were created to be.



1 Corinthians 9:24 – Running Your Race to Win

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” —1 Corinthians 9:24

Have you ever watched the Tour de France? Also known as “Le Grande Boucle” or “Le Tour,” Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event. It’s a cycling competition that is held in France every year (sometimes neighboring countries) and takes place in 21 stages with a course that covers approximately 2,175 miles.

This is the World Cup, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup of bicycle racing. Cyclists from around the world gather in France to compete (usually in July) for the chance to win the prestigious Tour de France trophy with its cash prize of $500,000. It is grueling, demanding, at times dangerous, and so amazing to watch.

I am wise enough to know not to measure or compare myself or my bike riding skills (or lack thereof) to the athletes journeying through the roads of France. But I have caught myself many times measuring myself against the successes and failures of others. Think about something you have tried to do that you just weren’t good at. Maybe it was a sport, art, crafts, cooking, math or a musical instrument. We try something, but sometimes we are just bad at it. God has made each of us with both strengths and weaknesses. But many get stuck trying to copy those who look successful and end up losing their identity. They suffer and struggle.

Somehow in ministry, we think it’s different. We think we should all be good at evangelism or good at working with children or comfortable with visiting the sick. But God has given each of us talents and gifts that prepare us for our own unique races. As Paul tells the Corinthians, we must run our own race and quit trying to run someone else’s.

When we meet Jesus face-to-face, He is not going to ask us if we were as successful as somebody else. He’s going to ask only whether we did what He asked us to do in the way He wanted us to do it. Each of us has his/her own Tour de France to run, not someone else’s. Running your own race is doing the best you can at every stage of the race every day of the race for a purpose that outlives you.

Thank your Heavenly Father for the gifts and talents He has given you. Ask Him to help you run the race He has called you to every day with excellence and perseverance.


What are some ways that “comparison kills”? How would it help you to focus on running your own race?

Prayers for Christina Hack, Chi Alpha, San Diego

Pray for the Fall Kick-Off that SDSU and Grossmont start in the last week of August. Pray for energy, meetings with students, and successful outreach.



Matthew 21:22 – Believing Prayer

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” —Matthew 21:22

Last week I got a new science game for the grandkids and I, which involved snap-on electrical circuits. It has 101 possible configurations producing light, sounds, sirens, music, etc. But not one of the configurations will work without the power source.

Too often we divorce prayer from its Source of power. If we see prayer as an activity to perform and check off our list of spiritual deeds for the day, we miss the heart, substance, and opportunity it offers. Jesus reminds us that prayer is connecting with the God of the universe, the One who spoke the stars into existence, and the One who orchestrates all of history. His power is matchless and His love is without limits.

Jesus’ promise that we will receive anything we ask for comes with a condition: we must believe. A flood of words (even eloquent and flowery ones) doesn’t please God, and intense emotions don’t necessarily move His hand. But faith, even a small, fledgling faith in God, makes Him smile and connects us to His heart and His purposes.

“Believing prayer” is characterized by a genuine commitment to God’s desires. We long for God to be honored, not us. We also want Him to touch lives, not for us to be in control. To know what God wants, we search the Scriptures to find out what’s on His heart  and how He wants to work in people’s lives. We will listen to the Holy Spirit’s whisper as we sit silently with open hearts.

This kind of prayer never expects or demands that God act in a certain way. Instead, believing prayer acknowledges our inadequacies and limitations and focuses us on God’s greatness and goodness to direct both the prayer and His answer.

“Although God certainly knows all our needs, praying for them changes our attitude from complaint to praise and enables us to participate in God’s personal plan for our lives.” (Ray Stedman) Gracious Father, I believe, but help me with my unbelief today that I may pray Your heart and desires and see Your goodness in Your answer.


How would you define and describe “believing prayer”? What are some steps you can take today to develop a habit of praying this way?

Prayers for Christina Hack, Chi Alpha, San Diego

The Fall Retreat is October 4-6. Pray for students to experience Jesus in a new way, to be inspired, and to get connected to this Chi Alpha community.



Luke 18:1-8 – Don’t Lose Heart!

“(Jesus) told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” —Luke 18:1 ESV

When we read the Bible regularly, we notice some statements that are regularly repeated: “Fear not,” “Wait on the Lord,” and “Don’t lose heart.”  Why does God give us these messages so often? Because is it so easy to give into our fears, to become impatient with God’s timing, and to give up and quit because following God is too hard.

In today’s passage, Jesus addresses the problem of unanswered prayer or, at least, confusing delays in God’s answers to our prayers. A widow went to a judge to get an answer to a legal dispute, but he ignored her. Everyone in this 1st century crowd would be nodding their heads. But Jesus goes on to say, she “kept coming to him.” He has the crowd hooked at the persistence of the woman. Finally, the exhausted and exasperated judge gave her an answer. Jesus probably had a smile on His face when He compared our loving, compassionate Father with the stubborn, neglectful judge in our story. “Surely,” Jesus explained, “we can trust the Father to answer us if we plead with Him night and day” (Luke 18:7).

How long have you prayed for a particular person or about a specific situation? Delays may occur for many reasons. God may be preparing the situation or the person, or He may be preparing us to receive what we’ve asked for. Or He may be working in our hearts to show us that we can trust God even when He says “no” to our persistent request. You can be sure that eventually we’ll receive an answer from God, and with that assurance we won’t lose heart.

Jesus poses this provocative question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). “Life is a grindstone. But whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.” (Thomas L. Holdcroft)

Our Father is compassionate and loving! Thank Him that He hears your prayers. Ask Him to give you the faith to pray and never lose heart.


In the past, when have you been tempted to lose heart because God’s answer was delayed? Is there a situation right now in which you are waiting for God’s answer? 

Prayers for Christina Hack, Chi Alpha, San Diego

Pray for the student leaders, especially the new leaders, as they build their small groups and disciple new students.



Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalms 32:8-9; James 1:5 – God’s Guidance

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on our own understanding.”  -—Proverbs 3:5

“A certain Christian traveler was packing his suitcase, about to proceed on a journey. He remarked to a friend: ‘There is still a little corner left open in which I desire to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a telescope, a book of poems, a number of biographies, a bundle of old letters, a hymn book, a sharp sword, and a small library containing thirty volumes; all of these articles must occupy a space of about three by two inches.’ ‘How are you going to manage that?’ queried his friend. The reply was, ‘Very easily, for the Bible contains all these things and more.’” (Gospel Herald)

As I reflect on mid-summer activities, I am mindful of how most of us travel at this time of year to visit somewhere, or something, or someone. How do we get there? There are so many forms of guidance these days: GPS, Google, TripIt, tours, maps (anyone remember Thomas’ Guide?), etc. Sometimes we need guidance to choose the right guide for our prospective journey.

In our spiritual life we are not created to find our own way alone. God leads us in the way we should go. His Word teaches us how we are to live and think. Because God gives His children the Holy Spirit, they recognize His voice and follow Him. We can trust God to lead us in the right way. Without God’s guidance, we are lost.

Allowing the Lord to be your guide begins with the commitment to trust God. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on our own understanding.  God cannot lead you where you will not follow. John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth …  If you have time, look up James 1:5 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 for added support.

How do we nurture a continual longing for God’s guidance? Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  He longs to guide you in and through and around every circumstance by speaking to your heart through His Living Word. It will be a life-long process. I suggest joining a Bible study or small group. Get in a community that seeks to know and follow God’s guidance.


Share a time when you experienced God’s guidance through a difficult circumstance. Do you spend more time searching Google or God’s Word for answers to life’s questions?

Prayers for Christina Hack, Chi Alpha, San Diego

Pray for the staff and student leaders to be refreshed, discerning, and open to God’s voice and direction about this semester and where to walk going forward.




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