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A Lamp For My Feet – Quiet Time with God: It’s Simple, Really

Quiet Time with God: It’s Simple, Really
by Rick Warren
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV)
Having a quiet time is like many other activities you might do in life — in at least one respect. To be successful, it helps to have a plan. The Bible says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV).
If you’ve never had a quiet time before, you may not have a good, simple plan for doing one. Simplicity is important with any plan you develop. If you make it complicated, you’re more likely to get off track. All you really need for an effective quiet time is a Bible, notebook, and maybe a hymn or songbook.
So what does a daily quiet time look like?
First, be quiet before the Lord. The Bible calls it waiting on God. You start by simply sitting down and shutting up. As you do this, you’ll find yourself revving your engine down and calming yourself.
Second, pray briefly. Start off with a short opening prayer. Ask God to open your mind and guide you. Ask him to cleanse your mind.
Read a portion of Scripture slowly. This is where your conversation with God begins. He starts speaking to you through his Word, and then you speak back to him through prayer. Read the Bible slowly. Don’t try to read too quickly or too much. The more slowly you read Scripture, the more you’re forced to think about what you’re reading.
Meditate on the Word. Spend some time chewing on what God is saying. Chew on the Word like cows chew on cud. Ponder and wrestle with it in your mind. There are lots of great methods for meditating on the Word. You can find specific ideas on how to meditate on the Bible in my book “Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods.”
Write down what you discover. When God speaks to you through his Word, care enough about what he is saying to write it down. Writing enables us to remember what God has said to us and record our discoveries.
Pray again. Be quiet. Ask God to show you his Word. Talk to God about what he has said to you. Tell him what you’re thinking about what he is saying. Talk to him about anything else that’s on your mind.
There’s not just one way to have a quiet time, but following a plan similar to this can get you started on a rewarding devotional journey.
Talk It Over
•    Have you ever thought about your quiet time as an intimate conversation with God?
•    What distractions do you need to eliminate in order to “be quiet”?
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This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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A Lamp For My Feet – For a New Perspective, Try This Method

For a New Perspective, Try This Method
by Rick Warren

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.” (Colossians 3:16a NLT)

Studying the Bible in a way that changes your life doesn’t take a bunch of expensive tools. You don’t need commentaries or Bible study software. In fact, if you were stuck on a desert island with just a Bible, you could simply use the method you’ll learn about in this devotional.

 

Yesterday, I told you how important it was for you to meditate on God’s Word. God says that if we meditate on his Word, we’ll be successful. Here’s a method you can use to meditate on God’s Word in a way that’ll please God.

The “pronounce it” method of biblical meditation is an easy method for meditating on Scripture and getting every ounce of spiritual nutrition you can out of it.

 

You start with a verse and read it over and over again. Each time you read the verse, you emphasize a different word. It’s the simplest way to start unlocking Scripture. You can do it even if it’s the first time you’ve ever opened up a Bible. It’s simple but amazingly powerful. Each time you emphasize a different word, you get a different perspective.

 

Take the first part of Colossians 3:16 for example. The verse says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (NLT).

 

The first time you read the verse, emphasize the word “let.” “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” What does it mean to let? It means to “give permission.” I open the door; it’s my choice. We have to choose to let the Word of God dwell in us richly.

 

Then, read the verse again and emphasize “word.” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” That means I need to get God’s Word in my mind.

 

Then, emphasize the third word of the verse, “Christ.” You’re not dwelling on what some philosopher, guru, or talk show host has to say. You’re dwelling on the words of Christ! I don’t want to let the word of the world dwell in me, but I do when I spend my time watching TV instead of reading God’s Word.

 

Then you focus on the word “dwell.” “Let the Word of Christ dwell within you.” The word “dwell” means “to hang there for a long time.” It’s not rushing through God’s Word so you can get on with the rest of your day. To let the Word of Christ dwell in you is to let it live within you.

 

Then you stop and emphasize the word “in.” It’s good to have the word of Christ around you. You can put the Word of God on a plaque or a bumper, but it won’t change your life until you let it in your life.

 

Then focus on the word “you.” The Bible isn’t just God’s Word for your pastor, a seminary professor, or your Sunday School teacher; it’s God’s Word for you! The Bible is instruction for every single believer.

Finally, emphasize the word “richly.” What does that mean? It means the opposite of poorly. In other words, richly means lusciously, extravagantly, and profoundly. God doesn’t want his Word to be a poor substitute in your life. He wants it to create beauty in your life.

 

See all the great jewels you discovered in this passage just by focusing on one word at a time? You didn’t need a seminary degree or a great library of reference tools. You can do this!

 

Talk It Over
•    How will you dwell on God’s Word throughout your day?
•    Does your life reflect the richness of God’s Word and his grace? How would it look different to other people if you allowed God’s Word to make a difference in your life?

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Open Your Eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18 ESV)

Studying God’s Word will change your life if you put what you learn into practice. But all of that starts with your willingness to study his Word.

 

The Bible says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18 ESV).
God has so much he wants to show us, but we must be willing to look into his Word with open eyes.

 

So how should we study God’s Word? Effective Bible study, no matter what Bible study method you use, has five parts.

 

1.    Ask the right questions. Learning to study the Bible is learning to ask good questions from the text. There’s no limit to how many questions you can ask of the Bible because there’s no limit to its wisdom and insight. The deeper you dig, the more gold you’ll find.  Asking questions of the text you’re reading will help you look at the text through a whole new set of eyes. Suddenly, every time you pick up God’s Word to study it, new truths will jump out at you.

2.    Write down your observations. Never study the Bible without pen and paper in hand (or a keyboard if you prefer). When you ask your questions and you find your answers, write down what you learn. You can read the Bible without writing something down, but you can’t study it.
Dawson Trotman, who was the founder of the Navigators ministry, used to say, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” In other words, if you can’t say it and you can’t write it, then you haven’t really thought about it. Even if you don’t see anything in the verse, write down that you don’t see anything. Just the act of writing that down will open up new thoughts.

 

3. Apply God’s Word. You move from the “what” to the “so what” and do what the Bible says. The ultimate goal of all Bible study is application. In other words, how will this Scripture change my life? We never settle for understanding alone. We want to apply the biblical principles to our daily living.

Interpretation without application is abortion! You stop the process before it comes to full fruition. All of our Bible study efforts really don’t have any value if, in the final analysis, I don’t become more like Christ.

In fact, you only believe the part of the Bible you apply. Do you believe in sharing Christ with others? Do you believe in tithing? Do you do those activities? If you don’t do them, then you don’t really believe what the Bible teaches about them. The problem that most of us have with the Bible isn’t what we don’t understand; it’s applying what we do understand!

 

4. Study the Bible systematically. Don’t just study the Bible haphazardly. You can study it systematically by studying it verse-by-verse, book-by-book, topic-by-topic, or theme-by-theme. The opposite of that is the old dip-and-skip method, where you just open up the Bible and put a finger down where you want to study. That won’t produce the kind of results God wants in your life.

 

5. Read the Bible over and over again. This simple tool will change your life. It’s amazing how much you can get out of a passage if you study the same passage over and over again and then come back to the same passage a few months later. The more you read a passage, the more you’ll get out of it.

There’s no better time than today to start studying the Bible for yourself. No matter how you choose to study, apply these five principles, and you’ll get more out of whatever you study.

 

Talk It Over
•    In what specific areas of your life do you believe God wants you to apply his Word today?•    Do you have an accountability partner? If not, do you think having one would help you study the Bible more diligently?

•    Consider the place where you study God’s Word each day. How does it help or hinder your focus?

•    What do you think the difference is between “right” and “wrong” questions to ask of the Bible? Are you afraid of asking the “wrong” questions?
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Ask the Right Questions

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22 NLT)

 

As I’ve taught over the last few days, Christian meditation means thinking about Scripture. You meditate on Scripture in the same way a cow chews her cud — by chewing on it and chewing on it and chewing on it.

The “probe-it” method of Bible study is a great way to do that. When you use that method, you probe the text with questions, almost like a jackhammer. To help you do that, I’ll share with you one of the strangest acrostics I’ve ever used: SPACEPETS. Each letter in the acrostic is the first letter of a key word of a question you ask of God’s Word.

 

1.    Is there a SIN to confess? Does God’s Word make you aware of something you need to make right with God?

2.    Is there a PROMISE to claim? There are more than 7,000 promises in God’s Word. Ask yourself if the passage you’ve read contains a universal promise. Ask whether you’ve met all the conditions of the promise. Every promise has a premise!

3.    Is there an ATTITUDE to change? Is there something about which you need to think differently? Do you need to work on a negative attitude, worry, guilt, fear, loneliness, bitterness, pride, apathy, or ego?

4.    Is there a COMMAND to obey? Is there a command you need to obey no matter how you feel?

5.    Is there an EXAMPLE to follow? Are there positive examples to follow or negative examples to avoid?

6.    Is there a PRAYER to pray? Paul, David, Solomon, Elijah, and Isaiah, among others, pray in the Bible. You can use their prayers and know that they’ll be answered because they’re in the Bible and in God’s will.

7.    Is there an ERROR to avoid? It’s wise to learn from experience, and it’s even wiser to learn from the experience of others! We don’t have time to make all the mistakes ourselves. So what can you learn from the mistakes of those in Scripture?

8.    Is there a TRUTH to believe? Often, we’ll read something in Scripture that we can’t do anything about. We simply have to believe what it says about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the past, the future, Heaven, Hell, or other topics in the Bible.

9.    Is there SOMETHING for which to praise God? You can always find something in a passage you can be grateful to God for, like something God has done or protected you from.

 

Every question in this list has a verb in it. They are all associated with something you can do. Write them in your Bible or put them on a note card you keep with your Bible. They’ll help you be “doers of the Word” every time you meditate on the Bible.

 

Talk It Over
•    After reading about the probe-it method, go back to the Scripture you read yesterday for your quiet time and apply this method to that passage. What new truths do you discover?•    What promise from God are you leaning on today?
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“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22 NLT)

 

Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. That’s why when you read God’s Word, you try to move it from what it was to what you need to do now — your application.

 

A great habit to get into after you read your Bible is to write a one-sentence application to what you’ve just read. It’ll help you become a “doer of the Word,” not just a hearer.

 

What makes a good application sentence? It has four characteristics:
•    It’s personal. You can’t write an application for somebody else. It’s not about what the world needs to do or what your husband needs to do or what your kids need to do. It’s about what you need to do!•    It’s practical. Your application should be something you can actually do and something you are able to make a plan to do. Broad generalities won’t help you. In fact, they’ll produce little action and will make you feel helpless.

•    It’s possible. If you can’t actually accomplish your application, you’ll likely get discouraged. If your application is that you need to pray five hours a day, you won’t do it. Don’t go a day without prayer. That’s practical. Praying for five hours isn’t practical.

•    It’s provable. You need to set yourself a deadline to check on yourself. Until you set a deadline and a goal, you can’t check yourself. Then it’s just a dream.

You can do this with any portion of the Bible you’re reading. The Bible says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (James 1:22 NLT).

 

Talk It Over
•    After reading this devotional, how will your quiet time change?
•    What one-sentence application will you try to put into practice today?
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This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My feet – The Lord Is Close

The Lord Is Close
by Rick Warren
“You know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 GNT)
The Bible says that God is a caring Father. He’s compassionate, loving, gracious, and he cares about you.
It’s important to note that when Jesus spoke the word “father,” he used the Aramaic word “abba.” “Abba” is one of the first words that every Middle Eastern child learns, because it means “daddy” — papa, dada, abba. It is the ultimate term of endearment, of closeness, of family. It is an intimate phrase that says there is no barrier between a little baby and a father.
What do we know about our heavenly Father, about our “Abba”? Let me tell you three things today:
First, God is never too busy for you. When you pray, God does not say, “Not now. I’ll see you later.” God never turns away. He’s with you every single day.
Second, God loves to meet your needs because he’s a close Father. The Bible says, “You know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 GNT) I hate to admit it, but I am sometimes selfish and self-centered, thinking only of my needs. Yet, as a parent, I love to give to my kids. I love to meet their needs. How much more does God — our perfect Father— want to meet your needs?
Third, God is sympathetic to your hurts. He’s never too busy, he loves to meet your needs, and he’s sympathetic to your hurts. When you come to God with your pain, he doesn’t say, “Oh, come on! Get over it! Put a smile on your face. That’s an easy little thing. Get a Band-Aid!” If you’ve had a tough week, God understands.
The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV). Some of you feel crushed in spirit. What do you do? Turn to God. He is sympathetic to your hurt. He loves to meet your needs. He is never too busy for you. He wants to help you out! He’s your heavenly Father.
Talk It Over
•    God is never too busy for you. How often are you too busy to bring your hurts and concerns to your caring Father?
•    How do you think God cares about the details of your life — the seemingly small and inconsequential things that get you down and rob your joy?
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God Is Your Loving Father
by Rick Warren
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Acts 17:27 NIV)
God, your Heavenly Father, loves you more than you will ever know. You can turn to him when you need acceptance, when you need approval, and when you need attention.
God has seen every single moment of your life. He has witnessed every word you’ve ever said — good or bad — and every hurt you’ve ever experienced. God knows every fear, every sin, and every sorrow you’ve ever felt.
Unlike your human father, God has known every thought you’ve ever had, and he’s understood you completely. Today, you can turn to him because he’s a caring, consistent, close, and competent Father. He will never leave you.
Maybe you’ve allowed experiences with a human parent to warp or cloud your view of your heavenly Father, and that has made you think God is unreasonable or unreliable or unconcerned. You were wrong. You need to turn to the truth today.
Would you pray this prayer in your heart?
“Dear God, I want you to be my heavenly Father, and I want to be your child. I ask you to adopt me into your home. I want to be spiritually born into your family through Jesus Christ. Jesus, I don’t understand it all, but I accept you as the way to the Father. I want you to be in charge of my life to guide me and direct me. Thank you that you are a loving, caring, and consistent Father. Thank you that you are competent and that you can handle all the problems that I give to you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Talk It Over
•    How has your relationship with your earthly father affected how you view God?
•    How do you think God wants us to use the model of the heavenly Father with our own children?
*** *** ***
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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A Lamp For My feet – Trust One Day at a Time

Trust One Day at a Time
by Rick Warren
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:6, 8 NLT)
God wants you to trust him one day at a time: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not for next week. Not for next year. Not for next month. Just one day at a time.
Philippians 4:6 and 8 show us that there are four things that you need to do to trust God on a daily basis: “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).
1.    Worry about nothing.
Why is worry such a big deal? Because it’s not just a bad habit. It’s a flat out sin! But God keeps his promises, and you can trust that he will take care of you. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).
2.    Pray about everything.
Prayer can change things. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (NIV) God solved your biggest problem — getting into Heaven — when he sent Jesus to die for you. If God loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you, don’t you think he loves you enough to take care of all these other problems?

3.    Thank God in all things.

No matter what happens, give thanks. The Bible doesn’t say, “For all things give thanks.” It says, “In all things give thanks.” You don’t have to be thankful for bad things in your life. You should never be thankful for evil. You don’t have to be thankful for cancer or a car accident or war or abuse. But God says in everything give thanks. Why? Because you know that God’s going to take care of you. You know he’s going to meet your needs. You know he’s going to help you.
4.    Think about the right things.
God gives us a list of things to think about, things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Where do you find things that are pure and lovely to think about? At the movies? I don’t think so. On TV? No. You will only find pure and lovely and honorable thoughts in the Word of God. You need to read it, study it, memorize it, and fill your mind with it. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)
Talk It Over
•    Where do your thoughts turn most often?
•    In what situation do you need to thank God today?
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A Lamp For MY Feet – Getting Serious about God

Getting Serious about God 
‘The believers met together in the Temple every day…’ Acts 2:46 NCV
It’s estimated there are over half a billion practising Christians in the world. But the church wouldn’t even exist today if it hadn’t been for a small group of disciples who were sold on Christ. The things of God were not a part-time interest or a convenience-based commitment to those early Christians, but their highest priority. If you want to be serious about God, stop and reflect on what they took seriously.
They took church seriously. ‘The believers met together in the Temple every day.’ Question: Are you a hit-and-miss churchgoer? Do you get upset if the service exceeds an hour or the minister takes an extra ten minutes? Is once-a-week your limit? Not for these New Testament Christians! So what drew them? The temple’s orchestra and choir? Cutting-edge media or youth programmes? Did they have more time and less responsibility than we have? No, everything about their life was harder, took longer and was less convenient. Yet their encounter with Jesus so transformed their priorities that, ‘Every day they continued to meet…’ (Acts 2:46 NIV) They hungered to gather in the presence of the Lord, believing His promise, ‘Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.’ (Matthew 18:20 NLT) Taking God seriously requires regular involvement with other Christians, experiencing this unique aspect of His presence, hearing His Word together, and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25). You need that special dimension of fellowship with God that happens only when His family gathers together with Him.

‘The believers met together…and shared everything…’ Acts 2:44 NLT 

They took fellowship seriously. We are more than a common-interest-based social club. We’re a family: birth-children of our heavenly Father, blood relatives. The cross made it so. ‘…We have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit…’ (1 Corinthians 12:13 NLT) Those early disciples valued their relationship. It went beyond merely singing hymns and hearing sermons. They ‘met together…shared everything they had…sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.’ (Acts 2:44-45 NLT) Do we have such selfless love, caring enough to share everything we own with our brothers and sisters in need? How many of them shared what they had? ‘All the believers.’ How much did they share? ‘Everything they had.’ God’s Word describes His church as a body. Its members exist individually but they can only function properly in connection with one another. Arms, hands, legs, shoulders etc. cannot live separately; they must be joined to a body with a head to accomplish their purpose. The early church survived incredible persecution and achieved amazing things. Why? Because they understood the need to value each other and to sacrifice personal interest for the sake of the whole. As isolated, self-reliant, self-promoting individuals they would have been destroyed by the overwhelming force of their enemies. As a believer, you may survive apart from the church, but you can’t thrive. Your God-given potential will never be realised until you commit wholeheartedly to a local fellowship and invest yourself in serving God’s vision for that church.
‘All the believers devoted themselves to…prayer.’ Acts 2:42 NLT 
They took prayer seriously. The New Testament church was conceived in the womb of prayer. After ten days of united prayer in the upper room, ‘Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit…’ (Acts 2:4 NLT) What happened next? They launched a church that’s still impacting the world after two thousand years. Did their prayer-life diminish once the church was established? Not in the least! ‘All the believers devoted themselves…to prayer.’ It remained a prayer-conditioned fellowship. It was born, bathed and brought to fruition in prayer. They bequeathed us the empowering biblical principle that nothing important and lasting happens without prayer. Today if you want to get a small crowd in church, call a prayer meeting! Question: How much do you pray? What makes you a stranger to the place of prayer? Is it the myth that prayer is hard work? It’s not – if your priorities are right. Do you wear yourself out, worrying about things as though everything’s up to you? Prayer will make the hard bits of your life easier, and more fruitful. Consistent prayer lifts you to a higher, positive place where you learn how to accomplish more while experiencing a deep peace of heart and soul. Jesus said: ‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV) Seriously, can there be a better way to live?
‘Let us not give up meeting together…’ Hebrews 10:25 NIV 
They took God’s Word seriously. ‘They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching…’ (Acts 2:42 NCV) Researchers tell us that, today, personal Bible reading is less common among Christians than prayer. Instead of a Word from God that fortifies us for the challenges of the day, we’ve substituted exercise and cappuccino. Our Bible reading is confined to the pastor’s Sunday sermon. The early disciples were so committed to the Word that they ‘spent [invested, paid the price with] their time, learning [studying to understand and master] the apostles’ teaching.’ God’s Word not only enabled them to withstand life’s challenges, but when persecution made them fugitives, they took the Word with them and planted new churches around the world (Acts 8:4). Are you growing in God’s Word so that it fortifies you against tough times and prepares you to influence your world for Christ? They took worship and praise seriously. ‘They stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’ (Luke 24:53 NIV) For many of us, the word ‘worship’ has come to mean the Sunday morning service – a place we attend rather than the voluntary act of devoted hearts glorifying God. Being a spectator at the Sunday service isn’t worship. The New Testament believers understood David’s instruction: ‘Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…’ (Psalm 100:4 NIV) Do you want to be a serious worshipper? Enter His presence focused exclusively on His goodness, and wholeheartedly express to Him your appreciation for all He is!
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A Lamp For My Feet – We Love Because God Loves Us

We Love Because God Loves Us
by Rick Warren
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)
This season is a good time to remember that the reason God wants us to love is because he is love, and he created us to be like him — to love. The only reason we’re able to love is because God loves us: “Love comes from God … because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).
We were created in God’s image to do two things on Earth: Learn to love God and learn to love other people. Life is all about love.
But love all started with God. He loved us first, and that gives us the ability to love others (1 John4:19). The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s all a gift of God’s love.
In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don’t want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss love; our need is to experience the love of God.
We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.
Once we’re secure inside God’s unconditional love, we’ll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won’t be as angry as we’ve been. We’ll be more patient. We’ll be more forgiving. We’ll be more merciful. We’ll give others grace.
But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you’ll also let him heal your heart so that his love can flow freely through you. It’s impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.
Talk About It
•    When you feel “empty” and not able to give or show love to others, how do you think God wants you to “refuel”?
•    Take time today to make sure your heart is right with the Lord, that you have received his grace, forgiveness, and love so that you can show it to other people.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.” His book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My Feet – In All Things, Be Joyful

In All Things, Be Joyful
by Rick Warren
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
You have a fundamental need for joy in your life. Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. Studies have actually shown that the more joy we have in our lives, the more productive we are. I read an article in “US News and World Report” that said that corporations hire “joy consultants” to build up the joy in peoples’ lives so that employees can be more productive. It is true that you have more energy, more creativity, and more productivity when you have joy in your life.
In the short book of Philippians — only four chapters long — Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.
In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders that will help diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the first three.
J: Jettison all regrets about your past.
“Jettison” means “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that’s what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they’re confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).
O: Omit all worries about your future.
If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must omit all worries about your future. Worry, hands-down, is the greatest killjoy of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s antidotes are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray.
Y: Yield yourself to God’s purpose.
If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going or why you’re here, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).
If you want to have a joy-filled life, you need to get in line with God’s purpose for your life. When you begin to live the purpose for which you are made, life makes sense, and joy is a lot more easily found.
Talk It Over
•    What are the things — people, circumstances, situations, or feelings — that are wearing you down and keeping you from living a joyful life?
•    What is the difference in happiness and joy?
•    What are you worried about? What do you need to do to release your worry?
*** *** ***
“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
In the book of Philippians, Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times in just four chapters. As a prisoner in a Roman jail, awaiting execution, it’s pretty amazing to think that he was able to write the most positive book of the Bible during one of the darkest times of his life.
You, too, can have that same kind of joy. In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders to help us live joyful lives, no matter what our circumstances are. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the last three joy-builders.
F: Focus on what’s good.
Life is filled with ups and downs, but you have a choice: Which are you going to focus on — the good or the bad? Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Where do you get a list of things like that? Talk radio? Not likely! Television? No. The newspaper or magazines? No.
But there is one place you can count on: God’s Word. The more you fill your mind with this book, the more positive and joyful you’re going to be. God’s Word is true, it is right, and it is admirable. It is worthy of value. Spend some time reading God’s Word every day.
U: Use your life to help others.
Paul was joyful because he was unselfish. He invested his life in others. If you want to have continuous joy in your life, here is the secret: Give your life away. Stop focusing on your puny problems and aches and pains, and start focusing on helping others. The more you give your life away, Jesus said, the more you find it. The more unselfish you become, the more joyful a person you’re going to be.
“I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work” (Philippians 4:1b). Paul’s joy came from serving the people in whom he had invested his life — the people he had led to Christ and discipled.
L: Learn to be content.
This is the bottom line: Joy is a decision. You are as joyful as you choose to be.
We get caught up in “when and then” thinking (“When ‘this’ happens in my life, then I’ll be happy”). You are as joyful as you choose to be, because joy is a choice. Philippians 4:11 says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). You can always be joyful — no matter what happens — because God is in control.
You may think that joy is some kind of characteristic for a naturally upbeat and cheerful person, and you’re “just not the joyful type.” You’re wrong.
You have a chance to determine your destiny. Change right now the priorities in your life. Change right now what you’re going to live the rest of your life for. If you will begin to yield yourself to God’s purpose, get to know God’s Son, and use your life to help other people, then you will have more joy than you could ever imagine.
Talk It Over
•    What are the honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable truths that you discover in your Bible reading? How can you remind yourself to focus on these things today?
•    What are the circumstances that are keeping you from being content and joyful?
•    How will serving others help save you from focusing on your circumstances?
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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