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A Lamp For My Feet -W208 – Be Willing to Change

Be Willing to Change
‘…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.’ Philippians 4:8 NIV

If you’re not moving closer to your dream, you may not be tenacious enough in your pursuit of it. And the key to greater tenacity is not necessarily working harder at the same things, but being willing to change. Change what?
(1)Your thinking. Are you convinced you can’t succeed? Do you describe yourself and what you’re doing in negative terms? Are you afraid to get started because conditions aren’t favourable? Do you stop trying to move forward when you don’t have the resources you need? If so, you need to change your mindset, to break the cycle of negative thinking.

(2) Your perspective. Do you have a short-term mindset? Are you expecting success in days, weeks, or months? The greater your assignment, the longer it’s likely to take. So recalibrate your expectations and create a more reasonable timetable for yourself; otherwise, you’ll live in frustration and defeat. That’s not God’s will for you. Paul’s desire was ‘…that I may finish my race with joy…’ (Acts 20:24 NKJV) God wants you to experience joy in the pursuit of your goal.

(3) Your ways. How are things going in your personal life and in your home life? Are you ready to deal with the habits and hang-ups that stand between you and success? What can you do today that will bring you closer to your dream-no matter how small the progress? Author and publisher Robert Collier says, ‘Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.’

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A Lamp For My feet – W207 – Have High Expectations of God

Have High Expectations of God
‘…I will…tell you…things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

In tough times we’ve a tendency to lower our expectations. As a result we end up settling for less than God wants. The Bible asks, ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?…’ (Genesis 18:14 NKJV) Now it’s easy to answer, ‘No!’ But what you do next proves whether or not you actually believe that. Jesus said: ‘If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.’ (John 13:17 NKJV)

To walk in God’s blessing every day you must do what He tells you. And He may tell you to do something different! The problem is, we get attached to methods which worked in the past and keep going back to them. But by always looking to the familiar, you limit God. He’s much greater than any proven method, and He’s never predictable. His Word says, ‘Call to Me and I will…tell you…things you do not know.’ The Living Bible says, ‘I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen.’ What an offer!

When God decided that Moses would lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses never questioned God’s ability, he just questioned whether God could do it through him. What was God’s answer when Moses complained that he wasn’t an articulate speaker? ‘Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ (Exodus 4:12 NIV)

God is neither enhanced by your strengths nor inhibited by your struggles. There’s more He wants to do through you than what you’ve experienced so far. So have high expectations of God and respond in faith to whatever He tells you.

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A Lamp For My feet -W206 – Four Benefits of Understanding Your Uniqueness

Four Benefits of Understanding Your Uniqueness
by Rick Warren

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:14 NLT)
Once you understand your shape, it explains how you respond to authority, how you handle criticism, how you deal with confrontation, how you make friends, how you deal with guilt, why you get close to people or why you don’t get close to people. Your shape explains what makes you mad, sad, worried, happy – because it’s you!

There are four benefits of discovering and building your life around your “S.H.A.P.E.” (your spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences):

1. It reduces stress. When you are confident in how you are shaped, you stop comparing yourself to other people. Instead, you build on your strengths, recognize your limitations, maximize what you’re good at, and don’t worry about the rest. It’s a guaranteed stress reducer!

2. It increases success. Success is not making a lot of money; it’s knowing God’s will and being right in the center of it. It’s being what God meant you to be. It’s figuring out who you are and then being you!

3. It deepens satisfaction. A satisfying life is when you are doing what you’re shaped to do. Freedom comes from doing what you’re gifted to do and enjoying what God made you to be. When you build your life on God’s shape for you, you feel the love of God a whole lot more because you’re in harmony with his plan.

4. It builds self-esteem. There’s an epidemic of low self-esteem in our society today. Studies say that over 50 percent of people are in the wrong jobs. I believe that genuine self-esteem is not built on positive thinking but on two biblical truths: First, you matter to God and, second, you were shaped by God for a purpose.

Talk About It
o    Once you know your shape, spend some time evaluating how your time is spent. Are you pursuing activities or goals that God specifically shaped you to do?
o    Would you say that you have a satisfying life? What is your satisfaction or contentment based on?

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 (c)2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W205 – What Kind of Example Are You?

What Kind of Example Are You?

…Be an example’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV

Andrew Murray wrote, ‘God has no more precious gift…than a man who lives as an embodiment of His will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.’ When Paul writes, ‘Be an example,’ he means ‘be a role model.’ The first car off the assembly line is a prototype of all that follows. Dressmakers study the pattern, and then design the garment accordingly.

The word ideal sounds lofty, and it is. But even if you don’t achieve the ideal, it should still be your goal. What Paul was saying to young Timothy was, ‘When you talk about Jesus, people should see so much of Him in your life that they desire to know Him. When you talk about faith, the evidence of it should be so compelling that they want to live by it.’

Bruce Carroll sings: ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way. Actions speak much louder than all that words can say. That’s why I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.’ Lectures may be wise and true but it’s better for people to learn through seeing it lived out, rather than hearing words spoken. Words may be misunderstood but a life of love is difficult to misinterpret.

‘…Be an example…in…speech’ 1 Timothy 4:12 GNT
It’s nice to say, ‘Be an example,’ but in what specific areas? For the next few days let’s look at some of them: ‘Be an example…in speech.’ Go back and read what Paul says to Timothy before this: ‘Don’t let anybody look down on you because…’ When you speak, your credibility is at stake. Solomon says, ‘Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.’ (Proverbs 29:20 NKJV) The trouble with words is, once they’re spoken their impact is felt either positively or negatively-and you can’t take them back! You can say you’re sorry, but you may have to rebuild your credibility with the person you spoke to, or about. Here’s the litmus test for your words, and it’s a high standard: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord…’ (Psalm 19:14 NLT) A poet wrote: ‘A careless word may kindle strife; a cruel word may wreck a life. A gracious word may soothe the way, a joyous word may light the day. A timely word may lessen stress, a loving word may heal and bless.’ So today let your words be faith-building, for people battle with doubt and fear. Let your words be comforting, for people have wounds you cannot see. Let your words be uplifting, for people get torn down by criticism and discouragement. Let your words be calming, for God has promised to bless you if you are a peacemaker. And let your words be character-building; that way you’ll leave people better off than you found them.

…Be an example…in conduct’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
Seneca, the Roman statesman, said, ‘I govern my life and thoughts as though the world were to see one and read the other.’ You can always predict what a person of integrity will do in two areas: (1) In business. Saying ‘no’ to your boss usually isn’t a good career move. But when faced with a choice between his career and his convictions, Daniel refused to eat the king’s meat because it was a violation of God’s law (Daniel 1:8-17). Joseph refused to sleep with the boss’s wife (Genesis 39:6-12). Elisha refused to accept a rich man’s money in exchange for healing (2 Kings 5:1-16). Getting the idea? (2) At home. Noah saved his family from destruction by listening to God (Hebrews 11:7). And the first thing he did when he emerged from the ark was to build an altar. Think about that! Noah had an altar before he had a home. Most of us have homes, but no prayer altar, and it shows! Lot, on the other hand, lost his wife and his sons-in-law to the destructive influences of Sodom (Genesis 19:14-26). Today issues of character that once raised alarm don’t even raise an eyebrow. But they should. ‘…I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.’ (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

‘…Be an example…in love’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
Jesus said: ‘Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.’ (Luke 6:35-36 NKJV) Such words bring us to our knees, for we fall far short of practising them. The pastor of a large church tells of being on an elevator with a drunk man who was throwing up. The pastor couldn’t wait to get off. All the way to his room he kept criticising the man. Later that night God spoke to him and said, ‘You laughed at him, but I loved him enough to die for him.’ Watch your attitude! The same sunshine that melts the butter hardens the clay. When you constantly deal with people’s problems, it will make you either callous or compassionate. In spite of His disappointment in people, Jesus never lost His sense of compassion. Love isn’t a virus that you catch, it’s a virtue you’re supposed to practice every day. And there’s a divine dimension to this kind of love. ‘…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ (Romans 5:5 NKJV) You can’t reach into the well of your own emotions to find such love; you can only take the love of God that’s been poured into your heart and share it with others. And if you are to serve God successfully, you must have regular transfusions of His love.

…Be an example…in spirit’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
In Bible times, Jews looked down on non-Jews. They actually referred to them as ‘dogs.’ So when Christ’s disciples went in to a Samaritan village to find accommodation for the night, they were turned away. How did the disciples handle this? With understanding? Not a chance! ‘…They said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what…spirit you are of.”‘ (Luke 9:54-55 NKJV) Check your spirit! You can be totally unaware of your attitude toward others. You can even use Scripture to justify yourself. The disciples thought that because Elijah called down fire on his enemies at Mount Carmel, they should be able to zap these poor Samaritans. Amazing! Christ had just got through telling them: ‘Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in Heaven…’ (Luke 6:22-23 NKJV) Only as you read the Scriptures and pray, can God shine the spotlight on your hidden biases and help you correct them. Often the look on your face has more impact than the words you speak. You can be arrogant and think you’re being assertive. You can be insensitive and think you’re a truth-teller. You can be purpose-driven and convince people that their only value to you is in what they contribute. When it comes to your ‘spirit’, you need a regular check-up.

‘…Be an example…in faith’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
Having the faith required to get answers to your prayers is an important truth. But that’s not what Paul is speaking about here. He begins the chapter saying, ‘…some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits…’ (1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV) He warns, stay anchored to the truth, or you’ll be caught in the undertow of error. Here’s a fact that should alarm us: 90 percent of all those who end up in cults started out in mainline churches. How come? Because they weren’t grounded in the truth of Scripture! They are like the guy who was asked, ‘What do you believe?’ He replied, ‘The same thing my church believes.’ When asked, ‘What does your church believe?’ he replied, ‘The same thing I believe.’ When asked, ‘What do you both believe?’ he replied, ‘We both believe the same thing.’ Bottom line: he didn’t know what he believed! You say, ‘But doesn’t God have more truth to reveal to us?’ Yes. ‘The path of the just is like the shining light, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.’ (Proverbs 4:18 NKJV) But God doesn’t destroy the foundations of truth, He builds on them. Sometimes Bible teachers with fresh revelation act like ‘the party started when I arrived!’ That’s ego, not anointing! We are not called to be tasters of experience, but testers of truth. We must honour the ministry, but understand that just because a preacher says it, doesn’t make it so. The Bereans ‘…received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.’ (Acts 17:11 NKJV) You must do that!

…Be an example…in purity.’ 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
This word ‘purity’ refers to that which is not polluted. Pollution causes disease and death. The products on the grocery store shelf may be beautifully packaged, but when food-borne illness results, we must go back to the source and find the problem. What is it? Careless, cost-cutting methods that not only permit disease but promote it. Consider this: some of the things that entertain us today would have shocked our parents and grandparents. Is that because we are more enlightened? Look around you and judge for yourself! While living under his father’s authority the Prodigal Son was well off. But in search of enlightenment and entertainment, he ended up in a pigsty. Yes, he was forgiven and welcomed back home, but he lost a lot in the process. Today the world of politics, education and entertainment are battling for your mind, your attention and your allegiance. So here’s a Scripture you need to think about carefully: ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 2:5 NKJV) In other words, submit your thoughts to God. If He approves them-they’re ok. Paul writes: ‘We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT) If you don’t ‘capture’ wrong thoughts and submit them to the test of Scriptural truth, they’ll lead you in the wrong direction.

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A Lamp For My feet -W204 – Maximise This Day

Maximise This Day
‘This is the day the Lord has made’ Psalm 118:24 NKJV

God determines the number of your days, but you determine how they are spent. The Psalmist said, ‘This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’ Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is all you’ve got. And you can begin your life over today,

if you live by these words: ‘Today I will delete from my diary two days-yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday was for learning; tomorrow will be a consequence of what I do today. Today I will face life with the conviction that this day will never return, that it may be the last opportunity I’ll have to contribute because there’s no guarantee I’ll see tomorrow. Today I will be courageous enough not to let opportunity pass me by; my only alternative will be to succeed.

Today I will invest my most valuable resource, my time, into my most important possession, the life God has given me. I’ll spend each minute purposefully, making today a unique opportunity. I’ll tackle each obstacle knowing that with God’s help I can overcome it. Today I will resist doubt and pessimism and warm my world with a smile. I’ll maintain a strong faith, expect nothing but the best, take time to be happy, see every task as an opportunity to honour the Lord, and endeavour to leave His footprints on the hearts of those I meet.’ John Boykin wrote, ‘Time is your life-nothing more, nothing less. The way you spend your hours and your days, is the way you spend your life.’ So pray, ‘Lord, help me to maximise this day.’

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A Lamp For My feet -W203 – Start the Healing By Revealing Your Hurt Then Forgive and Move On

Start the Healing By Revealing Your Hurt Then Forgive and Move On
by Rick Warren

“I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense.” (Job 7:16 TEV)
Job certainly doesn’t hold back when he lets God know just how angry he is: “I can’t stand my life-I hate it! I’m putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life-I’m holding back nothing” (Job 10:1 MSG).

So what did God do when he heard Job’s cries? Do you think he was surprised? Of course not! God knew Job was upset from the moment he got upset. He just wanted Job to admit it, to get it off his chest.

The start of any healing in your life is revealing your hurt. If you want to get over your emotional hurts, you have to share them with somebody.

Some of you are angry with God for things that have happened in your past. He knows it, you know it, but you won’t admit it. The starting point is to say, “God, I’m still upset. I’m angry that this happened!” God’s not going to fry you with a thunderbolt if you confess your feelings. He already knows how you feel. You just start the healing process by admitting it.

What is it in your life that you’re pretending not to know? What hurt in your marriage or relationship are you pretending is not there? What conflict in your family are you pretending isn’t true?

You need to face up to it. That’s the first step.

Maybe you’re trying to bury your past, but it keeps resurrecting itself. There are triggers everywhere that just keep the memory alive. Your past keeps popping back up because you haven’t dealt with it.

Instead of burying the past, you need to close the door on the past so you can move on to the present. Where you’ve been doesn’t matter as much as the direction you’re going today. You need to close the door on the past, but there is no closure without disclosure. You can’t close that door until you’ve faced your hurt and shared it with somebody.

Talk About It
Today, you may need to write a letter to God and tell him your feelings. God understands your hurt and pain, and he’s waiting for you to talk to him about it. Putting your feelings on paper will help you express your heart to God.

Then, you need to get in a small group. You need at least one person you can spill your guts to and who will love you unconditionally. In a small group, you’ll meet someone who will become a close friend and will pray with you through your hurts.

Forgive, Then Move On

“Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, If you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, You’ll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. You’ll forget your troubles; they’ll be like old, faded photographs.” (Job 11:13-16 MSG)

As long as you focus on someone you resent, that person controls you. You’re worrying about something he or she has already forgotten about.

Long before psychology came along, Job said there are three steps for inner healing:

  1. Put your heart right. If you want to be emotionally healed from a hurt, you have to release the offender – whether you feel like it or not. Don’t try to get even. Forgive that person, then release him or her.
  2. Reach out to God. You need to invite Christ to come into your life and fill you with his forgiveness. Why? I don’t think you can manufacture enough forgiveness in your life to handle all the hurts you’re going to face, not only those of the past but those you’ll have between now and when you die.

Do you remember the story of Corrie Ten Boom? She hid Jews in her apartment to protect them from the Nazis during World War II. When they were caught, not only were the Jews shipped off to the concentration camps, but Corrie and her family were, too. Everyone in her family was killed in the concentration camps except Corrie, and she endured torture and abuse. She later went back and met the guards who had abused her, and she forgave them. You can’t do that with human forgiveness. You need God’s supernatural power in your life in order to let it go and be able to say, “It wasn’t good. It wasn’t fun. It was bad. But I believe that God can bring good out of the bad, and somehow the rest of my life is going to be the best of my life.”

3. Face the world again. When we’re hurt, we’re tempted to withdraw into a shell, put up a wall, and decide never to let anyone else get close. You’re really only hurting yourself when you do that. Letting what happened to you in the past define your identity is like driving a car looking into the rearview mirror. You’re going to crash. You have to face the future and resume living. It doesn’t matter as much where you’ve been as it does where you’re headed.

Talk About It
What hurtful memory are you choosing to hold onto – something somebody said, did, or thought about you?

Pray this prayer today: “Jesus, I want my heart to be right. Please take this resentment out of my life. I choose to forgive [this person]. Help me to face the world again. Help me to focus on you in the future. Replace my pain with your peace. Replace my hurt with your healing. Replace my bitterness with your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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 (c)2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W202 – Obedience Unlocks God’s Power

Obedience Unlocks God’s Power
by Rick Warren

“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” (Ephesians 4:23 CEV)

Throughout the Bible, we see an important truth illustrated over and over: The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith.

When Joshua was faced with an impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God’s power.

God waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.

While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth. At least eight times in the New Testament we are told to “make every effort” in our growth toward becoming like Jesus (Luke 13:24; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:3; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:11; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Peter 3:14).

  • We must let go of old ways of acting. “Everything … connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (Ephesians 4:22 MSG).
  • We must change the way we think. “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking” (Ephesians 4:23 CEV). The Bible says we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
  • We must develop the habits of Jesus. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV).

Talk About It

“God waits for you to act first.” What step can you take today that will move you forward in spite of your fears and feelings?

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 (c) 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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