Practice the Principle of Replacement
by Rick Warren
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23 GN)
Long before psychology came around, God said your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions. If you want to change your life, you have to control the way you think.
Our minds are really an amazing creation. It would take a computer the size of a small city just to carry out the basic functions of your brain. Your brain contains more than 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10,000 other neurons.
You’re also constantly talking to yourself. Research indicates that most people speak at a rate of 150 to 200 words per minute, but the mind can process about 500 to 600 words a minute. That’s why you can listen to me and plan today’s dinner at the same time.
The problem is that a lot of us are like Job, who says, “Everything I say seems to condemn me” (Job 9:20b GN). He’s saying, in effect, “Everything I say puts me down.” If you are a typical human being, you are your own worst critic.
We’re always putting ourselves down. We walk into a room smiling, but inside we’re thinking, “I’m fat. I’m dumb. I’m ugly. And I’m always late!”
But when you say those things, you’re really pointing to the Creator who made you. When you say, “God, I’m worthless. I’m no good. I can’t do anything,” you’re saying, “God, you blew it with me.” That’s why God says it’s wrong to put yourself down. How do you eliminate negative self-talk so you can become a more confident person?
The Bible teaches the principle of replacement. “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right … Think about all you can thank God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8 TLB).
In other words, don’t think about all those weaknesses in your life. Focus on who God wants you to be and what God wants to do in your life. I don’t know a better antidote to low self-esteem (or to facing your hurts, habits, and hang-ups) than to read God’s Word every day — study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in your life.
The best thing you can do to raise your confidence level is to start believing what God says about you. When I find a verse in the Bible that speaks to me, I write it down on a card, memorize it, and then affirm it by saying it back to God: “Father, thank you that I am valuable, significant, forgivable, and capable.”
” Let God renew your mind, because “your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GN).
Talk About It
- What do you know to be true about yourself because of what the Bible says?
- What things that are “true and good and right” can you focus on today?
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.
Imagine how honoured you would feel if a president or prime minister decided to visit you and spend the night at your house. You wouldn’t leave dirty dishes piled up in the sink, clothes strewn across the floor and a ring around the bathtub. No, you’d give the place a radical makeover! And you wouldn’t make them sleep in the garage, the box room or the attic; you’d vacate the master bedroom and give it to them. Your goal would be to honour them in every way because their presence had honoured you.
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Don’t Give Up: God Is Still Working
by Jon Walker
“Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God. Put away evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life’s darkest hours will shine like the dawn. You will live secure and full of hope.” (Job 11:13-18 TEV)
If you want to remain free of bitterness or regret, begin to trust that God is actively working on your behalf, even in what appears to be the worst of circumstances. This is a matter of faith, where you choose to believe God is at work.
With God working in your life and in faith:
You can choose to accept the past. No sin, no action, no choice on your part is too big for God to handle or too big to be worked for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
You can choose to embrace the present. There’s no need to play the “what if” game. The past is forgiven and gone, and the future is in God’s omnipotent hands; you’re free to focus on the present and your job to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Martyred missionary Jim Elliot once wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there.” God wants you in the present, because that’s where his grace will flow.
You can choose to look expectantly toward the future. Even if you make mistakes today, God still controls your future. Walking in the Spirit, you can live life to the fullest, without fear of making mistakes or stumbling into some terrible circumstance that takes you out of God’s control. Even when things appear to be terrible, you can trust that God is working out some divine plan through you.
“We pray that you will be filled with his mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens — always full of the joy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:11 LB).
Trust God with your past and future and commit your present to his purpose. Then watch and see how God provides abundantly for you and through you so that you can express the joy of the Lord and his grace in your life.
Talk About It
What do you need to let go of in your past?
What do you need to trust God with for your future?
Jon Walker’s new book, Breakfast with Bonhoeffer, is a story of God’s faithfulness during struggles with bipolar disorder, divorce, and economic uncertainty.
This devotional © Copyright 2012 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
‘O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.’ Psalm 65:2 NKJV
Mark records, ‘Very early in the morning…Jesus got up…and…prayed.’ (Mark 1:35 NIV) Jesus made deposits each morning so that He could make withdrawals throughout the day. Many of us don’t, and it shows! RA Torrey said, ‘We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little.’ The pastor of a mega-church acknowledged that for many years he knew more about prayer than he ever practiced. One day God interrupted his schedule and told him to explore, study, and practice prayer until he fully understood it. The results were life-changing. He writes: ‘It has been twenty years since I began taking time to pray. My life has been transformed. The greatest fulfilment hasn’t been the list of miraculous answers to prayer I’ve received, although that has been wonderful; the greatest thrill has been the quality of difference in my relationship with God. When I started to pray I didn’t know what was going to happen. God and I used to be rather casually related to one another. We didn’t get together and talk very much. Now, however, we get together a lot, not talking on the run, but carrying on substantial, soul-searching conversations every morning for a good chunk of time. I feel as if I’ve gotten to know God a lot better since I started praying.’ Martin Luther said, ‘I have often learned more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection.’ Do you want to know God better?
‘…Your Father in Heaven [will] give good gifts to those who ask’ Matthew 7:11 NIV
Phillips Brooks said, ‘Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think of a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.’ When we love our children we want to be generous with them. And that’s how God feels about us: ‘If you, then, though you are evil…give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.’ Some of us have difficulty accepting the gifts God gives us, particularly material things. One lady said, ‘I distinctly remember feeling God must have had His wires crossed. Why would He do that for me? In fact I felt guilty, as if I’d somehow acquired something God didn’t really want me to have.’ Think how cruel the following words would sound if they represented your attitude as a parent: ‘I’m too busy. I don’t want to hear about your lost bike or your school problem. Don’t bother me with your personal requests. I’ll take care of everybody else but you. If you love me you’ll survive on bread and water. Sure, I’m rich, but why would I give you anything-back off!’ Good parents don’t talk like that! They want only the best for their children. So, take a good parent’s feeling for their child, multiply it exponentially, and you’ll only begin to understand how God feels about you. Nobody’s voice sounds sweeter to Him than yours. Nothing in the world keeps Him from directing His full attention to your requests. So come to Him in prayer.
‘Pray continually.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV
The Bible says, ‘Pray continually.’ If you can worry continually, you can pray continually; you just have to change your focus! Try to picture this: an enemy army has arrived intent on wiping Israel out. So Moses says to Joshua, ‘Take your best soldiers and go fight them. I’m taking two men, climbing the hill that overlooks the plains, raising my hands toward Heaven and praying for victory.’ (Exodus 17:8-9 paraphrase) As Moses’ hands stretched heavenward, Joshua’s troops prevailed. But when Moses’ arms grew weary and he dropped them to his side, the tide of battle shifted. Joshua’s troops were being struck down. Again Moses stretched his arms toward Heaven, bringing the matter before the Lord. Immediately the battle’s momentum shifted back to Joshua. Then it struck Moses-he must keep his arms outstretched toward Heaven if he wanted to open the door to God’s supernatural intervention here on earth. There’s a lesson here: if you are willing to invite God to involve Himself in your daily living, you’ll experience His power in your home, your relationships, your career and wherever else it’s needed. But the other side of the equation is sobering: it’s hard for God to release His power in your life when you just put your hands in your pockets and say, ‘I can handle this on my own.’ If you do that, don’t be surprised if you get the nagging feeling that the tide of battle has shifted against you and that you’re powerless to do anything about it. To experience God’s power in your life you must pray continually, pray Scripturally, and pray in faith.
‘He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him’ Psalm 91:15 NKJV
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is hooked up to the internet. (Using the internet, subscribers can send email to other internet users.) So when The New Yorker magazine published Gates’ email address he quickly got into trouble with email overload. Because now anyone on the internet was able to mail the computer genius. In no time he was swamped with thousands of messages-he simply couldn’t handle it. So he armed his computer with software that filtered his email, allowing important messages through and sending all the others to electronic oblivion. We are limited; we can handle only so much and do only so much. God, on the other hand, never tires of s-mail (spirit mail). His ear is always open to our prayers. And He has an unlimited capacity to help. You’ll never hear Him say, ‘Due to an unusually high call volume I am unable to take your message at this time. Please call back or leave a message.’ No, the Bible says, ‘He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him.’ (Psalm 91:15 NKJV) ‘…the desire of the righteous will be granted.’ (Proverbs 10:24 NKJV) ‘…the prayer of the upright is His delight.’ (Proverbs 15:8 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.’ (John 15:7 NKJV)
It’s all in the details
“This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb… who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”‘ Isaiah 44: 24a, 27-28
There’s something a little different about this particular prophecy, it mentions someone specifically by name rather than simply giving a description. Remember God knows each of our names, and we are his. More than that, he shares the future with us.
In this passage, God not only predicts the future, but he does it by naming the specific individual! He knew Cyrus’ name before he was born. From the clues Isaiah gives us and from reading Ezra 1:1-3, we can deduce that this Cyrus would be the King of Persia; the king who ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. Bible scholars agree that Isaiah predicted the rise of Cyrus 150 years in advance!
Notice the reference to the “watery deep” and the drying up of streams. What has this to do with Cyrus? In 539 BC, Cyrus had laid siege to the city of Babylon. The people inside were not concerned because they had stored up supplies to last 20 years. However, the Persian army diverted the Euphrates River, which ran under the city of Babylon, and when the water level dropped, his army entered the city by going under the gate in the river bed. Babylon fell to Cyrus.
We have a God who not only knows the future, he knows the details about what is to come, and he has a detailed plan for his people. This God who knows you by name, and he has a detailed plan for your life as well.
Prayer: Lord, you are the Creator who formed me in my mother’s womb, and you have plans for me – plans with hope and a future. Thank You, Father, that I can put my full confidence in that promise. Help me to live closer to you and your plans for me today. Amen
Courage: God Covers You with His Strength
by Jon Walker
“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” (Jeremiah 1:18 NIV)
Read the following as a prayer today.
In faith, I know this to be true:
By God’s hand, I am “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land” (Jeremiah 1:18 NIV), and I am enabled to fear no one but God.
I will not fear, for I know God is with me. When I face fear, he whispers in my ear, “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
When standing before fear, I can boldly say, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one that condemns? Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:33-35, 37).
I know my God goes before me and comes behind me (Psalm 139:5). He is “my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalms 61:3).
And, because of this, I stand convinced that, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
This devotional (c) Copyright 2012 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.