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A Lamp For My Feet -W195 – Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy
‘…Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’ 2 Timothy 2:3 KJV

The new birth creates a battle between your old nature and your new one. When you were redeemed, you were recruited into this battle. And it begins the moment your eyes open each morning. The big question is, will you hold up or fold up? Victory depends on knowing your enemy’s strategy and having a plan to deal with it. As a follower of Christ the attack you face each day is twofold. First, there is the attack that comes from without. ‘…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.’ (James 4:4 NKJV) Now that doesn’t mean distancing yourself from your unchurched friends and denouncing all their activities. Nor does it mean adopting a holier-than-thou attitude toward them. It means that instead of the culture affecting you negatively, you engage and influence it positively, like light in darkness. Susanna Wesley defined ‘worldliness’ as four things: (1) ‘Whatever dulls the sensitivities of my spirit toward God, or takes the fine edge off my thought of Him-must be ruled out for He is my Lord. (2) Whatever injures and weakens my body, or affects the mastery of it-must be ruled out for it is the temple of the Lord. (3) Whatever adversely affects the clearness of my witness to Jesus Christ before others-must be ruled out for it was His parting wish that I should be a witness of Him. (4) Whatever may cause my brother to stumble in his Christian life-must be ruled out for that would grieve Jesus.’

‘There is another power within me that is at war with my mind…’ Romans 7:23 NLT

Today let’s talk about the second type of attack: the enemy within. Your old nature is like a fifth column, always looking for ways to sabotage you. It’s the door through which Satan enters. You have two natures, an old one and a new one. They are opposite, and they are always on a collision course. A great illustration of this can be found in the birth of Jacob and Esau. ‘…Rebekah became pregnant with twins. But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”‘ (Genesis 25:21-23 NLT) Paul talks about his ‘Dr. Jekyll’ nature and his ‘Mr. Hyde’ nature. ‘I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me.’ (Romans 7:22-23 NLT) What’s the answer? Starve your old nature and feed your new one! Again Paul writes: ‘No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.’ (2 Timothy 2:4 NKJV)

That means you must:
(1) Regularly communicate with headquarters through prayer.
(2) Read God’s Word to be sure you’re obeying your Commanding Officer.
(3) Keep your spiritual morale high.
(4) Not get entangled with the wrong people or things.

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A Lamp For My Feet -W194 – Fear Rejection? Remember, You Are Unique

Fear Rejection? Remember, You Are Unique
by Rick Warren

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it”. (Psalms 139:13-14 NLT)

The Bible says you were prescribed before birth. God knew what you would be like. He chose you, and he chose your characteristics. This means you are unique. There is only one you. There is nobody else who could be you. If you don’t be you, who is going to be you? You are irreplaceable.

I read recently that there are 25,000 varieties of orchids in the world. If I had been God, I would have made a yellow orchid, a blue orchid, and a red orchid. Not God. The creator loves variety – 25,000 different varieties of orchids.

What’s even more amazing is there are 4 billion varieties of people. And God made them all. You’re unique. Nobody can be you. David says be grateful: “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14 NLT).

Be glad you’re you. God didn’t make you by accident. Can you imagine an artist whose paintings all look the same? How about a guy who paints 12 pictures and puts them up in his living room, then the pictures come to life and vote to all become like one. The artist would be disappointed. God doesn’t want you to be like anybody else. He wants you to be you.

When you understand this, you will be less likely to fear rejection.

Talk About It

How does comparing yourself to others undermine your purpose in life?
How does comparing yourself to others influence your relationship to God?

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 – W193 – Needed-A New Birth!

Needed-A New Birth!

‘You must be born again.’ John 3:7 NIV

The Bible says that 130 years after Adam first sinned, he was still fathering children ‘in his own likeness’. (Genesis 5:3 NIV) And as Adam’s descendants, we have all been born with the nature of fallen man.

Sometimes people say, ‘He’s just like his dad.’ Or we say, ‘My dad was an angry man, now I’ve got his temper!’ ‘My dad couldn’t stay with my mum, now I’m going through a divorce.’ ‘My dad was an alcoholic, now look at my drinking and drug-taking!’ ‘My dad was a workaholic, now I put in 14 hours a day.’ ‘My dad wasn’t affectionate with us, now I don’t know how to be loving toward my children.’ History repeats itself over and over through our fallen nature.

Here’s a fascinating example: ‘Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.’ (Genesis 20:2 NIV) Abraham was willing to sacrifice Sarah to save his own neck. What would you have done? Before you answer, notice that Isaac wasn’t even born when his father did this. Yet years later, Isaac did exactly the same thing in the same place (Genesis 26:7). It’s genetic! It’s in our DNA.

But there’s good news. When you receive Christ as your Saviour, He breaks that cycle. When you’re ‘born of the spirit’, you get a new Father and a new nature (see John 3:3-6). You don’t have to walk in the likeness of your earthly father any longer; you can walk in the likeness of your heavenly Father and become more like Him every day. Fed up with your old nature and ways? Ready for a new birth? Turn to Christ!

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A Lamp For My Feet -W192 – You Don’t Have to Please Everybody

You Don’t Have to Please Everybody
by Rick Warren

“It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you.” (Proverbs 29:25a TEV)
If you constantly worry about what other people think, then you’re caught in an emotional trap. You don’t have to please everybody any more than you can please everybody. It’s a myth to think that in order to be happy, you must be liked and approved of by everyone you meet. It’s just not true.

Even God can’t please everybody, and only a fool would try to do what even God can’t do. Jesus said he only focused on pleasing God (John 8:29).

So how do you handle hard-to-please people? One thing you don’t do is cave in. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re supposed to submit and let others manipulate you. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold” (Phillips).

The truth is, no one can pressure you without your permission. If you feel pressured by someone, you’re allowing yourself to feel pressured by that person. If you feel controlled or manipulated, you’re allowing yourself to be controlled or manipulated.

You don’t have to do that! It’s OK to stand up for what’s right. It’s OK to be assertive. Many Christians are afraid to speak up. Many think it’s more spiritual to just be quiet and put up with it all. But God doesn’t expect you to be a doormat – and he didn’t make you to be a wimp.

Talk About It
What are some ways that you can be assertive and not compromise as a Christian?
What kind of consequences have you experienced when you have made decisions with more concern for what others think than what God thinks of you?

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.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W191 – Four Ways to Build a Relationship with the Lord

Four Ways to Build a Relationship with the Lord

‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord…’ 2 Peter 3:18 NKJV

First, make up your mind.
Spiritual growth doesn’t happen by osmosis. You don’t just wake up with it one morning; you have to set your heart on it and make it your highest priority. Otherwise it won’t happen. The Bible says: ‘Let not that man suppose he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.’ (James 1:7 NKJV)

Second, break up your will.
Until your will is surrendered to God and brought into alignment with His purposes, you will go in circles spiritually. Israel went in circles in the wilderness for forty years, yet they were only eighteen kilometres from the Promised Land. Don’t let that happen to you. ‘Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight.’ (Hebrews 13:20-21 NKJV)

Third, wake up your faith.
Obey the leadings of God’s Spirit. Don’t be afraid, He will not let you down. Just make sure you don’t let Him down. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is…a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)

Fourth, take up your cross.
‘…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV) If you’re serious about building a relationship with the Lord, do these four things.

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A Lamp For My Feet -W190 – The Benefits of Making Jesus ‘Lord’

The Benefits of Making Jesus ‘Lord’

‘…No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 12:3 NKJV

Making Jesus ‘Lord’ of your life means that He must have the first and last word in all things which concern you. It means you are called to walk with Him, to prove yourself valuable to Him, to please Him and do what He wants, when He wants it, and in the way He wants it done. Here are three great benefits that come from putting Jesus behind the wheel and making Him ‘Lord’.

(1) When you don’t know what to say, He will tell you. ‘The Sovereign Lord has given Me His words of wisdom, so that I may know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He wakens Me and opens My understanding to His will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to Me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.’ (Isaiah 50:4-5 NLT)

(2) When you can’t defend yourself, He will fight for you. ‘…The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me…they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.’ (Psalm 27:1-3 NLT)

(3) When the burden feels too heavy, He will carry it for you. ‘Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.’ (Psalm 55:22 NLT) And these three benefits are yours when you make Jesus ‘Lord’ over every area of your life.

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A Lamp For My Feet -W189 – Live Happy … Amidst Failure

Live Happy … Amidst Failure

By Benescke Janse van Rensburg

On the 26th June 2012, Rafael Nadal, the number two-seed in the Wimbledon tennis tournament, arrived at the court to play his match against Lukas Rasol, the 100th player on the world rankings. There was no doubt that Nadal would be the winner. He already was the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion and won the French Open tournament a few weeks ago with a record seventh consecutive time. This, compared to the 26-year-old Czech, Rasol, who in his Wimbledon career lost five consecutive times in the first round.

Great was the shock to spectators, sport commentators and especially to Nadal when Rasol won the match hours later, sending Nadal home. This defeat, ranked as one of the biggest Wimbledon shocks in the history of the tournament, shattered Rafael’s dream to win his twelfth Grand Slam tournament.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar state of shock and disappointment in which you could only blame yourself? Moses was there. His temper caused him to change from an Egyptian prince in the palace to a criminal fleeing for his life in a single day. Jonah had a similar experience. Due to his disobedience to God, he changed from a prophet with a mission from God, to a man stuck in the fish’s belly. And David experienced it too. In one day he changed from being a man after God’s own heart to a murderer who committed adultery.

How do you handle those situations of disappointment? Do you turn back to God like Moses, Jonah and David did? Do you confess your sin and accept responsibility for your wrong choices, trusting God to work everything together for the good in your life?

In Psalm 62:7-8 the Psalmist writes: “Trust in him (God) at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” And in Romans 8:28 we read: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Rafael Nadal will definitely not hang up his racket after his Wimbledon disappointment. And you shouldn’t either give up hope for a better future in your life after a disappointment. Remember, God can use any difficult, shocking situation to pull you closer to Him and to demonstrate His power to you. He might even use it to prepare you for perhaps the biggest breakthrough in your future. Will you trust Him to do it? God bless.

Father God, thank you that no challenge will ever be too big for You to turn around. Lead me through your Holy Spirit to learn and grow closer to You throughout every challenge. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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