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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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A Lamp For My Feet – W201 – How Jesus Taught Us to Pray

How Jesus Taught Us to Pray

‘…Therefore, pray: Our Father in Heaven…’ Matthew 6:9 NKJV

Here’s how Jesus taught us to pray:
(1) ‘Our Father in Heaven.’
When you say, ‘Father’ you are acknowledging that you’re ‘family’, that you have a special relationship with God which entitles you to go to Him at any time, confident you’re loved, welcomed and assured of His favour. When you say, ‘in Heaven,’ you can go no higher. You’re drawing what you need from the ultimate source of goodness, grace, mercy, provision, protection and authority. What a privilege!

(2) ‘Hallowed be Your name.’ (Matthew 6:9 NKJV)

This thought should always be uppermost in your mind: ‘Whatever I do today, Lord, whether in thought, word or deed, let it honour You.’ People should be able to look at your life and want to become acquainted with the One you serve.

(3) ‘Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ (Matthew 6:10 NKJV) Each time you choose to say no to yourself and yes to God’s will, you demonstrate to a watching world what it means to live as a citizen of His Kingdom. Note the words, ‘as it is in Heaven.’ Is anyone in Heaven fearful or doubting? Stubborn or disobedient? Critical or negative? When the enemy brings something to your door that’s contrary to God’s will, you have the authority to rise up and say, ‘If it’s not done and approved in Heaven it has no place in my life here on earth.’ When it comes to disobedience, refuse to accept the package and sign the receipt. The one thing Satan hopes you never discover is that you have the God-given authority to restrict his movements in your life.

(4) ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Matthew 6:11 NKJV
Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Notice the word ‘daily’. You can’t fight today’s battles on the strength of yesterday’s bread; you must have a fresh supply. In the wilderness God’s people were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. If they tried to collect more, it rotted. It’s wonderful to talk about what God did yesterday and what He’s going to do tomorrow, but all you’ve got is today. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Only as you partake of what God’s provided for you today will you be able to stand up to the challenges you face. This prayer is an expression of faith. The very fact that you ask means you believe God’s got what you need and that He cares enough to provide for you. It says, ‘I don’t need to go to anybody else but You, Lord.’ So hang up the phone, turn off the TV, shut the door, get down on your knees, approach God in faith and pray, ‘Give me what I need for this day.’ God knows what you need, you don’t! As you partake of what He provides for you each day you’ll be able to handle whatever life throws at you.

And one more thought. When people start getting on your nerves for no apparent reason or you start having all sorts of mood swings or you begin living by feelings instead of faith, it’s probably because you’re not eating right. If that’s so, it’s time to go back to your Source and say, ‘Lord, I’ve come for my daily bread.’

(5) ‘…Forgive us…as we forgive…’ Matthew 6:12 NKJV
Let’s clear up some misconceptions about the words, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ Satan will try to convince you that if your feelings haven’t changed toward the person who wronged you, you haven’t truly forgiven them. No, you can make the right decision and still have the wrong feelings! This is when you need faith to carry you through. You have done your part, now you are waiting for God to do His. God has the power to change your feelings toward the one who hurt you, and He will. Another misconception is that all you have to do is make a decision to forgive and then your job’s finished. No, you are instructed to ‘Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favour) upon those who abuse you…’ (Luke 6:28 AMP) You say, ‘Bless them? Are you serious?’ Yes. The word ‘bless’ translates from a word meaning ‘to speak well of’. You’re extending mercy to those who don’t deserve it. But isn’t that what God does for you? The truth is, you cannot truly forgive without the Holy Spirit’s help. So today why don’t you pray, ‘Holy Spirit, breathe on me and give me strength. I forgive _____________ [name] for what they did. I release them from this debt and ask You to bless them. I turn the situation over to You. I trust You for my total restoration. Help me, Lord. Heal my heart, in Jesus’ name, Amen.’ Now, by faith, leave it all in your Father’s hands, move forward and anticipate His blessing. You won’t be disappointed.

(6) ‘…Deliver us from the evil one…’ Matthew 6:13 NKJV
Jesus taught us to pray: ‘Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…’ Satan knows your areas of weakness and he will exploit them. But there’s good news. It’s your weaknesses, not your strengths, that draw you closer to God and make you lean on Him. Paul wrote: ‘…I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT) At first this verse doesn’t seem to make sense. You want to be freed from your weaknesses, not boast about them. But Paul gives you several reasons: (1) Your weakness prevents pride. Paul writes: ‘…to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud…’ (2 Corinthians 12:7 NLT) You’ll often find a weakness attached to strength, acting as a governor to keep you from becoming boastful or running ahead of God. Gideon chose 32,000 men to fight the Midianites, but God reduced his numbers to 300 (Judges 7). Why? So that Israel would know it was God’s power and not their own that saved them. (2) Your weakness creates fellowship. Your struggles show you how much you need the support of others. Vance Havner said, ‘Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic.’ (3) Your weakness enables you to help others. It’s the broken who become masters at mending. Your most effective ministry can come out of your most painful experiences. The things you’re most reluctant to share are often the very things God will use to help others.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W200 – Jesus Offers Mercy, Not Condemnation

Jesus Offers Mercy, Not Condemnation
by Jon Walker

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)

No matter what you’ve ever done, there is no condemnation in Christ. He sits at the Father’s right hand, not as an accuser, but as an advocate willing to give his life for you.

God began the work to bring you back into his presence long before you were born. God knows you can’t make the journey home on your own, so while you “were still helpless,” Christ died for you (Romans 5:6 HCSB).

Jesus offers mercy, not condemnation. He says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 NIV). His objective is to bring you back into intimacy with the Father, so he’s not interested in making you jump through hoops to prove yourself worthy or to earn back God’s love.

Imagine him saying, “These things you offer to do and the promises you want to make in exchange for your forgiveness, they’re just offerings to help you get over your guilt. I’d rather give you forgiveness and grace as a gift; I desire mercy, not these sacrifices that make you grovel in hopes of winning back my love. You never lost my love!””My purpose is not to condemn you but to let my life run free within you as the Holy Spirit connects you directly to the Father” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV, author paraphrase).

“Besides, you can’t wash all the stains away. So, let me do it for you. My blood will be the bleach to wash you white as snow, and my Spirit will begin to live directly in your heart.”

Now wrapped in Christ, we find no condemnation and we’re able to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).

When you feel condemnation coming at you like a furious flood, stand on the Rock, who said, “I no longer condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NLT, with author paraphrase).

Talk About It

Identify the ways you have been trying to earn God’s approval or sacrificing in order to make up for your guilt.

What would your life be like if you accepted God’s mercy and considered God your advocate and not your accuser? How would your life change?

Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and author of “Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.”

This devotional (c) Copyright 2012 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W199 – Live Happy… Helping Others

Live Happy… Helping Others
By Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Today, I want to share a simple secret to happiness. Are you ready? It goes like this: True happiness starts with your ability to put your selfish desires aside and make someone else’s life better. Is that what you are doing in your life?

… I want to share the above mentioned principle in a story from the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany:

The athletics stadium was packed when the black American sprinter, Jesse Owens prepared for the running long jump item. At that stage Jesse had already won three gold medals at the Olympics and was on the verge of a fourth. The leader of the Nazi-party, Adolf Hitler’s racist influence however, was evident in the crowd’s hostility towards the black athletes. What made matters worse for Jesse was that he competed against the German favorite, Luz Long for the gold medal.

The insults and hostility from the crowd suddenly became overwhelming to Jesse and he stepped over the line twice with failed attempts. With only one attempt left to qualify for the finals, he tried everything to get his concentration back. One more failed attempt and his dream of a fourth gold medal would perish.

All Germans eyes were on Luz. With every misstep on Jesse’s side, Luz’s chance of winning the gold medal for the Germans increased. Before Jesse’s last jump, the stadium suddenly became quiet as Luz did the unthinkable. He walked over to Jesse. Before the games, these two competitors heard about each other, but they had never spoken to one another. Luz saw that Jesse was overwhelmed by the crowd’s hostility, and he struggled to concentrate.

In front of thousands of people, Luz placed his hand on Jesse’s arm with the words: “Jesse, calm down. The qualifying distance is only 23 feet (7 meters) and you jumped 26 feet (7.9 meters) with ease in the past. Move your cursor where you start about 3cm back to prevent you from stepping over the line again.” Jesse followed Luz’s advice. With his next jump, he qualified. Later that day he not only won his fourth gold medal, but set a new world record.

In an interview after the Olympics, Jesse said that all his gold medals could be melted, but nothing will come close to the value of Luz’s friendship in that moment of panic. Luz put his selfish desires aside and made someone else’s life better. Even though the two men didn’t see each other after that day as Luz died during World War II, a friendship was forged between them that Jesse will never forget.

Today, South Africans all over the country will focus for 67 minutes on making a difference in someone’s life – but why only today? Why not make this a daily principle in our lives? In Proverbs 19:17 we read: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” In Proverbs 21:13 we read: Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. And in Matthew 25:40, Jesus said “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The secret to true happiness? Move your selfish needs and desires aside for a moment and focus on investing in people and helping them to realize their dreams. Do this and you might find there are no limits to what God can do in and through your life. God bless.

Father God, thank you for keeping me close to your heart. Help me to be an available and willing instrument in your hand to improve other’s lives. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

See picture of Jesse Owens en Luz Long here: http://www.sportsfeelgoodstories.com/2009/04/14/jesse-owens-and-luz-long-%E2%80%94-olympic-heroes-1936/

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A Lamp For My Feet – W198 – Don’t Go Until You Get It

Don’t Go Until You Get It

‘…David inquired again of God…’ 1 Chronicles 14:14 NKJV

The Bible says: ‘David inquired again of God; and God said…”When you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees…go out to battle: for God has gone out before you” …David therefore did as God commanded him: and they drove back the…Philistines…’ (1 Chronicles 14-16 NKJV) Observe three things in this story:

(1) David refused to make a move until he first talked it over with the Lord. Notice the words, ‘David inquired again of God.’ It wasn’t just something he did occasionally or in times of crisis, it was something he did on a regular basis.

(2) David waited until he heard a certain sound: ‘A sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees.’ Do you know God well enough to recognise the sound of His voice? With time and testing you can. ‘You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.’ (1 John 2:20 NKJV) Not only will you know what God wants you to do, He will actually create within you the desire to do it. ‘It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.’ (Philippians 2:13 NKJV)

(3) David went, knowing God had gone before him to deal with every obstacle that stood in his way. The Bible says, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…’ (James 1:5 NKJV) Wisdom is ‘the ability to use knowledge so as to successfully meet the challenges of life.’ You may acquire knowledge from books and schools, but this wisdom is a gift from God.

Don’t go until you get it!

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A Lamp For My feet – W197 – Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing

…Be it known…that we will not…’ Daniel 3:18 KJV

The higher you climb in life, the more certain people will try to assert control over you. Their threats can sound real, and the consequences of ignoring them, intimidating. Look at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Their commitment to God landed them in a fiery furnace heated seven times over. But it also promoted them to a place of great blessing and influence. Their story teaches us that for something to be an authentic test of character, it must be a situation in which the outcome is not in your hands. You simply make the choice to do what is right before God and leave the consequences to Him. It’s a trial by fire, but it’s a fire of refinement, and on the other side of it you come out stronger. Each time you do the right thing, choosing to embrace rather than escape the path God has called you to walk, you enter a new level of freedom. And as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego discovered, three things happen:
(1) You are set free from the ‘Nebuchadnezzars’ who claim to have control over the outcome of your life.
(2) You are set free to say ‘no’ to those who would try to use and manipulate you.
(3) You are set free to serve your all-powerful King and say ‘no’ to all the other pretenders who really have no power over you at all.

In that moment you not only gain insight into who you are, but more importantly, Whose you are. And God will do one of two things: develop you in the fiery furnace or deliver you from it. Indeed, He may do both!

‘…Be it known…that we will not…’ Daniel 3:18 KJV

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had achieved career success, so they had nothing to gain by challenging the king of Babylon. So, why did they? Because he ordered them to disobey God and violate their convictions by bowing down in worship before a pagan image. No doubt they could have reasoned, ‘Better a live dog than a dead lion. If we stay alive, maybe we can do good for God and for others.’ That philosophy would have convinced many of us, so why not them? Because they realised that Nebuchadnezzar was not the reason for their success. He may have been an instrument God used to promote them, but he was not the source of either their significance or their security. Those two things came from God-and they understood that you can’t abandon the principles of God and walk in the blessings of God. You don’t grieve the One who controls everything, just to get along with those who think they control everything. There will always be those who think they know what you should do. But these three Hebrew boys knew better: ‘…Our God whom we serve is able…’ (Daniel 3:17 KJV) Able to do what? ‘…Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…’ (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV) By refusing to bow, when bowing seemed like the expedient thing to do, they turned the hearts of a nation to God. Now, your influence may not be that widespread, but one thing you can count on: others are watching who will be influenced by the stand you take. So ask God to strengthen you, and do the right thing!

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