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A Lamp For My Feet – Why Should You Forgive?

Why Should You Forgive?
by Rick Warren

“The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”(Matthew 18:27 NIV)God’s Word gives us three reasons why we have to let go of our hurt and resentment and why we have to forgive. We’ve got to release it instead of rehearsing it. There are three reasons we must forgive.

Because God forgives you.
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the story of a king who forgives his servant. Verse 27 says, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go” (NIV). Just as the king canceled the debt of this servant, God sent Jesus Christ to pay for your debt. Everything you’ve ever done wrong in your life has already been paid for. Jesus took your rap. He paid your jail time. He took your offense and paid the wages of sin. Jesus Christ died for all of your sins.

Because resentment is self-torture.
It is a self-inflicted wound. Whenever you’re resentful, it always hurts you more than the person you’re bitter against. In fact, while you’re still worrying about something that happened years ago, they’ve forgotten about it! Your past is past, and it can’t hurt you any more unless you hold on to it.

Because you need forgiveness every day.
The Bible teaches very clearly that we cannot receive what we are unwilling to give. Do you want to be forgiven? The Bible says you need to be forgiving.Forgiveness is a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do one time. You need it every day of your life. You’ve got to ask for forgiveness. You’ve got to accept forgiveness from God and from others. And you’ve got to offer forgiveness. Forgiveness must be continual. It must be enjoyed, and it must be employed.

Talk It Over
Who is the first person that comes to mind if you were asked about the greatest hurt in your life?
Do you ever find yourself reacting to somebody because they remind you of somebody else?

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A Lamp For My Feet – Choose Grace, Not Bitterness

Choose Grace, Not Bitterness
by Rick Warren

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)

If you’re still holding on to resentment, then someone is controlling you. Have you ever said, “You make me so mad”? What you’re admitting at that point is, “You are controlling me.” The only way you get this person out of your mind and heart and not controlling you anymore is you heal it with grace — God’s grace.

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (NIV).
Have you ever known a family where a bitter mom poisoned the whole family? Have you ever known a family where a bitter dad poisoned the whole family?

Bitterness is contagious, and it can actually become generational. Somebody has to break the chain, and it better be you. If your parents are bitter because their parents were bitter because their parents were bitter, you’re going to have to break the chain. And there’s only one way to break it: Heal it with grace.

Friends, if you don’t get God’s grace in your life, life will make you bitter. Because life isn’t fair. Why? Because sin is in the world. We live on a broken planet. This is not Heaven. Evil people get away with evil things all the time. Life is not fair.And if you don’t get grace in your heart, it’s going to make you bitter.Is forgiveness fair? Absolutely not.

But it is not about fairness. It is not about justice. It’s about grace. You don’t forgive a person because it’s the fair thing to do. You forgive a person because it’s the right thing to do, and you don’t want your heart full of poison. You don’t want your heart holding on to the hurt and the hate.

Forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap. It cost Jesus his life. It cost God his Son. And as Jesus was dying on the cross, with his arms outstretched and the blood dripping down, he said, “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they’re doing.” He was saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.” He was saying, “They don’t deserve it. They don’t even know what they’re doing. But Father, forgive them.”Leave justice to God. Heal your bitterness with his grace.Talk It OverHave you experienced bitterness toward someone? What has been the result in your life?Why do you think it’s so important to us that everything is fair?

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A Lamp For My Feet – For a Fresh Start, Begin with Repentance

For a Fresh Start, Begin with Repentance
by Rick Warren

“Let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled.’” (Lamentations 3:40b-42a NLT)

The path to a fresh start and a clear conscience begins with repentance. First, you review every area of your life, and then you repent of every sin.
What does it mean to repent? It means three things: First, you take responsibility for your sin. Second, you turn away from those things. And third, you turn toward God and his grace.

The Bible says, “Let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled’” (Lamentations 3:40b-42a NLT).

Repentance does not mean rationalizing your sin. You don’t say, “It was no big deal.” It was a big deal, or you wouldn’t have remembered it. You don’t say, “It happened so long ago” or “It was just a stage I went through” or “Everybody does it.” It doesn’t matter! You cannot rationalize sin, minimize it, excuse it, or blame others. That is not true repentance.

Pay attention to this: The greatest holdup to the healing of your hang-up is you. You’re not waiting on God; you’re not waiting on anybody else. God wants to heal the hang-up in your life, but the greatest holdup to your hang-up is you.

The Bible says in 1 John 1:8, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (NIV).

Would you like to get rid of the self-defeating habits in your life? You will stop defeating yourself when you stop deceiving yourself. It all starts with gut-level honesty and recognizing that something is wrong, no matter how much you want to rationalize it and excuse it. You need to admit it, confess it, and get it out of your life.

Talk It Over

  • What are you pretending not to know? What are you pretending not to feel guilty about? What are you pretending is not a sin?
  •  Don’t you think it’s time to finally deal with it and get it out of your life? What steps will you take in repentance today?
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A Lamp For My Feet – Don’t Give Up: Look for What God Can Do

Don’t Give Up: Look for What God Can Do
by Jon Walker

“His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:2-3 NIV)

As Jesus and his school-in-motion moved through town, they came upon a man who’d been blind since birth. The apostles started a prosecution-of-blame: “Maybe he’s blind because he sinned? Maybe he’s blind because of something his parents did?”
Eugene Peterson suggests that Jesus’ response could be paraphrased, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do” (John 9:3-4 MSG).

Instead of finding someone to blame for your difficult situation, look instead for what God can do through you and for you!
Look to what God can do through his power, strength, and majesty. Get your eyes off the things below and look to what God can do right now through you because the “night is coming,” when you’ll no longer be able to work (John 9:4 NIV).

We don’t have time to figure it all out. Instead of asking, “Why me?” we need to ask, “What do you want me to do in this situation, Lord?”

The apostle Paul says, “We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:10 HCSB). In other words, we carry Jesus’ death in our bodies, and then God resurrects the life of Jesus within us.

God uses our tragedies like an involuntary surgery that causes fear and even greater pain, but on the other side we are stronger, on the way to recovery from our disease of faithlessness.

And even though it may be difficult to see how God can do that or to even see God at work, we grow more confident that he is moving us toward a peaceful future (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11).

Talk About It
•    How have you seen God use a difficult situation in your life for good?
•    How do you think it’s possible to be confident in God’s power at work even when we are going through a crisis?

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A Lamp For My Feet – The Happiness Habit

The Happiness Habit
from Rick Warren

“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:9 NLT)

You can’t earn God’s approval. You can’t earn his love. You can’t earn his recognition. God is love, and he loves you unconditionally. If you want to be a happy person, you need to relax in God’s grace every day.
Philippians 3:3 says, “We Christians glory in what Christ Jesus has done for us and realize that we are helpless to save ourselves” (LB).

One of the things that will rob you of your happiness is legalism. Legalism is the attitude that you have to prove your love to God. Legalism is trusting in what you do for God instead of what Jesus did for you. It’s thinking that you have to follow rules and regulations and restrictions in order to prove yourself worthy.

How do you know when you’re a legalist? It’s when you’re judgmental of other people. How do you know when you’re living by grace? It’s when you’re gracious to others. People who live by grace often find it easier to forgive, because they recognize God continues to forgive them.

Legalism will suck your life dry of happiness. It sucks churches dry of happiness. Ever go to a legalistic church? That church is not happy. There’s no joy in a legalistic church. Everybody’s just there out of duty or guilt.
When you finally realize there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more, it is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. And, it is a key to happiness. Every day, remind yourself of the grace of God, and relax in it.

“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9 NLT).

Talk It Over
Even if you trust in God’s grace, what are the little traps of legalism in your daily life?
How can you “glory in what Christ Jesus has done” for you?
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Happiness Habit: Know What Counts and What Doesn’t Count
By Rick Warren

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8a NLT)

Every day when you get up, you need to remind yourself what counts and what doesn’t count. Don’t be distracted by what’s inconsequential and petty in life.

Why is this an important habit? Have you noticed how easy it is to lose your joy over some small thing? It’s usually the small irritations that cause you to lose your happiness. Somebody cuts you off in the middle of the road when you’re trying to make a turn, and you lose your happiness. You’re having a bad hair day or the clothes you put on don’t fit anymore, and you lose your happiness. It’s the little things that sometimes affect us the most, and yet they don’t really matter.

Paul says in Philippians 3:7, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done” (NLT).

What was the most important thing to you before you met Jesus Christ? Work? Career? Making money? Maybe it was getting a date. Maybe it was being popular. Maybe it was having security or being famous.
Paul says all those things don’t matter anymore compared to the joy of knowing Jesus.

The trap that’s going to keep you from developing this habit is pop culture. Every day there are thousands of advertising messages that say, “You aren’t worth anything until you’ve got our product.” Even television news makes every item sound like it’s the most important thing of the day. It’s not! Nothing is as worthless as yesterday’s newspaper. Just because it’s urgent and immediate does not mean it’s important.

You have to ask yourself about everything: How much will this matter in 100 years? How much of what I’m worrying about right now is going to matter tomorrow? It’s probably not going to matter tomorrow, much less for eternity. You need to live in light of eternity.

America is on trivial pursuit. We’re living for things that don’t really matter. So to be counter culture, you’ve got to focus not on what’s current but what’s eternal. When you live in light of eternity, you realize that the small things you’re worrying about aren’t going to matter in eternity, and instead of stressing out, you can be a happier person.

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8a). Every day, remember what matters most.

Talk It Over
What small things have you been worrying about that have robbed your happiness?
What are the practical ways you can turn your focus to God and keep an eternal perspective?
What was the most important thing to you before you believed in Jesus Christ? How do you feel about it now?
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Happiness Habit: Get to Know God Better
By Rick Warren

“For my determined purpose is that I may … progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.” (Philippians 3:10 AMP)

You were made to live in relationship with God, and if you think you can be joyful without getting to know him better, you’re just fooling yourself. Happiness is found in getting to know God a little bit better every day.
Paul discovered that. He says in Philippians 3:10, “For my determined purpose is that I may … progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly” (AMP).

There is a difference in knowing about someone and knowing someone. I know more about Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian than I want to, but I don’t really know them. I know my wife and I know my kids because I spend time with them. I have a relationship with them.

Paul became “deeply and intimately acquainted” with God because he had a relationship with him and took the time to get to know him.

You don’t get to know God by accident. It’s a “determined purpose.” It’s something you have to do something about. You have to invest your time in it.

But, we get too busy, and busyness destroys relationships. It destroys your relationship with your family, and it destroys your relationship with God.

To get to know Jesus, you’ve got to spend time with him. If you want to spend time with him, you’ve got to make time for him. Just set aside 10 or 15 minutes of focused time with God in the morning, and make sure you and your mind are not busy. Just be still, and it will make all the difference in the world.

Talk It Over
What is something you do every day for at least 15 minutes? Is it more important than spending time with God?
How do you need to adjust your schedule so that you can make time to spend with God?
What are the distractions that keep you too busy to spend time with God?
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Happiness Habit: Never Stop Growing
By Rick Warren

“I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be.” (Philippians 3:12-13 LB)

Following Jesus is a decision and then a process for the rest of your life. You can’t follow without walking. You’ve got to have movement!

Philippians 3:12-13 says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be” (LB).

When Paul wrote that verse, he was an older man in prison in Rome. He’s at the end of life. He’s an incredibly mature person. Yet he says he hadn’t arrived. If anybody had the right to say, “I’ve arrived spiritually,” it would be the guy who wrote most of the New Testament. But Paul says, no, I haven’t arrived. I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still becoming more like Christ.

What’s the trap that will keep you from following Paul’s example and continue growing in Christ? Pride.
Pride will keep you from growing, because when you pretend that you’ve got it all together, you won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. No one has it all together! Humility leads to happiness because it makes you teachable.

Happy people never stop growing. Happy people never stop discovering, never stop stretching, never stop learning. If you’ve stopped growing, you’re miserable, because you were made to grow.
Happiness and humility go together because humble people are teachable. They are always asking, “How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better friend? How can I be a better boss? How can I be a better follower of Jesus?”

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (2 Corinthians 13:5 MSG).

Talk It Over
How have you grown spiritually in the last year? Can others see that growth in you?
Why is it important to have the support of a small group as you strive to grow spiritually?
Why do you think people with a teachable spirit are happier?

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Happiness Habit: Understand God Is on Your Side
By Rick Warren

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)
No matter what you’re going to face this next week, you’re not going to face it alone. God is with you, he is in you, and he is for you.

Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT).

“God is working in you.” The word “working” in Greek is the word energos, from which we get the word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You’re not just going on willpower. You’re not just going on your own power. God says he will give you the power you need, no matter what you’re facing.

Not only is he in you, he is with you. The Bible says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18, 20 NIV). That’s quite a promise! The Bible says Christ is in you; the Bible says you’re hid with Christ in God; and the Bible says you’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. That means for the devil to get to you, he’s got to get through the Trinity! That’s a pretty good protection. That is a great fear reliever.

Not only is God with you and in you; God is also for you. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, no one can defeat us” (NCV).

When a shepherd leads the sheep, there are always guard dogs at the back, nipping at the sheep to keep them moving in the right direction.

The Bible says that the guard dogs in your life are goodness and mercy. God gives you the things you don’t deserve — that is his goodness. And, he doesn’t give you the things you do deserve — that’s his mercy.
Do you ever feel the smile of God in your life? If you don’t, you don’t really know God. Some people think God is like the angry parent who’s mad at them all the time. No. God is for you!

If you want to be happy, you need to get up every morning and say, “God, thank you that you’re going to be with me today, you’re going to be in me today, and you’re going to be for me today.”

Isn’t that great news? If God is with you, and God is in you, and God is for you, what in the world are you doing being depressed?

Talk It Over
How do you think God wants you to access his power that is available to you?
When do you doubt God’s presence the most? Ask God for faith to see him at work in your life.
How will your perspective of a difficult situation change now that you know God is on your side?
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Happiness Habit: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
By Rick Warren

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you.” (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT)
Do you ever fret and fight over the small stuff? Of course. We all do! It’s a hard habit to break because we’re negative by nature. Ever since Adam and Eve, we have been going around excusing and accusing. We excuse our own mistakes and then accuse others for their mistakes — and more. We hide, and we hurl. We blame others for the problems in our lives.

Philippians 2:14-15 says this: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you” (NLT). That may be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. Would you agree?
There are four types of complainers I run into all the time.

First are the whiners. You can get up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord!” but whiners choose instead to say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!”

Second are the martyrs. Their favorite expression is, “Nobody appreciates me!” They’re pros at throwing pity parties. They pout and complain when they don’t get their way.

Third are the cynics. Their attitude is, “Why bother? It isn’t going to make any difference.” They poison everything.

Fourth are the perfectionists. Nothing is ever good enough for these complainers. Their favorite phrase is, “Is that the best you can do?”

To me, the scariest verse in the Bible is Matthew 12:36: “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (NIV).

That ought to send shivers up your spine. How many times have you complained, whined, or argued about something when you shouldn’t have been sweating the small stuff? Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Instead, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Talk It Over
What do you consistently complain about in your life? Would you consider these things “small stuff”? Why or why not?
How do “empty words” (Matthew 12:36) reflect a focus on the small stuff in life?
How do you think complaining makes something that is difficult seem even worse?
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Happiness Habit: Keep A Clear Conscience
By Rick Warren

“What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.” (Psalm 32:1-2 LB)

One thing that causes us to lose our happiness is feeling guilty or ashamed. You’ve got to get rid of guilt and maintain a clear conscience if you want to be happy, because you cannot be guilty and happy at the same time.
Philippians 2:15 says, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (NLT).

You might say, “I’d like to be happy, but how do I keep my conscience clear when it’s not clear right now?” You need to do what Psalm 32:1-2 says: “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record” (LB).

Happiness, joy, and relief are three things everybody’s looking for in life. We all want to be happy. We all want to enjoy life. We all want relief from our pain. The Bible says it comes from purity, and purity comes from forgiveness through God’s grace.

So, here’s one way to maintain a happy heart: Keep a clear conscience.

This means at the beginning and at the end of every day doing a spiritual inventory, where you talk to God about anything that is standing between you and him, and you deal with the junk from your day. You practice what’s called spiritual breathing — you breathe out your sins in confession and you breathe in God’s power and cleansing. God promise that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

Talk It Over
What do you need to talk to God about today so that you can clear your conscience?
How do you need to restructure your life so that you make time each day to do a spiritual inventory?
Would others consider you a “bright light” in the world for Jesus Christ? What does your happiness in Christ say to the rest of the world?
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Happiness Habit: Get a Good Grip on God’s Word
By Rick Warren

“Hold firmly to the Word of Life.” (Philippians 2:16a NLT)
God has promised many wonderful benefits in your life if you will meditate on the Word of God and then do it.
Surprisingly, if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate on the Word of God. Worry is when you take a negative thought and you think on it over and over and over. When you take a passage of Scripture and you think on it over and over and over, that’s called meditation.
There are six ways you can get a grasp on God’s Word.
You can hear it,
You can read it,
You can study it,
You can memorize it,
You can meditate on it, and
You can apply it.

But if all you do is hear the Word of God when you go to church, you have no grip on the Word of God, and it can be pulled out of your mind very easily.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:16, “Hold firmly to the Word of Life” (NLT). You don’t have a good grip on the Bible unless you’re doing all six habits: hearing it, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, and applying it.

Psalm 119:16 says, “Your laws make me happy. I never forget your word” (GW). Do you want to be happy? God’s principles will make you happy, and you remember those principles by memorizing them, meditating on them, and then applying them.

Psalm 119:35 says, “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found” (NLT). Usually we’re looking for happiness in all the wrong places. God says happiness is found in the path of his commands.

Talk It Over
What distractions keep you from being able to meditate on God’s Word?
Who in your life can help you as you memorize Scripture? How can you help each other in this discipline?
What does it say about God when we can find happiness by obeying his rules and commands?
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Want To Be Happy? Give Your Life Away
By Rick Warren

“If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.” (Mark 8:35 LB)

God wired the universe so that happiness does not come from status, salary, sex, or success.
Happiness comes from service. God designed you to be happiest when you are giving your life away. Why? Because he wants you to become like him. It’s all about love!

“If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 LB).

To have a happy heart, you have to practice service and generosity every day.

Matthew 20:28 says, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT).

Jesus came to serve and give. Those are the two things that will bring more happiness in your life than anything else, and they define what it means to follow Jesus. If you’re not serving, if you’re not giving, then you’re not following Jesus. It’s very simple.

God also wired the universe in such a way that the more you give yourself away, the more God gives to you and the more blessed and happier you are.

In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul says, “Your faith makes you offer your lives as a sacrifice in serving God. If I have to offer my own blood with your sacrifice, I will be happy and full of joy with all of you. You also should be happy and full of joy with me” (NCV).

Your faith makes you offer your life as a sacrifice and serve God by serving others. Sacrifice and serving are two of the keys to lifelong happiness — generously giving your life away for the sake of the Gospel.

Talk It Over
What makes you happiest in life?
Talk about a time when you experienced happiness through service or generosity.
How much of your time is spent on service? What are ways that you can serve others today?
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Happiness Habit: See God’s Bigger Picture
By Rick Warren

“I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (Philippians 1:12, NLT)

If you want to be a happy person, you need to look at every problem from God’s viewpoint. Happy people have a larger perspective. They see the big picture. When you don’t see things from God’s point of view, you get discouraged, frustrated, and unhappy.

No matter what’s going on in your life — the good, the bad, and the ugly, God is working out a plan. Paul knew this. He says in Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (NLT).

Ever since Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus, he had dreamed one great dream: He wanted to preach in Rome, the center of the universe at the time. His dream was to preach the Gospel in the most important city in the world.

But God had another idea. Instead of sending Paul to Rome to preach crusades, God made him a royal prisoner of Caesar, who was at that time Nero. Nero was about as wicked and as bad as you can get.
As a royal prisoner, Paul was chained to a royal guard 24 hours a day for two years, and the guard was changed every four hours. Over two years in prison, he witnessed to 4,380 guards. Who’s the real prisoner here? Who had the captive audience?

This wasn’t Paul’s plan, but it was God’s all along. There were two results of it that we know for sure.
Philippians 4 says that within two years, some of Nero’s own family had become believers because of Paul’s witness in the royal court in Rome.

Secondly, it’s kind of hard to get a guy like Paul to stop moving. In prison, he was forced to be still and, as a result, wrote most of the New Testament. I wonder which had a bigger impact: his preaching in the Colosseum or the books he wrote, such as Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These seven books have revealed Jesus to millions of people over the years?

Paul knew that God had a bigger plan, and he could be happy because he saw what God was doing through his problem.

Any time you have a problem that’s starting to get you down, you need to do what Paul did — learn to see it from God’s point of view. Ask, “What is God doing here? What’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger perspective?” Then you’ll be able to face the problem in faith.

Talk It Over
Think of a problem that has you discouraged. How might your discouragement change if you look at it with God’s bigger perspective?
How have you seen God work in the midst of a difficult situation in your past?
Why do you think God is allowing you to struggle through a hard time?
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A Lamp For My Feet – Just As If You’d Never Sinned

Just As If You’d Never Sinned
by Rick Warren
“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)
You don’t have to be hesitant or shy about coming to God for forgiveness. The Bible says, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT). At the throne of grace, you will find not scolding, punishment, or rejection. When we come to God with our sin, we receive his mercy, and we find his grace.
What’s the difference between mercy and grace? Mercy is forgiveness for all the things you’ve done in the past. Grace is the power to change in the future. You need both. You need mercy for all the things you’ve done wrong in the past (forgiveness). And you need grace, the power to change in the future. God says that when you come to him with honesty and humility, you will receive his forgiveness.
Let me tell you how not to get God’s forgiveness.
You don’t beg God. He wants to forgive you more than you want to be forgiven. You don’t have to beg.
You don’t bargain or bribe. “God, I’ll never do it again! I’ll live this kind of life. I’ll tithe 20 percent.” You don’t bargain. You don’t bribe. You don’t beg.You just believe.
What do you believe? You believe God’s promise in Hebrews 4:16.
How do you do it? You just confess. Confession is not saying, “God, I’ll never do it again.” It’s saying, “You’re right, God. It was wrong. I was wrong.”
The Bible says in Romans 5:1, “Since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (AMP).
What does it mean to be justified? It means “just as if you’d never sinned.”
Wouldn’t you like to have a heart that is clean as freshly fallen snow? No matter how deep the stain of your sin, God can take it out.
It doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you’re forgiven.
Talk It Over
•    Do you believe that God can forgive your worst sin? Why or why not?
•    What needs to change about the way you confess your sin to God?
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A Lamp For My Feet – Getting ‘Unstuck’!

Getting ‘Unstuck’! 
‘…He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6 NIV
Icy winters tend to bring multiple pile-ups with cars in snow-filled ditches waiting for tow trucks to rescue them. The drivers have different reactions. Some surrender to feelings of being powerless, others get frustrated and deepen the rut they’re in. But the wise think rationally of steps they can take. In life, getting stuck isn’t always an option; but staying stuck is! Good news: no matter how long you’ve been stuck, the right attitude can get you moving again. So here are some attitude changers:
(1) Forgiveness. The guilt that follows failure can immobilise you long-term, but forgiveness liberates you – freeing up your energy and creativity. Forgiveness is two-dimensional: First, you must receive God’s forgiveness for your failures. Things you’ve done: betrayal, angry words, dishonesty, broken promises etc. Things you haven’t done: love unexpressed, responsibility avoided, a child, parent or spouse neglected, the truth withheld. Heartfelt confession always brings God’s forgiveness! (1 John 1:9) Second, you must forgive those who’ve failed you – parents, siblings, children, bosses, spouses, friends, enemies etc. Severing the chains to your past restores your options for the future.
(2) Faith. When you’ve been stuck for a long time, forward momentum can seem impossible. You lack direction, energy and confidence. What to do? Getting traction requires a willingness to act in spite of your feelings. God calls this ‘faith’ and He always responds to it! ‘He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.’ When you act like you believe, God will reward your faith – and the feeling of faith will follow your action!
‘…I run straight toward the goal.’ Philippians 3:14 GWT
Though you’ve settled the issues of forgiveness and faith, getting unstuck involves two more challenges. You will need to learn:
(1) Flexibility. When your faith runs into obstacles, your flexibility keeps you in the race. You need the ability to ‘roll with the punches’, to bend without breaking. Don’t marry your methods! Be willing to make a mid-course correction when it’s needed. Flexibility, however, isn’t ambivalence or wishy-washiness.
Flexibility is: (a) An attitude of determination to adjust to life’s challenges and stay on course; to trust God for wisdom; to fine-tune your responses to changing circumstances. (b) A commitment to take action. A positive mind-set alone won’t get you unstuck. You’ll have to ‘do something’! Remember, big doors swing on little hinges; taking small steps of faith will move you forward!
(2) Firmness: resolve not to quit. You’ll encounter problems that leave you no option but to stand still, like the Israelites between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. In the tightest of spots, they received this five-fold counsel: (a) Don’t give in to fear. Don’t let it decide your response. (b) Stand still. Stop your irrational, emotion-driven behaviours. (c) Quit talking. Don’t talk yourself into defeat. (d) Look for God’s way forward. Expect Him to take action that will get you unstuck. (e) Be ready to move forward when He opens the way.
These are simple but powerful steps you can take when you don’t know what to do. And what about when you blow it? Acknowledge it. Re-label it as ‘Valuable Lessons Learned’ and put it in your ‘What-Not-To-Do-Next-Time’ file!
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