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A Lamp for My Feet – Let us love one another

Let us love one another

‘…Let us…love one another…’ 1 John 4:7 NLT

Love is slow to suspect but quick to trust;
slow to condemn but quick to justify;
slow to offend but quick to defend;
slow to expose but quick to shield;
slow to reprimand but quick to empathise;
slow to belittle but quick to appreciate;
slow to demand but quick to give;
slow to provoke but quick to help;
slow to resent but quick to forgive.

Jerry Cook talks about a church where the people make the following pledge to each other:
I’ll never knowingly say or do anything to hurt you.
I’ll always, in every circumstance, seek to help and support you.
If you’re down and I can lift you, I’ll do that.
If you need something and I have it, I’ll share it with you.
If I need to, I’ll give it to you.
No matter what I find out about you, no matter what happens in the future – either good or bad – my commitment to you will never change.
And there’s nothing you can do about it.

‘ 1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV says love:
(1) ‘Believes all things.’ When someone you care about is called into question, love says, ‘That’s not the kind of person they are; that’s not what they meant.’
(2) ‘Hopes all things.’ Love sees people not just as they are, but as they can be through God’s grace. And if you let Him, God will download that kind of love into your heart.
(3) ‘Endures all things.’ The Greek word for ‘endure’ is a military term. It means driving a stake into the ground. It’s like saying, ‘I’ll stand my ground in loving you.’ Today, take the love that God has given to you, and give it to others

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A Lamp for My Feet – Living Fearlessly

Living Fearlessly

‘…You are My servant; I have chosen you…’ Isaiah 41:9 NIV
Have you ever wondered how animal trainers used to control a five tonne elephant and keep it from running away? They did it by controlling the animal’s thinking. When a baby elephant was being trained, a rope was put around its leg and then tied to a wooden post secured in the ground. The elephant, which was not yet very strong, pulled at the rope but was unable to break it or to pull up the post. Eventually it gave up. From that point forward when the elephant’s leg was secured it believed it couldn’t get away – even though it was fully capable of escaping, and had been for a long time. It remembered its struggle. That’s one reason it’s said, ‘Elephants never forget.’ And we are like that too. Our thinking limits us, just as an elephant’s does. Usually it’s because of fear. The truth is fear can steal your dreams. You may be afraid of failure. You may be afraid of rejection. You may not want to make a fool of yourself. You may be afraid of trying because you believe you can’t succeed. If you give in to these thoughts and believe that you can’t achieve your dream, you’ll be right – and therefore unable to achieve your dream. Often what we fear has no connection to reality. But here’s the good news: Fear can be overcome. The first step to overcoming it is to believe God when He says about you: ‘…You are My servant; I have chosen you…do not fear, for I am with you…I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:910 NIV)

‘…Do not fear, for I am with you…’ Isaiah 41:10 NIV
The words ‘fear not’ appear in the Bible all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Why is that? Because God understands that fear is not only our biggest enemy but our constant companion, and He wants to help us overcome it. Our comfort zones constrain us, imprisoning us in a thought system of our own devising. They are patrolled by sentries – negative thoughts and unexamined fears – that keep us firmly behind bars. But the good news is, because fears are feelings, the faulty ones can be removed by faith in God, and you can become free from them. Does this mean you can live totally free from fear? No, writer Michael Ignatieff says: ‘Living fearlessly is not the same thing as never being afraid. It’s good to be afraid occasionally. Fear is a great teacher. What’s not good is living in fear, allowing fear to dictate your choices, allowing fear to define who you are. Living fearlessly means standing up to fear, taking its measure, refusing to let it shape and define your life. Living fearlessly means taking risks, taking gambles, not playing it safe. It means refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer when you are sure that the answer should have been ‘yes’. It means refusing to settle for less than what you are due, what is yours by right, what is yours by the sweat of your labour and your effort.’ And let’s add – what God has promised and planned for you.

‘…I will uphold you with My…right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NIV
When you know that what you’re doing is in sync with God’s will, you can be confident He will provide what you need and fight for you. God told His people, ‘When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.’ (Deuteronomy 20:1 NIV) Then God added something else: ‘…Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too.’ (Deuteronomy 20:8 NIV) God knows that when you allow fear to rule your heart, it’s fatal, not only for you, but to those around you. Playwright David Mamet wrote: ‘On June 5th, 1944, thousands of American paratroopers jumped into Normandy. Four men refused to jump. Can anyone imagine the rest of these men’s lives? What prodigies of selfexcuse, rationale or repression they must have had to employ. Their lives, in effect, ended the day they refused to leave that plane…We all die in the end, but there’s no reason to die in the middle.’ You don’t overcome fear overnight. But gradually, day by day, you can get it by the scruff of the neck and bring it under control. ‘…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.’ (Daniel 11:32 NKJV) The word ‘know’ means ‘to be in relationship with, or to be intimate with.’ Want to overcome your fears? Spend time in God’s Word. Prioritise your prayer life. Get to know God better.

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A Lamp for My Feet – To Succeed In Life

To Succeed In Life
‘Open my eyes, that I may see…’ Psalm 119:18 NKJV

To succeed in life:

(1) You must refuse to settle for yesterday’s accomplishments If what you did yesterday still looks big to you today, you probably haven’t done enough today. Paul celebrated his accomplishments, but he focused on what God had for him in the future: ‘…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on…’ (Philippians 3:1314 NLT)

(2) You must refuse to sit around waiting for tomorrow’s opportunities Between the great things we can’t do and the little things we won’t do, the danger is that we’ll do nothing. The world is blessed most by those who do things, not by those who merely talk about doing them.

(3) You must refuse to let your beginning dictate your end. George Washington Carver spent his early years shuffled between foster homes until, it is thought, Maria Watkins, a washerwoman, found him asleep in her barn. She didn’t just take him in; she took him to church and introduced him to Jesus. When he eventually left her home, he took with him the Bible she’d given him. Maria left her mark on his life, and George left his mark on the world. This father of modern agriculture was a friend to three presidents as well as Henry Ford and Gandhi. He is credited with over three hundred different inventions. And the remarkable thing is, despite his disadvantages, he never became bitter or spent so much as a moment getting even. Instead, he went into his lab every morning and prayed, ‘Open my eyes that I may see.’ How could God fail to bless someone with such an attitude?

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A Lamp for My Feet – God’s Acceptance: You Already Have It!

God’s Acceptance: You Already Have It!
by Rick Warren

“If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed!” (Romans 8:33-34)

Most of us spend our entire lives trying to earn acceptance. We want to earn it from our parents, peers, partners in life, from people we respect, maybe even from people we envy. The drive to be accepted is a deep drive that can influence the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, the kind of house you buy, and even the career you choose.

Remember how, as a kid, you wanted so badly to be in the in-crowd that someone would say to you, “I dare you to do this” and suggest something that was either stupid or that put your personal safety at risk. But you did it anyway, because your desire to be accepted overruled the desire for safety.

We do it because we love the feeling of being accepted. When you’re accepted, it does tremendous things for your self-esteem. The truth is, Jesus accepts you, and that acceptance is not based on your performance. In fact, you may have received Christ and accepted Jesus into your life, but do you realize that you’re able to do that because Jesus accepted you? You don’t have to earn his acceptance; you don’t have to prove yourself to him.

We need to stop thinking, “I’ve got an un-pleaseable God up there, and I’ve got to be a good boy or good girl to be accepted.” God, through Jesus Christ, has already accepted you. That’s the Good News!

Talk About It

  • Knowing God accepts you sets you free from always being worried about being accepted by others. Why should criticism bother you if the Creator of the universe accepts you?
  • Knowing God accepts you helps you to accept others: “Therefore, accept each other in the same way that Christ accepted you. He did this to bring glory to God” (Romans 15:7 GW).

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 ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp for My Feet – Quiet Time

Quiet Time

by Rick Warren

Pick a Specific Time

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)

To have an effective quiet time, you must pick a specific time to meet with the Lord each day and decide how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best! Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.

For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

In the Bible, many godly men and women rose early to meet with God. Some of these were:

  • Abraham (Genesis 19:27)
  • Moses (Exodus 34:4)
  • Job (Job 1:5)
  • Hannah and Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:19)
  • Jacob (Genesis 28:18)
  • David (Psalm 5:3; 57:7,8)

(See also Psalm 143:8; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 12:8)

You might even consider having two quiet times (morning and night). Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, used to have code letters for his nightly quiet time: HWLW. Whenever he was with a group of people at night or home with his wife and the conversation seemed to be ending, he would say, “All right, HWLW.” HWLW stood for “His Word the Last Word.” He practiced that through the years as a way of ending a day with one’s thoughts fixed on the Lord (Betty Lee Skinner, Daws, Zondervan, 1974, p. 103).

Whatever time you set, be consistent in it. Schedule it on your calendar; make an appointment with God as you would with anyone else. Make a date with Jesus!

Then look forward to it, and don’t stand him up. A stood-up date is not a pleasant experience for us, and Jesus does not like to be stood up either. So make a date with him, and keep it at all costs.
The question is often asked, “How much time should I spend with the Lord?” If you’ve never had a consistent quiet time before, you may want to start with seven minutes (Robert D. Foster, Seven Minutes with God, NavPress, 1997) and let it grow naturally. You should aim to eventually spend not less than 15 minutes a day with the Lord.

Talk About It

  • What is the best time for you to set to have your quiet time?
  • What are the things that you regularly put before or in place of your quiet time? What steps will you take today to re-prioritize your day so that God has the first and last word?

Find a Special Place

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” (Luke 22:39 NIV)

The location where you have your quiet time is also important. The Bible indicates that Abraham had a regular place where he met with God (Genesis 19:27). Jesus had a custom of praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives: “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39).

Your place ought to be a secluded place. This is a place where you can be alone, where it’s quiet, and where you will not be disturbed or interrupted. In today’s noisy Western world, this may take some ingenuity, but it is necessary. It ought to be a place:

  • Where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.
  • Where you have good lighting for reading (a desk, perhaps).
  • Where you are comfortable. (WARNING: Do not have your quiet time in bed. That’s too comfortable!)

Your place ought to be a special place. Wherever you decide to meet with the Lord, make it a special place for you and him. As the days go by, that place will come to mean a lot to you because of the wonderful times you have there with Jesus Christ.
Your place ought to be a sacred place. This is where you meet with the living God. Where you meet the Lord can be just as holy as the place where Abraham met God. You don’t have to be in a church building. People have had their quiet times in their cars parked in a quiet place, in an empty closet at home, in their backyards, and even in a baseball dugout. Each of these places has become sacred to them.

Talk About It

  • Following these guidelines, where is the best place for you to have a quiet time?
  • What can you do to minimize the distractions that keep you from focusing on God during your quiet time?

Follow a Simple Plan

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)
Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.
The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.
You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:

  • A Bible — a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.
  • A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you and for making a prayer list.
  • A hymnbook — sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16).

Wait on God (relax). Be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.

Pray briefly (request). This is not your prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into the time together. Two good passages of Scripture to memorize are Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 119:18. You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!
Read a section of the Scripture (read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak with him in prayer. Read your Bible:

  • Slowly. Don’t be in a hurry; don’t try to read too large an amount; don’t race through it.
  • Repeatedly. Read a passage over and over until you start to picture it in your mind. The reason more people don’t get more out of their Bible reading is that they do not read the Scriptures repeatedly.
  • Without stopping. Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to go off on a tangent and do a doctrinal study. Just read that section for the pure joy of it, allowing God to speak to you.
  • Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration and help you understand what you are reading better because you will both see and hear what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.
  • Systematically. Do not use the “random dip” method — a passage here, a chapter there, what you like here, an interesting portion there. You’ll understand the Bible better if you read it as it was written — a book or letter at a time.

Talk About It

  • Which of these guidelines goes against your nature (reading slowly, relaxing, etc.)? Ask God for help in those specific areas so that your quiet time can be more effective.
  • How does an effective quiet time change your day?

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 ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp for My feet – Show Your Love Now!

Show Your Love Now!

‘…He has commanded us to love one another…’ 2 John 1:6 NLT

Each morning pray: ‘Lord, whether or not I get anything else done, help me to spend this day loving You and loving others, because that’s what Your Word says life is all about.’ If you do that, you’ll treat those around you more graciously. And people will notice it. You’ll start winning in areas where you’ve lost. The more time you give to someone, the more you reveal their importance to you. It’s not enough to tell them they’re important, you must prove it by investing in them. The best way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Love is not what you think or feel about others; no, it’s how much you give of yourself to them.

Men in particular struggle with this. They say, ‘I don’t understand my wife and children. I provide everything they need. What more could they want?’ They want you! They want your attention! Love concentrates so intently on another that it forgets itself. This kind of attention says, ‘I value you enough to give you my most precious asset – my time.’ Why is now the best time to express your love? Because you don’t know how long you’ll have the opportunity to do so. Circumstances change, people die, children grow up. The truth is, you’ve no guarantee of tomorrow. If you want to express your love, you’d better do it now.

So, who do you need to start spending more time with? What do you need to cut out of your schedule to make that possible? The best use of life is love, the best expression of love is time, and the best time to love is now.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W245 – Learning to Walk by Faith

Learning to Walk by Faith
‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ 2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS It’s time to ‘get with it’, when God tells you the same thing three separate times: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ (Habakkuk 2:4;Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 NKJV) This is not a suggestion for theological debate; it’s His will for your life. Clearly, God has made faith the only way to live! No alternative is offered. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) Let’s take a moment and consider some questions arising from this life-transforming truth:
(1) Who are ‘the just’? Paul writes, ‘Know that a person is not  justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith…’ (Galatians 2:16 NIV) Justification (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) can’t be earned, it’s a free gift that comes by faith. If you have placed your trust in Christ then you are fully accepted in God’s eyes. How good is that?

(2) What is ‘walking’? Paul says, ‘We walk by faith and not by sight.’ Walking requires that you get up and start moving. You can’t just sit around aimlessly, waiting for the rapture. Walking involves: Motivation – you’re moved by a purpose. Direction – you’ve chosen a destination, a goal to reach. Motion – you’re committed to mobilising your energy and resources in the pursuit of your God-given destination and purpose. To walk by faith you must be engaged in consistent, forward movement intended to bring you into God’s destiny for your life.

‘…I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ Mark 9:24 NIV
Here is another question to consider: What is ‘walking by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7)? It’s living your life based on how things look to the natural eye. It’s deciding and acting in accord with your perceptions and circumstances, rather than God’s Word. It’s being dictated to by your feelings and thoughts. Your thoughts and feelings are – yours! Examine them. Don’t let them hijack you. Use your spirit-controlled temperament to bring them under control. Too often we are sandwiched between faith and doubt, in a ‘Catch-22’ between what our transformed spirit says and what our carnal mind says. One day a distraught father brought his son to Jesus for healing. Jesus told him, ‘…Everything is possible for one who believes.’ (Mark 9:23 NIV) At that point the boy’s father said, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ At times we experience both faith and doubt. This man was honest about his doubts, yet Jesus still worked a miracle for him. If he had needed correcting, Jesus would have corrected him. If his faith was not genuine, the Lord would have known it. But Jesus accepted his declaration of faith, despite his doubts. There are three lessons here for us: (1) Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your doubts. (2) Don’t let your doubts overrule your faith. God’s Word in the matter is God’s will for you; stand on it. (3) Hand your doubts over to the Lord and say, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ How long does it take to learn to walk by faith? A lifetime!

‘Faith comes from hearing the message…through the Word…’ Romans 10:17 NIV
What does it mean to ‘walk by faith…’ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS)? It’s radically different from walking by sight, reason, emotion or intellect. It calls you to live above these things. It enables you to enter the realm of supernatural possibilities because Jesus said, ‘All things are possible to one who believes.’ (Mark 9:23 ESV) Here are some Scriptural principles about faith that will help you:

(1) It is not rooted in human effort. Self-confidence and intellectual acumen don’t qualify. Optimism, good luck and social connections don’t qualify. Learning religious formulas won’t do it either.

(2) It’s rooted in God’s unlimited power and unchanging Word. ‘Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word.’ The Word of God, received and residing within you, continuously produces faith within you. No teeth-gritting super-effort is required; you simply decide to believe what God says and respond to it.

(3) Walking by faith calls for action. ‘Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’ (James 2:18 NIV) Until you act, your faith is useless. ‘In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ (James 2:17 NIV) The moment you act your faith springs to life, inviting God to move on your behalf. Today He’s waiting for you to act so that He can respond to you. Even if you don’t feel like it, ask yourself, ‘What would my first step of faith be if I really felt like taking action?’ Do it! You’ll be walking by faith and reaping the rewards! (Hebrews 11:6)

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