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A Lamp For My Feet – Reconciliation Comes Before Worship

Reconciliation Comes Before Worship
by Rick Warren
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)
Some people say, “Time heals everything.” No, it doesn’t! Time heals nothing. The only way to resolve conflict is to face it.
When you love somebody, you level with that person. We call this a peace conference — a sit down, face-to-face meeting.
You may say, “OK, fine. When they come to me, then I will face it.”
No! God expects you to take the first step. He expects you to be the peacemaker. You make the first move. It doesn’t matter if you are the offended one or the offender. God says it’s always your move.
Matthew 5:23-24 says, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (NLT).
Reconciliation takes priority over worship. You need to get your relationships right and then come back and worship God.
Here are some suggestions on how to do a peace conference:
1.    Choose the right time. The best time is when both of you are at your best. Wait until you’re both rested and ready.
2.    Choose the right place. Don’t do it in a restaurant where you’ll be interrupted. Don’t do it when the kids are hanging around.
3.    Pray before the meeting. You always talk to God before you talk to the person you’ve got the conflict with.
4.    Come with a positive attitude. Come ready to reconcile and compromise.
Why should you do this? Why should you take the initiative?
First, Jesus tells you to do it.
Second, your worship is worthless if you’re in the middle of conflict.
Third, God won’t hear your prayers until you’ve reconciled with others and him. That one may surprise you. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands must give honor to your wives. If you don’t treat her as you should your prayers will not be heard.”
This verse is for people in any relationship. God wants you to get your relationships right. He wants you to offer forgiveness. Then, you can have a right relationship with God.
Talk It Over
•    Why would you have trouble worshipping God when you are in conflict with someone?
•    With whom do you need to have a peace conference?
•    What steps will you take today to move toward reconciliation in your relationships?
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A Lamp For My Feet – Make Peace with God

Make Peace with God
by Rick Warren
“At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence.”Colossians 1:21
You’re never going to make peace with others until you make peace with God, and the only way you’re going to make peace with God is surrender. You were made to live with him as the manager, CEO, and chairman of the board of your life.
Sam Harris, who is a friend of mine, is also a well-known atheist. We had a three-and-a-half-hour debate for Newsweek magazine. One of the last questions they asked was, “Can you be spiritual without believing in a spirit?”
During the discussion on this issue, I said, “Sam, what interests me is not so much that you don’t believe in God but why you don’t believe in God. I don’t have enough faith to not believe in God. It takes far more faith to believe this is all an accident than to believe that there was a design and creator behind it. You can’t prove it, and I can’t prove it, so we’re both living by faith. I believe it by faith. You doubt it by faith.”
I asked Sam, “If you were to believe in God, would you have to change your lifestyle?” When he said, “Yes,” I responded, “So that’s the real issue. The issue is not that you can’t believe in God. It’s that you don’t want to believe in God. The truth is that you just don’t want a boss. You don’t want a sovereign Lord who tells you ‘This is right and this is wrong.’ You want to make it up yourself. You want to be God.”
That is the fundamental issue that causes our war with God: We want to be our own God.
So, how do you make peace with God?
The Bible says in Colossians 1:21 “At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence.” (GNT).
There’s only one way to make peace with God: by faith. The good news is that Jesus Christ has already done everything you need to make peace with God. All you need to do is surrender and accept it by faith.
“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”Romans 5:11 (NLT).
Talk It Over
What does it mean to surrender?What areas of your life do you still need to surrender to God so that you can have peace?What do you think are the effects of surrender that should be evident in your life?
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A Lamp For My Feet – What is the purpose of life?

What is the purpose of life?
Rick Warren Interview
People ask me, What is the purpose of life?
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:
If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list.. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.
That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.
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A Lamp For My Feet – Pray from Your Heart

Pray from Your Heart
‘…when you search for Me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV
God isn’t moved by your eloquence or the multiplicity of your words. He’s moved by a heart that spills the burdens of the day across the altar, exposing every pain to the power of a God who ‘can’. Can what? Can do whatever you have the faith to believe Him for. ‘…Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.’ (Mark11:24 NKJV)
Your confidence in prayer is not based on your ability to speak, but on God’s ability to hear and understand. He knows what you are trying to say. The old hymn goes: ‘In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief. And oft escaped the tempter’s snare, by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.’ Either learn to pray, or become good at worrying!
What you give to God, He handles. What you keep, handle. Spiritually, when everything is ‘going out’ and nothing’s ‘coming in’, you collapse under the weight of it all. Is that where you are today? If so, prayer is your answer. It restores what life depletes. When you pray you’re saying, ‘Lord, I believe You’re more competent to deal with this than I am, and I trust You to do it.’ When you pray that way, the heart of your boss is in God’s hands, the surgery you dread is in His hands, your children and your finances are in His hands.
God is ready to intervene on your behalf – just pray from your heart. ‘Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.’ (Psalm 37:5 NKJV)
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A Lamp For My Feet – When Temptation Calls

When Temptation Calls
by Rick Warren
“A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.” Proverbs 14:16 (NASB)
It’s common sense that if you don’t want to get stung, stay away from the bees! If you don’t want to get burned, don’t get close to the fire! If you don’t want to fall off the cliff, don’t hang off the ledge!
The goal is not to see how close you can get to the temptation but rather how far away from it you can stay. Proverbs 14:16 says, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless” (NASB). A fool thinks he can handle temptation, but who is he kidding? You don’t go to a bar just to eat pretzels! You need to do a frank assessment. You need to analyze when and where you are most tempted and vulnerable. Then, you need to stay away from those situations as much as you can.
The Bible says to run from temptation: “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws” (Psalm 119:59 NLT). If you have to physically remove yourself, do it! When Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph, he left his coat and split. Sometimes you may have to leave your coat. Get out of the situation. Run from it. Don’t stick around. When you’re tempted, get up and change the channel. Or take a shower. Or turn on music. Go for a walk. Read the Bible. Call a Christian friend in your support group. Do something to break the spell.
Here is some practical advice: Don’t ever try to argue with the devil. You’ll lose every time. He’s had thousands of years to think up lines to counter anything you could come up with. Don’t rationalize it. Don’t justify it. Don’t argue it. The key thing to do is break the focus. Don’t look at the cookies and repeat, “I don’t want them! I don’t want them!” Who are you kidding? Turn around! The more you fight a feeling, the more it grows in intensity. When temptation calls you on the phone, don’t try to argue. Just drop the receiver, and go do something else.
Talk It Over
  • Where are you most tempted? Is it in airports? On business trips? At home when you’re alone and the kids are at school? During the weekend? When you’re watching television?
  • What changes do you need to make in your schedule or lifestyle to minimize your exposure to these situations?
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A Lamp For My Feet – When God Puts You on Hold

When God Puts You on Hold
(1)’…Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.’ Romans 12:12 TLB
We’ve been dubbed ‘the microwave generation’ for good reason – we charge through life like we’re on fire! But God has His own timetable and it can’t be rushed. So when He puts you on hold: Watch your words. Like a small rudder on a big ship, what you say determines your direction and helps stop the wrong thoughts from infiltrating your mind.
Mel Weldon said, ‘My mind is a garden, my thoughts are the seeds; my harvest will be either flowers or weeds.’
Ask God to help you control your emotions. Paul says, ‘Be glad for all God is planning…Be patient in trouble…and prayerful always.’ Complaining magnifies the problem. Prayer turns negative energy into a powerful force for good. Look for the humour in it. Solomon said, ‘…he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.’
(Proverbs 15:15 NKJV) Laughter dispels tension, lightens the burden and fills your soul with joy. Appreciate the chance to learn, however difficult the problem.Solomon said, ‘…the diligent make use of everything…’ (Proverbs 12:27 NLT)
Learn from your experience regardless of how hard it is, and remember, some of the world’s greatest discoveries and breakthroughs resulted from crises. Love unconditionally. Problems are caused by people, and under pressure it’s tempting to lash out. The bottom line is: we all make mistakes, and nobody is beyond redemption! Aren’t you glad about that?
Learn to see people through God’s eyes. ‘…Overcome evil with good.’ (Romans 12:21NIV) Be courteous, and maintain your dignity when you’re under pressure (Romans 12:10).
‘By your patience possess your souls.’ Luke 21:19 NKJV
Make peace your priority. Don’t let your inner man be controlled by outside pressures. When you ‘go to war’ everybody suffers, but when you let ‘…the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts…’ (Colossians 3:15CEV), it restores your perspective and creates an atmosphere that’s conducive to solutions. Look for a breakthrough from an unexpected source.When you ‘commit your way to the Lord…’ (Psalm 37:5 NKJV), don’t be surprised when the people and circumstances He sends into your life aren’t what you expected.
He spoke to Balaam through a donkey (Numbers 22), and He used a burning bush to get Moses’ attention (Exodus 3). Don’t be in such a hurry.
Ever notice that the faster you go, the more behind you get? Jesus said, ‘By your patience possess your souls.’ As Henry Blackaby observes: ‘God’s timing is…best…He may be withholding directions to cause you to seek Him more intently. Don’t try to skip the relationship and get on with doing.
God is more interested in a relationship with you than He is in what you can do for Him.’ Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Solomon said, ‘…with humility comes wisdom.’ (Proverbs 11:2 NLT) If the people you turn to aren’t immediately available, be patient and don’t give up. God designed us to work together, and somewhere up the road you will be called to help somebody by sharing what you’re learning right now. ‘He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble.’ (2 Corinthians 1:4 CEV)
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A Lamp For My Feet – Keys to Answered Prayer

Keys to Answered Prayer
‘…Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.’ John 16:24 NKJV
If your prayers are not being answered, ask yourself:
  • How is my relationship with the Lord? ‘If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.’ (Psalm 66:18 NAS) Anything that adversely affects your relationship with God also affects your prayers. Friendship gives you favour; intimacy gives you access. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.’ (John 15:7NKJV)
  • How strong is my faith? ‘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) Notice three words:
    • ‘Believe.’ God’s deepest longing is to be believed, regardless of emotion or circumstance.
    • ‘Diligently.’ When you pray, put your heart and soul into it. Paul speaks of ‘labouring…in prayer.’ (Colossians 4:12 KJV)
    • ‘Him.’ God is not some ‘force out there’, He’s your heavenly Father Who ‘…knows that you need all these things.’ (Matthew 6:32 NKJV) Your highest priority should not be getting your needs met, but building your relationship with God.
  • Am I showing patience? ‘Until God’s time finally came – how God tested his patience!’ (Psalm 105:19 TLB) Joseph was tested by the very promise God gave him. Can’t you hear Satan whisper, ‘I thought the dream said you were supposed to be Prime Minister; what are you doing in prison?’ But it only looks like a prison; in reality, it’s the birthplace of destiny. Joseph saw God’s promise fulfilled – in God’s time. And you will too!
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