Archives

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.

Share This Post

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/

Share This Post

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!

Share This Post

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!

Share This Post

A Lamp For My Feet – W196 – Fear Rejection? Remember, You’ re Acceptable to God

Fear Rejection? Remember, You’re Acceptable to God
by Rick Warren

“For it is when the Lord thinks well of us that we are really approved, and not when we think well of ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 TEV)

The effect of sin is always insecurity. The more we sin, the more insecure we become. Somebody ignores you at a party and you say, “They must not like me!” No, maybe they just didn’t see you were there. But because you saw through the eyes of fear, you were vulnerable.

When we look at life through the eyes of fear, we don’t see other people in their pain. We only see our fear. We miss opportunities to minister to others. We can only see ourselves and what victims we are. We must look and see the pain of others and give our lives away as Jesus said; otherwise, we are vulnerable to the fear of rejection.

The fear of rejection is actually a rejection of God’s truth. God not only created you to be unique. He also made you acceptable through Christ: “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4 NLT).

We are acceptable to God, not because of what we’ve done (we could never be good enough to be acceptable to a perfect God), but through what Jesus Christ has done. He died on the cross, paid for all our sins, and covered us with his love. God looks down and says, “What Jesus did was acceptable, and through him, you are now acceptable.” All I have to do is accept what Christ has done for me and submit to his will.

God knows every single thing about you, and he still loves you. That is amazing. No matter who rejects you, God will never reject you. The Bible says, “My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10 TEV).

Some of you may still be trying to win your parents’ approval. You never could get it growing up. But, if your parents rejected you growing up, it wasn’t your problem; it was their problem. Parents who reject their children are actually rejecting God’s creations and telling God he made a mistake.
So it’s not your problem; it’s their problem. The truth is, if they haven’t accepted you by now, you probably won’t ever get it. But you don’t need their approval to be happy. Your happiness does not depend on other people. God says no matter what, he will take care of you.

Talk About It

Whenever I ask a group of people about their fears, the number one fear is the fear of rejection. Why do you think that is so?
God has given us the Good News to share, but many times we don’t share it because we’re afraid of what other people may think. Talk about the implications of this.

Fear Rejection? Keep Eternity in Mind

“The Lord says, I am the one who strengthens you. Why should you fear mortals, who are no more enduring than grass?” (Isaiah 51:12 TEV)
One way to overcome the fear of rejection is by keeping the right perspective. You can listen to the opinions of others, but never overvalue what they say.
In our verse today, Isaiah says our life here on Earth is temporary, so why be afraid of other people’s opinions? Other people are not God, and their opinions aren’t going to last, anyway. The secret to success is to outlast your critics.

Isaiah says if mortal man puts you down, don’t worry about it. God’s the one who counts. Don’t assume that their judgments are infallible or straight from God. You don’t have to automatically accept someone’s criticism; you ought to judge it for what it’s worth.

Why am I saying this? Because when people’s approval becomes all-important to you, you’re setting yourself up to fear rejection.

The Bible says, “In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 TEV) If you recognize how much God is for you, it gives you the ability to withstand tremendous rejection.

For some people, all that matters is popularity, fame, or applause. “What do other people think of me? How do I look to everybody else? Image is everything!”
If you live that way, you are at the mercy of everybody else’s judgments. If they think I’m a loser, I must be a loser! If they think I’m a dork, I must be a dork! I don’t want to live that way – do you?

God never intended for you to live that way. He says, “What are you listening to them for? They’re just mortal men. I’m the one that counts. They are no more enduring than grass.”

Paul says his goal in life is to please God, not men. “Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 TEV).

He says I have a choice. I can choose whether I’m going to live for the applause of God or the applause of men. Who are you more interested in pleasing? The crowd or God? Paul says you can’t seek the approval of both at the same time. You have to decide who you want to impress. Just remember whose applause is “no more enduring than grass.”

Talk About It
What is the difference in being affected and being directed by others’ opinions?
What would being directed by the opinions of others look like? Why do you think that could cause problems in your life?

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.

Share This Post

A Lamp For My Feet -W195 – Know Your Enemy

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

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

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

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

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

Share This Post

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

Fear Rejection? Remember, You Are Unique
by Rick Warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk About It

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

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.” His book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional (c) 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Share This Post
Categories