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A Lamp For My Feet – W180 – Allow Christ to Live Through You

Allow Christ to Live Through You
by Rick Warren

“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce Christ-like character in you.

You cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on your own strength. New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. The Bible says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

Mention “the power of the Holy Spirit,” and many people think of miraculous demonstrations and intense emotions. But, most of the time, the Holy Spirit’s power is released in your life in quiet, unassuming ways that you aren’t even aware of or feel.

Christ-likeness is not produced by imitation but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us.
How does this happen? Through the choices we make. We choose to follow Jesus in all situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us his power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking.

Talk About It
How has the Holy Spirit been working in your life? Have you ever claimed those works as your own?
What do your recent choices say about how much you want God to produce Christ-likeness in you?

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 founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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

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A Lamp For My Feet – W179 – God’s Load Is Light

God’s Load Is Light
by Rick Warren

“Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30 TEV)

Expectations are a yoke. Some of you are carrying a yoke – a heavy burden – of the expectations that were put on you by your parents, your husband, your wife, your children, your boss, or your teacher.

But most of us carry a yoke of burden that we’ve put on ourselves because of unresolved guilt and unrealistic expectations. We’re trying to prove that we matter.

We take on a heavy yoke that God never intended in order to prove that we’re important, when God says we’re already important: He created us to be with him and to fulfill a unique mission in life. That makes us important, not all the things we do (or don’t do).

God’s yoke is that we follow his purpose for our lives, and when we do that, things work out a whole lot better. When we go our own way in life, we hit one brick wall after another. In a sense, God says, “Put on my purpose, my plan for your life.”

How heavy is God’s yoke? Jesus says, “The yoke I will give you is light and easy.” You say, “But my Christian life isn’t easy. My Christian life is heavy; it’s like a duty that I have to fulfill.”Then it may be you are out of God’s will. You may be doing something that God never intended for you to do. I can’t say it any plainer than this: It may be that some of the things you think God is asking you to do, he’s not actually asking you to do. Your conscious and your perfectionism are asking you to do them. Jesus did not come to give you a burden but a blessing.

Am I saying the Christian life has no problems? No, not at all! We all will have a lot of problems. The Christian life is full of difficulties. The point is this: To live in the center of God’s will is a lighter load than to live out of God’s will. To live in God’s purpose and plan for your life is a lighter, more relaxing, more enjoyable load than for you to live your own life any old way you choose.

Talk About It
There may be some things in your life that you’re doing that God never intended for you to do. You need to get quiet before God and ask, “What do I need to cut out of my life?”

Discuss this with a friend: To live in the center of God’s will is a lighter load than to live out of God’s will.

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 founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W178 – ‘Take Away the Stone’

‘Take Away the Stone’
‘Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”‘ John 11:39 NKJV

A big stone blocked the entrance to the tomb of Lazarus. And before Christ raised him from the dead, He said, ‘Take away the stone.’ There’s a lesson here. God will restore what you’ve lost-when you’re willing to remove the hindrances that stand in the way. What was behind that stone? A corpse, and it was stinking! John writes: ‘If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.’ (1 John 3:21 NKJV) Your confidence in approaching God comes from knowing you’ve dealt with the stuff that separates you from Him. And it requires courage. But you’ll never experience new life until you’re willing to do it. God can give you back what life has taken. He can restore what you’ve lost. But only if you’re willing to face the truth.

King David caused a big stink: adultery and murder. Now your issues may not smell that bad but before God can answer your prayer you must acknowledge them. A more contrite and consecrated David wrote: ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.’ (Psalm 66:18-19 NKJV)

This is why when you counsel an addict it’s not just about what they’re addicted to, but about what they’re trying to cover up with their addiction. It may take months or even years of therapy, but change begins only when you’re willing to ‘take away the stone’ and allow God to deal with what’s behind it.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W177 – Working for God-His Way

Working for God-His Way

‘…Created in Christ Jesus to do good works…’ Ephesians 2:10 NIV
God had a plan for your life before you were born. Indeed, it’s why He brought you into the world. Simply keeping you ‘busy’ was not His goal. He wants to see you doing the work He ‘prepared in advance’ for you to do. Joining a worthy cause and working hard is commendable, but you can end up as a square peg in a round hole, expending time and energy without achieving the you-shaped purpose God had in mind. He wants you to be purpose-driven, not work-driven!

So:
(1) Ask Him to reveal His will to you. ‘It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.’ (Philippians 2:13 NIV) God will actually create desires within you that guide you toward accomplishing His purpose. It’s not serendipity or super-spirituality, but God at the helm, steering your ship.

(2) Expect to do more than you are capable of. Self-directed activity is self-limited activity. God-directed activity is unlimited activity. God never calls us to do what we can; He calls us to do what He can! ‘[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’ (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) Listen, act on His promptings, and all things become possible to you.

(3) When the work is demanding, draw on His indwelling power. Paul says, ‘I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.’ (Colossians 1:29 NIV) How much divine energy is needed for your assignment? ‘All His energy.’ Awesome! And it is available to you today.

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A Lamp For My Feet – W176 – Why People Leave the Church

Why People Leave the Church

‘…The younger son…journeyed to a far country…’ Luke 15:13 NKJV
The story of the Prodigal Son is especially applicable to backsliders. It speaks to those who have been raised in church, know God’s Word, have felt His presence, understand His claims, and once served Him. But like the Prodigal, they’ve ‘gone to the hogs’. Notice, he’s not called the Prodigal Sinner but the Prodigal Son, because he still belongs in the family. For the next few days let’s look at why people leave the church. First: because the blessings of Father’s house become commonplace. Notice, he didn’t appreciate what he had until he lost it. Notice also, his father didn’t kick him out of the house, he ‘journeyed into a far country.’ He left of his own free will and came back the same way. What’s the point? If God’s love can’t hold you, His power won’t force you! It’s your willing obedience that God finds pleasure in, not conforming to a set of religious rules because you are afraid of going to hell. Jesus told the story of a king who planned a wedding feast and invited different guests. What a privilege. ‘But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.’ (Matthew 22:5 NKJV) Are you too busy for God? Are you so used to His blessings you want something different? Be warned, the road you are on leads to one place only: the pig pen. Stop, turn around, repent and come home while you still can. No matter how badly you have failed, your Father is waiting to take you back.

‘We have come to believe and know…You…’ John 6:69 NKJV
Sometimes the rules of the Father’s house seem too restrictive. Many people want Christ’s love but not His Lordship, His blessings but not His commandments. It’s not that He offers them too little, but that the cost of serving Him seems too high. Maybe you are thinking that if you’d lived in the days of Christ, walked and talked with Him and heard Him preach, you’d be a better Christian. Think again! ‘His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying”…From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ…”‘ (John 6:60-69 NKJV) True discipleship doesn’t result from attending a special service at church. No, it’s progressive. It’s the result of ‘coming to believe and know’ the Lord as you walk with Him on the mountaintop and in the valley, in the bad times as well as the good. That’s why Peter wrote: ‘Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe…A stone that causes men to stumble…’ (1 Peter 2:7-8 NIV) Paul puts it this way: ‘…No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.’ (1 Corinthians 12:3 KJV) The purpose of the Holy Spirit working in your life is to bring you into submission to the will of God. And that involves a relationship-with rules!

‘Let us not…judge one another anymore…’ Romans 14:13 KJV
Here’s another reason people leave the church: because of the attitude of some church members. The older boy in Christ’s parable knew how to be a son, but he didn’t know how to be a brother. If the jealousy and judgmentalism he showed toward his brother is anything to go by, it’s little wonder his brother left home in the first place. Paul writes: ‘Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.’ The Bible says, ‘He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of stumbling in him.’ (1 John 2:10 NKJV) Do your attitudes and actions strengthen others or cause them to stumble? Have you read about Diotrephes? John talked about him: ‘I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.’ (3 John 1:9-10 NKJV) Diotrephes was an opponent of authority who wanted only one thing-control! And John denounced him as ‘evil’, saying, ‘…he who does evil has not seen God.’ (v11 NKJV) Only eternity will reveal how many people have been driven away from the church by critical, callous, controlling Christians. Make sure you’re not one of them!

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A Lamp For My Feet – W175 – What Will You Do with God’s Dream for You?

What Will You Do with God’s Dream for You?
by Rick Warren

“But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. . . . Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (James 1:6, 8 NLT)

After God gives you a dream, you always have a decision to make. Are you going to do something about the dream he has given you? Nothing is going to happen to that dream until you wake up and put it into action.
James 1 teaches us that faith is a verb. It’s active and not passive. It’s something you do. Decision-making is a faith-building activity. You use your muscles of faith.

A great illustration of God’s plan is trapeze artists. They swing out holding onto a trapeze bar, and then they let go in order to grab hold of another trapeze bar that swings them to the other side. But, at one point, they’re not holding onto any bar. They’re suspended in air for a split second.

Have you ever been in a place where you’re leaving one job for another and nothing’s in between? You’re 180 feet above the ground with no net below and holding onto nothing.

But if you don’t let go and grab onto the vision God wants you to have, you swing back.  But this time you swing back lower and lower until you’ve finally stopped, hanging there in the air. And there’s only one way out: down!
God brings your dream to a point of decision so your faith will build as you swing toward God’s dream for you.

Talk About It
When has God brought you to a decision point in the past?
What decision point are you coming to now?

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 founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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

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A Lamp For My Feet – W 174 – The Need to Be Accountable

The Need to Be Accountable
‘…The people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.’ Judges 17:6 NLT

You’re never more vulnerable than when you can hide from others. Secrecy is the ideal breeding ground for deception, leading us into sin. Jesus points out that we love darkness rather than light because our deeds naturally gravitate toward evil (John 3:19). There is within us a propensity to sin, so we are called to ‘walk in the light’ where our motives and actions are transparent and we are encouraged to avoid sin (1 John 1:7). But to walk in the light and overcome sin requires people who will hold us accountable. ‘Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.’ (Proverbs 12:15 NLT) Our need for approval makes us want to hide our struggles. But our willingness to be genuine frees us to acknowledge our struggles and overcome them. But the person to whom you are accountable should be mature, know God’s Word, keep your confidence, and love you enough to be honest with you. And you need to be open to hear what they tell you. King Rehoboam ‘rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him…’ (1 Kings 12:8 NLT) He wanted to hear only what pleased him. So he turned to his equally immature friends who told him what he wanted to hear, leading him to a decision that caused a major rebellion in Israel. So build a relationship with someone who’ll tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear!

There’s no better depiction of our ego-driven nature than this: ‘The people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.’ Their philosophy was: ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ But that philosophy leaves you without checks or balances, exposing you to the dominating power of your flesh. We’re all capable of becoming addicted to something. Recognising this is a necessary first step to overcoming it. ‘…The sin that so easily entangles…’ (Hebrews 12:1 NIV) may be a weakness for food, money, sex, drugs, alcohol, popularity, toxic relationships, power, workaholism etc. When it strikes, you’re much more likely to capitulate if you’re alone and can act covertly. ‘…If you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:10 CEV) You need to ‘turn on the light’ immediately by connecting with your support system and sharing your situation. Don’t allow the darkness of isolation to overpower you. ‘If you fall, your friend can help you up…’ (v10 CEV) The pride that drives you to hide your weakness will keep you permanently weak. The humility to acknowledge it and ask for help is the key to breaking the vicious cycle. God has blessed us with mature, caring people who recognise our common struggles and will help us deal with them. We are part of Christ’s church, and ‘if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it.’ (1 Corinthians12:26 NAS) God instructed Moses, ‘Select…some…honest men who fear God…They will help you carry the load.’ (Exodus 18:21-22 NLT) Accept the help God provides!

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