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A Lamp For My Feet – We Love Because God Loves Us

We Love Because God Loves Us
by Rick Warren
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)
This season is a good time to remember that the reason God wants us to love is because he is love, and he created us to be like him — to love. The only reason we’re able to love is because God loves us: “Love comes from God … because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).
We were created in God’s image to do two things on Earth: Learn to love God and learn to love other people. Life is all about love.
But love all started with God. He loved us first, and that gives us the ability to love others (1 John4:19). The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s all a gift of God’s love.
In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don’t want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss love; our need is to experience the love of God.
We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.
Once we’re secure inside God’s unconditional love, we’ll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won’t be as angry as we’ve been. We’ll be more patient. We’ll be more forgiving. We’ll be more merciful. We’ll give others grace.
But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you’ll also let him heal your heart so that his love can flow freely through you. It’s impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.
Talk About It
•    When you feel “empty” and not able to give or show love to others, how do you think God wants you to “refuel”?
•    Take time today to make sure your heart is right with the Lord, that you have received his grace, forgiveness, and love so that you can show it to other people.

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 ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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A Lamp For My Feet – In All Things, Be Joyful

In All Things, Be Joyful
by Rick Warren
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
You have a fundamental need for joy in your life. Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. Studies have actually shown that the more joy we have in our lives, the more productive we are. I read an article in “US News and World Report” that said that corporations hire “joy consultants” to build up the joy in peoples’ lives so that employees can be more productive. It is true that you have more energy, more creativity, and more productivity when you have joy in your life.
In the short book of Philippians — only four chapters long — Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.
In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders that will help diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the first three.
J: Jettison all regrets about your past.
“Jettison” means “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that’s what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they’re confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).
O: Omit all worries about your future.
If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must omit all worries about your future. Worry, hands-down, is the greatest killjoy of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s antidotes are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray.
Y: Yield yourself to God’s purpose.
If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going or why you’re here, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).
If you want to have a joy-filled life, you need to get in line with God’s purpose for your life. When you begin to live the purpose for which you are made, life makes sense, and joy is a lot more easily found.
Talk It Over
•    What are the things — people, circumstances, situations, or feelings — that are wearing you down and keeping you from living a joyful life?
•    What is the difference in happiness and joy?
•    What are you worried about? What do you need to do to release your worry?
*** *** ***
“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
In the book of Philippians, Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times in just four chapters. As a prisoner in a Roman jail, awaiting execution, it’s pretty amazing to think that he was able to write the most positive book of the Bible during one of the darkest times of his life.
You, too, can have that same kind of joy. In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders to help us live joyful lives, no matter what our circumstances are. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the last three joy-builders.
F: Focus on what’s good.
Life is filled with ups and downs, but you have a choice: Which are you going to focus on — the good or the bad? Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Where do you get a list of things like that? Talk radio? Not likely! Television? No. The newspaper or magazines? No.
But there is one place you can count on: God’s Word. The more you fill your mind with this book, the more positive and joyful you’re going to be. God’s Word is true, it is right, and it is admirable. It is worthy of value. Spend some time reading God’s Word every day.
U: Use your life to help others.
Paul was joyful because he was unselfish. He invested his life in others. If you want to have continuous joy in your life, here is the secret: Give your life away. Stop focusing on your puny problems and aches and pains, and start focusing on helping others. The more you give your life away, Jesus said, the more you find it. The more unselfish you become, the more joyful a person you’re going to be.
“I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work” (Philippians 4:1b). Paul’s joy came from serving the people in whom he had invested his life — the people he had led to Christ and discipled.
L: Learn to be content.
This is the bottom line: Joy is a decision. You are as joyful as you choose to be.
We get caught up in “when and then” thinking (“When ‘this’ happens in my life, then I’ll be happy”). You are as joyful as you choose to be, because joy is a choice. Philippians 4:11 says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). You can always be joyful — no matter what happens — because God is in control.
You may think that joy is some kind of characteristic for a naturally upbeat and cheerful person, and you’re “just not the joyful type.” You’re wrong.
You have a chance to determine your destiny. Change right now the priorities in your life. Change right now what you’re going to live the rest of your life for. If you will begin to yield yourself to God’s purpose, get to know God’s Son, and use your life to help other people, then you will have more joy than you could ever imagine.
Talk It Over
•    What are the honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable truths that you discover in your Bible reading? How can you remind yourself to focus on these things today?
•    What are the circumstances that are keeping you from being content and joyful?
•    How will serving others help save you from focusing on your circumstances?
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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A Lamp For My Feet – You Can Get Well or Get Even

You Can Get Well or Get Even
by Rick Warren
“When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23b LB)
If you’ve been hurt by someone else, whether it’s physical or emotional, you’ve got a decision to make. You can use your energy to get well or get even.
But you can’t do both.
Jesus, too, understood pain and abuse. When he was crucified, he was wounded in every way possible — by his feet, his hands, and his head. They crushed a crown of thorns onto his skull. They nailed him to a cross. Roman soldiers gave him 40 lashes with a cat of nine tails.
Of course, Jesus’ deepest wounds weren’t physical but emotional. He was betrayed, rejected, and humiliated.
Yet 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (LB). Jesus could have sent a billion angels to annihilate everyone while he was on the cross, but he didn’t.
He leaves the issue to his Father in Heaven. He says, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” He refuses to let pain make him bitter.
To get through the pain and abuse of this life, you must release those who’ve abused you. You can’t get well as long as you have resentment in your heart. For your own sake, you need to let go of your right to get even.
Getting even won’t make you feel better. Even if you were able to get even, it wouldn’t take your pain away.
Does the person who hurt you deserve your forgiveness? No. But neither do you deserve God’s forgiveness. You offer forgiveness for your sake, not the other person’s.
You can also be assured that God saw everything. The Bible says in Romans 12:19, “Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the Scripture says, ‘I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.'”
God saw what happened when you were hurt. And he wept, just as he was doing when his Son was crucified. It’s God’s responsibility to get even — not yours.
The person who hurt you won’t get away with it.
But you will. You’ll stop paying for someone else’s mistakes.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15, “A bitter spirit is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others” (Phillips).
Resentment is a poison pill you don’t need to swallow. You are only as happy as you choose to be.
So what’s your choice?
Talk It Over
– How does resentment hurt you as much or more as the person you won’t forgive?
– Why is it difficult to forgive someone who has hurt you?
– Who do you need to forgive?
*** *** ***
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.
Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional ©2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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A Lamp For My Feet – Change Your Self-Talk

Change Your Self-Talk
‘You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you…’ Job 22:28 NKJV
It’s not what others say to you or about you that determines your future; it’s what you say to yourself when others have finished speaking!
The Bible says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’ (Proverbs18:21 NKJV) You say, ‘I’d love to have a better relationship but I’m afraid that if I make the first move and they don’t respond, I’ll feel rejected.’ Or, ‘I’d like to pursue my education but I’m afraid if I register for classes and can’t do the work, I’ll feel stupid.’
These kinds of words become self-fulfilling prophecies. Until you replace your negative self-talk with faith-talk, you’ll always live in fear. Your mind is like the womb of your spirit; it nurtures each seed you sow until the time of delivery. If you don’t want what a seed will ultimately produce, you must stop sowing it, or feeding it. Your first step in breaking fear’s hold over you is in recognising the self-talk that got you into trouble in the first place.
This is not easy to do. It takes vigilance, self-awareness, discipline and scriptural reprogramming. But by changing your thoughts you’ll begin to change your life. Job says, ‘You will…declare a thing, and it will be established for you.’ And the amazing part is – at times you may not feel like you believe the particular Scripture you’re standing on! That’s ok; your inner self accepts what it’s consistently fed and begins to act accordingly.
So starting today, serve an eviction notice to every negative thought that’s holding you back and begin feeding your mind with God’s Word.
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A Lamp For My feet – Still I will believe

Still I will believe
By Benescke Janse van Rensburg
It was hot. Sizzling hot. The officials that had to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace died due to the heat. Still, the three friends refused to bow their knees before the statue in Babylon.
Esther took that step forward, entering the King’s presence – uninvited. She knew that if he did not put forth his scepter to approve her presence, she could die.
And David, with five stones in his pocket and his sling, walked up to the three-meter giant Goliath, knowing that the battle could go either way.
Three actions of faith and hope in God, with no guarantee or physical evidence that they would survive. Listen to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s words of faith in Daniel 3:17-18 when king Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with the fiery furnace: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. . .
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” In Esther 4:16 Esther told Mordecai to ask the people of Israel to pray and fast with her before going to the king. Listen to how she ends their conversation: “Then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” And in 1 Samuel 17: 45-46 David said to Goliath: “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head.”
Are you currently experiencing a situation in which you too need to act in faith without knowing the outcome – maybe in your workplace, relationships, finances or a decision about your future? Listen to the words of Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Because Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego kept their eyes on God, He saved them from the fiery furnace without a scorched hair on their heads (bringing King Nebuchadnezzar to faith in God). God enabled Esther to plead with the King for the survival of the Jews (the nation from whom Jesus was born later). And God helped David to crush the giant’s head.
God can do the same for us. Let us remember that our faith is demonstrated in how we act when there is no physical evidence or guarantee that our breakthrough is on the way. God bless.
Father God, thank You that I can put my faith and trust in You because You know the future. Please strengthen me to remain faithful in those moments where everything seems to be too much for me to bear. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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A Lamp For My Feet – Change Something, Change You

Change Something, Change You
by Rick Warren
“Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40 MSG)
You can’t change everything. But you can change you.
When your life feels like it’s falling apart, knowing what you can change — and what you can’t change — can make all the difference.
You can’t change your past. You can’t change your parents. You can’t change the gifts and talents God has or hasn’t given you. You can’t change a handicap you’ve been given. You can’t bring back a dead loved one.
You might as well accept all of those things. You’ll start to find peace in the midst of troubles when you accept what you can’t change. Otherwise, you’ll make yourself and the people you love miserable.
There’s much you can’t change, but there’s something important you can change: you.
When Jeremiah’s world was falling apart, he wrote in Lamentations 3:40: “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord” (GNT).
What’s going on in your life that doesn’t line up with what God wants? Depending on how we react, crises can help us as we learn to focus our eyes on what matters: Jesus.
To re-order your life God’s way, it’ll take some gut-level self-evaluation. You’ll need to do an inventory of every area of your life. You’ll need to take a look at your relationship with God, your spouse, your kids, and your co-workers.
You’ll need to look at hurts, habits, and hang-ups that may be bringing you down. Nothing can be off limits.
It’s not easy. It can get messy. It’s always tough to turn from sin even when it’s tearing us down.
But you can’t find healing otherwise. Healing apart from repentance can’t last. When your world is falling apart, you’ll be tempted to bemoan every area of your life.
That’s a waste of time. You can’t change everything — but you can change you.
And when your world is falling apart, that can mean everything.
Talk It Over
– What one area of your life can you change right now that will make a positive impact on yourself and others
– Who can help you ask yourself the hard questions about your priorities, relationships, and secret sins as you take a spiritual inventory of your life?Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.
This devotional © 2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org
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A Lamp For My Feet – The Power of Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness
‘…Forgiving each other, just as…God forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:32 NIV
The power of forgiveness is an awesome thing. No relationship can survive without it, much less thrive. Whatever the issue, forgiveness sets both sides free, takes a weapon out of Satan’s hands, and opens the door for God to go to work in the situation. This is never more so than in your family. The truth is, it’s easier to forgive an enemy you seldom see than a loved one you have to live with every day. But you must do it. A seventeenth century clergyman said, ‘He who cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself.’ Paul writes: ‘…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love…’ (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV) Teach your children how to forgive. If you expose them to your anger, make sure that they’re also around when you show grace. Teach them how to deal with the issue, without attacking the person. Let them know that a difference of opinion can lead to a decision that makes things better for everyone, and that as a family member you can be ‘wrong’ and still be treated right. This may mean teaching them things you were never taught. If so, learn from your parents’ mistakes and don’t pass them on to your children. ‘…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’ (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV) In other words, forgive when you are hurt, and don’t take your resentments to bed.


‘…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another…’ Colossians 3:13 NIV

In Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, Gordon MacDonald writes: ‘One memory that burns deep within is that of a plane flight on which I was headed toward a meeting that would determine a major decision in my ministry. I knew I was in desperate need of a spiritual passion that would provide wisdom and submission to God’s purposes. But the passion was missing because I was steeped in resentment toward a colleague. For days I had tried everything to rid myself of vindictive thoughts toward that person. But try as I might, I would even wake in the night thinking of ways to subtly get back at him. I wanted to embarrass him for what he had done, to damage his credibility before his peers. My resentment was beginning to dominate me, and on that plane trip I came to a realisation of how bad things really were… As the plane entered the landing pattern, I found myself crying silently to God for the power both to forgive and to experience liberation from my poisoned spirit. Suddenly it was as if an invisible knife cut a hole in my chest and I literally felt a thick substance oozing from within. Moments later I felt as if I’d been flushed out. I’d lost negative spiritual weight, the kind I needed to lose. I was free. I fairly bounced off that plane and soon entered a meeting that did in fact change the entire direction of my life.’ Forgiveness: (1) Frees you from the grip of a negative force. (2) Positions you where God can bless you. (3) Teaches little people how to be big people.

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