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Category: thoughts by Rick Warren

Faith, Not Feelings Pleases God

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“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV).

When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers so you’ll know he exists. But as you grow in faith, he will wean you of these dependencies.

God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion.

Yes, he wants you to sense his presence, but he’s more concerned that you trust him than that you feel him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God.

The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found. This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything — his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. Most discouraging, for 37 chapters, God said nothing!

How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears? You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’” (Job 1:20b-21 NIV).

Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to God. Unload every emotion that you’re feeling. Job did this when he said, “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT).

He cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (Job 29:4 NIV).

God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.

Thoughts:

In what ways can you show God that you trust him even when you don’t feel his presence?
– What are some of the things you can praise God for, even when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Don’t Give the Devil a Foothold

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“Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil” Ephesians 4:26b-27 (NLT, 2nd edition).

When you give the Devil a foothold into your life, he takes a stronghold. What does that mean? If you give Satan control of one little part of your life, he will soon take over the whole thing. You give him a foothold into your life, and he turns it into a stronghold.

Let me explain it this way: On D-Day, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. It was critical that they establish a beachhead — that is, a foothold on the beach that would allow them to set up a staging area to bring in more men and equipment for the battle. From that tiny foothold, the Allied forces were able to push inland in an effort to liberate France.

But Satan isn’t trying to liberate you. He wants to establish a foothold in your life in order to take over more and more of your life. Once he gets deep enough into an area of sin, he turns the foothold into a stronghold, and that makes it harder for you to take back control of your life.

How does Satan get a foothold in your life? In Ephesians 4:27, the example is anger, but it could be any negative emotion. If you fill your life with worry, he’s gained a foothold in your life. If you fill your life with resentment, he’s gained a foothold in your life. If you allow guilt to turn into shame, Satan has a foothold in your life.

The Apostle Paul says the best way to deal with these negative emotions is immediately. He says, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26b-27 NLT, 2nd edition). You make a choice to deal with it right away.

Otherwise, the negative emotion will fester in your heart and give Satan the opportunity to establish a foothold in your life.

Talk It Over

  • What negative emotion have you allowed the Devil to use to take a foothold in your life? Or, what emotion has the potential to become a foothold for the Devil?
  • What does it mean for a negative emotion to fester in your life?
  • How can you be proactive about dealing with negative emotions that may arise in your life?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Why Is Life so Hard?

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All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)

Everything seems to be a battle. Nothing is easy. The fact is, life is difficult.

So, why is life so hard in this world?

The Bible says rebellion against God broke everything.

It all started back with the first couple, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden. When God created the world, everything was perfect. It was paradise. And Adam and Eve had no problems, suffering, sadness, temptations, or troubles.

But one day Adam and Eve decided that they wanted to do what they wanted to do. God told them, “You can do anything you want to in this paradise except one thing.” And what did Adam and Eve do? The one thing God told them not to do.

Why did he even give them a choice? Because without a choice, they couldn’t choose to love God. If you’re forced to love God, then it’s not real love.

Romans 5:12 says, “Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it” (GNT). Before sin, there was no death in the world. There was no sadness in the world. There was no sorrow. There was no difficulty in the world. People would not die. Adam and Eve could have lived forever as long as it was a perfect environment. It was only when everything got broken that sin brought death into the world.

Adam and Eve weren’t the only ones who made that choice. I’ve made it, you’ve made it, and everybody else in the world has made it. We have all said, “I don’t want to do the right thing; I want to do the easy thing.We’ve all said, “I don’t want to say the truth; I want to say what’s convenient.We’ve all said, “I don’t want to be what God wants me to be; I want to be what I want to be.” We’ve all done this.

The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6,All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (NLT).

We have all broken God’s laws. We have all rebelled by sins, transgressions, and iniquities. And that’s why nothing works correctly — your marriage, your health, your finances, your body, your relationships. Nothing works correctly, because sin broke everything.

When you understand why life in the world is so hard, you’re no longer going to be surprised by it. You’re not going to be surprised when things don’t go your way. You’re not going to be surprised when plans don’t pan out. You’re not going to be surprised when things actually go bad. And you will be able to handle the hard times of life much more easily.

So why is life so hard? Why do we suffer? Why is everything a battle? The answer is that rebellion against God broke everything.

Talk about it:

– Why do you think this answer to the cause of the world’s problems is not enough for non-believers and even some believers?

– Think of a time when you followed your own way instead of God’s. What was the result?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Five Steps for Handling Frustration

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“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you Isaiah 26:3 (NIV).

Here are five simple steps for dealing with frustrations in your life.

Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?” The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7b NIV). We are often frustrated by things in life because we bring them on ourselves.

Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?” Romans 8:28b says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (NIV). There are many bad things in the world, but all things work together. God can even take the negative and turn it into a positive if we let him. Use irritation as an opportunity to become more like Christ.

Thank God in the situation. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18a we read, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (NIV). You don’t have to be thankful for a bad situation, but you can be thankful in a bad situation. Frustration may be a blessing in disguise.

Turn the frustration into a funny, humorous event. The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22a NIV). A sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration.

Ask God to fill you with his love. Why? Because 1 Corinthians 13:5b says, “[Love] is not easily angered” (NIV). Love is self-giving, not self-serving. We get irritated because we think everyone and everything has to revolve around us. Love concentrates on the other person.

Jesus faced constant frustrations, but he never got irritated. He always made time for people. We get so preoccupied with our own things that we forget that people are the priority in life.

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Becoming More Like Jesus

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I have refined you but not in the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of sufferingIsaiah 48:10 (NLT).

No one likes those times when stress gets turned up, deadlines mount, and expectations seem unreachable.

But sometimes God uses heat in your life to burn off the stuff that’s tying you down.
You just need to trust God through the pain.

What’s got you tied up? What’s limiting you from being all God meant for you to be?

God can use the trials in your life to eliminate what’s holding you back.

God says in Isaiah 48:10, “I have refined you but not in the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering” (NLT).

It’s highly unlikely you’ll literally go through a fiery furnace in your life, but you’ll go through the furnace of suffering many, many times. God will refine you with that fire.

It’s like silver and gold. When they heat it up, they get rid of impurities. Then you’re left with 100 percent gold or 100 percent silver.

If you ask a silversmith how to know when silver is pure, he’ll tell you it happens when you can see your reflection while looking into the cauldron.

God knows you’re purified when he can see his own reflection in you. You look more Christlike.
It’s the fire that does that.

Talk It Over:

– How has God made you more like Jesus through tough times?
– Sometimes it is easier to turn away from Christ in the midst of our suffering, instead of allowing it to make us more like him. Why?
– What does it mean for you to “be like Jesus” after God refines you through suffering?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Even Your Weaknesses Bring Glory to God

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My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?’” Romans 9:20 (CEV).

Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences — these are the five things that make you, you. I call them your SHAPE.

Accepting your SHAPE — the unique way God made you that brings glory to him — means to believe that God knows best. It all comes down to the matter of trust. Do you believe that God made a mistake when he made you? Or do you trust him, knowing that he has a plan for your life? Do you believe it?

Many of us make these kinds of statements: “God, there are things I don’t like about myself. I wish I had different hair or a different color of skin. I wish I were taller, shorter, skinnier. I wish I had more talent. I wish I could do ‘that.’ I wish I looked like him. I wish I had her smarts.” And on and on our lists go. This kind of thinking is basically telling God, “You blew it! Everybody else is okay. But you goofed up big when you made me.”

When you reject yourself, you are in essence rejecting God, because he’s your Creator. When you don’t accept yourself, it’s rebellion against God. You’re saying, “God, I know better than you. You should have made me differently, with a different set of strengths and a different set of weaknesses.”

But God says, “No, I created you exactly the way you are because I want you to be you — with your strengths and your weaknesses. All of it can give me glory — if you’ll just start doing what I made you to do instead of trying to be like everybody else.

It’s actually quite arrogant to reject yourself. The Bible says in Romans 9:20, “My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?’” (CEV).

Whenever we doubt God’s love and wisdom, we always get into trouble. The root behind these problems is that you don’t trust God. You don’t believe God really loves you. You don’t believe that he really has your best interest at heart. You wish he had made you something different. As a result, there’s a spirit of bitterness in you that produces frustration and keeps you from being the person God wants you to be.

But you don’t have to live that way — there is hope! Job 10:10 says, “You guided my conception and formed me in the womb” (NLT). God wanted you, and he loves you. Believe it, and then trust it!

Talk It Over:

  • How can believing that God really loves you change the way you view yourself?
  • What about yourself have you always wanted to change? How do you think God may have intended to use that very trait to bring glory to him?
  • How has God used your weaknesses to bring glory to him?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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Don’t Let Your Loneliness Lead to Bitterness

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The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them2 Timothy 4:16 (NLT).

Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:16, “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them” (NLT).

Paul, one of the greatest followers of Jesus ever, was on trial in Rome, and not one person stepped forward to defend him. Not one! He was absolutely by himself. Nobody stepped forward to say, “This is a good guy. He’s alright.” Yet Paul did not say, “Those jerks — after all I’ve done for them all these years!” Instead, he said, “May it not be counted against them.” In other words, he was not going to let himself become bitter. Because bitterness always makes loneliness worse.

This is just one of the ways Paul teaches us how to live when we are going through a season of loneliness. When you feel lonely, you need to minimize your hurt. You need to play it down and pray it up. Don’t rehearse it over and over in your mind. If you do, it just gets bigger and bigger and out of control.

Refuse to become resentful, because bitterness will eat you up.

Bitterness and loneliness go together because they become a cycle. You become lonely. Then you start feeling bad about it and have a pity party. Then you become bitter. Your bitterness makes you even lonelier, which makes you more bitter. Soon, you’re a hardhearted, depressed person that nobody can get close to.

Nobody wants to be around a bitter person. Nobody wants to be around a cynic. Nobody wants to be around a person who is angry.

Bitterness will only perpetuate your loneliness. That’s why, when you go through a season of loneliness, you should minimize the hurt. Don’t build a wall around your life.

Talk It Over – What is your natural reaction to loneliness?
– What people in your life can you reach out to when you are lonely?
– When you feel like replaying the events or circumstances that led to your loneliness, what might you do instead?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Three Mistakes to Avoid in the Face of Difficulty

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In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the worldJohn 16:33b (NIV).

In Acts 27, Paul set sail for Rome with other prisoners, and they faced great difficulties on their journey because the winds were against them. Paul warned the men on one leg of their voyage that if they set sail, they would be caught in a major storm and the results would be disastrous. They decided to sail anyway, making three common mistakes that we also tend to make that get us into trouble.

1. We listen to bad advice. “[They] followed the advice of the pilot” (Acts 27:11b NIV). God had already said not to do it, and Paul warned them not to do it. But because the “expert” said it was okay, they did it. If God tells you to do one thing and all the experts in the world tell you to do something else, don’t listen to the experts. Listen to what God says.

2. We follow the crowd.The majority decided that [they] should sail on” (Acts 27:12b NIV). The majority is often wrong! The majority of the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, and they were wrong, too. Peer pressure keeps a lot of people from doing what God wants them to do.

3. We rely on circumstances. “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity” (Acts 27:13a NIV). Paul warned the others that they were heading into a storm, but they sailed anyway. You should not go through every open door you see. You should not take advantage of every opportunity given to you. You should not accept every job that is offered to you. You should not date everybody that asks you out. Satan can arrange circumstances, too, so you need to ask God for his direction.

Trouble is a part of life. You will have difficulties! Jesus told us so in John 16:33b: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (NIV).

But knowing how to avoid these three mistakes will help you navigate through the difficulties you faced on your journey of faith.

Thoughts: – Why do you think God allows you to experience difficulty on your journey of faith?
– How have you gotten into trouble because you made one of the three mistakes discussed in today’s devotional?
– How did God deliver you in that situation?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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If You Want to Hear God, Get Still and Listen

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wooded forest scene -serene

Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God doesJob 37:14 (GNT).

Sometimes as adults we get spiritual wiggles. We cannot get still and be quiet.

But you have to be quiet in order to hear God speak. If you want to hear God’s vision, then you’re going to have to turn off the television. You can’t listen to God and the TV at the same time!

It is possible God never speaks to you because you’re never quiet. Something is always going on in your mind, so while God is trying to get through to you on the telephone of life, he’s getting a busy signal. You’ve got to reserve time alone with God.

The Bible says in Job 37:14, “Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does” (GNT).

God wants to spend time with you. He says, “Pause, be quiet, get alone, and learn solitude so I can talk with you.

Is getting God’s dream for your life worth a day of your life? Have you ever taken an entire day and done nothing but be alone with God? Talk to God in prayer. Let God talk to you through the Bible. Relax. Think. Write down the thoughts he puts in your mind. Set some goals. Look through your schedule. Set your priorities. Spend the day saying, “God, where do you want me to go? What direction do you want my feet headed?

God speaks to people who take the time to listen — not just for a day but also on a regular basis. This is called a quiet time, and it is when we can have an intimate conversation with God.

Talk It Over: – Think about your quiet time. How much time do you spend actually being quiet and waiting on God to speak to you?

– What distractions do you need to eliminate so that you can be still and quiet?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Life Is Hard So You Can Grow

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Ephesians 4:22 We are meant to take on an entirely new way of life..."

Take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (MSG)

Many religions and New Age philosophies promote the old lie that we are divine or can become gods. Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God or even a god.

That prideful lie is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “you shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5 KJV).

This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; he wants you to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character. We are meant to “take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG).

God’s ultimate goal for your life on Earth is not comfort but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christ-likeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.

God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the Beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (Matthew 5:1-12; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Peter 1:5-8).

Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember: Earth is not Heaven!

Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer.

In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect Heaven on Earth.

This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.

Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa. Why would God provide Heaven on Earth when he’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on Earth to build and strengthen our character for Heaven.

Talk About It: 

  • In what ways have you been trying to control your circumstances or the people around you?
  •  In what ways are you living the “full life” that Jesus came to Earth to provide for you (John 10:10)?

by Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Did You Know Worry is Optional?

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Isaiah 43:2 When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you
Isaiah 43:2 (NLT).

You have three basic choices when it comes to the stress in your life: You can worry, you can ignore your stress, or you can relax and trust God.

The Bible says in Psalm 116:7, “I said to myself, ‘Relax, because the Lord takes care of you’” (NCV). You can’t trust God and worry at the same time.

That’s not just good spiritual wisdom from the Lord; it’s wisdom for your health as well. The Bible also says in Proverbs 14:30 that a heart at peace is a healthy heart: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (NIV).

It’s not just what you eat that destroys your health — it’s what eats you! You can have the best health plan around — eat fresh, healthy, organic, and in proper portions — but if you’re resentful against someone in your life or worry about tomorrow, your health will suffer.

Worry is like a poison or a fire. It burns you up inside. I remember watching an old episode of the detective show “Columbo” when Country singer Johnny Cash played the bad guy. When he finally got caught, he said, “I’m so glad I got caught, because the guilt was killing me.

We deal with all sorts of worries in our lives, but many of them revolve around these five areas. We worry:

• We’ll be left alone.
• We won’t know what to do in the future.
• We won’t have what we need in the future.
• We will be hurt by something or someone in the future.
• We won’t have the strength to survive in the future.

But there’s good news: You don’t have to worry. Worry is optional misery! You have many things that impact your health that you cannot control. But you can control the amount you worry!

God has more than 7,000 promises in the Bible. Many of those promises center on the areas you worry about the most, like the five mentioned above.

If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you know the One who created your future. His promises about your future give life, not stomach-eating worry.

The Bible says in one of those 7,000 promises: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT).

You have no need to worry. The One who holds your future will walk with you through it.

Talk It Over – How have you seen worry impact your physical health or the physical health of those you care about?
– In what area of your life are you struggling to trust God and causing unneeded worry?
– What promise from God will you claim to help you trust him more and worry less?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Being Content is a Learning Process

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Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need 1 Corinthians 4:7-8 (The Message).

Instead of focusing so much on what you don’t have and what didn’t happen, be grateful for what you do have. This doesn’t come naturally to me, probably not for you either, and not even for the apostle Paul, who said, “I have learned to be content.” Being content is a learning process.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7-8, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need” (The Message).

Envy is based on the myth that you have to have more to be happy. Envy always looks at others and asks, “Why them? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have.” But gratitude says, “Why me? Why did God give me this? I’m blessed because I don’t deserve what I have.” It totally flips our perspective.

Although we all struggle with envy, it’s hard to admit it because it’s such an ugly emotion. When you’re envious of others, you really want them to fail, because it makes you feel better that they don’t have more than you. That’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? If we could only learn to be grateful for what we have, we could begin to get rid of these feelings of envy.

It’s important to understand that envy is not having a desire or a dream or a goal. It’s good to have those. Envy is not looking forward to something or hoping that something can happen in your life or even wondering if you should have something. Envy is instead resenting somebody who already has what you desire or has reached a goal you have yet to obtain. Envy says you can’t be happy until you get that desire or goal. Envy is not being grateful for what you already have.

Yet the Bible tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God, and it is up to him to decide when and how he blesses us. It’s up to us to choose to be grateful and make the most of what we’ve been given.

“It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something elseEcclesiastes 6:9b (GNT).

Talk It Over

  • “When you’re envious of others, you really want them to fail, because it makes you feel better that they don’t have more than you.” How does this statement challenge you to examine any envy you’ve felt toward others?
  • What is one practical way you can practice gratitude today?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Kindness is Worth the Cost

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Isaiah 58:10 f you feed those who are hungry and take care of the needs of those who are troubled, then your light will shine in the darkness . . .

If you feed those who are hungry and take care of the needs of those who are troubled, then your light will shine in the darkness . . . The Lord will always lead you. He will satisfy your needs in dry lands . . . You will be like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dryIsaiah 58:10-11 (NCV).

There is always a cost to kindness. It inevitably causes you to sacrifice time, money, energy, reputation, privacy, or something. There was a cost for the Good Samaritan, too.

In Luke 10:34b-35, it says, “Then [the Good Samaritan] put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here’” (NLT).

This guy did all he could to take care of a total stranger. First, he administered first aid at the scene of the crime. He put him on his donkey — which, by the way, means that he walked — and then took him to a motel. The Good Samaritan cared for him through the night and then paid the bill. This guy did whatever it took to show kindness.

What did he gain from it? Nothing. He didn’t even know the guy! But that’s what kindness is — when you do something for somebody without expecting anything back. So why be kind? Why show kindness when you know you won’t get anything in return?

When I did a study of that question, I read every single verse on kindness in the Bible, and I made a list of the many, many reasons why the Bible says we should be kind.

Here are a few of the reasons:

• God has been kind — extravagantly kind — to you.
• Kindness is an act of worship.
• Kindness honors God.
• Kindness makes you happy.
• Kindness even makes you attractive (check out Proverbs 19:22 in the Living Bible)!
• Kindness makes other people want to be kind to you.

Finally, God blesses kindness: “If you feed those who are hungry and take care of the needs of those who are troubled, then your light will shine in the darkness . . . The Lord will always lead you. He will satisfy your needs in dry lands . . . You will be like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dry” (Isaiah 58:10-11 NCV).

God says that when you assume responsibility for the needs of hurting people around you, he will also meet your needs. What a deal! And God always keeps his promises.

Talk It Over:

  • Why do you think it’s important that kindness costs you something?
  • How has God provided for you even when you had to give something up for the good of someone else?
  • How is kindness an act of worship?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Come to God Just as You Are

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Romans 5:8 God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” Romans 5:8 (NLT).

Everything that Jesus did for you, he did out of love. The Bible says that God made you to love you. The only reason you’re alive is because you were made to be loved by God.

If God didn’t want you alive, your heart would stop instantly; you wouldn’t even be breathing right now. God made you and wants you alive so he can love you and so you can love him back.

God didn’t just say he loved you; he showed it. The Bible says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). It says while we were still sinners. Before I even knew God or knew I needed God in my life, Jesus died for me.

There’s a myth that says we have to clean up our act before we can come to God: “I’ve got to get it all together. There are a few things I’ve got to get right in my life first, and then I’ll come to God.” No! You come to God with your problems — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s like when we brush our teeth before we go to the dentist to have a teeth cleaning or when we wash the dishes before we put them in the dishwasher. Why do we do this?

God says, “No, no! You don’t have to clean up your act. Just bring it all to me. Bring me all your problems. I have all the answers. Come as you are.

The Bible says, “He will send down help from heaven to save me because of his love” (Psalm 57:3a TLB). That’s what Jesus did on Easter. He sent himself from Heaven to save us because of his love. So you can bring your problems to God, because he has the answer.

If you don’t act on this news, then the death of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection are wasted for you personally. It makes no difference in your life. You may recognize the gift, but you still have to receive it.
“You will be saved, if you honestly say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others” (Romans 10:9-10 CEV).

God is not asking you to make a promise you cannot keep. God is asking you to believe a promise that only he can keep.

Talk It Over: – What do you need to let go of that you’ve been trying to clean up before you can approach God?
– How does your life reflect the extravagant love God has for you and that you have accepted?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Don’t Waste Your Pain

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devotional

He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.” 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 (CEV)

Your greatest ministry will flow out of your pain — not out of your strengths or your talents but out of the painful experiences of your life. It is your weaknesses that help other people in their need, not your strengths.

A great example of this is the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says that he was in a time of his life when he was so discouraged that he was ready to kick the bucket. He despaired of life itself. He was ready to give up on life. He was ready to crawl in a corner and die. And Paul was probably the greatest Christian who ever lived except for Jesus!

But Paul was able to say this in 2 Corinthians 1:2-5: “I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives” (CEV).

Who can be more sympathetic than somebody who has already been through what another person is going through right now? Who can better help the parent of a special needs child than a parent who raised a special needs child? Who can better help somebody going through a bankruptcy than somebody who has gone through it before? Who can better help somebody experiencing the heartbreak of divorce than somebody who remembers how terrible it felt? Who can better help somebody who’s been abused or molested than somebody who has been abused or molested?

Don’t waste your pain. If you hide it and hold it back, it doesn’t do any good. But if you’re honest with God and yourself and with other people, God can use the thing you hate the most in your life, that you’re most disappointed by, and that you wish had never happened. God says, “You can’t change what happened to you. But I can use it for your benefit and for my purposes. When you’re willing to share your brokenness, I can use it to help other people.”

Thoughts: – What is the painful experience in your life that you want God to use for good in someone else’s life?
– Who do you need to forgive so that you can move on from your pain and release it for God to use in ministry?

Who do you think you can share your experience with so that they can receive God’s comfort?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS.

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