Today I am reading day 365 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Remember Best, Forget Rest
Philippians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
What do you remember about people? The good experiences or the bad experiences? Paul said, “I like to remember the good things about people, focus on the good times we’ve had, remember the positive experiences.”
When Paul said this he had not had an easy time in Philippi. Acts 16 tells us that when he went to Philippi he was illegally arrested, whipped, humiliated, and thrown into prison — before finally being asked to leave town. Yet he says, “I thank God every time I remember you.”
Paul could have dwelt on the negative. He could have remembered the painful memories. He chose not to remember the painful; instead, he focused on the things he could be grateful for.
Maybe you have been hurt in the past by a parent or a partner and you’re still holding on to that hurt. As a result you can’t enjoy being around them today. You’re still focusing on the bad and the negative. Be grateful for the good in people. Pleasant memories are a choice. I can choose what I’m going to remember about the past.
If you want to enjoy others, you’ve got to focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses. With some people it takes a lot of creativity. But you can find something good in everybody.
I’m not saying that you deny the hurts you’ve had or that you excuse the weaknesses in other people. That is psychologically unhealthy. But focus on the good and choose to emphasize the strengths.
Today I am reading day 364 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Love From the Heart
Philippians 1:7-8 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
I’ve discovered that if people are not on my heart, they’re on my nerves. Heart love begins with understanding why someone feels the way they do. Ask questions and then listen. Hear the hurt, look for the problems, know what makes the person tick. If you care, you’ll be aware.
How do you love people who, even when you do understand them, you find them unlovable? “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8 NIV) In Greek, the word “affection” is the word for intestines. In Greek society, the Greeks thought that the seat of the emotions was in your internal organs.
Paul was saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling of love for you.” That is not natural. It is supernatural and that’s why Paul said it’s not from himself, but it’s the affection of Christ Jesus. The only kind of love that lasts in spite of heartache and difficulty in tough circumstances is God’s love — the affection of Jesus Christ.
So how do you get this kind of gut love? “God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV) God’s love is not something you work up. It is something that is poured into you by the Holy Spirit as you let Him live in you day-by-day.
Today I am reading day 363 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
You can’t please everybody
Romans 12:18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Proverbs 29:25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
John 5:30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
Have you realized that there are some people you can’t please? No matter what you do or what you try or how nice you are to them. You just can’t please everybody.
But the Bible tells says you don’t need to please everybody. “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you.” (Proverbs 29:25 LB) It is an emotional trap when you start worrying about what other people think.
Jesus said, “I only seek to please Him who sent me.” (John 5:30 LB) Even Jesus didn’t try to please everybody. One person wants it to rain; another doesn’t want it to rain. Even God can’t please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what even God can’t do.
I meet Christians all the time who live with someone who makes life crazy. They say, “I try and try to make peace with this person, but I fail and I feel so guilty.”
The fact is, it may not be your fault. It may be the person you’re trying to make peace with is just flat out difficult.
Give that person to God and then focus on pleasing God.
Today I am reading day 362 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Chose You Before You Chose Him
1 Peter 1:2-3 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,
God chose you long before you chose Him. God took the initiative. The Good News translation puts it this way: “You were chosen according to the purpose of God.”
Why would God choose you or me to be a part of his family? Because he is a God of love; he is a God of grace. The more you understand grace, the more you’re going to be amazed by it.
God chose you. Did you deserve it? Not a chance. Do you deserve to go to Heaven? No way! Are you good enough to be in God’s family? No. He just chose you. And that’s good news.
On what basis did He chose you? First Peter 1:3 says, “For it is His boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that now we are members of God’s own family.”
God chose you based on his mercy, not your performance. You’ll never earn it. You’ll never deserve it. You couldn’t work hard enough for it. You couldn’t be perfect enough.
It’s only because of God’s grace and mercy that the Creator of the universe says, “I want you in my family.” If that doesn’t encourage you, you’d better check your pulse.
Today I am reading day 361 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Sometimes God Says “Not Yet’
Hebrews 10:36-37 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
If you’re discouraged because of God’s delay in answering your prayers, understand the delay is NOT a denial. Just because the answer hasn’t come – YET – that doesn’t mean God isn’t going to answer or that he’s forgotten you or that he doesn’t care about you.
It simply means “not yet!”
Part of becoming spiritually mature is learning the difference between “no” and “not yet,” between a denial and a delay. The Bible tells us, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.” (Hebrews 10:37 NIV)
God’s delay may be a test of your patience. Anybody can be patient once. And, most people can be patient twice. And, a lot of us can be patient three times. So God tests our patience over and over and over.
Why? So he can see how patient you are? No!
He does it so you can see how patient you are. So you’ll know what’s inside you, and you’ll be able to know your level of commitment. God tests you so that you can know he is faithful, even if the answers you seek are delayed.
If you’re discouraged, turn it around by remembering God teaches you patience during delay. Ask him to transform your discouragement into patience.
Today I am reading day 360 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Mark 6:31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
When your emotional tank is empty, you’re unable to love others unselfishly. You just give up. You may have a sense of being overwhelmed and feeling inadequate. You may even get angry at the ones you love the most. You may try to avoid people or view them as problems. You have no desire to love.
To love others you have to keep your emotional tank full. When it gets low, it’s going to make a difference in your relationships.
The Bible has three suggestions for recharging emotionally:
Solitude–You need time alone. Today’s verse teaches us Jesus frequently withdrew from crowds when he needed to recharge himself emotionally. In this case there was so much hustle and bustle, Jesus says to the disciples, “Come apart for a while.” (KJV) You either come apart or you will come apart.
Recreation–One of my favorite verses is, “Jesus came enjoying life.” (Matthew 11:19 Phillips) He was the most intensive, ministry-oriented person who ever lived, but he enjoyed life. When you’re giving to others, it costs and exhausts. You need play time. For you it may be hobbies, a sport, a craft, or games. Experiment and find out what it is that recharges you emotionally, then make time for it.
Laughter – “Being cheerful keeps you healthy.” (Proverbs 17:22 TEV) There are studies that prove that when you laugh it increases the number of T-cells – and that raises your immunity level. It produces endorphins in your brain. Laughter is a load lightener, an emotional recharger and a love rebuilder.
Today I am reading day 359 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Maintaining Physical Health
1 Corinthians 13:7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Psalms 127:2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Psalms 119:73 You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
1 Corinthians 6:20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Love is exhausting. It’s work to really love. Most people don’t understand that their physical condition has a strong impact on their relationships and their ability to love.
What happens to your relationships when you’re run down? Little issues become big problems when you’re tired. You’re more cranky, defensive, and critical when you’re physically low.
What are some habits the Bible says will physically refresh you?
Rest – “It’s senseless for you to work so hard from early morning till late at night. God wants you to get your proper rest.” (Psalm 127:2 LB) Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is just get some rest. It’s amazing how much better things look after a good night’s sleep. Many of you are too tired to love your kids, too tired to love your husband, and too tired to love your wife.
Balanced Diet–“You made my body, Lord, now give me the sense to head your laws.” (Psalm 119:73 LB) It’s a no-brainer, but choosing fruits and vegetables over chips and cookies will give us more sustained energy.
Regular Exercise–“Honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NIV) Our bodies were made for activity. In Bible times they didn’t have to exercise; they walked everywhere, they did physical work. But most of us have sedentary lives, and we drive everywhere. Yet, you really only have two choices in life: fatigue or fitness. Fitness involves regular exercise.
Today I am reading day 358 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Cooperating with the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 4:22-24 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Throughout the Bible we see an important truth illustrated over and over: the Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith.
When Joshua was faced with an impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God’s power.
Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.
Paul explains our three responsibilities in becoming like Christ —
First, we must choose to let go of old ways of acting. “Everything . . . connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (Ephesians 4:22 MSG)
Second, we must change the way we think. “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” (Ephesians 4:23 CEV) The Bible says we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)
Third, we must put on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)
Today I am reading day 357 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Give Your Life for Something
Romans 12:5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Corinthians 12:14-19 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
You are going to give your life for something. What will it be – a career, a sport, a hobby, fame, wealth? None of these will have lasting significance. Service is the pathway to real significance.
As we serve together in God’s family, our lives take on eternal importance. Paul said, “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less . . . because of what you are a part of.” (1 Corinthians 12:14a, 19 MSG)
God wants to use you to make a difference in his world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it.
If you’re not involved in any service or ministry, what excuse have you been using?
Abraham was old; Jacob was insecure; Leah was unattractive; Joseph was abused; Moses stuttered.
Gideon was poor; Samson was codependent; Rahab was immoral; David had an affair and all kinds of family problems. Elijah was suicidal; Jeremiah was depressed; Jonah was reluctant; Naomi was a widow.
John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least; Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered; Martha worried a lot. The Samaritan woman had several failed marriages; Zacchaeus was unpopular; Thomas had doubts; Paul had poor health; and Timothy was timid.
That is quite a variety of misfits, but God used each of them in his service. He will use you, too, if you stop making excuses.
Today I am reading day 356 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God is Never Too Busy
Act 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Psalms 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Matthew 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Psalms 34:18 The L ord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
A lot of kids today grow up with absentee fathers. Their father’s are never home, always gone, never there for the important dates. Even when their father’s are home, they really aren’t there. They’re detached, reading a newspaper, watching television, or working. They may be physically there but they’re not mentally or emotionally at home.
That’s why it’s important to remember three encouraging facts about the closeness of God:
God is never too busy – “The Lord is near to all who call on him.” (Psalm 145:18 NIV) He’s never too busy to talk to you. He’s always near. He never says, “Some other time.”
God loves to meet your needs — He’s not annoyed by your request. “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV)
God is sympathetic to your hurts — “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NLT) When you hurt, God hurts. When you grieve, God grieves. He is there. And He cares. That is the Good News.
Today I am reading day 355 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Says I’m Valuable
Luke 12:24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!
How much are you worth? I’m not talking about money. We confuse self-worth with net worth, but they are very different. Your value has nothing to do with your valuables.
How much are you worth?
I once read an article in the Journal of Hospital Practice that calculated how much each of the enzymes and hormones and all the different things in your body are worth. The author added them up and if you are an average size person you are worth six-million, fifteen dollars and forty-four cents ($6,ooo,o15.44) based on your weight. (Some of us are worth more!)
You’re a six-million dollar man or a six-million dollar woman! The article’s author also estimated that, if you calculate the cost of creating each cell in your body, it would be about six thousand trillion dollars.
You are priceless.
Jesus thought this was so important that he took a whole chapter of the Bible to talk about it. In Luke 15 he tells three stories — the lost son, the lost coin, and the lost sheep. It’s the same punch line in each story. Jesus says, “You matter!”
You matter to God. You are valuable. God says you are valuable because he loves you and he has accepted you in Christ.
Today I am reading day 354 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Says You’re Lovable
Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the L ord , who has mercy on you.
Daniel 10:19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”
God says you’re lovable. This is so important because you can’t fulfill God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” until you believe this. If you don’t feel lovable, you can’t love anybody else.
Our verse today says a couple things about God’s love for us.
God loves you consistently — He doesn’t love you one day and not the next. He doesn’t love you on your good days and not on your bad days. God is 100% consistent in his love for you.
God loves you unconditionally — He says, “I will always love you and it is unconditional. You don’t earn it.” He doesn’t say, “I love you if you’re good, or if you do these things, or because you look this way or you do these things.”
You never have to wake up in the morning and say, “God, are you going to love me today? Did I read my Bible enough? Did I pray enough?” He loves you consistently no matter who you are or what you do.
What is the result when you really understand this? Daniel 10:19 says “God loves you, so don’t let anything worry you or frighten you.” When I don’t have to worry or be afraid of anything, then I am free to give love to everyone around me.
Today I am reading day 353 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Says You’re Forgivable
Isaiah 43:25 “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
Ephesians 1:4-5 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
When something starts going wrong in your life, do you automatically think, “God’s getting even with me, I know it! I did that thing I’m ashamed of yesterday (or last year or twenty years ago) and now he’s settling the score.”
Does God really treat his children that way? Absolutely not! Isaiah says God doesn’t hold our sins against us. Once we’ve confessed our sins to him, it’s all forgiven and forgotten and he doesn’t even bring up the past.
If you’re a Christian, pay close attention to Ephesians 1:4-5: “Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children – this was his pleasure and purpose.” (TEV)
Do you realize that when God looks at you, he sees you through Jesus Christ? When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all of your sins so you are forgiven and they are forgotten.
That’s why becoming a Christian is such GOOD NEWS. I give Jesus my life and he takes it, forgives me and then gives me a new chance. He says, “Now I see you without a single fault. You stand before me covered with my love.”
Today I am reading day 352 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Says You’re Capable
Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
I’ve met all sorts of people who are considered highly successful according to the standards of the world. And yet a lot of them feel incompetent, insecure, and incapable.
How about you? Perhaps you look at your life and think it’s working. Sure, you have your problems, but compared to others, you’re probably considered successful. Yet, inside there is still a gnawing, inner insecurity and a lack of confidence and a feeling of incompetence. Why is that?
It’s because you’re still listening to old tapes from your past, and they are no more true now than they were then. Old tapes that say things like, “You don’t matter.” God says, “Yes, you do!’ Old tapes that say, “You’re a loser!” God say, “No, you’re not!’ Old tapes that say, “You’ll never amount to anything.” God says, “You are important to me!’
You need to quit believing those lies and start believing God. Quit looking in a distorted mirror of what peers and partners and parents have said to you. Start repeating what God says about you: “I am acceptable, I am lovable, I am valuable, I am forgivable, and I am capable.”
Who are you going to believe? What other people say about you or what God says about you.
Today I am reading day 351 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God Says You’re Acceptable
Ephesians 1:6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
Many of us base our self-confidence on what other people think, so we work hard at being accepted. We buy things, we wear things, we join things — all just for the benefit of trying to be accepted by our friends, family, co-workers and peers.
Does God say you have to earn acceptance? That you could ever deserve it? No. The Bible just says, God has accepted you.
If you’re a believer, then you’ve accepted Jesus into your life. But do you understand that God accepts you? He loves you unconditionally and accepts you for who you are.
Some of you grew up with unpleasable parents. No matter what you did it was never, ever good enough. Even today you’re still trying to earn their love and approval.
If that’s the case — with your parents or with anyone else you’ve been seeking to please — there are two things you need to know:
First, in all likelihood, you’re never going to get that approval or acceptance. Not because of who you are but because of who they are. Second, you don’t need their approval because you are acceptable to God. You don’t need their approval to be happy.
You only need the love and approval of one person, and you already have it: God says you are acceptable!
Today I am reading day 350 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Healing Choices: A Healthy Dependence
Romans 1:12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
1 Corinthians 12:25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
Romans 14:19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
In authentic Christian fellowship we learn the art of giving and receiving. We learn healthy ways to depend upon each other.
The Bible says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 MSG).
Mutuality is the heart of fellowship: building reciprocal relationships, sharing responsibilities, and helping each other. Paul said, “I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” (Romans 1:12 NCV)
All of us are more consistent in our faith when others walk with us and encourage us. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving, and mutual honoring.
Over fifty times in the New Testament we’re commanded to do different tasks for “one another” and “each other.” The Bible says, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19 NIV)
You are not responsible for everyone in the body of Christ, but you are responsible to them. God expects you do whatever you can to help them.
Today I am reading day 349 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus
Hebrews 3:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest.
Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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.
Proverbs 4:23Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
When you are tempted, do whatever is necessary to turn your attention to something else.
Satan can’t get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else. That’s why the Bible teaches us to fix our thoughts on Jesus (Hebrews 3:1) and to fill our minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.” (Philippians 4:8 TEV)
When we’re serious about defeating temptation, we will manage our thoughts and monitor our media intake. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived warned: “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23 TEV)
Don’t allow thoughts to run indiscriminately in your mind. Be selective. Choose carefully what you think about. Follow Paul’s model: “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV)
This takes a lifetime of practice, but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can discipline the way you think.
Today I am reading day 348 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Don’t Give Temptation Power
2 Timothy 2:22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
Have you ever watched a food advertisement on television and suddenly felt you were hungry? Have you ever heard someone cough and immediately felt the need to clear your throat? Ever watched someone release a big yawn and felt the urge to yawn yourself?
This is the power of suggestion working within your mind. We naturally move toward whatever our attention is focused on. The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you.
This is why repeating, “I must stop eating too much or stop smoking or stop lusting” is a self-defeating strategy. It keeps you focused on what you don’t want. It’s like announcing, “I’m never going to do what my mom did.” You are setting yourself up to repeat it.
Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you feel. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger temptation draws you into its web.
Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up!
Sometimes this means physically leaving a tempting situation. This is one time it is okay to run away. Get up and turn off the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theater in the middle of the movie.
To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees!
Today I am reading day 347 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Don’t Be Reluctant to Show Mercy
2 Corinthians 2:7 Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.
Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
In Biblical fellowship, people will experience mercy. Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren’t rubbed in but rubbed out. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice.
We all need mercy, because we all stumble and fall and require help getting back on track. We need to offer mercy to each other and be willing to receive it from each other.
It’s impossible to have biblical fellowship without forgiveness because bitterness and resentment always destroy fellowship. Sometimes we hurt each other intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, but either way, it takes massive amounts of mercy and grace to create and maintain fellowship.
The Bible says, “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13 NLT)
The mercy God shows to us is the motivation for us to show mercy to others. Whenever you’re hurt by someone, you have a choice to make: Will I use my energy and emotions for retaliation or for resolution?
You can’t do both.
Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don’t understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior.
Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. The best place to restore trust is within the supportive context of a small group that offers both encouragement and accountability.
Today I am reading day 346 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Healing Choices: Authentic Friendships
1 John 1:7-8 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
In Biblical fellowship, we should experience authenticity.
Authentic friendships are more than superficial, surface-level chit-chat. They involve genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing.
These friendships develop when we get honest about who we are and what is happening in our lives. They develop when we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.
Unfortunately, this level of authenticity and intimacy is the exact opposite of what we find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, we often become involved in pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. We begin to wear masks, keep our guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in our lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship.
It’s only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in God’s light, we can bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.
This is the way we grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” (James 5:16 MSG)