Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Stand Against Popular Opinion

In 1979 I was finishing up seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and I felt like God was calling me to Southern California to start Saddleback Church. So I phoned a guy that I respected a lot and told him what I thought God wanted me to do.

You know what he told me? “Rick, that’s the dumbest idea I ever heard. You go out to California, and you’ll never be heard from again. It’s not going to happen.” He poured cold water all over my dream!

Any time you get serious about using your life the way God wants you to use it, there are going to be people who oppose it. You’re going to have friends and maybe even family members who oppose you, because Satan is going to throw everything he can at you to keep you from fulfilling your calling. One reason why so few people actually fulfill God’s calling is because they are unwilling to go against popular opinion.

If you want to follow God’s calling on your life, you must be willing to reject negative advice, no matter who it comes from.

The Bible says in Numbers 14:2-3, “Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. ‘If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!’ they complained. ‘Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?’” (NLT) When faced with difficult circumstances, the Israelites decided they actually preferred slavery to freedom because it was safe. Rather than following God and doing what he had called them to do, they wanted to go back to their old way of life.

But one of their leaders, Caleb, had uncommon courage. He decided he was going to face the challenges with God’s help, even if he was scared. He was ready to reject negative advice in order to follow God’s calling.

In fact, Caleb didn’t just receive negative advice. Numbers 14:10 says, “The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle.”

I love the fact that God’s presence saved Caleb and Joshua. That will happen in your life, too. Pioneers always get the arrow in the back. You’ve got to determine now to reject negative advice if you’re going to go after God’s calling in your life.

3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  - Numbers 14:3 (NIV)

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.  - Numbers 14:10 (NIV)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What to Do When It Makes No Sense

Can you imagine being questioned back by God? I'm thinking that it would be kind of scary and rather fearful. I've been scolded by bosses and my parents and all were way too uncomfortable for me. God does love us all for if he didn't, he wouldn't have sent His only son Jesus to save us all. But God also can be angry but He is slow to anger. Can you imagine just how far you have to push to anger our Holy Father. I know our children can really make it difficult for us some times, especially in the teenage years but we still love them... no matter what, its unconditional... just like God's Love for us..

Instead of asking God “Why?” you need to learn to trust God in things you don’t understand.

For 37 chapters in the book of Job, Job asks the “why” questions: “Why is this happening to me? Why are you allowing this? Why so much pain? Why so much discomfort? Why haven’t you answered my prayers?”

In chapter 38, Job stops asking “why.” And God says, “Now I’d like to ask you a few questions.” And for the next two chapters, God barrages Job with questions that only God can answer.

He asks things like, “Where were you when I made the universe? Can you explain the law of gravity?” And, after two chapters, Job realizes that he is just a man, and his knowledge is limited. Who is he to question God?

Job stops questioning, and he starts trusting. He replied to the Lord, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I — and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.… I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:1-3, 6 NLT).

What do you do in a situation where you can’t see the whole picture, things aren’t clear, and it makes no sense to you what’s happening?

You remind yourself of the things about God that you do know. Even in the middle of his doubts, Job affirmed what he knew to be true about God: God is loving (Job 10:12), God is all powerful (Job 36:22), God is in control (Job 34:13), God had a plan for his life (Job 23:14), God would protect him (Job 5:11).

I don’t know what you’re dealing with in your life, but I will tell you this: God is passionately and intimately aware of every detail that you’re going through right now. He’s paying attention to your every breath. Nothing misses God’s attention.

You may not understand why you’re going through what you’re going through, but you need to say this to God: “I know you’re good; I know you’re loving; I know you’re powerful; I know you notice the details of my life; I know you’re in control; I know you have a plan; I know you will protect me.” Then, you need to trust God — no matter what.

Whatever you’re going through, tell God exactly how you feel. He can handle it! Accept help from others. Stop asking “why,” and start trusting God for the things you don’t understand.

1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. - Job 42:1-3 (NIV)

6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  - Job 42:6 (NIV)

12 You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.  - Job 10:12 (NIV)

22 “God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him?  - Job 36:22 (NIV)

13 Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world?  - Job 34:13 (NIV)

14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.  - Job 23:14 (NIV)

11 The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.  - Job 5:11 (NIV)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

God, Why Is This Happening to Me?

I have often been hung up on the why's in the past and still sometimes find myself tripping over that stumbling block every now and again. Its our human nature.. our fleshy side that does that. I try and go beyond that and deal with things how they are given to me weather I like it or understand it or not. It is all a part of His plan and not mine. The wisdom of our Holy Father is to not be known before its time. It seems that children get it but as adults we just can't wrap our heads around it at all. There is always a reason, and we are not to why...

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  - Matthew 11:25 (NIV)

In his pain and despair, Job asked a lot of legitimate questions: “Why let people go on living in misery? Why give light to those in grief?” (Job 3:20 TEV)

This “why” question is human nature, and we all ask it. We have this misconception that if we understand the reason behind our pain, then it will make the pain easier.

You don’t need an explanation; you need strength. You don’t need an explanation; you need a Savior. You don’t need an explanation; you need comfort and support.

But we always go looking for an explanation! We ask questions like, “Why did that person walk out of my life? Why did he make a promise to me and then break it? Why did he hurt me? Why did I lose my job? Why did she die? Why did I get sick?”

Friends, I’ve been studying the “why” question for 37 years, and I’m going to give you my educated answer: I don’t know. And I’m never going to know, because I’m not God. And neither are you! Some things we’re just never going to understand until we get to the other side of death. Then it’s all going to become very, very clear. Only God knows. And if you don’t get his answer right off the bat, you might as well stop asking “Why?” because you’re simply prolonging the pain.

Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things” (LB). God is a God of revelation. He reveals himself through nature, circumstances, and Scripture. The only reason you know anything about God is because he has chosen to reveal himself.

But the Bible says God doesn’t just reveal; God also conceals. And sometimes God intentionally hides his face from us. Why? So we’ll learn to trust him instead of our feelings and to live by faith rather than our feelings.

God doesn’t owe you an explanation for anything. God doesn’t have to check in with you first before he does something. God doesn’t have to get your permission before he allows things to happen in life. God is God, and we’re not always going to understand why some things happen.

The Bible says, “We don’t know everything, and our prophecies are not complete.... Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understand us” (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12 CEV).

One day it’s all going to be clear. It’s all going to make sense. You’re going to be able to say, “So that’s why God allowed that in my life!” Until then, God wants you to trust him.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. - 1Corinthians 13:9-12 (NIV)

20 “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul,  - Job 3:20 (NIV)

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.  - Proverbs 25:2 (NIV)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who Can You Call for Help?

I have friends that denied God because of being angry at Him for loss of a family member.... I've been there in the past too. But its not good, and even though I have always had friends, I did not have friends that had enough faith to help me through it.... I like to believe its not like that now and I believe I have strong faith and I am a friend of Jesus. I would call you guys out if I knew it was ok to do so... until then, just know that I know your faith is strong too..

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  - Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)

When we go through major disappointments in life, our natural reaction is to pull back and isolate ourselves. We want to handle it ourselves. We want to keep our losses and failures and mistakes and crises a secret. We want to withdraw. This is a terrible idea!

When you go through disappointment or crisis or loss is when you need your friends the most. You need to accept help from others. God doesn’t intend for you to handle all the pain and stress in your life by yourself. We were wired for each other. We need each other. We’re social beings. The first thing God said in the Garden of Eden is, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” We’re made to be in relationships.

Job 6:14 says, “When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them” (MSG).

There will be times in your life when you are in so much pain you will say, “I don’t even believe in God right now!” You need to have friends who will come alongside you and say, “That’s OK. We’ll believe God for you right now.”

There will come a time when you’ll say, “I don’t have any faith right now. I’m full of doubt.” That’s when you need your friends to step in and say, “That’s OK. We will have faith for you. We will trust God for you in this.”

“By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NCV). What is the law of Christ? It’s this: Love your neighbor as yourself. The Bible commands us to help each other. Every time you help somebody who’s going through pain, you are fulfilling the law of Christ.

Trying to handle your trouble yourself will only make you more tired and stressed out. You need to accept the help of others and let your friends carry you through it.

2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  - Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

14 “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.  - Job 6:14 (NIV)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Can I Overcome Discouragement?

I have been discouraged a lot in the past couple years such as the times I was attacked at work by a resident, and by the fact that I was unemployed for almost an entire year and not knowing where my next meal was going to come from... but you know what? God got me through it as he always has. Even in all my wickedness through the years God has always been there and protected me. When I finally gave everything over and let Him take control and accepted Jesus as my savior, I put myself in his hands and let him put me where I was needed. Yes there was a lot of discouraging times but He knew what I needed and He provided just as Jesus has said. Today's verses I think are no way nearly even scratching the surface so I will give you some that may ease your discouragement a bit more than the single one that was provided.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  - Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Nothing can stand against what God says or who he stands behind simply by accepting him...

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  - Romans 8:31 (NIV)

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. - 2Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Something to look forward to, keep your eyes on the goal ahead...
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. - John 14:1-3 (NIV)

And the one that has gotten me through so much during these times I talked about.....and by far is one of my favorite scriptures...
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV)

I do hope these verses I have provided give you encouragement like they do me..

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does foolish things. So the issue is not that you failed; it’s how you respond to your failure.

Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it or the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God, help me get my eyes off the problem and the circumstance and keep my eyes on you.”

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”  - Nehemiah 4:10 (NIV)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why God Sometimes Says "Not Yet"?

I didn't forget about you, my readers, I just didn't have time to get things finished as I would like this morning before work.

Today, we talk about not getting things on our time but by God's time which is in fact when we need them. God's time is always right rather we know it or not and some times we feel unprepared and He throws us right into it. That's because He knows we can handle it.


“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’” (Hebrews 10:36-37 NIV)

If you’re discouraged because of God’s delay in answering your prayers, understand the delay is not a denial. Just because the answer or the miracle hasn’t come yet 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.

You may be going through difficult times right now. You may be discouraged because the situation you face seems unmanageable, unreasonable, or unfair.

It may seem unbearable, and inside you’re basically saying, “God, I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t take it anymore!”

But you can.

You can stay with it longer because God is with you. He’ll enable you to press on. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit. Resist discouragement, and finish the race God has set before you.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37 For in just a very little while,“He who is coming will come and will not delay.  - Hebrews 10:36-37 (NIV1984)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Don’t Stuff Your Pain, Tell God About It

In today's study, we learn about turning your pain and suffering to God. I have been there and more than one time in my life. For many many years I turned to others things and not God. I know better now but its times of great suffering that people take their lives or drown themselves in alcohol or drugs. I know its sad when its so easy to turn everything over to God but our flesh tells us a different story and says its not easy and turning to the other things are easier and will bring pleasure instead.

“Get up, cry out in the night, even as the night begins. Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord.” (Lamentations 2:19 NCV)

Think you’ve had a bad day? The biblical character of Job had a Ph.D. in pain and loss. In the very first chapter of Job, after everything fell apart in his life, Job “stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20 GWT).

Job expressed his pain to God. When you have a major loss in your life, the first thing you need to do is tell God exactly how you feel.

This may surprise you, but God can handle your anger and frustration. He can handle your emotions. Why? Because he gave them to you. You were made in the image of God, and he is an emotional God.

When your two-year-old has a temper tantrum and beats on your knees, you can handle that. In the same way, God is bigger than your emotion, and it’s OK to tell him exactly how you feel. When you prayed for a promotion, and it didn’t happen, when a loved one walks out of your life, when you get the dreaded call saying, “It’s cancer,” you can tell God, “I’m mad. I’m upset. I’m sick. I’m frustrated. I’m ticked off. I doubt.” God can handle your complaints, your questions, your fear, and your grief. God’s love for you is bigger than all of your emotions.

My kids know I love them. They know that I’ve been on this planet longer than they have and that I’ve had more experience than they have. But my children sometimes question my judgment. Can you believe that?

I’d rather have an honest, gut-level conversation with them than have them stuff their frustration and disappointment inside. God is the same way! He would rather have you wrestle with him in anger than walk away in detached apathy.

The right response to unexplained tragedy is not “grin and bear it.” Lamentations 2:19 says, “Get up, cry out in the night, even as the night begins. Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord” (NCV). When was the last time you cried out in the night? When was the last time you poured out your heart like water to God?

19 Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.  - Lamentations 2:19 (NIV1984)

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship  - Job 1:20 (NIV1984)

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.