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Monday, September 15, 2014

Be Honest About Your Pain BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 15, Monday

“We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide.” (2 Corinthians 6:11 GNT)
When you talk about your pain with other people, you’re going to have a willing ear — particularly if you’re talking about pain that the other person is going through at that moment. But for God to use the pain that’s happened in your life for the good of other people, for his purposes, and for your benefit, you have to be authentic. You can’t sugar coat it. You can’t fake it. You can’t pretend. You’ve got to be real and honest about the hurts in your life.
The best example of this is the apostle Paul. As you read through the New Testament books that Paul wrote, you see that he is honest about five things in his life that we don’t normally like to talk to other people about. Paul single-handedly revolutionized the Roman Empire. Christianity spread all over the world because he was willing to be honest about things that we’re not willing to be honest about.
What are they? To help other people, you must be honest about these five things:
Your feelings.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:11, “We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide” (GNT). Paul didn’t just teach others; he opened his heart and shared his feelings. If you’re going to have an impact in the lives of other people, you’ve got to learn to share your feelings.
Your faults.
This one’s a bit harder. In the Bible Paul tells us that “each of us must bear some faults and burdens of his own. For none of us is perfect!” (Galatians 6:5 LB) It’s pretty easy to see and admit that no one is perfect. Be honest, humble, and specific with each other about your faults.
Your failures.
Paul says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15b NIV). Paul goes on to describe how he persecuted the Church and stood by while Stephen was stoned. He’s very frank about his failures.
Your frustrations.
Paul says, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18). Do you feel that way sometimes? You don’t want to look at that, you don’t want to read that, you don’t want to act that way, you don’t want to say that, but you do. It’s that kind of gut-level honesty that will make a difference in people’s lives.
Your fears.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:20, “I do admit that I have fears that when I come, you’ll disappoint me and I’ll disappoint you” (MSG). Every time you share a fear with someone, it does two things: It lowers the level of fear in your life, and it encourages the other person.
Paul says that we’re all broken. So why don’t we just admit it? If you hold it in, it will make you miserable. It won’t help anybody else. You need to learn to be honest about your fears, faults, failures, frustrations, and feelings. When you do that, you get healing and other people get healing.
Talk It Over
  • Why do you think it’s so difficult for us to share our failures and faults with others?
  • How have you benefited from other people sharing their fears, faults, failures, frustrations, or feelings with you?
  • Who in your life is experiencing a difficult time and could benefit from you sharing your similar experience?

Take Correction Gloria Copeland Ministries daily devotional 15 September Monday

– Proverbs 9:8-9
There is one thing you can do that will accelerate your spiritual growth more than almost any other thing: learn to take correction--from the Spirit of God and from His people.
So few believers seem to be able to do that. When their preacher gets in the pulpit and preaches about something they already know, about some aspect of life they've already submitted to the Lord, they think he's great. They like him because he makes them feel good. But the moment he stands up and begins to preach about something they're doing wrong, they take offense.
God says that's foolish. He says, in Proverbs 1:7, only fools strike out at, or despise, correction.
So don't be like that. When your pastor or anyone else in the Body of Christ has a word of correction for you, receive it gratefully. Appreciate those who share the wisdom of God with you. When someone points out somewhere that you've missed it, instead of reacting against them, examine yourself and say, "Is that right? Does that agree with the Word? Do I need to make a change there?"
If the answer to those questions is yes, then make the changes you need to make to get your life in line.
I know that's not easy. None of us likes to be corrected. But if you'll make up your mind you're going to receive that correction anyway, that you're going to remain teachable, you'll be able to go on and grow in spiritual things much more quickly.
One man said, "If you think you've already arrived, you aren't going anywhere." Remember that next time someone corrects you. Love that person and thank him for speeding along your spiritual progress. If you'll do that, you'll come out ahead every time.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:11-24

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You Are a Trophy of God’s Grace BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 14, Sunday

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)
When you read the Bible, probably the most boring parts are the genealogy lists. Have you ever read them? They’re a great cure for insomnia.
But there’s actually significance in those boring lists, because one of the proofs that Jesus was the Messiah was that he would come through the line of King David.
The interesting thing about the genealogy of Jesus is that it’s the only one in the Bible that has women listed in it. Women in ancient genealogies were almost never mentioned, yet four women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. And, when you look at these women, every one of them had a very painful story to tell.
Tamar was a mess. She was seduced by a relative. She had two husbands, and they were both total jerks. Her story is quite explicit and full of scandal. She had a terrible reputation.
Rahab was actually a prostitute. But she also did the right thing in helping some godly men.
Ruth wasn’t even Jewish. She was a Moabite who broke the law by marrying a Jewish man, because the Jews were forbidden to marry non-Jews.
Bathsheba had an affair with King David, and he had her husband murdered to cover-up their affair. Bathsheba’s is not exactly a stellar story.
Yet God chose those four women to be in the genealogical line of the Savior of the world. They are proof that God weaves even our mistakes, our disappointments, our hurts, and our sin into his plans.
I want you to think right now of the biggest mistake in your life. Think of the biggest disappointment in your life. Think of the sins that you are most ashamed of. Think of the biggest hurts in your life.
Then, understand this: Even before you were born, God knew those things were going to happen in your life, and he developed a plan that would bring good out of them.
What a God! That is the kind of God we worship. As followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t deny our mistakes. We don’t hide them in the closet. We don’t pretend we never screwed up. We don’t pretend other people didn’t hurt us. We’re open about our feelings and our faults and our failures and our frustrations and our fears. We’re trophies of grace.
Talk It Over
  • How does understanding and believing Romans 8:28 help you to be realistic and optimistic at the same time?
  • What are some ways you have seen God use your fears, faults, and failures for good in your life or someone else’s life?
  • What are other examples of people from the Bible who were used by God in spite of their failures or seemingly hopeless situations?

Take correction Gloria Copeland Ministries daily devotional 14 September Sunday


– Proverbs 9:8-9
There is one thing you can do that will accelerate your spiritual growth more than almost any other thing: learn to take correction--from the Spirit of God and from His people.
So few believers seem to be able to do that. When their preacher gets in the pulpit and preaches about something they already know, about some aspect of life they've already submitted to the Lord, they think he's great. They like him because he makes them feel good. But the moment he stands up and begins to preach about something they're doing wrong, they take offense.
God says that's foolish. He says, in Proverbs 1:7, only fools strike out at, or despise, correction.
So don't be like that. When your pastor or anyone else in the Body of Christ has a word of correction for you, receive it gratefully. Appreciate those who share the wisdom of God with you. When someone points out somewhere that you've missed it, instead of reacting against them, examine yourself and say, "Is that right? Does that agree with the Word? Do I need to make a change there?"
If the answer to those questions is yes, then make the changes you need to make to get your life in line.
I know that's not easy. None of us likes to be corrected. But if you'll make up your mind you're going to receive that correction anyway, that you're going to remain teachable, you'll be able to go on and grow in spiritual things much more quickly.
One man said, "If you think you've already arrived, you aren't going anywhere." Remember that next time someone corrects you. Love that person and thank him for speeding along your spiritual progress. If you'll do that, you'll come out ahead every time.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:11-24

Saturday, September 13, 2014

God Can Use Your Messy Life for Good BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 13, Saturday

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)
One of God’s great promises in the Bible is Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God” (NLT). It’s one of the most well-known verses in the Bible. It’s also one of the most misunderstood.
What does this verse promise to us about recovery and growth?
First it says, “We know.” In other words, we’re not guessing, we’re not hoping, we’re not wishing, we’re not desiring. We know for certain. We can be confident. We can stake our lives on it.
What do we know? “We know God causes ...” That means your life is not an accident. There’s no such thing as random chance. There’s no such thing as bad luck. Our lives are not a result of fate. There is a grand design behind everything.
“We know that God causes everything ...” If we just stopped there, that would make God the author of evil, and God is not the author of evil. Nothing that is evil in the world was caused by God. So what is he saying?
“We know that God causes all things to work together for the good ...” Notice that the verse does not say all things are good. They’re not! There’s a lot of evil in the world. When children are stolen from their parents and sold into sex trafficking, that’s evil. When world leaders take money and store it in Swiss Bank accounts while their people starve to death, that’s evil. When people betray each other, that’s evil. When people torture each other, that’s evil. There’s a lot of evil in the world.
Can God really bring good out of bad? Oh, yes he can. How about the Crucifixion? The death of his Son was bad. They tortured him, they spit on him, they beat him, and then they crucified him. Did God bring good out of that? Just the salvation of the world! God specializes in bringing good out of bad.
This promise, however, is not for everybody. “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” This promise is only for those who are willing to give God the pieces of a broken life and say, “God, I love you, and I believe you can use the mess of my life for something good. Please take the pieces of my life and put them back together.”
Talk It Over
  • What part of your life or your past keeps you from believing that God can use you and your experiences for his good?
  • How do you want to be used by God? What do you want him to accomplish in and through you?
  • In what ways have you seen God use the brokenness of your life for someone else’s good?

Real Intercession Kenneth Copeland Ministries daily devotional 13 September Saturday

– Isaiah 59:16
When somebody hurts us, our natural human reaction is to strike back...to ask God to clobber them. But that's not God's way.
I realized that one time when some relatives of mine got robbed. I was praying about the situation and puzzling over it. "Lord," I began to ask, "why did You let that happen? Why didn't You just knock that thief over the head when he tried to do that?"
Suddenly, God enabled me to back up from that situation and look at it with SPIRITUAL, instead of just purely natural eyes.
When I did that, I knew the answer to my question almost as quickly as I had asked it. It was because of His mercy. God has great, great mercy. Not just for me and my family but for theirs too.
Think about that next time someone does you wrong. Instead of asking God to knock that person in the head, like I did, consider the fact that--as ornery as he may be--he may well have a grandmother somewhere who's praying for him to be SAVED. Stop and remember that God loved him enough to die for him, that He's longing to pardon--not punish him.
Then you can begin to pray for him instead of against him, uniting yourself with his grandmother (or anybody else who happens to be praying for him). You can go to the Lord for mercy for him and you can go up against the devil on his behalf. That's real intercession and it THROWS the forces of darkness into total confusion. They have absolutely no defense against it.
The Lord is LOOKING FOR PEOPLE who are bold enough, committed enough to do that. Dare to be one of them. When you're tempted to clobber somebody, dare to change his life instead.
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-36

Ascend - Joel Osteen Ministries daily devotional 12 September Friday

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
(Psalm 24:3–5, NKJV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
You were meant to rise high in heavenly places. You were meant to stand with God above the cares of this life. But notice that this verse tells us that in order to ascend, we have to make sure we have clean hands and a pure heart. How do we have clean hands and a pure heart? First of all, only Jesus can make us clean and new. Once we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we have to choose every day to stand against the enemy and his attempts to bring us back down. It all happens in our thought life. We have to guard our thoughts by guarding what we allow to influence our thoughts. We can’t just watch any old thing on TV. We can’t just listen to any old conversation. We have to make sure that what we allow into our minds is pleasing to the Lord because what we allow into our minds will eventually affect our hearts.
If we are going to ascend, we have to have higher thoughts; we have to have a higher way of living. Choose today to ascend in your thoughts so you can ascend in your life and receive the blessings the Lord has in store for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father in heaven, today I choose higher thoughts. I choose higher living. Help me to guard my heart and mind so that I can live a life that is pleasing to You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Friday, September 12, 2014

Don’t Waste Your Pain BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 12, Friday

“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.”
Talk It Over
  • 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?