Defeating the Giants in Life

Giants are real. They manifest in our lives through difficult relationships, trials, addictions, and our thought life. Our’s hearts struggle to believe that You are who You say You are and that You can do what You say You can do. We struggle to trust that we are who You say we are as Your dearly loved children, and that we can do what You say we can do. Help us to trust You with all our hearts as we defeat the Giants in our lives. Read on as Rick Warren teaches us about defeating the Giants in our lives.

Four Steps to Defeating
the Giants
By Rick Warren

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty …. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands …. And the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV)

How do you defeat the giants that are keeping you from being the man God wants you to be? How do you defeat the fears that keep you from being the woman God wants you to be?

If you want to be a person of great faith with a great dream and a great life work, you do the very things that David did to defeat the giants of delay, discouragement, disapproval, and doubt.

Remember how God has helped you in the past. David says in 1 Samuel 17:37, “The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (NLT) When you remember the ways that God has helped you in the past, it gives you confidence for the future.
Use the tools that God has given you now. David used the tools that God provided that utilized his strengths: “Then Saul gave David his own armor …. ‘I can’t go in these,’ he protested to Saul. ‘I’m not used to them.’ So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag” (1 Samuel 17:38-40a). Don’t wait for something you don’t have — money, education, or connections. Use the tools God has already given you to face your giants with confidence.
Ignore the dreambusters. Later in life, when others were speaking against him, David had to encourage himself in the Lord: “David was seriously worried, for in their bitter grief for their children, his men began talking of killing him. But David took strength from the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6 TLB). When you encourage yourself in the Lord, it’s not just a positive mental attitude. There is a bedrock trust in God’s grace, provision, security, and power.
Expect God to help you for his glory. David stormed the battlefield, shouting, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty …. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands …. And the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV).
I made this decision when I was a young man. On the mountains of Northern California one night, I got down on my knees and said, “God, I’m not the smartest guy, the best educated, or the most talented. But I’m going to trust you. And I will do anything, anytime, anywhere in faith, even when it doesn’t make sense to me.” And what an adventure my life has been!

I stand up and speak to a crowd every week that is about five times bigger than the town I grew up in. I’m a country boy — with a slingshot.

God will use anybody who will trust him and expect to be used by him — not because of who you are, but for his glory.

What are the “giants” that are standing between you and your dream?

Think of the tools that God has given you to accomplish your task. How are you using them to their full extent?
How do you want to be used by God?

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God is a God of restoration. He not only wants your whole heart, He wants your heart whole. He wants to give us more than we request by going deeper than we ask, to healing hurts and breaking down strongholds that heal hearts and change lives. Hearts capable of loving again because His grace is transformational. This requires heart surgery not just changes in behavior. Layers of transformational heart changes through a lifetime of faith that are continual and restorative. Read on as Max Lucado highlights the life of Joesph, the healing of his past and the road to restoration.

Restoration Matters to God

by Max Lucado from God Will Carry You Through

Jacob said to his sons… “Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.” So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.

Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. — Genesis 42:1–3; Genesis 42:6–7

He wants your heart whole.

Initially, Joseph chose not to face his past. By the time he saw his brothers again, Joseph had been prime minister for nearly a decade… He could travel anywhere he wanted, yet he chose not to return to Canaan. Assemble an army and settle the score with his brothers? He had the resources. Send for his father? Or at least send a message? He’d had perhaps eight years to set the record straight. He knew where to find his family, but he chose not to contact them. He kept family secrets a secret. Untouched and untreated. Joseph was content to leave his past in the past.

But God was not.

Restoration matters to God. The healing of the heart involves the healing of the past. So God shakes things up.

All countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands. — Genesis 41:57

And in the long line of folks appealing for an Egyptian handout, look what the cat dragged in. So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. — Genesis 42:3

Joseph heard them before he saw them. He was fielding a question from a servant when he detected the Hebrew chatter. Not just the language of his heart but the dialect of his home. The prince motioned for the servant to stop speaking. He turned and looked. There they stood.

The brothers were balder, grayer, rough skinned. They were pale and gaunt with hunger. Sweaty robes clung to their shins, and road dust chalked their cheeks. These Hebrews stuck out in sophisticated Egypt like hillbillies at Times Square. When their time came to ask Joseph for grain, they didn’t recognize him. His beard was shaved, his robe was royal, and the language he spoke was Egyptian. Black makeup extended from the sides of his eyes. He wore a black wig that sat on his head like a helmet.

It never occurred to them that they were standing before their baby brother.

Thinking the prince couldn’t understand Hebrew, the brothers spoke to him with their eyes and gestures. They pointed at the stalks of grain and then at their mouths. They motioned to the brother who carried the money, and he stumbled forward and spilled the coins on the table.

When Joseph saw the silver, his lips curled and his stomach turned. He had named his son God Made Me Forget, but the money made him remember. The last time he saw coins in the hands of Jacob’s older boys, they were laughing, and he was whimpering. That day at the pit he searched these faces for a friend, but he found none. And now they dared bring silver to him?

Joseph called for a Hebrew-speaking servant to translate. Then Joseph scowled at his brothers. He acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. — Genesis 42:7

I’m imagining the tone of a night watchman aroused from his midnight nap. “Who are ya? Where do ya’ come from?” The brothers fell face-first in the dirt, which brought to Joseph’s mind a childhood dream.

“Uh, well, we’re from up the road in Canaan. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”

Joseph glared at them. “Nah, I don’t believe you. Guards, put these spies under arrest. They are here to infiltrate our country.”

All ten brothers spoke at once. “You got it all wrong, Your High, Holy, and Esteemed Honor. We’re salt of the earth. We belong to the same family. That’s Simeon over there, that’s Judah . . . Well, there are twelve of us in all. At least there used to be. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no longer living.” — Genesis 42:13

Joseph gulped at the words. This was the first report on his family he had heard in twenty years. Jacob was alive. Benjamin was alive. And they thought he was dead.

“Tell you what,” he snapped. “I’ll let one of you go back and get your brother and bring him here. The rest of you I’ll throw in jail.”

With that, Joseph had their hands bound. A nod of his head, and they were marched off to jail. Perhaps the same jail where he had spent at least two years of his life.

What a curious series of events. The gruff voice, harsh treatment. The jail sentence. The abrupt dismissal. We’ve seen this sequence before with Joseph and his brothers, only the roles were reversed. On the first occasion they conspired against him. This time he conspired against them. They spoke angrily. He turned the tables. They threw him in the hole and ignored his cries for help. Now it was his turn to give them the cold shoulder.

What was going on?

I think he was trying to get his bearings. This was the toughest challenge of his life. The famine, by comparison, was easy. Mrs. Potiphar he could resist. Pharaoh’s assignments he could manage. But this mixture of hurt and hate that surged when he saw his flesh and blood? Joseph didn’t know what to do.

Maybe you don’t either.

Your family failed you. Your early years were hard ones. The people who should have cared for you didn’t. But, like Joseph, you made the best of it. You’ve made a life for yourself. Even started your own family. You are happy to leave Canaan in the rearview mirror. But God isn’t.

He gives us more than we request by going deeper than we ask. He wants not only your whole heart; he wants your heart whole.

Why? Hurt people hurt people. Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone? Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake.

Excerpted with permission from God Will Carry You Through by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Do you have broken family relationships in your life? Has God turned the heat up on them? Has He shaken things up? Pause for a moment to sit with God with your emotions and thoughts about those relationships and ask for His guidance and help. During this season of so much focus on romantic love, it’s easy to forget familial love. Maybe God is disrupting the comfortable distance for a great purpose!

It has been said that everyone is either entering, in the midst of, or just exiting a trial. Popular author and pastor Max Lucado has discovered that at any given point, almost everyone is dealing with something. Whether the loss of a loved one, marriage issues, illness, job loss, or the stress of everyday life, people everywhere need the assurance that God will carry them through.

Through decades of betrayal, abandonment, and false accusations, Joseph never gave up on God or His purpose. And Joseph continually trusted the sovereignty of God as Master-weaver of his life. In God Will Carry You Through, Max invites readers to do the same—to let God’s message through Joseph guide His children through tough times today. Laced throughout Joseph’s story are personal testimonies by everyday people who discovered for themselves that “God had carried them through” as well as quotes and Scripture passages for meditation. This book is rich in hope for finding peace and reassurance through whatever challenge you face.

Learn more about God Will Carry You Through….

Godly Goal Setting Begins With a Promise

Godly Goal Setting Starts with a Promise. By Rick Warren

“The LORD, the God of heaven, brought me from the home of my father and the land of my relatives. And he promised me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’” (Genesis 24:7a NCV)

The Bible has more than 7,000 promises from God to you — promises of success, confidence, health, prosperity, strength, wisdom, and more. Why does God make these promises?

Because he wants you to learn to trust him.

When you set a goal, don’t focus on the problems; focus on the promises. Find a promise in God’s Word that will take you to your goal.

This is what Abraham does when Eliezer, his servant, starts to worry about accomplishing the goal he is given. In today’s verse, Abraham tells Eliezer about the promise he received from God: “The LORD will send his angel before you to help you get a wife for my son there” (Genesis 24:7b NCV).

You don’t need an angel, because dozens of time in Scripture God has said, “I’ll be with you no matter where you go.” God is always with you, whether you feel it or not. You just need to plug into the power.

The size of your God determines the size of your goal. And, godly goal setting always starts with a promise of God. Don’t look at your limitations; look at the promises of God.

Talk It Over

What promise do you find in God’s Word today?
How does that promise inspire you to set a God-sized goal?
Why should the promise that God is always with you change the kind of goal you set?

Prayer:

Lord Jesus thank you for today. This is the day You have set before us. May we live today focus on what You desire as we remember the big picture of the plans and goals You have for us. Help us to remember that we live one day at a time and one moment at a time so we can guard our serenity and peace as your greatest treasure and gift to us.

May we rest today in Your promises as we strive toward the goals you have for us this side of heaven. As we run the race, help us remember that You care about the process because the destination of Heaven is secure. Were learning our faith and personal transformation mattered to you as we journey with you and community learning to trust and depend upon You, growing into emotionally and spiritually healthy people.

In Jesus name,

Amen

You Are Never Alone By Sarah Young

Lord teach me today the restfulness of your presence. Help me surrender to you the difficulties allowed to impact my life, and to realize these are not for me to fix or problem solve. These are opportunities to draw upon your loving presence and peace as you direct me. This is the difference between letting our flesh lead and letting the Holy Spirit lead. I am not Alone and you promise to never leave me or foresake me. I choose to rest today in your loving presence. Read on as Sarah Young directs our perspective and though life today. 

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. — Exodus 33:14
Devotionals Daily

You Are Never Alone
by Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

You are Mine for all time; nothing can separate you from My Love.

Since I have invested My very Life in you, be well assured that I will also take care of you. When your mind goes into neutral and your thoughts flow freely, you tend to feel anxious and alone. Your focus becomes problem solving. To get your mind back into gear, just turn toward Me, bringing yourself and your problems into My Presence.

Romans 8:38-39

Many problems vanish instantly in the Light of My Love, because you realize you are never alone. Other problems may remain, but they become secondary to knowing Me and rejoicing in the relationship I so freely offer you.

Each moment you can choose to practice My Presence or to practice the presence of problems.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38–39

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” — Exodus 33:14

Excerpted with permission from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, copyright Thomas Nelson.

* * *

Your Turn

We humans have the tendency to practice the presence of problems. We go over troubles in our heads over and over. Jesus invites us to actively choose to practice His Presence instead. He is with us! And He will give us rest from our troubles!

Grace on Tap By Phillip Yancy

In imitation of the ridiculous love Almighty God has for each of us and all of us, let us live and love without labels.
Devotionals Daily

Grace on Tap
by Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace

Living “in the world,” we can look for natural opportunities to dispense grace — not just words — to those around us. Gabe Lyons recommends inviting community leaders, whether Christian or not, into church to tell how best to engage with the neighborhood and its problems. As he notes, African American churches have historically done that, finding ways to honor teachers, firefighters, social workers, and politicians, all of whom serve without much recognition.

His eye is on the sparrow

A pastor friend of mine in Chicago operates an internet wedding site. Couples who don’t know a pastor, and thus look for one on the internet, contact him. He insists on counseling sessions before agreeing to perform the ceremony, and he always asks two questions: “Why do you want to get married?” (almost all of them are already living together) and “Why do you want a pastor involved?” Remarkable conversations unfold as the parties struggle aloud with their answers. As one said, “Well, if there is a God, marriage is so important that we think God ought to be involved somehow.”

Kathleen Norris writes about a cocaine addict in rural Montana who would sleep with anyone who could provide her with booze or cocaine, or merely show her the slightest bit of attention.

She found Alcoholics Anonymous first, then God, and then church. Soon she was signing up for every Bible study and volunteering for every church-ministry project, as well as for committees that others had to be begged to join. “Salvation took such hold in her that, as the pastor put it, he began to wonder if Christians don’t underrate promiscuity. Because she was still a promiscuous person, still loving without much discrimination. The difference was that she was no longer self-destructive but a bearer of new life to others.” The twelfth step in AA’s guide to recovery — helping others in need — is an act of gratitude. We respond to healing grace by giving it away.

Pastors in both places, Chicago and Montana, began with a good thing, love, and gently pointed toward something even better. Romantic love may lead the way to the Source of all love; passion rightly channeled brings life, not ruin.

I know a former Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina who, against all odds, now runs a private cigar club. He explains, “I learned from my years in the ministry that when men go deep in conversation and get honest with each other, there’s usually a cigar involved. That’s when they talk about what really counts — sitting on a patio after a golf match or relaxing together on a deck when their wives are inside the house. So in our club we have volunteers available who strike up friendships and know how to respond when the men want to talk about their failing marriages or job layoffs or rebellious teenagers.”

Once, while speaking on the topic of grace in Toronto, I asked the audience about their own experiences conveying grace to others. One woman shocked us all: “I feel called to minister to telephone marketers. You know, the kind who call at inconvenient hours and deliver their spiel before you can say a word.” Immediately I flashed back to the times I have responded rudely or simply hung up. “All day long these sales callers hear people curse at them and slam the phone down,” she continued. “I listen attentively to their pitch, then I try to respond kindly, though I almost never buy what they’re selling. Instead, I ask about their personal life and whether they have any concerns I can pray for. Often they ask me to pray with them over the phone, and sometimes they are in tears. They’re people, after all, probably underpaid, and they’re surprised when someone treats them with common courtesy.”

Hearing such stories, I am aware how often I miss possible hinge moments in my own interactions with people. I marvel at the Toronto woman’s gracious response and think of the times I get irritated with marketers and with employees on computer help lines who don’t speak good English. I catch myself treating store cashiers and Starbucks baristas as if they were machines, not persons. I get a wedding invitation and groan at the hassle of having to shop for a gift and dress up. I rush away after a golf match rather than relaxing on the patio with my partners. Subtly or not so subtly, I let the other person know that I’ve been interrupted and need to get back to work. In the process, I miss golden opportunities to dispense grace.

What would it take for church to become known as a place where grace is “on tap”?

All too often outsiders view us as a kind of elite club of the righteous.

An alcoholic friend once made this point by comparing church with AA, which had become for him a substitute church. “When I show up late to church, people turn and look at me. Some scowl, some smile a self-satisfied smile — See, that person’s not as responsible as I am. In AA, if I show up late the meeting comes to a halt and everyone jumps up to greet me. They realize that my desperate need for them won out over my desperate need for alcohol.”

One gray fall day in Denver I visited an urban church that makes grace the center point of ministry. This congregation addresses the contentious gay issue not by writing position papers but simply by welcoming all who come. Their bulletin expresses it this way:

Married, divorced or single here, it’s one family that mingles here.

Conservative or liberal here, we’ve all gotta give a little here.

Big or small here, there’s room for us all here.

Doubt or believe here, we all can receive here.

Gay or straight here, there’s no hate here.

Woman or man here, everyone can serve here.

Whatever your race here, for all of us grace here.

In imitation of the ridiculous love Almighty God has for each of us and all of us, let us live and love without labels.

From there I went to a barbecue fundraiser for a nonprofit organization that provides food for Denver’s hungry population. A number of sponsoring churches had sent representatives, and I agreed to say a few words and give away some books. The organizers hoped for a turnout of three hundred, but a cold, drizzly rain kept attendance down to less than half that. The Denver Broncos football team was playing that day, and it occurred to me, as I looked out over the sparse crowd huddled under umbrellas, that sixty thousand screaming fans in a stadium had gladly paid to sit through miserable weather for three hours. Instead, a cause like hunger attracted a small group of churchgoers, idealistic college students, and street people who always seem to know where food is being served.

In the sermon I had heard at church that morning, the guest preacher mentioned she had puzzled over the story of the widow who gave all she had, no more than a few pennies. Why did Jesus merely use her as an object lesson, contrasting her with the rich people who proudly made large contributions? Why didn’t He do something to address her state, perhaps by proposing a poverty program? The preacher told us her conclusion: “God leaves the justice issue up to us.” I had heard Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission, say something similar:

“God has a plan to fight injustice, and that plan is us — His people. There is no Plan B.”

I pondered that statement as I stood in the rain and watched a small crowd of volunteers assemble food parcels while a soul sister belted out, “His eye is on the sparrow.” For whatever reason, God seems to leave a lot of issues up to us. And the church totters on; we are, after all, the chosen channel for God’s good news.

Excerpted with permission from Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey, copyright Zondervan 2014.

* * *

Your Turn

So often, real grace shocks us. It offended people in Jesus’ day and it offends people in our day. We may think, “That person, or that group, or that culture don’t deserve grace. They’re bad! They’re sinning! They’re wrong!” But, where would we be if we didn’t have the grace we don’t deserve either? Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Love Others the way God Loves You!!

Who are you struggling to love today? What has happened that the love of Christ, demonstrated through the cross, cannot help forgive, heal, and possibly reconcile. Nothing is too big for God. We can’t change or fix others or make them love us better. We are responsible for ourselves and how we chose to love in return. God knows what’s happened. The whole truth. Nothing is hidden from God. And He loves anyway and longs to restore what man made a mess of. Read on as Rick Warren outlines 1 Corinthians 13:7 and remember love never fails. People fail to love God’s way but the love of God never fails.

By Rick Warren — Jan 23, 2015

“Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 GW)

The same love that God gives to you, you are to offer to everybody else that you come in contact with. It’s not an option or a suggestion. It’s a command: “Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34 NLT).

If you are a follower of Christ, you must love everybody — whether you like them or not — in the same way that Christ loved you. That means you are to accept them completely, love them unconditionally, forgive them totally, and consider them extremely valuable.

Loving others in this way will transform your relationships!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up” (GW).

This is how God loves you. God never stops being patient with you. God never stops believing in you. God never stops hoping for the best in your life. God never gives up on you. That’s what God expects you to do with everybody else.

“Love never stops being patient.” That means love extends grace. You need to offer grace to others.

“Love never stops believing.” That means it expresses faith. You tell someone, “Even though we’re having a tough time, I will never stop believing in you.”

“Love never stops hoping.” That means love expects the best. Are you expecting the best in your marriage, or have you settled for less than the best?

“Love never gives up.” That means love endures the worst. It means you can look at the other person and say, “You can throw everything at me, but I’m going to keep loving you, no matter what.”

Prayer

If you want to start transforming your relationships today, then I invite you to read this prayer to God: “Dear God, I admit that I have made a mess in my relationships. They’re complicated and broken, and I’ve often settled for less than the best. They need a transformation! I’d like you to begin by changing me. Deliver me from my fears, because I can see how they make me distant and defensive and even demanding. Today and every day from now on, I want to surrender my heart to you. I want to learn to live my life in your love and be filled with your love.

“Help me to accept others, just as you’ve accepted me. Help me to love others unconditionally, just as you have loved me. Help me to forgive others totally, just as you’ve forgiven me. And help me to value others as much as you value me. Help me to extend grace to and express faith in the people around me. Help me to expect the best in others, and help me to endure the worst when it happens. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Series Summary
Message 1: Setting Personal Goals By Faith
Message 2: How To Get Closer To God
Message 3: From Stressed To Blessed
Message 4: Change Your Life By Changing Your Mind
Message 5: How To Deal With How You Feel
Message 6: Facing The Fears That Ruin Relationships
Message 7: Transforming How I See and Use Money
Message 8: Facing Giants In Life and Work

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PASTOR RICK WARREN

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This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at rickwarren.org.

Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.

This devotional © 2015 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Don’t let your heart be troubled

Our hearts are easily troubled by the daily things of life. We are often easily distracted by people, places, and circumstances that are beyond our control, or we want to try to control. This is often when discouragement sets in resulting in an internal fight against the very surrender that leads to peace and rest. As if this powerlessness is a weakness of sorts to admitt. Coming to terms with how overwhelmed we feel, or how fearful we are over life, the future, relationships, etc; is the first step. Believing and trusting in God guards our hearts and minds from being thrown off course. It’s what gives us the courage to not lose heart. 

Read on as Greg Laurie encourages our hearts today.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me . – ( John 14:1)

“Have you ever felt troubled in your heart — agitated, stressed out, or uncertain about tomorrow? Or to put it another way, have you ever driven on a freeway in Southern California?

There is a lot to be afraid of these days, isn’t there? Maybe something has happened to you recently that has turned your world upside down. Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering whether God really is aware of the problems you’re facing right now.

That is exactly how the disciples of Jesus felt. They were downhearted and discouraged. When they were all gathered in the Upper Room for the Passover feast, Jesus told them that one of them was going to betray Him. Then He identified Judas Iscariot as the betrayer. Not only that, but Jesus also said that Simon Peter would deny Him — not once, not twice, but three times. Peter! Could it really be? The whole world turned upside down for these men. And then, worst of all, Jesus began talking about leaving them, about being crucified. Can you blame them for wondering, What in the world is going on here?

Maybe you feel that way. Maybe there is uncertainty in your future. As you survey your fears and concerns today, take a few minutes to consider what Jesus said to His disciples and to us in that tense Upper Room: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). This verse could also be translated, “Let not your heart be agitated or disturbed or thrown into confusion.”

In other words, “Don’t let these things throw you! Put your full trust and faith in Me!” It was good advice for some deeply troubled believers two thousand years ago, and I can tell you right now with complete confidence that it’s the best counsel anyone will give you all day today.” Devo by Greg Laurie

Crash the Party with Radical Repentence

Have you ever felt like you crashed a party because you tried to be open and transparent with the wrong people. Like your openness broke some unspoken rule that screamed,”don’t talk about that!” Sometimes “that something” people don’t want to talk about and bring out in the open, everyone already knows anyway. It’s the perverbial elephant in the living room. Truth is, their uncomfortableness with your transparency says more about them then you!  Real healing comes when we confess our sins to one another. James 5:16. Be encouraged today to surrender to Christ and openly confess your struggles to the right safe people. Let Jesus deal with the Pharisee’s in your life. Who knows what their hiding anyway!

Crash the Party: Radical Repentance
by Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, He went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. – Luke 7:36-38

When you read the Bible, don’t check your sense of humor at the door. If you do, you’ll miss some great situational comedy. And this is a classic. A party hosted by a Pharisee? That’s downright funny!

If ever there was an oxymoron, it has to be Pharisee party. Come on, how fun could it have been? I bet they were bored silly, feigning interest in pharisaical small talk about Sabbath law. No deejay. No punch. And definitely no pigs in blankets because that wouldn’t have been kosher! The party favors were probably phylacteries! This has “lame party” written all over it.

Then in walks this woman.

The Pharisees blushed, but I bet Jesus had a twinkle in His eye. He knew it was about to get as fun as doing some healing on the Sabbath.

For the record, Jesus could have healed on any day of the week. I think He deliberately chose the Sabbath because it’d be far more fun if He riled up a few religious folks along the way. And if you follow in His footsteps, you’ll offend some Pharisees as well.

Going all in means radical repentance

Can you imagine the look on the Pharisees’ straitlaced faces when this woman makes her surprise appearance? They start coughing uncontrollably when she breaks open her alabaster jar of perfume.

And then she starts wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair.

Can you say awkward?

But she definitely made a statement, didn’t she?

This act of worship ranks as one of the most beautiful and meaningful statements of faith in all of Scripture. She risked her reputation — what little she had left of it — to anoint Jesus. She knew the Pharisees stoned women like her, but that didn’t keep her from pushing all of her chips to the middle of the table. She used her most precious possession — an alabaster jar of perfume — to make her profession of faith. And this wasn’t a watered-down, knock-off brand she picked up from a street vendor.

Break the Alabaster Jar

The alabaster jar of perfume was pure nard, a perennial herb that is harvested in the Himalayas. Half a liter of it, no less! And the jar itself, made of semi-transparent gemstones, was probably a family heirloom. It might have even been her dowry.

The alabaster jar represented her past guilt and future hope. It represented both her professional identity and financial security. Plain and simple, it was her most precious possession.

How ironic, yet how appropriate, that the perfume used in her profession as a prostitute would become the token of her profession of faith. She anted up by pouring out every last drop at the feet of Jesus.

Breaking that bottle was her way of burning the ships. No more masking of the stench of sin with the sweet scent of perfume. No more risqué rendezvous in the wee hours of the night. No more clandestine encounters at discreet places. She walked out of the dark shadow of sin and into the light of the world.

There comes a moment when we need to come clean. There comes a moment when we need to unveil the secret shame of sin.

There comes a moment when we need to fall full-weight on the grace of God.

This is that moment for this woman.

Why do we act as though our sin disqualifies us from the grace of God? That is the only thing that qualifies us! Anything else is a self-righteous attempt to earn God’s grace. You cannot trust God’s grace 99 percent. It’s all or nothing. The problem, as I pointed out earlier, is that we want partial credit for our salvation. We want to be 1 percent of the equation. But if we try to save ourselves, we forfeit the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ alone, by grace through faith.

Going all in means radical repentance.

You have to fold. It begins by putting all of your cards face up on the table via confession. A halfhearted confession of sin always results in a halfhearted love for Christ. Downplaying sin is downplaying grace. And it dishonors the sacrifice of the Sinless One.

What would happen if we mustered the moral courage of this woman, walked into a room full of self-righteous Pharisees, and revealed our sin unashamedly while anointing Jesus as Lord and Savior?

I know exactly what would happen: a revival on earth and a party in heaven!

Your Turn

Just like the woman with the alabastar jar, we can confess the sin in our lives and receive the full forgiveness because of the grace of God. Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you.

All In by Mark Batterson

Where is God in all these Feelings???

Learning to deal with your emotions is the key to peace of mind. Not doing so could result in being controlled by our emotions influencing our responses and overreacting. 

This is the flesh taking over rather than the Spirit guiding us. Our minds under the Holy Spirit will always take time to pray and seek His peace and help. All other responses are shooting from the hip reactions rooted in fear and control, resulting in poor choices.

Read on as Rick Warren gives some helpful tips for managing our emotions.

Jan 18, 2015

How to Deal with What You Feel

by Rick Warren

“To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.”

(Romans 8:6, 8 TEV)

Learning to manage your emotions is the key to peace of mind.

I want to share with you four important reasons from God’s Word why you need to learn to deal with what you feel.

You need to learn to manage your emotions because they are often unreliable. Your gut is often wrong. Your intuition is often flawed. Your emotions often lead you down a blind alley. You can’t depend on everything you feel! Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (NIV). You don’t have to accept everything you feel, because not everything you feel is right or authentic or will lead you in the right direction.
You need to learn to manage your emotions because you don’t want to be manipulated. If you don’t control your emotions, they will control you, and you will be manipulated by your moods. And, if you’re always guided by your feelings, other people are going to take advantage of you. Worst of all, Satan’s favorite tool is negative emotions. He will use fear, resentment, and worry to wreak havoc in your life. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
You need to learn to manage your emotions because you want to please God. God cannot rule your life if emotions rule your life. If you make your decisions based on how you feel, then you’ve made your feelings god, and then God can’t be God in your life. Romans 8:6 and 8 says, “To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God” (TEV).
You need to learn to manage your emotions because you want to succeed in life. Study after study has shown that your emotional quotient is far more important than your IQ when it comes to success. How many people do you know who ruined their reputation because of something said in anger? Or missed a job opportunity because of their lack of self-control?
The Bible says in Proverbs 5:23, “[People] get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control” (CEV).

When you give your heart to Jesus, that includes your emotions. So when you say, “I gave my heart to Jesus,” you gave your emotions to him to be managed by him. Jesus wants to be Lord of how you feel, not just what you think and do. He wants to be Lord of your emotions.

“From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires” (1 Peter 4:2 TEV).

Prayer:

Lord we come to You humbly today asking for Your help with the very make up of our emotional beings that You created. We know that You created this part of us so that we would learn to come to You and depend on You to guide our emotions that affect our choices, relationships, and our peace of mind.

Help us this day to put into practice these helpful suggestions from your Word taught by Rick Warren.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

This devotional © 2015 by Rick Warren.

All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Don’t cheat others of you by Rick Warren

God has a purpose for your life and your spiritual gifts are the equipment He gives you to do what He asks you to do. God will never ask you to do something He hasn’t given you the ability to do. Trust Him with what He’s blessed you with and honor Him by serving others.

Read on and hear from Rick Warren.

Don’t Cheat Others of You!

By Rick Warren

Jan 17, 2015

“There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 GW)

When you know what you’re shaped to be, then you know what you ought to be, and you can start focusing on that and make better use of your life.

The moment you step across the line spiritually, you say, “I’m going to go God’s way, not my own way. I’m going to let him direct my life. I want to follow God’s purpose, not my purpose. I’m going to do what I was wired and made to do.”

The moment you step across the line and put your faith in Christ, God also gives you four major gifts:

Forgiveness. Romans 5:15 says, “For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ” (NLT). The first thing Jesus did was wipe out everything you’ve ever done wrong. It’s forgiven! There is no condemnation.

Eternal life. God has long-range plans for you. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). You’re never going to work your way or earn your way into Heaven. The only way you’ll ever get into Heaven is by God’s free gift that you accept by faith.

The Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 says, “God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” How do you know when you’re letting God live through your life? When you embody the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Special abilities. In the Bible, these special abilities are called spiritual gifts, which makes them different from material or physical gifts. They are the abilities you need to get the job done that God wants you to do. Most people who are believers don’t even know they’ve got them, much less know what they are. But you have them!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person” (GW).

What is a spiritual gift? God has a purpose for your life, and your spiritual gifts are the equipment he gives you to do what he asks you to do. God will never ask you to do something he doesn’t give you the ability to do. It’s given to you the moment you accept Christ. You don’t get to choose your gift. You don’t earn your gift.

It’s also not for your benefit. Your spiritual gifts are given to you to help other people. And other people in the church family are given their gifts to help you.

When I use my spiritual gift of teaching, you get blessed. When you use your spiritual gift, the people in your church get blessed. It’s like a puzzle. If you have one jigsaw piece missing, what’s the first thing you notice? The one missing piece. If you don’t develop and use your spiritual gifts, then we all get cheated.

Talk It Over

How are you fulfilling the role that God intended for you in your church using your spiritual gifts?
If you are a Christian, have you received these four gifts? How have they made a difference in your life?