Contemporary Considerations

                              

                                    Rev. Rick Warren

CONFIDENT IN GOD’S FORGIVNESS
by Rick Warren

“Look straight ahead with honest confidence; don’t hang your head in shame” – Proverbs 4:25 TEV.

You don’t need to walk around carrying a load of guilt. The Apostle Paul says, “Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins” – Romans 3:23-24 TLB.

God wants to forgive you. Imagine a giant blackboard with all of your sins written across it and God comes along with a giant eraser and erases it all. It’s like an etch-a-sketch. You turn it upside down and shake it, turn it back up and the slate is clean. That’s good news, isn’t it?

But we need to accept God’s forgiveness. We may know about God’s forgiveness intellectually, but to believe it, deep down inside, accepting, in faith, that it is true. Because it is!

And one thing that often blocks us from accepting forgiveness from God is that we are unable to forgive ourselves. You need to forgive yourself for your past failures and sins, for the habits and hang-ups that led you to sin. Forgive yourself!

God wants you to forgive yourself. He teaches us to “Look straight ahead with honest confidence; don’t hang your head in shame” – Proverbs 4:25 TEV.

Have you ever committed a sin and asked God to forgive you, and even though you know He’s forgiven you, you still feel lousy? What do you do in that situation? Do you go back and ask Him to forgive you again? Confess it again, over and over?

No. You only have to confess a sin one time and it’s forgiven. But you may have to forgive yourself a hundred times and say it over and over until it sinks in: “God’s forgiven me. It’s over.”

Our problem is, we want to keep reminding God of things He’s already forgotten. It’s forgiven and forgotten. You’ve already dealt with it. Someone once asked Eleanor Roosevelt, “How did you accomplish so much with your life?” She said, “I never waste time with regrets.”

Don’t waste time with your regrets: accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself. 

                                 

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Contemporary Considerations

                         rick warren

                           Rev. Rick Warren

LEGACY TO THE NEXT GENERATION
by Rick Warren

“Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” – Romans 12:15 TEV

Every parent longs to leave a positive legacy in their children, but what does it take? Having dealt with thousands of families over the years, I’ve noticed four common gifts we need to give to the next generation: Our presence, our acceptance, our guidance and our correction.

The gift of your presence: Sometimes just being there is what matter most to your kids.

One day, my daughter came home crushed after not making the colour guard in eighth grade. To make matters worse, all of her friends had made it. Sobbing, Amy went and sat on the floor of her walk-in closet.

But one by one, each member of our family entered her room and crawled into the closet just to sit on the floor with her in silence and cry with her. None of us tried to talk her out of her grief. We didn’t minimize her pain. We didn’t change the subject. We didn’t try to get her to look at the bright side of what had happened. We didn’t urge her to try harder next time. We just sat there and hurt with her.

Jesus said we should, “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” – Romans 12:15 TEV. That is the essence of empathy; it is the gift of presence.

In the Bible, when disaster and tragedy completely wiped out Job’s family, three of his friends came and just sat in silence with him for three days. As long as they kept their mouths shut, it was comforting to Job. But as soon as they started conjecturing the possible reasons for Job’s pain and offering advice, they got into trouble.

The Bible says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry” – James 1:19 TEV.

Just as brick homes are built one brick at a time, the lives of our children are built with the bricks of presence, acceptance, guidance, and correction. Every time you give a child one of these gifts, you are building his or her life. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of acceptance.

                                             scar 2

Contemporary Considerations

                                 rick warren

                                  Rev. Rix Warren

 

HOW TO GET PAST REGRETS
by Rick Warren

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” – Isaiah 43:18-19 (MSG)

*** *** *** ***

How often do you play the “If only” game?

 

·         If only I could do it over again.

·         If only I had listened sooner.

·         If only I could erase the past.

·         If only I could forgive myself.

 

The thing to remember is that no one is perfect. We all have regrets; we’ve all made bad choices, and said foolish things; we’ve all wasted time, and hurt ourselves and others.

 

How do you release your regrets? In my experience as a pastor, I’ve seen several strategies we tend to use that simply do not work:

 

·         You try to bury your past. But burying the past will never help you get past your regrets. You can try to minimize (“It wasn’t a big deal”), rationalize (“Everyone does it”), and compromise (lowering standards), but your regrets are still there, and if unresolved, they’ll keep coming back to haunt you over and over again like a creature in a horror movie.

·         We blame others. This tactic is as old as Adam and Eve. When Adam sinned, he took it like a man: he blamed his wife! We use blame to balance out our guilt.

·         We beat up on ourselves. We try to pay for our guilt unconsciously through illness, depression, setting ourselves up for failure, and other forms of self-punishment. The problem with beating up on yourself is this: your conscience never knows when to stop! Some people spend their entire lives in self-condemnation.

 

What does God want you to do with your regrets?

 

1/.  ADMIT YOUR GUILT. Own up to it. Don’t make excuses. “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance” – Proverbs 28:13 LB.

 

2/.  ACCEPT CHRIST’S FORGIVENESS. He’s waiting to clean your slate. Ask him to clear your conscience. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1 NIV.

3/.  FORGIVE YOURSELF AND FOCUS ON THE FUTURE. “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” – Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG.

                               scar 2

Contemporary Considerations

                                   rick warren

                                   Rev. Rick Warren

HOW GOD BUILDS YOUR FAITH: DEAD END

by Rick Warren  

“At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 PH

When the pursuit of your dream deteriorates from difficult to impossible; when the situation looks hopeless, congratulations! You’re in good company.

Even Paul went through dead ends: “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 PH.

If God can raise people physically, He can raise people who are dead emotionally. He can raise a dead marriage. He can resurrect a dead career. He can resurrect you from a health problem. If God can raise the dead, He can do anything.

In Abraham’s situation, God said, “I want you to become the father of a nation,” but then Abraham had to wait until he was 99 years old before he had his first child. The Bible shows Abraham’s situation going from difficult to impossible. He looks at his body and says, “No way!” Then he looks at his wife and says, “Double no way!”

But Sarah got pregnant and they laughed about it. When the baby was born, they named him Isaac, which means laughter.

God often lets problems become impossibilities. The disciples planned to follow Jesus. They thought He was the Messiah, but then the next thing they know Jesus is hanging on the cross, dying. Was this a dead end for the disciples? For three days it seemed that way, but then Jesus walked out of the tomb.

When you face a dead end, you may start asking, “What’s going on, God? Did I miss Your will? Your plan? Have I missed Your vision?” Keep in mind that dead ends are part of God’s plan for you.

What’s the best response to a dead end? “He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us; we have placed our hope in Him that He will deliver us again” – 2 Corinthians 1:10 HCSB.

                                           park scar 1

Contemporary Considerations

                                            rev-ernest-anderson

                                 Rev. E. Anderson

HOW GOD BUILDS YOUR FAITH: DELIVERANCE

By Rick Warren 

“‘What do you mean, ‘If I can’?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything is possible if a person believes’” Mark 9:23 NLT. 

God will build your faith by planting a dream within you. But that dream will require a decision of faith, and then God will stretch your faith as you face delays, difficulties, and dead ends.

It is then that God comes in and delivers. God does a miracle. God provides a solution. For instance:

• In Moses’ case, God parts the Red Sea.
• In Abraham’s case, he and Sarah miraculously conceive a child.
• In Joseph’s case, all of a sudden his dream comes true and he finds himself no longer imprisoned in a dungeon; instead, he is the second in command in Egypt.

And Jesus was resurrected! God can even turn a crucifixion into resurrection, and that means He has the power to transform your dead ends into deliverance. He builds your faith through delays, difficulties, and dead ends, so that when He delivers you—God gets all the credit!

When faced with a dead end, the best response is to expect God to act. What are you expecting God to do in your life? Jesus says, “According to your faith will it be done to you” – Matthew 9:29 NIV.

When you wait for deliverance, then God gets the credit. And you can look back to see how God led you through a path of faith, expanding and increasing your trust of Him with every step. Your faith is stronger and now you can say with confidence: “I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see His goodness to me”- Psalm 27:13 LB.

                                        web 21 003

Contemporary Considerations

                                            uganda-649

                                        Rev. E. Anderson

HOW GOD BUILDS YOUR FAITH: DECISION

by Rick Warren 

But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind . . . Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do” – James 1:6, 8 NLT. 

After God gives you a dream, the next step for building your faith is decision; God challenges you to do something about your dream.

Nothing is going to happen to that dream until you wake up and put it into action. You’ve got to make the decision: “I’m going to go for it!” For every ten dreamers in the world, there is only one decision maker. A lot of people have dreams but they never get to step two: making the decision to trust God and follow their dream.

James says, “But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7 TEV).

Faith is a verb. It’s active and not passive. It’s something you do. Decision making is a faith-building activity. You use your muscles of faith.

Faithful decision making requires two things:

1. You must decide to invest your time, money, reputation, and energy. You lay it on the line; you take the plunge. You say, “God, You’ve told me to do this and I’m going to be faithful to do it!”

2. You have to let go of security. You cannot move in faith and hold onto the past at the same time. You have to move forward. God told Abraham that He was going to make him the father of a great nation, and that meant Abraham had to leave his home for an unknown destination. Moses had to let go of his position in Pharaoh’s kingdom in order to do God’s will. Nehemiah gave up a secure job in order to go build a wall around Jerusalem. In other words, if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.

A great illustration of God’s plan is a trapeze artist. They swing out holding onto a trapeze bar, and then they let go in order to grab hold of another trapeze bar that swings them to the other side. But, at one point, they’re not holding on to any bar. They’re suspended in air for a split second.

Have you ever been there in a career, where you’re leaving one job for another and nothing’s in between? You’re 180 feet above the ground with no net below and holding onto nothing.

But if you don’t let go and grab onto the vision God wants you to have, you swing back. Only you don’t swing all the way back; instead, you swing back lower and lower until you’re finally stopped, hanging there in the air. And there’s only one way out: down!

That’s why God brings you to a point of decision, so your faith will build as you swing toward the dream God has given you.

                                              gozo

Contemporary Considerations

                                          ernest-024

                                    Rev. E. Anderson

HOW GOD BUILDS YOUR FAITH: DREAM

by Rick Warren 

“Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” – Ephesians 3:20 LB. 

Faith is like a muscle: it can be strengthened. It can be weak or it can be strong, depending on how much you use it.

How does God build your faith? He uses a very predictable pattern that we will look at this week, and, if you understand it, you can cooperate with Him in developing greater faith. It’s like when the father, seeking help from Jesus for his son, said, “Have pity on us and help us, if you possibly can!” – Mark 9:22 TEV.

Jesus replied, “What do you mean, ‘If I can?’ . . . Anything is possible if a person believes” – Mark 9:23 NLT.

The first thing God does to build your faith is give you a dream. When God wants to work in your life, He’ll always gives you a dream—about yourself, about what He wants you to do, about how He’s going to use your life to impact the world.

There are many examples in the Bible of this.

God gave Noah the dream of building an ark.
God gave Abraham the dream of being the father of a great nation.
• God gave Joseph the dream of being a leader that would save his people.
• God gave Nehemiah the dream of building the wall around Jerusalem.

How do you know when a dream is from God or when it’s just something you’ve thought up yourself? The Bible tells us that God, “by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” – Ephesians 3:20 LB.

In other words, if a dream comes from God, it will be so big in your life that you can’t do it on your own. If you could do it on your own, you wouldn’t need faith. And if you don’t have faith you’re not pleasing God, because the Bible says whatever is not of faith is sin (Roman 14:23).

God starts to build your faith by giving you a dream. He may be speaking to you now, but you just don’t recognize it for what it is. That dream you have—the idea, the concept, that thing you’ve been thinking about doing that would be of real benefit to other people—where do you think that idea came from?

God will never tell you to do something that contradicts His truth. In other words, He won’t give you a dream of leaving your family and kids and moving to Hollywood to be a movie star. If you’ve got that dream, then you can know it is not from God.

God starts with a dream as He works within your life to build faith.

                                          autumn-leaves

Contemporary Considerations

                         uganda-649

                   Rev. E. Anderson

 

LOVE IS A HABIT
by Rick Warren

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them” – Luke 6:32 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love. Jesus said, “If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?” – Luke 6:32 NIV.

His point is this: anybody can love those who love them. Becoming a master lover means you learn to love the unlovable. It’s when you love people who don’t love you, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who stab you in the back or gossip about you.

This may seem like an impossible task and it is – that’s why we need God’s love in us, so we can then love others: “We know and rely on the love God has for us” – 1 John 4:16 NIV.

When you realize how much God loves you – with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love – then his love will change your entire focus on life. If we don’t receive God’s love for us, we’ll have a hard time loving other people. I’m talking about loving the unlovely, loving the difficult, loving the irritable, loving people who are different or demanding.

You can’t do that until you have God’s love coming through you. You need to know God’s love so it can overflow out of your life into others.

Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. Are you ready?

Your life is worth far more than you think, and by learning to love others with the love God gives you, you will have an influence far greater than you could ever imagine. If you will commit to this, you will experience love as God means it to be, filled with hope, energy, and joy.

My prayer for you is “that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love …” – Philippians 1:9 NCV.

                                sea-view1

Contemporary Considerations

                                         uganda-649

                                     Rev. E. Anderson

WE KNOW GOD’S TRUTH THROUGH GOD’S COMMANDMENTS
by Rick Warren

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” – 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

*** *** *** ***

If I discover truth from the Bible, how do I know the Bible is true? There’s a world of objective evidence, both external and internal, that says the Bible is true.

External evidence proves the Bible is a historical book that you can rely on. There are 5,366 copies of the Bible dating from the time it was written to just 70 years afterwards. That fact dispels the urban legend that the Bible was changed as it passed through generations and languages.

External evidence also includes many archaeological discoveries. For example, historians used to say that Solomon couldn’t have had the horses the Bible says he had because no one had horses at that time. But then thousands of horse stables were found in an archaeological dig.

There’s also the internal evidence of the Bible itself. In a court of law, a prosecutor with two or three eyewitness accounts has a good chance of making his case. The Bible is filled with eyewitness accounts. Moses was there when the Red Sea split; Joshua was there to watch Jericho fall; the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus.

The internal evidence of the Bible also includes the fact that it tells one story with consistency – though it was written over 1,500 years on three different continents by 40 different authors from every walk of life. No human being could account for that. It’s an amazing example of God’s abilities.

The Bible says, “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” – 2 Timothy 3:15-17 MSG.

                                            variety 033

Contemporary Considerations

                                            rev-ernest-anderson

                                   Rev. E. Anderson

LOVE IS A HABIT
by Rick Warren

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them” – Luke 6:32 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love. Jesus said, “If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?” – Luke 6:32 NIV.

His point is this: anybody can love those who love them. Becoming a master lover means you learn to love the unlovable. It’s when you love people who don’t love you, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who stab you in the back or gossip about you.

This may seem like an impossible task and it is – that’s why we need God’s love in us, so we can then love others: “We know and rely on the love God has for us” – 1 John 4:16 NIV.

When you realize how much God loves you – with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love – then his love will change your entire focus on life. If we don’t receive God’s love for us, we’ll have a hard time loving other people. I’m talking about loving the unlovely, loving the difficult, loving the irritable, loving people who are different or demanding.

You can’t do that until you have God’s love coming through you. You need to know God’s love so it can overflow out of your life into others.

Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. Are you ready?

Your life is worth far more than you think, and by learning to love others with the love God gives you, you will have an influence far greater than you could ever imagine. If you will commit to this, you will experience love as God means it to be, filled with hope, energy, and joy.

My prayer for you is “that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love …” – Philippians 1:9 NCV.

                                            variety 033

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