messages by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
GOD USES YOUR MISTAKES, FAILURES FOR GOOD

You can learn a lot from your experiences — good and bad. To apply them to your work, you have to go back over time and ask, “Where was I successful and where was I not? Where was I fulfilled and where was I not? What got me excited about work?”

All of the lessons for your life are there in your experiences; you just have to spend time examining them. When you do, you’ll see that in every failure are the seeds of success — if you learn from them.

Galatians 3:4 says, “Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something!” (GNT)

Years ago I met an older gentleman who told me how getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was 40 years old and had worked his entire life in a saw mill when his supervisor came in one day and told him he was fired — no severance, no retirement, nothing. He had no other skills, no other job training. When he went home and told his wife what happened, she said, “What are you going to do now?” He responded, “I guess I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to mortgage our home and go into the building business.”

His first venture was the construction of two small motels, but within five years, he was a multimillionaire. The man was named Wallace Johnson, the co-founder of the Holiday Inn hotel chain. At one point, it was one of the world’s largest hotel chains.

Wallace told me that if he could locate the man who fired him, he would thank him for what he had done. At the time, Wallace didn’t understand why he was fired. Only later could he see that it was God’s unerring and wondrous plan to get him fired in order to get him into the career he was shaped to do.

Maybe God’s taken you through an unexpected failure that you didn’t understand at the time, but now you see that it shaped you into who you are today. Maybe you’re in the middle of something like that right now. Trust that God will use your circumstances to show you what he shaped you to do and how you can use your life to serve him.

TALK IT OVER

What have you learned from the failures in your life?
Are you experiencing a failure right now? How do you think God wants you to respond?
Why do you think God allows believers to experience failure and not success all the time?

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messabe by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
SURRENDER STRENGTHENS YOU

“We are not our own bosses to live or die as we ourselves might choose. Living or dying we follow the Lord. Either way we are his” – Romans 14:7-8 (LB)
The paradox of surrender is that it produces power and victory. Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems can be defeated by Christ when handed over to him.
As Joshua approached the biggest battle of his life, he encountered God, fell in worship before him, and surrendered his plans. That surrender led to a stunning victory at Jericho.
Surrender doesn’t weaken you, it strengthens you. When you are surrendered to God, you don’t have to fear or surrender to anything or anyone else. The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, once said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

WHY SURRENDER?
Because you belong to your Creator: God has a right to direct your life: “We are not our own bosses to live or die as we ourselves might choose” – Romans 14:7 LB. “Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people …”- (Psalm 100:3 NLT.
Because Christ bought you with his sacrifice: The Bible says, “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised” – 2 Corinthians 5:15 HCSB.

When you surrender to Christ, you fulfill the very purpose he died for – not just to save you from hell, but also to save you from self-centeredness! We Christians do not live for ourselves, but for our Saviour.
“At one time you surrendered yourselves entirely as slaves to impurity and wickedness for wicked purposes. In the same way you must now surrender yourselves entirely as slaves of righteousness for holy purposes” – Romans 6:19 TEV.

Because God modeled it first: He took the initiative, surrendering Jesus for our benefit. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …” – John 3:16 NAB.
Our surrender is the only reasonable response to that kind of love. You cannot love Christ without surrendering to him.

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message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
HOW TO GET BETTER RECEPTION OF GOD’S WORD

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:19b-21 NIV)

Let’s say you’re a gardener. You’ve learned that you can take the exact same seed and plant it in three different locations and get three different results. In one spot, you’ll get giant tomatoes. In another, you’ll get small tomatoes. And in a third, you’ll get nothing. What’s the difference? It’s not the seed; it’s the soil. The soil must be prepared for the seed.

The same is true when you hear God’s Word. Your heart has to be prepared for the Word. If you get up late, have trouble finding a parking spot, and are irritated as you rush into church, you’re probably not going to hear God’s voice! You’re not in a receptive mood.

That’s why you can take two people to church, set them side-by-side, and one will walk out thinking God really spoke to him and the other won’t get anything out of the service.

The heart of one person was prepared; the other’s heart wasn’t.

The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).

For good reception, this passage teaches that you have to have four attitudes:

You must be quiet. You can’t hear God if you’re talking.

You have to be calm. You can’t rush God. If you’re frantic, you’re not going to hear him.

The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” My translation of that is: “Sit down, and shut up.”

You have to be clean. Before you can meet with God, you need to take out your emotional and spiritual garbage. You need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in your life. You get rid of the garbage by confessing your sin to God and agreeing with him that what you did was wrong.

You need to be humble. Be ready to do whatever God tells you from his Word. A prideful attitude won’t work.

TALK IT OVER

Why do you think silence and active listening are such difficult things to practice? What can you do to minimize your distractions so that you are able to listen well?
What is the emotional and spiritual garbage that is keeping you from hearing God’s voice today?
What new habits can you adopt to help prepare your family to hear from God during church, family or individual devotions, or at any time?

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message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
READY, SET – WAIT

“The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience — to wait for him to save us” – Lamentations 3:25-26.

When life seems to be falling apart, your most “spiritual” decision may be a surprise: Get alone with God, and wait.

The Bible tells us this in Lamentations 3:28, “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst” (Lamentations 3:28 MSG).

Most of us don’t know how to “enter the silence.” We’re always anxious. We don’t like to wait on God because it stresses us out. We like to be in control.
What does it mean to wait on God? You sit down, close your mouth, and just listen to God. You may read your Bible. You may pray. But most all, you’re quiet in front of God.

Anxiety comes when we’re not “waiting for hope to appear,” as Jeremiah tells us. God wants to talk to us. He wants to give us the hope we crave. But we’re way too busy. All of our circuits are busy! When he calls, we’re on a different line.

If we want to listen to God and experience the hope he has for us, we have to get alone with him. We must “enter the silence” and be ready to hear him.
Jesus also said this in Matthew 6:6: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (MSG).

Get honest with God, and your focus will shift from just seeing your problems — no matter how overwhelming they seem — to the grace of God. Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience — to wait for him to save us” (GNT).

Before you go out and try to solve your problem on your own, let God save you. It’s like in those war movies when the enemy is marching toward the hero’s army — which is usually an inferior, ragtag group. The hero tells his men to wait until he gives the order to shoot. Then, at the last possible moment, he yells, “Shoot!” Firing at the right moment means success.

The same is true for us. No matter what obstacle you’re facing, you’ve got to wait for God’s timing. He’ll time your next move perfectly.
So wait and listen.

TALK IT OVER

Can you think of a time in your life when acting too quickly led to a disastrous outcome?

Why is it difficult to wait for God when you’re struggling through difficult times?

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message by rev rick warren

 

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren

BE GENEROUS LIKE GOD IS GENEROUS WITH YOU

“Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 MSG)

God wants you to use some of your money to help people in need. God didn’t put us on this earth to live for ourselves. He blesses us so that we can bless others.

This is all part of God making us more like himself. God is generous.

Everything we have in life is because of God’s generosity. We wouldn’t have anything — we wouldn’t even be alive — if it weren’t for God’s generosity. And God wants us to be generous like he is.

Imagine if your father was a billionaire, and he wanted to share his fortune with you. But he knew you needed to be tested first to see if you would be able to handle it.

So he gives you a set amount of money and says, “I want you to learn to live on less so you can use the rest to help others. I’m going to be watching you to see how you manage and distribute my resources. If you do well, I’m going to will it all to you.”

How would you use that money?

God particularly wants us to be generous with the poor. Throughout the Bible, God tells us he is watching how we help the poor, and he attaches tremendous promises if we do so. For example

“Give to the poor and you will never be in need. If you close your eyes to the poor, many will curse you” (Proverbs 28:27 TEV).

“When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the LORD, and the LORD will pay you back” (Proverbs 19:17).

The more we help others, the more God blesses us. He gives to us so we can give to others.

Why? Because God wants you to be like him, and God is a giver!

TALK IT OVER

Take some time to count your blessings. How has God blessed you in your family, your career, and your spiritual life?

If you had to stand before God today and give an account of how you’ve used his blessings, would you be embarrassed or proud of your report? Why?

What is one way you can use your resources to bless someone this week who is in need?

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message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren

HURRY IS A BARRIER TO HEARING GOD

“The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.” (Luke 8:13 NLT)

To cultivate an open mind so that you can hear from God, you’ve got to allocate time to listen. That means you’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to be quiet. You’ve got to put it in your schedule so you have time to hear God speak.

The first barrier to hearing God speak is resistance. But the second barrier to hearing God is hurry. When we live hurried lives, God gets shuffled to the sidelines. We say, “God, I want to hear from you. But hurry up! I’ve only got five minutes!”

God wants more than your leftovers and your spare moments. He wants to be the center of your life. The way that you prove he’s the center of your life is by allocating time to listen.

Jesus says in Luke 8:6, “Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture” (NLT).

Israel is not a very fertile country; most of it is a thin layer of topsoil over bedrock of limestone. If you plant something on this rocky soil, the seed will sprout — but it can’t get deep roots, so it withers and dies.

In Luke 8:13 Jesus explains that this kind of soil represents “those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.” The shallow soil represents a superficial mind.

Sometimes we react superficially to God’s Word. We get excited. We get emotional. We’re moved impulsively. But we don’t let God’s Word sink into the bedrock of our personality, so there’s no real change.

How do you grow beyond superficiality? How do you develop spiritual roots? There are two very practical ways.

First, schedule a daily quiet time with God. It can be 10 or 15 minutes. You sit, be quiet, listen to God, and ask him, “Is there anything you want to say to me through your Word?” You can review your notes from church or journal or sing your praises. Nothing will build spiritual roots faster than a daily quiet time with God.

Second, join a weekly small group. That’s where God can speak to you through other people as you discuss and interact and learn from each other. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together …. Instead, let us encourage one another” (TEV).

Both of these habits require you to be intentional with your time. When you allocate part of your day for a quiet time and part of your week for small group, you are showing God that you want him at the center of your life and that you want to hear from him.

Talk It Over

  • Besides work, what fills up the most time in your schedule? How does this activity or responsibility relate to your relationship with God?
  • Why do you think fellowship is so important to our ability to grow as individuals?
  • How will you be more intentional with your time this week so that you can hear from God?IMG_2256

 

 

 

message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev.Rick Warren
HOW TO FIGHT THE ENEMY OF GOOD INTENTIONS

“I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what.” (Psalm 119:112 CEV)

The reason why most people are ineffective in life is that they’ve never learned how to fight the battle of the mind.

If you want to learn to manage your mind, you have to deliver it from destructive thoughts. That isn’t easy, because there are three enemies that keep you from fulfilling all your good intentions of changing your life.

The first enemy is your old nature. Paul says in Romans 7:23, “There is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me” (NLT). Do you ever find yourself doing things that you don’t really want to do? That’s the battle in your brain between your old, sinful nature and your good intentions.

The second enemy is Satan. Satan cannot force you to do anything, but he can make suggestions, and those suggestions are very, very powerful. He is constantly planting negative thoughts in your mind. He’ll use other people or he’ll use the television or he’ll just throw a thought in your mind.

The third enemy is the world’s value system. Does anything in our society encourage self-discipline? Not at all. In fact every advertisement says, “You deserve a break today. Have it your way. We do it all for you.” The Bible says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world” (NIV).

With enemies like that, no wonder we struggle with discouragement and despair and failure!

So how do you fight this battle? Look at what 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

You have a choice. Your mind has to listen to you. God didn’t give you just a mind; he gave you a will! The best time to win the battle with temptation is before it begins.

“I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what” (Psalm 119:112 CEV).

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message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
DON’T WORRY, TRUST GOD

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” – (Philippians 4:19 NLT,).

We can be a hero one day and a zero the next day, a millionaire one day and bankrupt the next. No matter how much we make, no matter how much we save, finances are uncertain.

So we worry. What does the Bible say about worrying over money?
It’s unreasonable. (Matthew 6:25) You’re going to have fears in life, but there are better things to be scared of than a lack of finances. Even if you go bankrupt, it could get worse. Life is more than just the accumulation of things. Worry about what’s truly important.

It’s unnatural. (Matthew 6:26) Jesus reminds us that animals and plants don’t worry. Birds don’t say, “I’d better build a bigger nest for retirement.” Only human beings don’t trust God to provide for them. Everything else in creation does.

It’s unnecessary. (Matthew 6:30) Financial fears come from a misunderstanding about God and what he’s promised to do for you. He’s assumed responsibility for your needs. He says, “I’m your heavenly Father; you’re my child. I’m going to take care of your needs.” We always get into trouble when we doubt the love of God.

Worry is playing God. It’s assuming responsibility for something that God has said he will take care of. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:19, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (NLT, second edition).

God knows what’s going on in your life — and in your wallet. He knows all your needs even before you ask. He wants to help you out.

TALK IT OVER

What are the things in your life that are more important than your finances?
How do you balance trusting in God and being a good steward of your finances and resources?
What are the promises from Scripture that encourage you when you start to worry about money.

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message by rev rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
BIBLE INTERPRETATION REQUIRES FAITH

“No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11b NIV)

Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, that’s just your interpretation of the Bible”? It’s as if that little phrase disproves everything that’s been said. But it really doesn’t disprove anything.

There are right ways and wrong ways to interpret Scripture. There are some methods for interpreting the Bible that’ll always give you the wrong interpretation every time.

Here are six principles of interpretation that are accepted just about everywhere.

1. You need faith and the Holy Spirit to interpret Scripture. The Bible doesn’t make sense to non-believers. It is God’s love letter to believers. When an unbeliever reads the Word, he is reading someone else’s mail. The Bible is a spiritual book that must be understood by spiritual people. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (NIV).
2. The Bible is its own best commentary. Scripture interprets Scripture. Practice this principle by getting a Bible with cross-references in the margin. By looking up cross references, you’ll get a much bigger and clearer picture of what God has said in all of his Word, not just that one context.
3. Read the Old Testament with the New Testament in mind, and read the New Testament with the Old Testament in mind. The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament.
4. Always interpret unclear passages in the light of clear passages. Look at the full counsel of God in Scripture to get a clear understanding when you find a passage that seems contradictory or confusing. For example, 1 Corinthians 15:29 has a very obscure reference to baptism for the dead. It’s the only time the idea is mentioned in Scripture. Paul isn’t condoning this. Nothing in Scripture condones it. Let clear passages about salvation and baptism interpret this unclear one, not vice versa.
5. Don’t form a doctrine based solely on an historical event. Take historical passages of the Bible for what they’re meant to be: good lessons. Don’t build your doctrine upon them. For example, in Mark 1:35, the Bible says Jesus got up very early, went into a place of solitude, and prayed. Does that mean you must get up every morning at 4 a.m., leave your house, and go somewhere and pray? Of course not! God may convince you that’s a good idea, but it’s not a command. Use doctrinal passages to base doctrine on. Use narratives to teach lessons.
6. Never interpret Scripture based on your own experiences. The point of Bible study is not to shape Scripture to agree with your subjective opinions or your experiences. Feelings lie. Emotions lie. Instead, discover God’s timeless truth and let it shape your life. Study the Bible with an open heart and invite God to conform you to his will.
God doesn’t want to leave you in the dark when you study Scripture. Following these basic rules of Bible study can help to ensure you read the Word from God’s perspective.

TALK IT OVER

• What do you think this statement means: “The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament”?
• Are you open to letting the Holy Spirit work in your life? Do you have an open mind when interpreting Scripture so that the Holy Spirit can direct your thoughts?

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message by reve rick warren

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren
WHILE YOU ARE WORKING ON YOUR GOALS, GOD IS WORKING ON YOU
“I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.” (Philippians 3:12 CEV)

Yesterday we talked about the reasons why you need to set some goals. Today we’re going to talk about three more reasons why goal setting is so important that even Jesus set goals for himself.

you need to set goals because they give you hope to keep moving and endure.
Job says, “What strength do I have left that I can go on hoping? What goal do I have that I would want to prolong my life?” (Job 6:11 NLT) You have to have a goal to keep you going.

A goal doesn’t have to be big to motivate you. For instance, if you had to have surgery, your first goal in recovery could be to sit up in bed. Then you might work toward standing up and after that walking down the hallway.
All of those are very small goals, but they’re all important, because to get from where you are to success isn’t one big leap. It’s many small steps. A goal doesn’t have to be big to be important — it just has to encourage you to carry on.

You need to set goals because they build your character.
The greatest benefit to your life will not be your accomplishments but rather what happens inside you while you’re moving toward your goal.

God is more interested in your character than he is in your accomplishments. While you’re working on your goal, God is working on you. He is building your character, and that’s what’s going to last for eternity.

That’s why Paul says in Philippians 3:12, “I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize” (CEV). It takes energy, effort, and purpose to reach your goal, and the result is that you become more like Christ.

You need to set goals because good goals will be rewarded.
Proverbs 11:27 says, “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (TEV). When you give your life to a good goal, it brings honour and builds a legacy on
Earth.

But the real reward in setting good goals is going to come in eternity. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 9:25-26, “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step” (NLT). Paul was a purpose driven goal setter. You need to be that, too, so that you can win the prize that God has prepared for you in Heaven.

TALK IT OVER

If you’re discouraged today, you need to set some new goals. What is something that you can work for that will motivate and encourage you each day as you move closer toward your goal?

What are some of the things you’ve learned about yourself and about God as you’ve worked toward a goal?

How do you want God to work in your life? In what ways do your goals reflect what you hope God will do and expect him to do in and through you?

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