WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Rick Warren" [11-11 thru 11-17] DEVOTIONALS

 

Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him. 

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.

When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor. In America, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won't bruise during shipping to the stores. Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly. Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. God views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry.

Billy Graham associate Lane Adams once compared the process of spiritual growth to the strategy the Allies used in World War II to liberate islands in the South Pacific. First they would "soften up" an island, weakening the resistance by shelling the enemy strongholds with bombs from offshore ships.

Next, a small group of Marines would invade the island and establish a "beachhead"—a tiny fragment of the island that they could control. Once the beachhead was secured, they would begin the long process of liberating the rest of the island, one bit of territory at a time.

Eventually the entire island would be brought under control, but not without some costly battles.

Adams drew this parallel: Before Christ invades our lives at conversion, he sometimes has to "soften us up" by allowing problems we can't handle. While some open their lives to Christ the first time he knocks on the door, most of us are resistant and defensive. Our pre-conversion experience is Jesus saying, "Behold I stand at the door and bomb!"

The moment you open yourself to Christ, God gets a "beachhead" in your life. You may think you have surrendered all your life to him, but the truth is, there is a lot to your life that you aren't even aware of. You can only give God as much of you as you understand at that moment. That's okay.

Once Christ is given a beachhead, he begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of your life is completely his. There will be struggles and battles, but the outcome will never be in doubt. God has promised that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion."  (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

 
  MONDAY
 
 Be patient with God and with yourself

"Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed." (James 1:4 Msg)

 

Be patient with God and with yourself. One of life's frustrations is that God's timetable is rarely the same as ours. We are often in a hurry when God isn't. You may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress you're making in life.

Remember that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use your entire lifetime to prepare you for your role in eternity.

The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took eighty years to prepare Moses, including forty in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, "Is it time yet?" But God kept saying, "Not yet."

Contrary to popular book titles, there are no Easy Steps to Maturity or Secrets of Instant Sainthood. When God wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he want to make a mushroom, he does it overnight.

Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process. James advised, "Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed." (James 1:4 Msg)

Don't get discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn't think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: "These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" (Habakkuk 2:3 LB)

A delay is not a denial from God!

Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. Years ago people wore a popular button with the letters PBPGINFWMY. It stood for "Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet." God isn't finished with you, either, so keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!  
 
TUESDAY

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

God promises to meet all your financial needs, if you (1) ask him for help; (2) learn to be content; and (3) practice giving in faith --

There is a universal law called the principle of sowing and reaping. If I sow criticism, I'm going to reap criticism. If I sow generosity, it's going to come back to me, and I'm going to reap generosity.

Every farmer knows this. A farmer has four sacks of seed in his barn and he looks at his empty field. He doesn't complain, "There's no crop! I wish there was a crop!" He just goes out and starts planting seed. When you have a need, plant a seed.

It seems illogical that when I have a need, I should give. That's why it requires faith. God says, "My ways are not your ways."

Why did God set it up that way? Because God is a giver. He is the most generous giver in the universe, and God wants you to learn to be like him. He wants to build character in you.

The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce." (Proverbs 3:9, NLT) This is the principle of tithing. It's the principle that says every time I make $100 -- the first $10 goes back to God.

Tithing is an act of worship. We're giving to God. We're saying, "All of it came from you anyway." God says, "Put me first in your life and watch what I do." You may think you can't afford to tithe, but the reality is, you can't afford not to.

Tomorrow we'll look at maintaining integrity, another condition for answered prayer
 
WEDNESDAY

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:17-18 (NIV)

Jesus came to do whatever was necessary to cleanse us of our sins so that we could come home to the Father. Again and again, we see Jesus in the New Testament willing to use his power to heal; we see him willing to use his authority to cleanse.

If, while Earth-bound, Jesus showed compassion for people in need, why would he be any different today? The difference is not with him; it is with the lie within us that whispers God sent his son into the world to condemn it, not to save -- a contradiction of God's Word, which says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned ...." (John 3:17 NIV)

Can you hear the hiss of the serpent saying the yoke of Jesus is heavy and hard, and so we must hide from the Truth?

A man with a dreaded disease once came to Jesus and said, "Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean."

Jesus reached out and touched the man, saying, "I do want to. Be clean!"

At once the man was healed of his disease. (based on Matthew 8:2-3 TEV)

Today, Jesus still says, "I do want to!"

He wants us to be with him in his kingdom. (John 17:24) His whole mission was to "rescue us from the present evil age." (Galatians 1:4 NIV)
 
 
  THURSDAY

"Teacher," he asked, "which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' Matthew 22:36-39 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

I suppose you'd expect a man who's been married over 30 years to a beautiful, intelligent woman would be able to share with you the intimate secrets to having a perfect marriage.

But I'm going to disappoint you! That's because Kay and I don't have a perfect marriage. She is without a doubt my best friend, and we have a wonderful relationship -- but as far as a perfect marriage, well, there's no such thing.

What Kay and I do have is a marriage centered on Christ, specifically focused on glorifying God. We remain committed to each other because we remain committed to Christ and his work within us.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." The he added, "The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your [spouse] as you love yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37, 39, TEV)

In this sense, you worship God when you love and sacrifice for your spouse. That brings pleasure to God, and any time you give pleasure to God, you're worshiping him. Read through Romans 12 with a view of what its applications would mean to your marriage: "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." (Romans 12:10, NLT)
 
 
FRIDAY  

For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them. Matthew 18:20 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

Until you realize you and your mate were placed together for God's purposes, then your marriage will be difficult, complicated, and exhausting. But once you understand God's plan, your marriage takes on new meaning.

You and your spouse were formed for God's family. God made an incredible promise about the gathering of even just two believers: "For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them." (Matthew 18:20, TEV)

So if both you and your spouse are believers, God is already in your marriage working to transform the two of you into a purpose driven family!

Your marriage is a lab for learning how to love like Jesus loves. Within marriage, God has created an opportunity for us to develop a true intimacy and authenticity with another human being.

To go this deep requires genuine, heart-to-heart, gut-level sharing, where you and your spouse get honest about who you are and what's happening in your lives. This happens when you both share your hurts, reveal your feelings, confess your failures, disclose your doubts, admit your fears, acknowledge your weaknesses, and ask each other for help and prayer  
 
 

 

SATURDAY

Biblical Marriage -

Growing in Christ Together
by Rick Warren

I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. John 13:15 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

You and your spouse were both created to become like Christ. God uses your spouse to build his values, attitudes, morals, and character within you. God uses your spouse, and your relationship with each other, to form you into an image of Jesus.

Once you understand this, a lot of what happens within your marriage will begin to make more sense. When you start to ask, "Why is this happening to me?" The answer is -- to make you more like Jesus!

If God's purpose for each of our lives is to make us look more like Jesus, what better tool could he use than the marriage relationship? Who better for God to use to chisel you than the person you live with seven days a week? God is using each of you to shape the other person more and more into the image of Jesus.

God's work within your marriage is designed to produce "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control" within you and your spouse. (Galatians 5:22-23, TEV 

 

 


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