WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Rick Warren" [11-25 thru 12-02] 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. 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 

The third principle for connecting with people is to be constructive with your words.

Use your words to build people up. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (NIV). God wants us to take these words and use them to build people.

Did you know that the words that come out of our mouths are like a tool? Sometimes they're like a sledgehammer. We swing away without thinking and end up with a pile of relational rubble. Sometimes they're like a saw, cutting people down. If we keep using these tools, inevitably our relationships are going to suffer.

One reason we aren't constructive with our words is we don't realize how powerful they are; yet, I bet you can still remember things people said to you in a thoughtless way as far back as grade school or college. That's how powerful words are. They leave a lasting impact. So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here's how to build instead of destroying with your words --

1.  Stop excusing. Stop saying, "I didn't really mean to say that." Realize that what you say impacts everyone around you.         

2.  Talk less. If it's a power tool, you don't have to use it as much. One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes. We need to talk less and then ...

3.  Listen more. If I listen more, I can understand people's needs. 

4.  Start building. Think first of all, "What do they need?" How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up? How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in someone's life? How can I use my words to build up the people I love the most?

  MONDAY

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) 

When it comes to forgiveness, we're tough negotiators. We open with an offer like, "I'll forgive you, if . . . ." Then, we follow with a subtle concession that sounds like a confession: "I can't forgive her until she learns her lesson."

When we think the other side is stonewalling, we take off the gloves: "If I forgive him, he'll just think he got away with it."

We think we're negotiating for God; we think we're negotiating for their souls; we think we're negotiation for justice, when all we're really doing is negotiating for control over the situation.

Truth says we can't conduct these negotiations. We're ambassadors of the King, and we represent, not our own, but the King's intentions as well as his character. The King says forgive and that means we forgive. See the period at the end of the previous sentence? We forgive.

The King's instructions are clear and unambiguous: If you forgive those who sin against you, then the King will forgive you for your sins against him. If you don't forgive those who sin against you, then the King won't forgive you for your sins against him. No room for negotiation there.

Anything else, such as saying, ""I'll forgive him, if . . ." isn't really forgiving; it's just negotiating, and God's court of justice will not recognize contracts made without kingly authority or permission.

The question is not should, if, or can someone be forgiven; the true question is will you make the choice to forgive?

TUESDAY

"He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3b (NIV) 

Sometime we're afraid of making the wrong decision. And that creates stress.

We might be facing a decision about a major issue -- 'Should I hold on or should I let go?' 'Should I get in or should I get out?' 'Should I get married?' 'Should I find a new job?' 'Should I move?'

When you can't make up your mind, you stagger through life. In fact, the Bible says when we remain double-minded, we become unstable in everything we do (James 1). The Greek word for unstable literally means "stagger like a drunk."

But God says there is an antidote to our indecision? Psalm 23:3 tells us, "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." We handle the stress of decision-making by letting God guide us.

You may be thinking, But I've tried this! You asked God to guide you but then you became more confused than before. You still couldn't figure it out. You wonder, Why is knowing God's will so difficult?

Is God playing games with us? Of course not! God wants to guide us. He wants us to know His will more than we want to know it. Our problem is we often look for the wrong thing when we're trying to find God's will. 

For example, some of us look for a feeling. We want to be swept off our feet by some emotion so we can say, "That's how I know what God's will is!" Some of us want a methodical approach to God's will. We want somebody to give us a recipe, a formula to apply. But God's will is not a recipe.  Some of us take a magical approach to God's will.  We're looking for God to do some fantastic sign—write it in the sky, call us on the phone, send us a telegram. 

All of these ways lead to frustration and cause us to miss God's will. God's will is not a feeling or a formula or something He wants you to be frustrated or fearful about. 

So how do you know it? How do you let God guide you in the right path? Over the next few days we'll look at several things the Bible tells us will help determine God's will.

But for today, the important thing to understand is that God does not want you confused and he does not want you stressed over making any decision. He is there, guiding you every step of the way.

This is his promise, so you can believe this to be true: "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:3 NIV)

 
WEDNESDAY

"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." Psalm 25:9 (NIV) 

The Bible says there are several things we need to do to receive guidance from God, but the very first thing is this:

I need to admit I need a guide!

Sheep, by nature, tend to wander off the path. The Prophet Isaiah says, "All of us like sheep have strayed away! We have left God's paths to follow our own." (Isaiah 53:6 NLT)

This is why we often don't know God's will. The truth is most of the time we don't want to follow God or anybody else. We want to go our own way. We don't want to admit we need direction or that we need a guide. 

Another thing about sheep is that they have poor vision. They can't see very far ahead. That's why, on a path, they don't know if it is heading toward a cliff, and that's why they need a shepherd. We can't see the future. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, much less next year or ten years from now. We don't even know what's going to happen this afternoon.

God made you so that you would not be able to see into the future no matter how much you try. Even with all the gimmicks to predict the future, you don't really know what's going to happen. Why did God do this? He did it so you would depend on Him.

Because we can't see into the future, we often stumble.  Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (NIV). We've all made decisions that at the time seemed right but later on turned out to be wrong. Some paths lead to dead ends and we end up off track. That's why we need to admit, "God, I need help."

 
 
  THURSDAY

"If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him . . . but if you don't ask in faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer." James 1:5-6 (LB) 

"Have you ever asked God for something and didn't expect to get it? That's why you didn't get it."

The Bible says when we ask God for guidance, we need to believe he will give us that guidance.

Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened" (Luke 11:9 NIV). Ask, seek, knock—ASK. God wants you to learn to ask. 

God is willing to give wisdom: "If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; but . . . if you don't ask in faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer" (James 1: 5-6 LB). 

God wants to direct you in life, but two things need to line up:  You have to ask the right person—God, and you have to ask with the right attitude—in faith, expecting an answer. 

Have you ever asked God for something and didn't expect to get it? That's why you didn't get it. God works in our lives according to faith. So many times we say, "God, please guide me!" and we walk away not even waiting for guidance. We just immediately start to work. We say, "God, I want you to give me wisdom, help me make the right decision." But we don't really expect Him to do that. We think it all depends on us. 

God has promised to give us wisdom, if we will ask. Wisdom is seeing life from God's point of view. Wisdom is the ability to make decisions the way God makes decisions.

Think about this: God never makes a bad decision. He never makes a mistake. He says if we trust Him and listen to Him, He will guide us. But we must ask in faith.
 
FRIDAY

God's family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15b (GW) 

"None of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves."

You are called to belong, not just believe.

Even in the perfect, sinless environment of Eden, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purposes by ourselves. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship.

The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together. (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:21, 22; 3:6; 4:16; Colossians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)

You're not on your own anymore!

While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God's family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Romans 12:5 NIV)

Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing. We are members of his Body—the church. C. S. Lewis noted that the word membership is of Christian origin, but the world has emptied it of its original meaning. Stores offer discounts to "members," and advertisers use member names to create mailing lists. In churches, membership is often reduced to simply adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations.

To Paul, being a "member" of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 12:12-27)

God's purposes for his church are identical to his five purposes for you. Worship helps you focus on God; fellowship helps you face life's problems; discipleship helps fortify your faith; ministry helps find your talents; power helps fulfill your mission. There is nothing else on earth like the church!

 

SATURDAY

 

Love your spiritual family. 1 Peter 2:17b (MSG)

 

"You discover your role in life though your relationships with others."

 

As I mentioned yesterday, the church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization.

For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ's Body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss out on this if you're not attached to a living, local church. You discover your role in life though your relationships with others.

The Bible tells us, "Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?" (Romans 12:4-5 MSG)

If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist. (Ephesians 4:16)

This is why the first symptom of spiritual decline is usually inconsistent attendance at worship services and other gatherings of believers. Whenever we become careless about fellowship, everything else begins to slide, too.

The Bible says, "Love your spiritual family." (1 Peter 2:17b MSG)

Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The church is God's agenda for the world. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." (Matthew 16:18 NLT)


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VidDevo CountdownPsalms: "Psalms 119 (Daleth)"


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Biblical Q&A: "Saints Alive!..." [WordDevo]11-24 thru 11-30 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

 

ONE

 

Saints Alive. Follow Up

Q.  I read Rev 7 after reading Saints Alive!  It speaks of a great innumerable multitude that serves in the temple.  This couldn’t be an earthly temple could it? No earthly temple could accommodate an innumerable multitude. Is this the New Jerusalem? I think I recall it being something like 1400 miles wide,deep and high. Is this correct?

A.  The New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia (approximately 1400 miles) high, wide, and long (Rev. 21: 16).  But in Rev. 21:22John said there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem, and in Rev. 21:27 he said only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter there.  This would exclude the martyrs of Rev. 7 on both counts. That leaves either the Temple in Heaven (Rev. 11:19) or the one on Earth for them to serve in, and I suspect the one in Heaven is more likely.


TWO

Demon Possession

Q.  In reading your answer to Understanding Luke 11:24-26 you point out that the demons begged Jesus to allow them to enter the pigs after they were driven out of the man.  Does this mean that demons need God’s permission to enter or re-enter a human?  I know, as a Born Again Believer that has accepted Jesus and invited Him to reside within me, I cannot be demon possessed.  But what about others?  Are demons free to inhabit people or do they need to seek God’s permission first?

A.  Because the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19) demons don’t need God’s permission to inhabit non-believers.  The reason the demons asked to be allowed to inhabit a herd of pigs in Mark 5:1-17 was to avoid going to a place of torture which is where I believe Jesus would have sent them otherwise (Mark 5:7). When the pigs ran down the hill and drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee the demons must have wound up in the place of torture after all.  Otherwise Jesus would have been setting them free to afflict others as if they’d never gone into the pigs.

 

 

THREE

 

The Gospel Of The Kingdom. Follow Up

Q.  As I began this week’s feature article, I couldn’t help but wonder this: If Israel had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, would Jesus have remained there as their King forever?  Also, would He have conquered Israel’s enemies at the time in order to keep peace in the known world?

A.  Make no mistake about it.  Jesus had to die to meet the objectives outlined in Daniel 9:24. No one else in Heaven or on Earth could accomplish this.  We can only imagine how different things would have been if they had accepted Him as their Messiah and let Him die for their sins so He could bring them into everlasting righteousness with His resurrection.

Far from just defeating Israel’s then current enemies, it would have ushered in the promised Kingdom that we know as the Millennium.  It would also have completed the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  Through Israel, Jesus would have brought God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 49:1-6) and there would have been no need for the Church.

FOUR

Hosea 6 And The 2nd Coming

Q.  Re: The Gospel of The Kingdom.   Do you think Hosea might have been speaking about two days being 2000 years for the Lord to revive Israel, and the third day might represent the 1000 year millennium in this passage? “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).

A. A number of scholars have come to that conclusion, and I also think there’s some merit to it.  Unfortunately the Hebrew calendar is thought to have lost a number of years, perhaps as many as 240, so this is only the year 5773.  Some say much of this “compression”of the calendar was done in the first century AD to make it look like Simon bar Kochba had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies rather than Jesus. Others say it’s because for the Jews time stood still while they were under judgment.

Regardless of the reason, if you assume the traditional date of 4004 BC for the creation and subtract that from the current Hebrew year 0f 5773, you get 1769 years since the First Coming.  Adding back the missing 240 years will bring you to 2009, which means we’re already past the 2000 year point and Daniel’s 70th Week hasn’t even begun yet.

I don’t think we know exactly how many years are missing from the Hebrew calendar so I would only use this interpretation ofHosea 6:1-2 as a rough approximation of when the 2nd Coming could occur.  But when you include this with other hints the Bible offers it adds weight to the belief that it’s not far off.

FIVE

Is Jesus The True Israel?

Q. I’ve been reading the various positions of the Reformed Amillennialists.  Most of them are easily de-bunked but that isn’t the case for Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:15.  It seems very one-sided.  In Hosea 11:1 God spoke of Israel as his son and called him out of Egypt.  Matthew 2:15 says Jesus fulfilled this when He came back from Egypt as a baby after being forced to flee there to avoid Herod’s infanticide.  Amillennialists use this to support their view that end times prophecy is figurative and not to be taken literally.  They say a comparison of these two verses proves that Jesus is the true Israel, implying there’s no place for the nation of Israel in the end times.

A.  Through out the Old Testament God used several different analogies to symbolize Israel depending on the feelings He wanted to express. For instance, in Exodus 4:22-23 He called Israel His first born son (even though he wasn’t) to draw a comparison of importance to Pharaoh and his first born son.  If Pharaoh refused to let God’s symbolic first born son go, God would kill Pharaoh’s actual first born son.

Hosea 11:1 is a statement meant to express the idea that God loved Israel like a father loves a son.  But earlier, in Hosea 1:2, God had referred to Israel as an adulterous wife to explain how He felt about Israel’s worship of pagan gods.  And in Ezekiel 16He spoke of Israel as an abandoned baby girl He found along the road.  He said although He treated her like a daughter and gave her every advantage,  she grew up to be an insatiable prostitute, another reference to Israel’s pagan worship practices.

Would we assume from these passages that an adulterous wife or a prostitute is the true Israel? He also compared Israel to an olive tree and to a vineyard.  Are either one of these the true Israel? Of course not.

Matthew 2:15 simply says that just as God called Israel out of Egypt, so did He also call His Son (who was also a son of Israel) out of Egypt.  Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel.  In doing so, he used many more comparisons to Old Testament prophecy than any other Gospel writer.

Once people depart from a literal interpretation of the Bible it seems like there’s no end to the interpretations they can come up with.  To accept this one you have to ignore hundreds of prophecies relating to the second coming.  Many of them specifically call for Israel to be a nation on Earth under the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is not the true Israel anymore than God is the true Israel.  Israel is the true Israel.

SIX

The Duration Of The Plagues of Egypt

Q.  I believe Moses was about 40 when he made the decision to be among his brethren, the Hebrews, instead of being called the son of Pharaoh.  He then fled to the land of Midian before God called him to lead the people.  We know the people wondered in the wilderness for 40 years,  Moses dying at the age of 120.  How long was Moses in Egypt after he returned to lead the people?  How long did it take God to perform the curses against Pharaoh and Egypt?

A.  Here’s what the Bible tells us.  As you’ve said, Moses was 40 years old when he was forced to leave Egypt and flee into Midian (Acts 7:23-29) where he remained for 40 more years until the Lord called him to go back to deliver the Israelites from Egypt (Acts 7:30-34). Exodus 7:6 tells us Moses was 80 years old when he first spoke to Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites.

From Deut. 34:7 we learn that Moses was 120 years old when he died, just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the promised Land.

Therefore his life can be divided into 3 segments.  40 Years as the son of Pharaoh, 40 years in Midian, and 40 years in the wilderness with the Israelites.

The specific length of time required for the Lord to complete the plagues of Egypt is not revealed, but scholars have estimated that they happened quickly. The Jewish Mishnah says they took one year, but other opinions range from 40 days for the actual plagues to a few months when you add the time between them. Perhaps the Mishnah meant to say they happened within a single year.

SEVEN


Our Spirit And God’s. Follow Up

Q.  Re: Our spirit and God’s.  You said we’re born with our spirit attuned to the Spirit of God.  I understand that Jesus commanded us to be born again (in the spirit).  Why we need to be re-born when God had already formed our spirit during conception? Is our original attuned spirit inferior to the required ‘born-again’ spirit?

A.  It’s like this.  When we’re born our human spirit is attuned to the Spirit of God.  That means God’s will and our will are the same.  As we mature, our sin nature, something we were born with, begins progressively asserting itself, causing us to go against God’s will.  Before long our sin nature becomes stronger than our spirit.

Until we reach the age of accountability our behavior is not counted against us.  But at the age of accountability we become responsible for our actions and since our sin nature is in control we’re soon destined for death, because death is the punishment for sin.  By confessing our sins and asking Jesus to forgive us, the death penalty is canceled and we become born again to eternal life.  Then God sends His Holy Spirit to help our spirit regain control of our behavior.

But the sin nature doesn’t just go away.  For as long as we live we have to consciously decide who’s going to guide our behavior, the Holy Spirit or our sin nature.  Sometimes we choose one and sometimes we choose the other.  God knew this would be a problem for us, so when we become born again He forgives all the sins of our life, even those we haven’t committed yet (Colossians 2:13-14). This way He can guarantee that the gift of eternal life will always be ours (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Therefore, when we sin after being born again He doesn’t count it against us, but against the sin nature that dwells within us (Romans 7:18-20).



 

VidDevo Today :: "The Perfect Pastor"



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