Letting Go

 

Trust Your Kids with Responsibility

By Rick Warren — Aug 11, 2017

“Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot . . . If you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?” (Luke 16:10a, 12 NCV).

Kids need experiences that stretch them, reveal their talents, and develop their shape for ministry. They need challenges where they develop responsibility. One of the most important life skills all of us have to learn is responsibility.

How do you teach responsibility to your children? There’s only one way: Give them the opportunity. Trust them with responsibility. Will they make mistakes? Absolutely. You did, too, when you were growing up. Will they sometimes be irresponsible? Yes. But if you hold on to responsibility, you’re actually hurting your children. The goal of parenting from the moment your kids are born is to move them from parent control in the early years to self-control in the middle years to God’s control over their lives.

That means you have to give up control! When we take responsibility for people, we take it away from people. If you treat your children as babies and don’t let them grow up, you’ll have to diaper them the rest of your life. And you’re filling the world with another codependent person.

Many parents have said, “If I had it all to do over again, I’d do less for my children and teach them to do more for themselves.” The only way we grow is by being given challenges that stretch us, develop us, and build responsibility in our lives.

The Bible says, “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot . . . If you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?” (Luke 16:10a, 12 NCV).

Kids respond to responsibility. Having talked to many parents over the years and seen this in my own life, I believe that it’s far better to err on the side of giving too much responsibility than not trusting your kids enough. They’re going to make mistakes either way! Your goal is to produce a person who walks not just under his own self-control but also under God’s control.

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Talk It Over

  • What is the difference between what you trust your kids with and what you were trusted with at their age?
  • What about society keeps us from more easily trusting our kids with responsibility?
  • How do you teach responsibility and God’s sovereignty at the same time?

Rick Warren's New Series

Growing in the Seasons of Life

When You’re Lonely, God Is with You

By Rick Warren — Aug 5, 2017

“The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death” (2 Timothy 4:16-17 NLT).

When you’re lonely, where is God? He’s where he has always been: right beside you. He is with you even if you don’t feel it. The Bible says over and over that if you have a relationship with Christ, then God is with you all the time. He says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NIV). He’s always with you. You’re never really fully alone.

A few years ago, Kay and I flew to Hong Kong to do a seminar for some of our missionaries. About halfway through the 17-hour flight, we went through the most horrendous storm. We were pitching and jolting. The plane was tilting, and everybody was getting antsy. They were obviously disturbed by the circumstances. The crew asked over the speaker, “Is there a minister on the plane?” I raised my hand. They approached me and said, “Everyone’s pretty upset because of the flight. Can you do something spiritual?” So I took an offering!

No, not really. But the people on that flight needed to hear that God is with us. For believers, it’s a promise that we can cling to in our times of fear and loneliness. Not only is it a comfort, but it also gives us the opportunity to get to know God better.

Loneliness is a time to become better acquainted with God. In your season of loneliness, you need to recognize God’s presence.

Amy Grant used to sing a song with the lyrics, “I love a lonely day; it chases me to you.” Prayer is a powerful antidote to loneliness. God has a 24-hour drop-in service. You can talk to him anytime, anywhere, anyplace, and he understands how you’re feeling when you say, “God, I’m lonely. I hurt! My heart is splitting. I am miserable. I feel empty. Help me, God.” You can talk to him anytime.

David says in the psalms, “Where can I flee from your presence?” Nowhere. You will never be in a place where God isn’t. If you’ve trusted Christ, he’s with you in your heart. Choose to refocus on that when you feel lonely.

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • How have you experienced God’s presence in the past? What effect did it have on you?
  • How can you get better acquainted with God?
  • What do you have to believe for prayer to make a difference in your loneliness?

Setting the Example

Setting a Christian Example
by Sarah Piper, Crosswalk.com Contributor

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:12

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like you had nothing to offer or that your contributions didn’t matter? Ever had to prove yourself to others in order to gain their respect? Think back to your childhood—maybe you experienced this in a classroom or on a sports team. It’s easy to be intimidated or overshadowed by those who are older, smarter, more talented or more experienced than we are. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul is writing to Timothy, a young believer. He encourages him not to give anyone an excuse to write him off as immature or undeserving of their attention, but instead to confidently set an excellent example of the Christian life.

Of course, Paul’s message here doesn’t apply only to Timothy, but to us as well. Even if we sometimes feel useless, God has a plan to use us for His glory in every situation. He enables us to live in a way that exalts Him and to bless others with our example.

In this verse, Paul names five specific areas in our lives that should be representative of a changed heart, the first of which is speech. This is probably one of the most difficult aspects of our character to keep in check; as James 3:6 says, “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” Although there’s no denying that it’s challenging, it’s vital that we learn to control what we say since it often has a huge effect on others. Thoughtful and loving words can establish relationships, but just a few angry or careless words can destroy years of friendship.

Next, Paul emphasizes our conduct. In his letter to the Philippians, he encourages them to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” As believers, we have a responsibility to represent Christ to the world through our actions. If we wear the label of “Christian,” we must be willing to live our lives to that standard.

Perhaps the most essential aspect, love must also be characteristic of our lives. As Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” More than anything else, our love distinguishes us from unbelievers. Christians are called to exhibit a kind of love that others would see as crazy, the same kind that Jesus showed us: unconditional, undeserved, and often unrequited—the type of love that makes people do a double take.

Next, Paul addresses our faith. As believers, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We trust that the Bible is true, that Jesus was who He said He was, and that God has the ability to keep the promises He has made to us. This faith should give us courage to live boldly for Christ because we know God will love, protect, and provide for us no matter what.

Finally, we are called to be an example of purity. In the Beatitudes in Matthew 5: 8, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Because of our fallen nature, we can’t reach perfection in this life, but nevertheless, we are to strive to keep God’s commands as a demonstration of our love for Him and gratefulness for the saving work He’s done in our lives. As we grow in our walk with Him, He promises to purify us and make us more like Himself.

The characteristics outlined in this verse aren’t easy to perfect by any stretch of the imagination. That doesn’t give us a free pass not to work towards that goal, though. Paul challenges us to reach for a higher standard, not only to set an example for other believers, but also to make unbelievers wonder what we have that is so special that it changes everything about our lives.

Check out fantastic resources on Faith, Family, and Fun at Crosswalk.com

 

A Life of Love

Five First Steps to Building a Life of Love

By Rick Warren — 2017

“Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:2 The Message).

I’ve been on this earth for a while now, and I’m still convicted by God about how little I really know about love and how often I am an unloving person. But the fact is, we all need work in this area. We all have a lot of growing to do as we mature in God’s love.

So how do you build a life of real deep love? That’s a profound question, and you will spend the rest of your life trying to do it. But I can give you some steps to get you out of the starting block — five things you can do this week that will help you get on the road to becoming a truly great person of love.

1. Learn how mature love acts and responds.

Personal change always begins with a change in perspective. You need to get God’s perspective on what love is really like, because the world knows nothing about real, deep love. You do that by getting into God’s Word.

2. Start your day with a daily reminder to love.

The first 10 minutes of the day set your entire mood for the rest of the day. Resolve to get up in the morning and say, “God, help me to remember that the most important thing is loving you and loving other people. If I don’t get anything else done today besides love you and the people that you put around me more, this has not been a wasted day.”

3. Memorize what God says about love.

God’s Word is filled with truths and principles on how to become a loving person. The problem is, when you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to be unloving, your Bible is usually at home on a shelf. That’s why you need to memorize Scripture — so that God can bring verses to mind when you need them the most.

4. Practice acting in unselfish, loving ways.

Love is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more it develops. If you want to become a truly loving person, you have to intentionally do some things that seem awkward at first. But the more you practice, the more it becomes second nature, and you become a genuinely loving person.

5. Get support from other loving people.

If you’re just sitting in your room and reading a book, you’re not going to get very far in learning how to love. You only learn it in connection to others, in the context of community. That’s one of the reasons why a small group is so important! It puts you in situations where you can grow as you see godly love modeled for you and as you practice serving others in unselfish, loving ways.

You never learn to love by just sitting back and listening. You learn it in relationship to other people.

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • What could you change about your schedule so you can give God the best part of your day and start your day in his Word?
  • Think of the ways you learned best in school. How can you apply some of those same principles to the way you memorize Scripture?
  • What people in your life have modeled a life of love? In what specific ways do they love God and others well?

Love is.... More 40 Days of Love

Understanding God’s Definition of Love

By Rick Warren — Jul 30, 2017 

“Love means doing what God has commanded us” (2 John 1:6a NLT).

If we’re going to do a whole devotional series on love — and, more importantly, if the Bible says it needs to be so central to our lives — let’s take a few moments to consider what love really is.

1. The Bible says love is a command.

God commands that we love each other: “Love means doing what God has commanded us” (2 John 1:6a NLT).

You can’t always control an emotion, and God would never command you to do something that he doesn’t give you the power and the ability to do. That means that love is not a feeling. Imagine seeing a little kid who’s crying and upset, and saying: “I command you to be happy! I command you to stop crying!” You simply can’t command someone to feel a certain way.

2. The Bible says love is a choice.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it — because it does” (The Message). If you “go after” something, that means you make a choice. Love is a choice. We choose to love or not to love.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had men or women who are trying to justify a separation or divorce say, “I just don’t love my spouse anymore” — as if that’s totally out of their control. But acting in love when you don’t feel like it is actually a higher level of love than when you do feel like it. It’s one thing to love when the flowers are in bloom, but the real test of love is in the winter, when things are not going great in your life. You choose to love in spite of how you feel and give the other person what she needs, not what she deserves. You choose to love others like God loves us.

3. The Bible says love is a conduct.

Love is something you do. The Bible says, “Let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions(1 John 3:18 TLB).

Every day God puts opportunities around us to demonstrate love. The problem is most of the time we’re too busy. How many times have you thought, “I need to make a call; I need to encourage that person at work; I need to help my neighbor,” but then you missed the opportunity because something else came up? Love takes advantage of opportunities to serve others.

4. The Bible says love is a commitment.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:16b, “God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us” (CEV). Our relationship with God is largely affected by our relationship with other people. If we commit to love and stay in love, then we will keep in one with our hearts with God, and he’ll stay one with us — because God is love.

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • What attributes of God’s love can you try to apply to your relationships?
  • “You can’t always control an emotion, and God would never command you to do something that he doesn’t give you the power and the ability to do.” How can this truth encourage you when you’re trying to love difficult people or in a difficult time in your life?
  • What does it mean to be “one in our hearts with God”?

The Great Commandment

Life Is About Relationships, Not Accomplishments

By Rick Warren — Jul 29, 2017

“If you are a follower of Christ Jesus . . . all that matters is your faith that makes you love others” (Galatians 5:6 CEV).

We learned yesterday that the Bible is very clear about what really matters in life: “If you are a follower of Christ Jesus . . . all that matters is your faith that makes you love others” (Galatians 5:6 CEV).

If you don’t live a life of love, then nothing you say will matter, nothing you know will matter, nothing you believe will matter, and nothing you give will matter.

Finally, if you don’t live a life of love, nothing you accomplish will matter.

The Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (The Message). You can rack up an incredible list of personal achievements. You can get your picture on the cover of Fortune magazine. You can win the Nobel Peace Prize. You can have enormous accomplishments, be entrepreneur of the year, build a billion-dollar company, have incredibly great successes in your field of endeavor. But the Bible says it isn’t worth much if you don’t love. The Bible says — God says — relationships are more important than accomplishments.

Life is about relationships, not accomplishments.

It’s as simple as this: You can have the eloquence of an orator, the knowledge of a genius, the faith of a miracle worker, the generosity of a philanthropist, or the achievements of a superstar, but if you don’t have love in your heart, it is worth zero. It doesn’t count. The only thing that matters to God is this: Do you love him, and do you love other people?

One day you’re going to die, and you’re going to stand before God. When he evaluates your life, he’s not going to look at your bank account or your list of accomplishments or your grades. He won’t care about all your sports trophies. He’s not going to look at your endorsements or your resume.

God is going to evaluate your life on one basis: your relationships. He’s going to ask, “How much did you love me and other people?” That’s called the Great Commandment. Did you love God with all your heart, and did you love your neighbor as yourself?

That’s why Paul teaches us that what matters most is our faith being expressed through love (see Galatians 5:6).

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • If you died and stood before God today, how would he say you did at loving him and loving other people?
  • What opportunities has God given you in your job to love the people around you well?
  • Why do you think God wants us to spend our lives learning how to better love him and other people?

Without Love

Nothing Matters Without Love

By Rick Warren — Jul 28, 2017

“If you are a follower of Christ Jesus . . . all that matters is your faith that makes you love others” (Galatians 5:6 CEV).

Have you ever wondered what matters to God? The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:6: “If you are a follower of Christ Jesus . . . all that matters is your faith that makes you love others” (CEV). God says what matters in life is not your accomplishments or your achievements or your fame or your wealth. The other thing that matters is having a faith that causes you to love other people. If you miss that, you have missed the most important thing in life.

Over the next couple of days, we’re going to look at the most famous chapter in the Bible on love, 1 Corinthians 13. When speakers want to get your attention and want you to remember something, they use repetition. They say something over and over. In the first few verses of this passage, Paul says the same thing five different ways: The most important thing in life is love.

Here are the first four reasons why.

1. If you don’t live a life of love, then nothing you say will matter.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NLT).

We’re really impressed by great speakers. We love eloquence and charisma. But God says, “I don’t care how good of a communicator you are. Are you living a life of love?” If you’re not, then nothing you say will matter. Words without love are just noise.

2. If you don't live a life of love, nothing you know will matter.

“I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge . . . But even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NCV).

We live in a world where knowledge is exploding. We are smarter than we’ve ever been. But we still have the same problems: crime, abuse, prejudice, violence. Why? Because the world doesn’t need more knowledge. It needs more love. You may be a genius. But God says if you don’t have love in your life, all that you know is worthless.

3. If you don’t live a life of love, nothing you believe will matter.

The Bible says, “Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love” (1 Corinthians 13:2b TLB). There’s a myth that being a follower of Christ is just a matter of believing certain truths. Nothing can be further from the truth! Following Christ is about living a life of love. It takes more than belief to please God.

4. If you don’t live a life of love, nothing you give will matter.

The next verse says, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NLT).

Love isn’t always the motivation for giving. Some people give just to get back or out of guilt or for control or prestige. You can give for a lot of wrong motives, but the Bible says if you’re not doing it out of love, none of your giving counts.

The Bible is very clear about what happens when you don’t live a life of love. Tomorrow we’ll look at the last reason why you need to focus on your faith that makes you love others.

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • What motivates you to give?
  • If a friend described you, what would they say about how you show your love to others?
  • The Bible says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV). What do you think that means?

Words

It Matters How You Say Something

By Rick Warren — Jul 25, 2017

“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18 GNT).

When you plan to lovingly confront someone, after you’ve checked and corrected your motivation, then plan your presentation. You have to think about when you’ll say it (make sure the other person is rested), what you’ll say (introduce it well so it will be received well), and how you’ll say it.

I’ve had a lot of practice in having a loving confrontation. And I’ve discovered that there are three things that work if you want the message to get through to the person you love.

1. Say it tactfully.

Proverbs 16:21 says, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is” (GNT). You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. If you say it offensively, then it will be received defensively. But the more pleasant your words, the more persuasive you’ll be.

2. Say it lovingly.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:13a, “I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection” (The Message). You never use truth as a club. Don’t beat people up with the truth! You say it in a loving way. And how do you know if you’re saying it in a loving way? When it’s for their benefit, not yours.

3. Say it gently.

Galatians 6:1b says, “If someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path” (CEV). Being gentle means you lower your voice when you talk to someone and you show humility. Maybe you even qualify your approach: “I may be totally wrong about this, but . . .” or “I’m certainly not perfect. I’ve got a lot of problems in my life.” Don’t come in as the disciplinarian. Gently state how we all need help at some point, and express your love and concern for the person.

When you plan how you’re going to confront someone in love, remember this equation: Truth + Tact + Timing = Transformation.

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick>>

Talk It Over

  • Think of the times you’ve responded well to discipline or confrontation. What did the people who confronted you do, so you could listen and understand what they were saying?
  • Which one of these attributes — being tactful, being loving, or being gentle — does not come easily to you? Pray, and ask God to help you specifically in that area.
  • Why is it important to consider when you’ll confront someone?

Encourage Your Pastor by Charles Stanley

July 24, 2017

Encouraging the Pastor

2 Timothy 1:1-6

Do you attend church? If so, God has placed a person in your life whose job it is to train you in righteousness and speak the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. You are blessed to have a pastor who loves you and cares about your spiritual well-being. He needs to know you care about him too.

Many churchgoers neglect to encourage the pastor, but being aware of his needs is an important part of belonging to the body of Christ. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul models the way we’re to encourage those who minister.

1. Tell your pastor you appreciate him. There’s nothing more uplifting to a person’s heart than to know someone else cares. Words are certainly valuable, but actions can speak even more loudly. So intentionally seek ways to demonstrate your love for your minister.

2. Express confidence in the pastor. Let him know you recognize the sincerity of his faith and appreciate his commitment to speak scriptural truths into your life.

3. Affirm the call of God on his life. Work with your pastor; respond to him in a way that shows you understand he’s been called to minister and therefore has God’s hand upon him. And when you experience the Lord working through him, let him know.

Above all, pray for your pastor. Don’t assume that others in the church are praying or that a spiritual leader doesn’t need intercession. The opposite is true. The devil would like to thwart effective ministering, but you can help to defend your shepherd as he tends the flock.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 8-10

Our Shepherd

Today's Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah

Lessons From a Shepherd: Providing for the Sheep

July 22, 2017

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

We’ve all been in situations, perhaps as a parent, where we say, “I don’t have time to explain the details, but trust me—I’ve got it covered. Everything will work out.” And sure enough, it does. It’s nice to know the details, but even if we don’t we can have faith that things will work out.

Recommended Reading: Ezekiel 34:1-6

Irresponsible Shepherds

34 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.

Psalm 23 is like that. It could consist of one verse if that’s all David had chosen to write: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (verse 1). That’s really all we need to know about God as our divine Shepherd: We shall not want. Or, as the New Living Translation puts it, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Sheep are entirely dependent on their shepherd for guidance, protection, food, and rest—which happen to be the things we need as well. In the rest of Psalm 23, David enumerates how God provides for him and, by extension, for us. If we have a need, we should go to God our Shepherd who has promised to provide all we need.

It’s a challenge to separate our wants from our needs. The longer we live with God our Shepherd, the more we will understand our needs from His divine perspective. And the more we will commit our needs to Him.

He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scripture in his hands has all he needs.
Alexander MacLaren