The Missing Ingredient In Your Battle Against Sin

You can do everything right and still not defeat a sin. You can read the Bible every day. You can pray. You can have a group of friends around you who’ll speak the truth in love to you on a regular basis.

And you can still be trapped in habitual sin.

At the end of the day, you can’t depend upon yourself and what you can do to defeat sin. You need the Holy Spirit’s power. The Holy Spirit enables believers to do what they can’t do and fulfill God’s desire for our lives.

You can have all the right equipment to defeat habitual sin in your life, but it won’t matter without the Holy Spirit. Imagine you were walking on the beach and saw a dead seagull that had died less than a minute earlier. If you pick it up, it won’t be much different than its live counterparts. It’ll still be warm. It’ll have the same muscles, bones, feathers, and wings. But if you toss it up in the sky, it’ll drop right back down to the ground.

Why? The seagull has no life left. The life isn’t in the feathers, wings, or bones. It’s in the life God puts in it. Without a spirit, the bird won’t fly, even if it has all the right equipment.

You can have all the right equipment to live a successful, victorious life, but without the Spirit’s empowering, you can’t live that kind of life.

It’s like throwing a dead bird into the air.

You can’t live the victorious life of Christ on your own. It’s impossible. Your best intentions and your too-easily-broken promises won’t enable you to live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit has to live through you.

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Willpower Won’t Solve Your Problem

You have a war inside of you that will rage for your entire life between who you used to be and who you’ve become in Jesus Christ. Paul, the most decorated missionary in the history of Christianity and the author of most of the New Testament, battled with it.

I hate to tell you this, but you’ll always have this battle. You’ll never outgrow it. You can’t read enough Scripture to make the temptations go away. You can’t hide from them.

Until you get to Heaven, you’re stuck with an all-out battle between your two natures. I’ve been a believer for a long time, but my old nature is still there. My old nature wants me to be prideful, lustful, self-centered, deceptive, and just downright sinful sometimes.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Willpower won’t solve the problem. Just because you want to change and put everything into making that change doesn’t mean you’ll make the change. It may work for a bit, but you’ll get tired and stop the effort.

In your spiritual walk, you want to choose to follow your new nature, meaning you choose not to follow your old nature. For instance, if you’re tempted with lust but you immediately remove yourself from the temptation, you’ll starve the old self. If, when you’re tempted with pride, you remember your dependence upon God, your old nature can’t last long.

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

A tried Faith

Our Defense against Worry
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NKJV)

We live in such a stress-filled society today. We could write these words on the tombstones of many Americans: Hurried, worried, buried. We’re constantly in motion, going from one thing to another, from one worry to another. We can get so stressed out that we’re almost immobilized. Sometimes worry can absolutely paralyze a person’s life.

But as my friend Max Lucado has said, “Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your Father increases.” That is really the heart of the matter.

On July 24, 2008, my wife and I heard the news that no parent ever wants to hear. We found out that our son had suddenly left us for Heaven. Anxiety, panic, worry, and fear all crashed in at the same time. And as I bent beneath the weight of it, I honestly wondered if I could survive such a thing. As a pastor, I had spoken with people over the years who had lost children, but when it happened to me, I honestly wondered if I could handle it.

But God was there for me. And one of the reasons I have continued to preach since that day is because of that, because God was there. If the Lord had not come through for me on that day, I would have given up preaching. But He did come through for me.

I’m not saying it has been easy. We still miss our son, of course, and we still feel deep pain. But we have found the truth of Philippians 4:6–7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV).

Apply this truth, and turn your worries into prayers.

Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

A Reason Not To Fear

People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire. (Job 5:7 NLT)

In the months following September 11, 2001, as many as 400,000 New Yorkers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Drug use, both legal and illegal, and alcohol use went up dramatically after that horrific day. It’s because people were afraid. And they had good reason to be.

John 14 tells us of a time when the disciples were afraid. Jesus had dropped a bombshell on them. He said something that turned their world, as they knew it, upside down.

Then He went on to share some words to bring calm to their troubled hearts: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1 NLT). He didn’t say, “Mull over your problems.” Rather, He said, “Don’t be troubled.”

Life is filled with trouble. It seems as though once you have one problem resolved, three more take its place. As Job 5:7 says, “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (NLT). From the moment we come into this life, there are all kinds of troubles.

While there are reasons to be troubled, there is a greater reason not to be: We know Jesus. He said to His disciples, “Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1 NLT). In other words, “I haven’t brought you this far to abandon you now. I know what I’m doing. Believe.”

There are times in our lives when things happen that we just don’t understand. When I don’t understand something about God, I try to always fall back on what I do understand: I do understand that God loves me. I do understand that He is looking out for me with my best interests in mind. And I do understand that no matter what happens, He will get me through.

Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

A Better World

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT)

Deep inside us, there is a sense of something more in life that drives us on. No matter what experiences you’ve had, no matter how wonderful they were, they were just a glimpse of what is still ahead. You are really homesick for a place you have never been before, and that place is Heaven. You were wired this way.

The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). This simply means there is a sense inside of us that there is more to life. That is what keeps us moving forward.

It is sort of like the homing instinct we see in the animal kingdom, like the salmon making their way upstream with such determination. We see it in the way the swallows return every year to San Juan Capistrano. It’s a homing instinct that drives them.

We have the same thing, but it is a homing instinct for a place we haven’t seen yet. It is a homesickness for Heaven. Until that day, there is nothing that will completely satisfy our lives. No matter what happens to us on earth, it pales in comparison to this great hope.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18 NLT).

This is the hope of the Christian—the hope of a place called Heaven. There is a better world ahead. There is something greater than what we’re experiencing now.

Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

In God’s Hands

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 NLT)

I always laugh when I hear people say, “When I get to Heaven, I have a few questions I want to ask God.” In all fairness, there are questions in life: Why did God allow this tragedy? Why did He allow that to happen?

But I believe that one second after we get to Heaven, we won’t care about those questions anymore. We will see God for who He is, and everything else will come into its proper focus.

Right now, our understanding is limited; it is very finite. God’s wisdom, however, is incredibly infinite and great. The Bible says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT).

Heaven will be greater than anything we’ve ever imagined. We can take the most wonderful thing we’ve ever experienced in life, multiply it a million times, and we’ll get just a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. And the good news is that it will last forever and ever.

With this in mind, let’s think about what we’re really afraid of. Let’s take the most frightening scenario imaginable. What is it? The worst scenario isn’t dying. The worst scenario is dying without Jesus. That is the worst scenario. That is the sum of all fears.

Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NLT). If you are trusting in Christ, don’t be afraid. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Our lives are in God’s hands.

Copyright © 2017 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Choose Hope

Pain is a natural part of life. You can’t escape it. Broken relationships missed opportunities, and rough seasons of life will always be with us. When they do come, you can either become bitter or hopeful.

The choice is yours.

Jeremiah faced the same choice. When his world came apart after Jerusalem was sacked in 586 B.C., the prophet wrote the book of Lamentations to share his honest frustrations with God. But he didn’t settle in his bitterness and stay there.

In Lamentations 3:21-24, after sharing his bitter feelings, he wrote, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him, I put my hope” (GNT).

In the midst of a terrible situation, Jeremiah changed his perspective. It’s healthy and good for us to be honest with God about our feelings, but you have to eventually change your perspective. As long as our minds are on our pain, we won’t solve anything.

Instead, like Jeremiah, we need to recognize God’s great love for us. Jeremiah changed his perspective and recognized the enduring mercies of God. No matter what the problem, no matter how much anger you’ve spewed at God, he still loves you. It’s a constant you can depend upon — no matter what.

The longer you focus on what depresses you, the longer your depression will last. Bitterness keeps you caught in your own pain. In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah gives you a simple cure for bitterness: change how you think.

In the midst of a depressing tirade, Jeremiah says, “Yet hope returns …”

How can you have hope even in your darkest days? You remember, “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue.”

You can count on that! His mercies are as fresh as the morning and as sure as the sunrise. He is all you need. And, no matter what, “in him, I put my hope.”

You’ll never know that God is all you need until he’s all you have.

Are you there yet? There’s no better place to be.

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

God IS Good !

We all know that God IS good.

I wrote about my excitement in the care little and Big Miracles God did for me and us as a married couple.

Well, lately worry and depression, knocking at the door of my heart, the enemy trying and in part succeeding, to take my eyes off Jesus, to demoralizing me over and over but, God said, that is enough, this is MY little girl you are hurting and  as I hung as much as I could on HIS Promises, He  came through for me again.

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Later
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