Pastor Rick Warren: How do you handle the mistakes you’ve made?

How Do You Handle the Mistakes You’ve Made?
By Rick Warren

“[God] canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14 NCV).

You and I blow it from time to time. The Christian life is a guilt-free life, but it’s not a mistake-free life.

The Bible never hides this truth. It is painfully honest about the failures of its heroes. God saved the world after a flood through a man named Noah—who then got drunk and naked, and blew it all. Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea and into freedom—yet his anger kept him out of the Promised Land. The Bible tells the story of King David, a man after God’s own heart—who then had an affair and arranged the murder of the woman’s husband so he wouldn’t be discovered.
God realizes our frailty. If God only used perfect people, the Bible would be a pretty short book. In fact, he has a solution for our failures: grace.
The Bible says, “[God] canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14 NCV).
If you look at all those failures in Scripture, you get a clear picture. You and I—just like those heroes of the Bible—are trophies of God’s grace. Your primary witness to the world around you isn’t all the great stuff you do for God. It’s how you handle mistakes you’ve made. Do you mope or do you revel in the grace of God?
People want to meet a God who turns failures into triumphs. People want to meet a God who can transform broken lives.
The amazing part of God’s grace isn’t just his power to forgive. It’s the strength he gives us when we start over.
It’s the strength God gives us when we become trophies of his grace.
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

What’s the significance of the Christian life being guilt-free but not mistake-free?
How have you seen God use a failure of yours to show the world his strength and power?
Name some other stories of grace trophies within the Bible. What makes their stories so special to you?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

Opinion | News-Gazette: Illinois is betting big that gambling is an unadulterated good

Change is coming to Illinois — a higher minimum wage first, soon to be followed by the legalization of marijuana.

Here’s a link to the editorial.

Your Daily Prayer: A Prayer for Faith and Understanding

A Prayer for Faith and Understanding – Your Daily Prayer – February 15, 2019

A Prayer for Faith and Understanding
By Dick Woodward

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” – John 20:29
As we ponder the definition of faith we hear it said that believing is seeing. “When I see it I’ll believe it” is the way some would put it. In the verse quoted above David clearly writes that we believe first and then our believing leads us to the seeing of what we believe.

Biblical faith always has an unseen object. According to other Scriptures there will always be evidence that the unseen object of our faith exists, but when our faith is biblical faith the object of that faith will be unseen (Hebrews 11:6). Seeing does not lead to believing because we already have the object of our faith when we see, but believing does lead to seeing according to David and other authors of the Bible.
A rural pastor told his people that when they invited him home for dinner after church he was always hoping they would have southern fried chicken. If he had no reason to believe that would be the menu he could only hope there would be chicken for dinner. But when he came into their home if he smelled chicken and if he saw from the living room chicken gravy on the dining room table, those things were the evidence of the object he could not see. He could now believe there was chicken in the kitchen and he would have it for dinner.
David tells us that after the believing that leads to seeing, all we have to do is wait on the Lord until we see the object of our faith. Are you believing God for something you cannot yet see?

Dear Lord, we cannot see you but we trust that you are there. We trust that you hold the world in the palm of your hand. Help us to live every day with this perspective. Help us to understand that faith is found in the small actions of kindness we make. When we comfort the grieving, when give help to the homeless, we are declaring your victory. Amen.

Pastor Rick Warren: The Amazing Grace of God

The Amazing Grace of God
by Rick Warren — February 18, 2019

“[God] knows what we are made of; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 GNT).

Your failures don’t surprise God. He expects them. He knows what we’re made of—because he created us.

The Bible says, “[God] knows what we are made of; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 GNT).
God won’t stop loving you when you mess up. The central message of the Bible is this: God doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done but because of who he is and what he has done. God made you. He loves you. It’s settled. You can’t make God love you more. You can’t make God love you less. He loves you just as much on your bad days as he does on your good days. His love is not performance-based.
The Bible has a word for this: grace. And it’s absolutely amazing. God looks at you and says, “I choose to love you. And you can’t make me stop loving you.” Even when we’re ridiculously bad, God won’t stop loving us. It truly is amazing grace. When you realize his grace, you can relax about your failures—and have the confidence to take more risks.
You may have gone to God multiple times for forgiveness on the same issue. Maybe you’re not sure you deserve his love and grace. (You can settle that now. You don’t.) And you’re convinced that God has grown tired of your constant efforts at change. (He hasn’t.)
God never tires of a conversation with you. He’s never too busy. No matter how many times you go to him for forgiveness, he’ll be waiting with open arms.
You may have grown up in a home where conditional love was the norm. Your parents’ affections may have been based on your academic, athletic, or social successes. When you failed in one of those areas, you felt the loss of your family’s love.
You can relax. That’s not how God deals with you.
The Bible says, “[God] canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14 NCV).
The Christian life isn’t a mistake-free life, but it can be a guilt-free life. God understands your failures—and he loves you anyway.
That’s God’s amazing grace!
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

How does it make you feel to realize that God loves you in spite of your failures?
How does the realization of God’s response to your mistakes and failures affect the way you deal with other people’s mistakes and failures?
With whom can you share the Good News of God’s amazing grace?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees

Cook County property tax bills are due March 1, and don’t skip the fine print. Or the aspirin.

Here’s a link to the editorial at the Chicago Tribune.

Your Daily Prayer: A Prayer for When You are Battle Weary

A Prayer for When You are Battle Weary – Your Daily Prayer – February 12, 2019

A Prayer for When You are Battle Weary
By Bobbie Schaeperkoetter
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you. – 2 Chronicles 20:17
Do you feel the tension that seems to permeate the air of this world lately? Things just feel heavy. Hearts are hurting. People are discouraged and dissatisfied. It seems as if this whole world is worn down from struggles and it would be so very easy to just give in to the pull of weariness and discontent.

In the middle of the strife and struggles, we can start to feel overwhelmed, worn, and just plain weary. When these feelings come, and they linger far past their welcome, what can we do to keep our heads up? How do we remain hopeful when things just seem so difficult?
Maybe a good place to start is to look at someone else who was weary in the battle and see how they overcame it. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is facing a multitude that has come against him. He’s going to have to fight his enemies. However, when he seeks God’s battle plan, he sees that it is a little different than the one he might have been considering.
Maybe like Jehoshaphat, God’s plan to overcome our battles looks a little different than ours.

Battle weary friend, we do not need to be overcome by the strife and the difficulties that surround us. Let’s give up our battle plan with all of the fear, worry, discouragement, wobbliness, and struggling that it brings and follow God’s plan instead. We can embrace the peace, hope, and assurance He offers. After all, His record for victory is pretty solid.
Let’s Pray:
Lord, I admit, I am weary. Life is going a million miles an hour and I am just trying to hang on. I am tired and I am afraid when I look to the future and think about all that is coming. Lord, I know You want me to trust You through this. I know You want me to surrender this weariness to You. I surrender now. Fill me with Your strength. Fill me with Your presence. Help me find moments today of rest and rejuvenation. Thank You that You never abandon us in the midst of the battle. Thank you for your everlasting faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Rick Warren: How to Pray Effectively

How to Pray Effectively
by Rick Warren
“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them . . . I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NLT).

Here are four secrets to answered prayer based on the life of Nehemiah:

Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”
Confess the sins of which you’re aware. After Nehemiah bases his prayer on who God is, he confesses his sins. He says, “I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us” (Nehemiah 1:6-7 NLT). It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened; he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he’s including himself in the national sins. He says, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”
Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prays to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8 NLT). Can you imagine telling God to “remember” something? Nehemiah reminds God of a promise he made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prays, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we’d repent, you’d give it back to us.”
Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.
Be specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

Think of a prayer request you’ve recently made to God that hasn’t been answered yet. What motivates you to keep praying about it?
Pray again for that request, and follow the steps above. How does your prayer change?
What promises of God do you need to claim?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

Editorial: Paging Milton Friedman: How the big minimum wage hike could hurt Illinois workers

A bill speeding through the Illinois General Assembly and expected to land soon on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk wraps a slew of political, socioeconomic and generational debates into one issue: raising Illinois’ minimum wage.

Here’s a link to the editorial at the Chicago Tribune.

Op-Ed: Feds drilling to the core of Illinois power, politics

Chicago’s most powerful alderman is out on bond. A yearslong federal investigation brought forth one count of attempted extortion for Ald. Ed Burke in January.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Illinois News Network.

Pastor Rick Warren: God Is Always Present, Regardless of How You Feel

God Is Always Present, Regardless of How You Feel
by Rick Warren

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV).

When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers so you’ll know he exists. But as you grow in faith, he will wean you of these dependencies.

God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion.
Yes, he wants you to sense his presence, but he’s more concerned that you trust him than that you feel him. We live by faith, not by sight or by our feelings.
The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found. This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything—his family, his business, his health, and all his possessions. And then, for 37 chapters, God said nothing!
How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears? You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’” (Job 1:20-21 NIV).
Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to him. Unload every emotion that you’re feeling. Job did this when he said, “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT).
He cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (Job 29:4 NIV).
God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions.
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

What person do you go to when life gets tough? What do you say to them that you also need to say to God?
How is your faith in God on display when you go through a crisis?
Why is God more concerned about your faith than your feelings?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.