Pastor Rick Warren: God’s Solution for Our Failures

God’s Solution for Our Failures
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 both blow it from time to time. We don’t have to live with guilt, but we do have to live with our mistakes.

The Bible never hides this truth. It is painfully honest about the failures of its heroes. God saved the world from flood through a man named Noah—who then got drunk, 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. King David was a man after God’s heart but also had an affair and murdered the woman’s husband so he wouldn’t be discovered.
God realizes our frailty. If he only used perfect people, the Bible would be a pretty short book. But, God 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).
In fact, if you look at all those failures in the Bible, you get a clear picture. Just like those heroes of the Bible, you and I are trophies of God’s grace. Your primary witness to the world around you isn’t all the great things 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 the lives of broken people.
The amazing part of God’s grace isn’t just his power to forgive. It’s also the strength he gives us when we start over.
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

What does it mean for the Christian life to be 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.

Pastor Rick Warren: Two Ways to Tackle Fear

by Rick Warren

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18 NIV).

Everyone has fears. Your problem isn’t that you’re afraid. It’s what you do with the fear that really matters.

Jesus tells us in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NIV).
I could share at least a dozen biblical ways to get over fear, but here are two ideas you can start with right now.
Practice the presence of Jesus. Learn the habit of reminding yourself every single moment of the day, “God is with me.” Practice talking to him all the time—when you’re walking down the street, getting in your car, or even taking a bath. When you do that, you will realize he’s always with you. You don’t have to “spend some time” with God. All your time can be “God time.” When you become aware of God’s presence in your life, fear will go away.
When God is near, you lose your fear. Why? Because God is love, and the Bible says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18 NIV). The more you feel loved by God, the less you’ll fear.
Move against the fear. You can’t go around, over, or under fear. You must go straight through it. You need to do what you fear the most. That’s called faith. You need to open the door of the closet and see for yourself that the bogeyman isn’t as big as you thought he was.
Fear is always worse than reality. The fear of failure is worse than failure. Failure is no big deal. You just get up and start over. The fear of rejection is worse than rejection. The fear of embarrassment is worse than embarrassment. Why? Because the fear goes on for hours and days and years. Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Fear is a fake.
These solutions won’t just help you deal with fear. You can use them to help others, too. You likely know lots of people dealing with fear in some area of their lives. Pass these principles on to them.
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

What are some fears that have haunted you?
Which of the two strategies above do you need to put into action this week?
Think of someone in your life who is dealing with fear—how can you pass this devotional on to that person?

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

Op-Ed: The housing crisis nobody’s talking about

The American Dream is our nation’s national ethos. It is a set of ideals and values our first settlers sought as they set sail for the Promised Land. They arrived at our shores with intrinsic goals.

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

Editorial: California’s ‘free’ health care for illegal immigrants — courtesy of the taxpayers

On Thursday, June 13, California lawmakers approved a $215 billion state budget, which Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign. Included in the budget are several health care reforms whose mammoth cost the state may soon regret.

Here’s a link to the story at Fox News.

Your Daily Prayer: A Prayer for Times of Crisis

By Abby Perry
I sat in my favorite corner of our couch, knees pulled up to my chest. A few close friends were scattered around the room, eyes soft, questions gentle. We had been at an event together earlier that evening where words were spoken that caused a part of my heart to fracture. When I left the event as soon as possible, these women called and offered to come, to sit and listen or let silence linger. We did some of both.

Mostly, I rambled, at least that’s how I remember it. I remember tears and closing my eyes as I spoke sentences that embarrassed me, words that made me feel faithless and weak. But most of all, I remember the tenderness of the women gathered in that room, their compassionate strength that bore the weight of my sadness and anger.
When I was in crisis, the physical presence, help, and listening ear of others was critical. Never have I been so aware of the beauty of the body of Christ as I have been when I was dependent upon others to care for me, to support my family, and to pray and believe for me when I was losing my grip on the ability to do so for myself.

When crisis comes, many of us determine to buckle down, to believe that grit and fortitude will be enough to weather the storm. But what this often can mean is that we want to be strong, though Scripture tells us that God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness. Try as we might to avoid them, crises will come for us in this life. We are not alone because of the presence of God, and we are not alone because of the brothers and sisters He has given us. May we draw near to the One Who is our shelter in the storm by drawing near to those He loves.

Lord, I am overwhelmed by my situation. I can hardly find words, but I know you understand what I am going through. Oh Father – help! I know you promise to never leave me or forsake me. Be with me now- help me know you are with me. I know you will never let your children slip and fall – hold me up! Lord, give me the strength I need today to make it through this trial. Give me hope that can only come from you. In your name I pray, Amen.

Pastor Rick Warren: Jesus Came to Help Hurting People

By Rick Warren

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).

You can’t read through the Gospels without seeing how much Jesus cared about hurting people.

Just look at how he preached. He always started with a hurt—poverty, blindness, brokenness, imprisonment. You can tell a lot about a preacher by how he addresses pain.
Jesus addresses it constantly. Why? Because he came to share the Good News with hurting people.
When people approached Jesus, they always came for one of three reasons: a need, a hurt, or a question. Jesus didn’t blow them off. He never told them they should’ve come for more doctrinally correct reasons. He just met their needs.
In fact, he declared in his very first sermon, as he started his public ministry, that’s why he came to earth.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).
Notice the last line of that Scripture: “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” It’s easy to miss, but it’s critically important to understand God’s heart for hurting people.
When God created the nation of Israel, he established the “year of the Lord’s favor,” which is also called the “Year of Jubilee.”
It was a year when every debt would be canceled, every prisoner would be let go, every slave would be freed, and all land that had been bought in the previous 50 years would revert back to its original owner.
But here’s the interesting part about the Year of Jubilee. In the entire history of Israel, the children of Israel never followed it—not once.
This angered God. In the book of Jeremiah, God told Israel he was sending the whole nation into captivity because the people hadn’t obeyed this. While they were in captivity, Isaiah wrote the words above that Jesus preached in his first sermon.
So as Jesus read Isaiah’s words in the synagogue of his hometown, he was boldly proclaiming this: “I’m the Day of Jubilee when everyone’s sin and debts are wiped out.”
Jesus came to help hurting people—whether they’re in debt, in bondage to sin, imprisoned, or all three.
Those same broken people God came to heal 2,000 years ago are still here today. And Jesus wants us to serve them.
Jesus says, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 13:15 NLT).
Are you following Jesus’ example by helping hurting people?
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

How does knowing the backstory about the Year of Jubilee impact your understanding of Luke 4:18-19?
What do you think it means that Jesus preached his first sermon about his care for hurting people?
How can you help the hurting people in your life?

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

Op-Ed: Despite tax hikes, Illinois fails to balance budget for 19th year in a row

Despite tax hikes, Illinois fails to balance budget for 19th year in a row

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

Guebert: ‘A lick and a promise’ aren’t enough

Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Commentary: Sports betting in Illinois will have social costs

It was my third straight night at The President.
I wasn’t there for the 24-hour buffet, which occasionally was my home for breakfast after a big evening.

Here’s a link to the column at the Southern Illinoisan.

Your Daily Prayer: A Prayer from Psalm 23

“The Lord is My Shepherd” Prayer – A Prayer from Psalm 23
By Debbie McDaniel

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:1-6

This well-known Psalm is so rich with peace and blessing for all our days. Yet often we can become so “familiar” with popular verses and chapters of God’s word, that they can almost lose the important message that He is wanting to instill within our hearts. Praying God’s words back to Him, and meditating on them verse by verse, can help us to remember his goodness, and be strengthened by his truths.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” v.1 – He leads us, He guides us, He’s always with us, and we can be assured and feel safe under His protective care.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…” v.2-3 –
He knows where true rest and blessing are found, and leads us there, He restores, He refreshes, He brings peace and goodness.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” v. 3 – He leads us to walk in His ways, He draws us to stay close to Him and follow Him.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.” v. 4 – Though life is uncertain and we may suffer with illness, loss, or pain, our God of comfort, our Lord who holds all power over death and disease walks with us. Always. He is the only One who can take us by the hand through life’s darkest moments of suffering, bringing freedom and healing from the pain of this life, straight into glory and the hope of heaven that He has reserved for us. We never have to fear, in life or in death, for He is with us, our constant strength and Shepherd.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” v. 5 – We have a place at His table, He makes room for us, He wants us to stay close to Him.

Through history, hosts were expected to protect their guests at all costs. God’s protection is real, in the midst of the traps and attacks of enemy forces, we can find security and refuge in His great care. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever face huge battles, but that He covers us with His Spirit of anointing and power, to live out our days with His strength and blessing.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” v. 6 – That word for “follow” means “to chase, to pursue.” We can be assured, He chases us today, and all our days, with His goodness and love. And even at the end of all our days here on this earth, He still has more in store, and it’s greater than we could ever imagine.
Dear God,

Thank you that you are our good Shepherd and we can trust you with our lives. Thank you for your leadership and Sovereignty. Thank you for your guidance and care in all our days. Thank you that you restore our souls, give us peace, and bring us hope in all of our tomorrows. Thank you for your protection and strength that surrounds us like a shield. Thank you that we never have to fear. Thank you for your goodness and love that follows after us, chases us, even when were unaware. Thank you Lord, that you trustworthy and able, that you are our Refuge and hope.

In You alone is rest and peace. We praise you for the assurance that we will dwell with you forever.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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