POWER THOUGHTS: Five Things Forgiveness Is Not

“Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” (1 Corinthians 13:5b CEV).

There’s a lot of faulty thinking about forgiveness. The act of forgiveness gets watered down. It gets abused. It gets cheapened.

What is forgiveness really? Take a quick test by answering “true” or “false” to the following statements:

  1. People should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
  2. Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was caused.
  3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.
  5. When I see someone else hurt, then it is my duty to forgive the offender.

If you study the Bible, you’ll discover that all five of those statements are false.

Before we talk about what forgiveness really is, we have to talk about what it is not. Here are five things forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness is not conditional. In other words, it’s not based on somebody else’s response. Real forgiveness is unconditional. It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. It’s not bargained for. It’s not paid for. It’s not based on some promise that you’ll never do it again. If you say to someone “I’ll forgive you if . . . ,” that’s not forgiveness. That’s called bargaining.

2. Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. There is a big difference between being wounded and being wronged. Being wounded is something that is accidental and does not require forgiveness. When you are wronged, someone intentionally meant to hurt you, and that requires forgiveness.

3. Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes. The Bible teaches that forgiveness and restoring relationship are two different things. Forgiveness is instant. Trust must be built over a long period of time. Forgiveness is your part in reconciliation. But for a relationship to be restored, the offender has to do three other things that are unrelated to forgiveness: Demonstrate genuine repentance, make restitution whenever possible, and rebuild your trust by proving he or she has changed over time.

4. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It’s impossible to try to forget something. When you’re trying to forget something, what are you focusing on? The very thing you want to forget. And whatever you focus on, you tend to move toward.

The key isn’t forgetting. The key is learning to see it through the lens of grace and God’s sovereignty and discovering how he can turn even bad things into good in your life if you’ll trust him and respond in the right way.

5. Forgiveness is not my right when I wasn’t the one that was hurt. Only the victim has the right to forgive. You can’t forgive people who haven’t hurt you.

There is always a cost to sin. And there is always a cost to forgiveness. That’s why you have to understand what forgiveness is not before you can look at what forgiveness really is.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: God Wants You to Really Live

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“Jesus [said] … ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’” (John 10:10 The Message).

Jesus did not come to make life perfect for us. Rather, he came to give us a life connected to him, so that no matter what situation we face, we are eternally attached to the source of true life.

What would a life connected to Jesus look like? Keep in mind that a full and abundant life in Christ involves all of you, not just your spirituality.

How do you think your constant connection with Christ will affect you mentally or emotionally? For instance, how would a life connected to Jesus help you with stress and worry?

What does your health have to do with living a full and abundant life? Why would your physical health be intertwined with your spiritual health?

To live a full and abundant life, instead of trying harder, trust Jesus more, believing in faith that he is guiding us to where we need to go.

Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: How Can You Maintain Your Enthusiasm?

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“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:11-12 NIV).

In order to reach your goals, you have to figure out how to maintain your enthusiasm over the long haul.

The influential American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I believe that with all of my heart. I have found it to be true in my life. You’ve got to have passion, you’ve got to have enthusiasm, or you’re never going to make it to the finish line.

Most people would consider me an enthusiastic person, and I am. But I haven’t been an enthusiastic person for a week or a month. My enthusiasm has not waned over a year or five or 10 years. I have been consistently enthusiastic about the goals that I’ve set for more than 30 years.

How do you do that? How do you stay enthusiastic day after day in spite of delays and difficulties and dead ends and problems and pressures and criticisms? How do you stay enthusiastic for more than 30 years?

Positive thinking is not enough. Pulling yourself up by your psychological bootstraps is not enough. Talking yourself into optimism is not enough.

The way you stay enthusiastic for a lifetime is found in the word “enthusiasm.” The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word en theosEn is the Greek word for “in.” Theos is the Greek word for “God.” So en theos means to be “in God.”

When you get in God, you will be enthusiastic. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that isn’t affected by the economy or the weather or your circumstances. It’s eternal because you are tied to the eternal God. You are in Christ.

Paul tells us how to do this in Romans 12:11-12. He says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).

If you want to reach your goals this year, you need to get God’s power by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Pray this prayer today: “Dear God, I don’t want to go another day without you in my life, controlling every part of my heart. I offer you my body. I dedicate myself to you. In light of all you’ve done for me, I give myself as a living sacrifice to you as a spiritual act of worship.

I humbly admit that I need help. I want you to help renew my mind. Help me to think the way you want me to think. Please forgive me for my pride. I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I should. My faith needs to grow, and I need your help to set goals that can be measured so I can manage them. Forgive me for trying to change on my own.

I want to fill my life with love. I want to fill my life with you. Help me to get group support. Help me to take delight in honoring other people, to focus on giving my life away so that you can take care of my needs. I want to nurture my enthusiasm by being in you. Help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I give myself to you. In your name I pray. Amen.”

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: When You’re Angry, Slow Down and THINK

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19b NIV).

We save ourselves a lot of pain and heartache if we follow one simple rule: Slow down when we’re angry or hurt.

The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19b NIV).

Yet, usually we do just the opposite. We’re quick to speak, slow to listen, and swift to become angry. That’s backward! But if you do the first two — be slow to speak and quick to listen — the last part will be automatic. You’ll find yourself becoming angry less often and less naturally.

There’s an important rhythm to this idea, which the Bible reiterates over and over again. For example:

  • Proverbs 14:29Patient people have great understanding, but people with quick tempers show their foolishness (NCV).
  • Proverbs 15:28“Good people think before they answer. Evil people have a quick reply, but it causes trouble” (GNT).
  • Proverbs 15:18“Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments”(CEV).

    How do you slow down and think before rushing to anger? Consider these five questions before speaking when you’re angry.

  • T:Is it truthful? Is what I’m about to say the truth?
  • H:Is it helpful? Or will it simply harm the other person?
  • I:Is it inspirational? Does it build up, or does it tear down?
  • N:Is it necessary? If it’s not necessary, why do I need to say it?
  • K:Is it kind? Will it encourage or discourage?

It’s not enough just to slow down when we’re angry. Take extra time to THINK about what to say or do next.

Talk It Over:

  • Describe a time when you spoke quickly in anger and regretted it.
  • If you were to speak without thinking, which part of the THINK acronym are you most likely to skip, and why?
  • How have you seen a rush to anger affect someone you care about?

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: It’s Time to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

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“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

Long before psychology came around, God said your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

Our minds are really an amazing creation. It would take a computer the size of the Pentagon just to carry out the basic functions of your brain. Your brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10,000 other neurons.

You are constantly talking to yourself — all the time. You’re talking to yourself right now! Research indicates that most people speak at a rate of 150 to 200 words per minute, but the internal dialogue that you carry on with yourself (self-talk) is more like 1,300 words per minute.

The problem is that in all our self-talk, a lot of people are like Job. In Job 9:20b, he says, “Everything I say seems to condemn me” (GNT). If you’re typical, you are your own worst critic. Right? You’re always putting yourself down. You could walk into a room smiling, but inside you’re saying, “I’m fat. I’m not smart enough. I’m ugly. And I’m always late.” Most of this dialogue is unconscious.

God wants you to stop putting yourself down. When you put yourself down, who are you really putting down? You’re really pointing to the Creator who made you. When you say, “God, I’m worthless; I’m no good; I can’t do anything,” you’re actually saying, “God, you blew it with me.” That’s why God says it’s wrong to put yourself down.

How do you eliminate negative self-talk so you can become a more confident person? It’s the principle of replacement: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right . . . Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it” (Philippians 4:8b TLB).

Focus on what you want to be, on what God wants to do in your life. I don’t know any better antidote to low self-esteem than to read God’s Word every day. Study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in your life. I can’t tell you a better thing to help you raise your confidence level than to get in the Bible and start believing what God says about you.

Talk It Over

When you read the Bible, try to find a verse that speaks to you, write it down on a card, memorize it, and start affirming it back to God. For instance, “I am valuable, I am significant, I am forgivable, and I am capable.” Let God remold your mind because “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he”(Proverbs 23:7a NKJV).

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: Five Choices That Will Transform Your Life

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“Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 GNT).

We learned yesterday that, ultimately, your identity is based on your choices. Here are five winning choices you can make that will help determine your destiny:

1. I can choose to get healthier. Instead of bemoaning the fact that you don’t have an Olympic body, find ways to increase your energy, lower your stress, get more sleep, and have more power. Psalm 119:73 says, “You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands” (NLT). Improving the controllable factors in your life helps you reduce the impact of the uncontrollable factors.

2. I can choose to deepen relationships. The fear of rejection prevents connection, and the only way to get rid of fear is to do the thing you fear the most. Learn communication skills, replace bad relationships, reach out, and risk connecting with someone. “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1a NLT).

3. I can choose to trust God no matter what happens. “I will always thank the Lord; I will never stop praising him” (Psalm 34:1 GNT). When you get to the point in your life where you can say, “I praise the Lord no matter what happens,” that is a confidence that you won’t find anywhere in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill, or on Wall Street. That is a confidence built on a relationship with God!

4. I can choose what I think about. Throughout the 20th century, scientists believed the adult brain could not be changed. When a Nobel Prize winner proved that you can rewire your brain, science finally caught up to the Bible: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2b NLT). Your self is created by your memories, and your memories are created by your mental habits. Feed your brain with truth: God’s Word.

5. I can choose Jesus as my Savior. I’m not just talking about Jesus saving you from your sins. I’m talking about letting Jesus be your Savior every day. Letting Jesus save you gives you the power to follow through on the choices you make. “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 GNT).

You get to choose how much God blesses your life; he is just waiting on you to use your wild card. It is never too late to change. When you make these five winning choices, God gives you a winning hand.

Pray this prayer today —

“Dear God, there are some things you’ve dealt me and life has dealt me and others have dealt me that I don’t like. But I thank you for the wild card. Thank you that you made me in your image and that I can make choices. Today, in your power and your strength, I choose to get healthier. I choose to do the things that will give me more energy and a healthier mind, body, and emotions. Lord, I choose to build healthy relationships. I’m scared to death, but I’m going to risk building new, healthy connections. I want love to be my highest goal; I want my life to be built on love.

“God, I choose to trust you regardless of the circumstances. I will praise you no matter what happens! I will trust that every detail of my life is being worked out for good. Lord, I choose what I will think about — no more junk. Help me to fill my life with positive memories and the Word of truth. Most of all, Jesus, I choose you as my Savior. I need your salvation, but I also need you to save me from myself. I need you to help me rewire my body, my heart, my mind, and my relationships so that the rest of my life is the best of my life. I pray this in your name. Amen.”

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: How to Satisfy Your Spiritual Thirst

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“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13-14 NLT, second edition).

If you feel unsatisfied with your life and you want to live a fulfilled, meaningful life, you need to stop looking for satisfaction somewhere besides Jesus.

We’re always looking around, trying to find something to make our lives happy and significant. We think, “If I could just wear this kind of clothes, then I’ll be cool. If I could just have plastic surgery and get this fixed, then life would be grand. If I could just get this job, I’ll be satisfied.”

The Bible says in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have done two evils: They have turned away from me, the spring of living water. And they have dug their own wells, which are broken wells that cannot hold water” (NCV).

Not only have we rejected God and not looked to him to meet all our needs and satisfy our lives. We’re also trying to meet our needs on our own. These wells we’ve dug called a career or good looks or a golf game aren’t going to hold water.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus says, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (NLT, second edition).

Sin is addictive. It only makes you thirstier! If you don’t believe that, ask anybody who’s looked at pornography — once is not enough. If you are addicted to prescription medication, one pill is not enough. If you have a problem with anger, you’re not going to get angry just once. Sin creates greater thirst for satisfaction.

But Jesus offers living water that will permanently satisfy your thirst.

If you feel unsatisfied with your life, that’s called spiritual thirst. And the only one who can quench that thirst is the one who said, “I thirst.” Jesus thirsted on the cross so you don’t have to thirst. He paid for what you don’t have to pay for. He became thirsty so you never have to be thirsty again.

Talk It Over

  • What should the “fresh, bubbling spring” of Jesus look like in someone’s life?
  • In what ways have you relied on yourself to provide the meaning that is only found in Jesus?
  • Who in your life needs to hear about the living water Jesus offers?

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: We Need God’s Love So We Can Love Others

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“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32 NIV).

If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32a NIV)

His point is this: All of us can love those who love us back. Becoming a master lover means you learn to love the unlovable — when you love people who don’t love you, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who stab you in the back or gossip about you.

This may seem like an impossible task, and it is — that’s why we need God’s love in us, so we can then love others: “We know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16a NIV).

When you realize how much God loves you — with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love — then his love will change your entire focus on life. If we don’t receive God’s love for us, we’ll have a hard time loving other people. I’m talking about loving people who are unlovely, difficult, irritable, and those who are different or demanding.

You can’t do that until you have God’s love coming through you. You need to know God’s love so it can overflow out of your life into others.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: When We Confess, We Begin to Heal

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The first step in forgiveness is admitting your guilt. Then, you have to accept responsibility for your sin.

What’s the best way to ensure that you are really accepting responsibility for your sin? You’re not going to like the answer, but you need to hear it anyway: The best way to get over your guilt is to tell one other person who loves you unconditionally and who will listen and not judge you.

This is important: You don’t have to confess to another person to be forgiven. All you have to do is confess your sin to God, and you’ll be forgiven. But many of you have already been forgiven, and you still feel guilty. If you want to be forgiven, you tell God. If you want to feel forgiven, you’ve got to tell one other person. That’s the way God wired it. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. We only get well in community! You don’t have to tell a bunch of people. You really only need to tell one person. If your sin is between you and another person, you go to that person.

James 5:16 says, “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (TLB). It doesn’t say “so that you may be forgiven” but so that you may be healed. Forgiveness comes from God. Healing comes in relationships.

So why do you need to drag another person into your own personal sin?

Because the root of all of our problems is relational. We are dishonest with each other. We play games with each other. We wear masks all the time. We fake it. We pretend to have it all together when everybody knows we don’t have it all together. We’re all broken.

There are only two kinds of people in the world: people who are broken and sinful and know it and people who are broken and sinful and won’t admit it. When we refuse to be real with each other, it creates all kinds of fears in our lives and isolates us from each other. It is a roadblock to intimacy, and it creates insecurity.

God wired us to need each other. You need a friend who’s going to love you unconditionally and won’t think less of you when you share your guilt. If you’re not in a small group, you probably don’t know anybody like that. If you’re in a small group, you need to find one person you can share your heart with.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: More Than 300 Biblical Prophecies Point to Jesus

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“No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God’s direction” (2 Peter 1:21 GW).

The Bible is the most read book in history. It’s also the bestselling book in history and the most translated book in history.

Yet it’s more than that. It’s also God’s Word — God’s very breath. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV).

That means the Bible isn’t just a good idea. It is God’s Word to us. One of the reasons I can know that the Bible is true and trustworthy is that it has thousands and thousands of prophecies that have come true and will come true in history. Every one of the Bible’s prophecies has either come true exactly as God predicted or will come true sometime in the future.

The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about Jesus alone — all written a thousand years before he was born. The Bible prophesied about when he’d be born, where he’d be born, and how he’d be born. He couldn’t have manipulated his birth to fulfill those prophecies.

It also predicted how he would die. A thousand years before Jesus died, David described Jesus’ death on the cross in one of the psalms. He didn’t use the word “crucifixion” because no one knew that word then. Long before the Romans were even thinking about crucifying people, David described it.

Only God could have known that.

What are the odds that I could make 300 predictions about you and every one of them would come true? It’s so astronomical you couldn’t write the number down. It takes more faith to believe that the Bible’s prophecies were a coincidence than to believe that God planned them.

The Bible says, “No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God’s direction” (2 Peter 1:21 GW).

During Bible times, nobody wanted to be a prophet. The law in Israel was that a prophet of God had to be correct 100 percent of the time. If you were wrong just once, then you were considered a false prophet and would have been put to death. A prophet better be right!

And the biblical prophecies were right — every one of them. You can trust the Bible because what the Bible predicts comes true.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)