God Specializes in Impossible Dreams

When the pursuit of your dream deteriorates from difficult to impossible, congratulations! You’re in good company.

Even Paul went through dead ends: “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 PH)

If God can raise people physically, he can raise people who are dead emotionally. He can raise a dead marriage. He can resurrect a dead career. He can resurrect you from a health problem.

God told Abraham he’d be the father of a nation, but then Abraham had to wait until he was ninety-nine years old before he had his first child. The Bible shows Abraham’s situation going from difficult to impossible.

But Sarah got pregnant, and they laughed about it. When the baby was born, they named him Isaac, which means laughter.

God often lets problems become impossibilities.

What’s the best response to a dead end? “He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us; we have placed our hope in Him that He will deliver us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:10 HCSB)

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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When God Says Wait

Even as you make a decision to follow the dream God places in your heart, you can expect a delay. God will not fulfill your dream immediately because this is another step toward building your faith.

In Habakkuk 2, God says, “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.”

When delay comes to your dreams, you’ll most likely start asking the question, “When, Lord? When are you going to answer my prayer?”

And we hate to wait. We don’t like to wait in a doctor’s office, or in traffic jams, or at restaurants, or for Christmas presents, or for anything else. But what we hate worst of all is waiting on God.

We all have to go through these waiting periods. Even Jesus waited for thirty years in the carpenter’s shop before setting out on his public ministry.

Why do we wait? It teaches us to trust in God. We learn that his timing is perfect. One of the facts we have to learn is this: God’s delay never destroys his purpose.

A delay is not a denial. Children must learn the difference between “no” and “not yet,” and so must we. Many times we think God is saying, “No,” but he is saying, “Not yet.”

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Restoring Relationships: Listen First

The third biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to sympathize with the other person’s feelings.

If you’re going to restore broken relations, you need to use your ears more than your mouth. Before attempting to solve any disagreement you must first listen to the other’s feelings. Paul advised, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.” (Philippians 2:4 TEV)

The phrase “look out for” is the Greek word skopos, from which we form our words telescope and microscope. It means pay close attention! Focus on their feelings, not the facts. Begin with sympathy, not solutions.

Don’t try to talk people out of how they feel at first. Just listen and let them unload emotionally without being defensive. Nod that you understand even when you don’t agree. Feelings are not always true or logical. In fact, resentment makes us act and think in foolish ways. David admitted, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal.” (Psalm 73:21-22 TEV) We all act beastly when hurt.

In contrast, the Bible says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV) Listening says, “I value your opinion, I care about our relationship, and you matter to me.” The clich_ is true: People don’t care what we know until they know we care.

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Builds Faith by Giving a Dream

When God wants to work in your life, he’ll always gives you a dream – about yourself, about what he wants you to do, about how he’s going to use your life to impact the world.

There are many examples in the Bible of this — God gave Noah the dream of building an ark. God gave Abraham the dream of being the father of a great nation. God gave Nehemiah the dream of building the wall around Jerusalem.

How do you know when a dream is from God or when it’s just something you’ve thought up yourself? The Bible tells us that God, “by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20 LB)

In other words, if a dream comes from God, it will be so big in your life that you can’t do it on your own. It also will never contradict His Word! If your dream is something that the Bible speaks against, it’s not from God.

He may be speaking to you now, but you just don’t recognize it for what it is. That dream you have – the idea, the concept – that thing you’ve been thinking about doing and would be of real benefit to other people, where do you think that idea came from?

God starts with a dream as he builds faith in you.

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Restoring Relationships: Talk to God

The first biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to talk to God before talking to the person.

If you’ll pray about the conflict first, instead of gossiping to a friend, you’ll often discover that either God changes your heart or he changes the other person without your help.

All your relationships would go smoother if you would just pray more about them. As David did with his Psalms, use prayer to ventilate vertically. Tell God your frustrations. Cry out to him. He’s never surprised or upset by your anger, hurt, insecurity, or any other emotions. So tell him exactly how you feel.

Most conflict is rooted in unmet needs and many of these needs can only be met by God. When you expect anyone – a friend, spouse, another pastor, or family member – to meet a need that only God can fulfill, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and bitterness. No one can meet all of your needs except God.

The apostle James noted that many of our conflicts are caused by prayerlessness: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? You want something but don’t get it. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2 NIV)

Instead of looking to God, we look to others to make us happy and then get angry when they fail us. God says, “Why don’t you come to me first?”

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Says You’re Lovable

God says you’re lovable. This is so important because you can’t fulfill God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” until you believe this. If you don’t feel lovable, you can’t love anybody else.

Our verse today says a couple things about God’s love for us.

God loves you consistently — He doesn’t love you one day and not the next. He doesn’t love you on your good days and not on your bad days. God is 100% consistent in his love for you.

God loves you unconditionally — He says, “I will always love you and it is unconditional. You don’t earn it.” He doesn’t say, “I love you if you’re good, or if you do these things, or because you look this way or you do these things.”

You never have to wake up in the morning and say, “God, are you going to love me today? Did I read my Bible enough? Did I pray enough?” He loves you consistently no matter who you are or what you do.

What is the result when you really understand this? Daniel 10:19 says “God loves you, so don’t let anything worry you or frighten you.” When I don’t have to worry or be afraid of anything, then I am free to give love to everyone around me.

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Says You’re Forgivable

When something starts going wrong in your life, do you automatically think, “God’s getting even with me, I know it! I did that thing I’m ashamed of yesterday (or last year or twenty years ago) and now he’s settling the score.”

Does God really treat his children that way? Absolutely not! Isaiah says God doesn’t hold our sins against us. Once we’ve confessed our sins to him, it’s all forgiven and forgotten and he doesn’t even bring up the past.

If you’re a Christian, pay close attention to Ephesians 1:4-5: “Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children – this was his pleasure and purpose.” (TEV)

Do you realize that when God looks at you, he sees you through Jesus Christ? When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all of your sins so you are forgiven and they are forgotten.

That’s why becoming a Christian is such GOOD NEWS. I give Jesus my life and he takes it, forgives me and then gives me a new chance. He says, “Now I see you without a single fault. You stand before me covered with my love.”

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Says You’re Capable

I’ve met all sorts of people who are considered highly successful according to the standards of the world. And yet a lot of them feel incompetent, insecure, and incapable.

How about you? Perhaps you look at your life and think it’s working. Sure, you have your problems, but compared to others, you’re probably considered successful. Yet, inside there is still a gnawing, inner insecurity and a lack of confidence and a feeling of incompetence. Why is that?

It’s because you’re still listening to old tapes from your past, and they are no more true now than they were then. Old tapes that say things like, “You don’t matter.” God says, “Yes, you do!’ Old tapes that say, “You’re a loser!” God say, “No, you’re not!’ Old tapes that say, “You’ll never amount to anything.” God says, “You are important to me!’

You need to quit believing those lies and start believing God. Quit looking in a distorted mirror of what peers and partners and parents have said to you. Start repeating what God says about you: “I am acceptable, I am lovable, I am valuable, I am forgivable, and I am capable.”

Who are you going to believe? What other people say about you or what God says about you.

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Says You’re Forgivable

When something starts going wrong in your life, do you automatically think, “God’s getting even with me, I know it! I did that thing I’m ashamed of yesterday (or last year or twenty years ago) and now he’s settling the score.”

Does God really treat his children that way? Absolutely not! Isaiah says God doesn’t hold our sins against us. Once we’ve confessed our sins to him, it’s all forgiven and forgotten and he doesn’t even bring up the past.

If you’re a Christian, pay close attention to Ephesians 1:4-5: “Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children – this was his pleasure and purpose.” (TEV)

Do you realize that when God looks at you, he sees you through Jesus Christ? When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all of your sins so you are forgiven and they are forgotten.

That’s why becoming a Christian is such GOOD NEWS. I give Jesus my life and he takes it, forgives me and then gives me a new chance. He says, “Now I see you without a single fault. You stand before me covered with my love.”

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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God Says You’re Acceptable

Many of us base our self-confidence on what other people think, so we work hard at being accepted. We buy things, we wear things, we join things — all just for the benefit of trying to be accepted by our friends, family, co-workers and peers.

Does God say you have to earn acceptance? That you could ever deserve it? No. The Bible just says, God has accepted you.

If you’re a believer, then you’ve accepted Jesus into your life. But do you understand that God accepts you? He loves you unconditionally and accepts you for who you are.

Some of you grew up with unpleasable parents. No matter what you did it was never, ever good enough. Even today you’re still trying to earn their love and approval.

If that’s the case — with your parents or with anyone else you’ve been seeking to please — there are two things you need to know:

First, in all likelihood, you’re never going to get that approval or acceptance. Not because of who you are but because of who they are. Second, you don’t need their approval because you are acceptable to God. You don’t need their approval to be happy.

You only need the love and approval of one person, and you already have it: God says you are acceptable!

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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