John 5:6 NIV
Jesus asked a sick man an unusual question: ‘Do you want to get well?’ This man had been unwell for 38 years, so it seemed like an obvious question to ask. But we can often find ourselves needing to be asked that same question. We have probably all been hurt in some way in our lives. But if we are still focused on it years later we are not victims of our circumstances, we are victims by choice. That can pretty hard to accept. When we are hurting, we don’t want to think we are choosing to feel that way. But we can often choose to let the hurt rule our lives rather than forgive the person who hurt us. Jesus said, ‘If you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins’ (Mark 11:25 NCV). Sometimes the ‘victim lifestyle’ gets quite comfortable. We like having the sympathy of others, and we like the thought that what’s going in our lives, and the way we are dealing with it, isn’t our fault. But forgiving others sets us free. Whatever others may have taken from us in the past, if we remain bitter they will take more from us in the future. God’s got new plans and new opportunities for us, but for Him to be able to work in us and through us, we need to make the choice to let go and forgive. If we are holding onto the past, we are not ready for God to do something new. He says: ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!’ (Isaiah 43:18 NIV). Are we ready to let go, forgive, and move into the new things God’s got for us?
Deut 8-10; Matt 12:22-37; Ps 78:9-16; Prov 16:25
John 5:6 NIV
Jesus asked a sick man an unusual question: “Do you want to get well?” For thirty-eight years this man’s condition had immobilized him, bought him the sympathy of others, and perhaps given him a reason to say, “I’m not responsible.” But all of us are responsible for two things: our attitudes and our choices. The fact is we’ve all been hurt in some way. But if you’re still focused on it twenty years later you’re not a victim by circumstance, but by choice. What exactly is a victim by choice? Someone who thinks negative attention is better than no attention at all! Jesus said, “If you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins” (Mark 11:25 NCV). Those words presuppose someone has hurt you. They also hold you responsible for your reaction to that person. Jesus taught that if you don’t forgive, you can’t receive forgiveness yourself when you need it. Whatever others may have taken from you in the past, if you remain bitter they’ll take more from you in the future. Maybe you’re thinking, “If only they’d come back and ask for forgiveness.” Is that what you’re waiting for? Don’t waste your time! The key to happiness is in your hands, not theirs. And that key is forgiveness. Are you waiting for someone to say, “I forgive you” before you can forgive yourself? What if they never do? Here’s the formula for freedom: (1) Apologize if you need to. (2) Make amends if you can. (3) Forgive yourself. (4) Move on. Do you want to get well? These are the steps.
Soul food: Deut 8-10; Matt 12:22-37; Ps 78:9-16; Prov 16:25
Philippians 3:13 NKJV
As long as you’re holding on to the past, you’ll never be able to take hold of the future. The past can be an unbearably heavy burden when you try to carry it. The way to let go of it is to stop thinking about it. Get it off your mind and out of your conversation. Satan will constantly remind you of your past because he wants you to remain stuck in it. But you don’t have to. You can choose your own thoughts. You say, “I can’t help thinking about it.” Yes, you can! Before he met Christ, Paul destroyed churches and put Christians to death. Now he was going back into some of those same towns, and who was waiting for him there? Widows. Orphans. People whose lives he’d devastated. Had Paul not been able to move beyond that, he’d never have fulfilled his God-given assignment. Now, Paul didn’t suffer from amnesia; he could remember the actual events. But knowing God had forgiven him, and that he’d forgiven himself, he chose to forget the past. “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Note the words, “but one thing I do.” When you decide to forget, God will enable you to do it and give you the grace and peace to move on. Indeed, He will make you stronger and wiser as a result of it. If you’re struggling with guilt, condemnation, shame, blame, or regret about your past, let God forgive you, set you free, and enable you to move forward.
Soul food: Jer 51-52; Matt 7:1-14; Ps 137; Prov 15:15-17
Philippians 3:13 NIVUK
While we are holding on to the past, we won’t be able to take hold of the future. When we dwell on the things we have done, and the things that have been done to us, we are not thinking about what God can do in the future. The enemy knows how destructive it can be for us to be focused on the past, so he will often try and keep it in our minds. It can be really hard to just stop thinking about things that have hurt us, or that we feel guilty about. When those thoughts come into our minds, we have a choice to make. Are we going to dwell on them and let the emotions they bring up control us? Or are we going to hand it over to God, and ask Him to help us forgive others, and ourselves? Before he met Jesus, Paul destroyed churches and put Christians to death. In his new life, he had to go back into some of those same towns, and see the people whose lives he had devastated. Had Paul not been able to move beyond his past, he would never have fulfilled his God-given assignment. These things would still have been in Paul’s memory. But knowing God had forgiven him, and that he had forgiven himself, he chose to forget the past. ‘But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.’ When we decide to forget, God will enable us to do it and give us the grace and peace to move on. If we are struggling with guilt, condemnation, shame, blame, or regret about our pasts, we need to let God forgive us, set us free, and enable us to move forward.
Jer 51-52; Matt 7:1-14; Ps 137; Prov 15:15-17
1 Timothy 2:1 NIV
In 1 Timothy, Paul urges us to pray for everyone, and that includes our parents. We all have different experiences of parents and family. Not all our experiences are good, but we should still pray for those who have brought us up. Here’s a prayer for our parents: ‘God, thank You for my parents. Thank You for placing me in this family. Thank You for their provision, and for the things they have taught me. Please give them Your wisdom and help them make godly decisions. Show them Your purpose for their lives and give them the courage to step into it. Thank You for loving them. Please help them feel Your peace, joy, and love today. Where they have made mistakes, I pray You would show them how to live differently. And when those mistakes have hurt me, please help me to work through the process of forgiveness. Please bless them. In Jesus’ name, amen.’ If we’re struggling with our relationship with our parents, this can be a challenging prayer to pray. But whatever has happened, we need to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we necessarily trust the person again, or put ourselves in situations where we could get hurt, but it sets us free from the bitterness and resentment which we hold onto. If we don’t feel like we can pray for our parents today, let’s pray for those around us who have encouraged us and supported us through our lives so far. Let’s pray for our leaders, teachers, and friends – and ask God to bless them.
2 Kings 7-9; Mark 12:13-27; Ps 132:1-10; Prov 13:4-6