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
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
A key way of loving others, and promoting unity in our churches, is to encourage people. When we criticise others, we can make them feel inferior or cause resentment to develop. That doesn’t mean we should let ungodly behaviour go unnoticed; there’s a place for discipline and constructive criticism, but it should be done with love and sensitivity. We should be aiming to be positive with our words, to tell people when they’ve done something right and to speak positivity into people’s situations. The Bible says, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.’ Encouragement can go beyond words. We should be encouraging people to try something new, step out of their comfort zones and bring new ideas. Sometimes we can be wary of change, afraid that it will mess up our traditions and our routines. But when we invite people to start to use their gifts, they can bring freshness and creativity. We should be encouraging people to get involved and use what God has given them to develop the church. Forgiveness is another important part of having a loving and united church. When someone hasn’t been encouraging towards us, we have a choice. We can either let bitterness take root, or we can forgive them. If we don’t choose to forgive, bitterness and resentment can start to affect how we respond to that person, and to others. And if we choose to talk to others about what that person did to us, it can cause resentment and tension to spread around the church. The Bible says, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). Let’s choose to live by that verse, and love others with encouragement and forgiveness.
1 Kings 6-7; Mark 8:1-13; Ps 97; Prov 12:1-3
Proverbs 10:12 NIV
When we hold on to resentment it feels like there’s a war going on inside of us. We end up in a battle with ourselves, as well as others. Bitterness takes us over and we’re left hurt and angry. We’re constantly trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. We can end up spending so much time trying to out-do, out-shout, and out-manoeuvre others that we lose our peace and joy. Sound familiar? Resentment can take root in us all. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can end our conflicts with others and let go of resentment. That seems easier said than done. When bitterness has taken hold of us, it can be very challenging to let things go. But we can’t allow someone else’s actions to determine our reactions. We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to it. When we hold on to bitterness and resentment, we not only keep conflicts going, but we also deny ourselves the opportunity to heal. We’re the ones who remain unhappy and hurt, when God has designed it that we should hand it all over to Him and exercise forgiveness instead. The Bible says that ‘hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.’ We need to let the love and peace of God fill our minds so much that it overflows to others – including those who have upset us. Do we really want to be like the person who hurt us? What would Jesus do? He’d turn the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39). We need to ask God to help us release our anger, turn the other cheek, and forgive the people who have hurt us.
Exo 1-3; Luke 11:29-44; Ps 40:9-17; Prov 6:6-8