Philippians 3:13 NIV
Whatever our past may have been, God has a better future in mind for us. But too often, we keep ourselves stuck in the past. We hold onto bitterness, hurt and disappointment. We keep thinking about the things that have happened to us, or the mistakes we’ve made. We prevent ourselves from moving forward into that better future that God has for us. We need to forgive the people who’ve hurt us, forgive ourselves, and let it go. But forgiving others can be a lot easier said than done. We feel that they don’t deserve our forgiveness, or feel that forgiving them somehow excuses what they did to us. But the truth is, forgiveness sets us free. It cuts the emotional tie between us and the people who’ve hurt us. It removes some of the heavy baggage we’re carrying around. God sees and knows what’s happened to us. We can give it all over to Him and find peace and freedom in forgiveness. ‘Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ’ (Ephesians 4:32 NCV). This includes forgiving ourselves for things we’ve done. We can end up beating ourselves up over things we’ve done, or not done. And God doesn’t want us to live like that. He forgives us, so we need to forgive ourselves. God’s got incredible plans for each of us. The Bible says: ‘God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing’ (Ephesians 2:10 NCV). But stepping forward into those plans requires us to stop stepping back into the past, let go of things that are holding us back and instead strain towards what’s ahead.
Gal 5:22; Luke 19:11-26; Ps 36:5-9; Heb 10:19-23
Philippians 3:13 NKJV
Whatever your past may have been, God has a better future in mind for you. But before you can “reach” for it, you must forgive the people who’ve hurt you, forgive yourself, and let it go. When you do that, you’ll likely experience a wide range of emotions. You may feel anger, thinking life’s unfair and it wasn’t what you wanted. You always envisioned a husband or wife who’d be there to take care of you. You never expected to have to take responsibility for life on your own. You may feel fearful, afraid you won’t be able to do it – and that if you fail you’ll only have yourself to blame. You may feel annoyed that now you have to consider your life in a different light, from a different perspective. You may even feel sad over the way you’ve blamed others in the past, knowing deep down inside that your life wasn’t proceeding the way you wanted because of your own choices and decisions. You may feel ashamed of your past mistakes, unsure if you really can take personal responsibility and move forward. Whatever emotion comes up, good or bad, know that it’s normal when you’re making a significant life change. And however you feel, don’t judge yourself! Acknowledge what you’re feeling; ask yourself if your thoughts are rational or if they’re just old fears talking to you. Then stick to your commitment to stop blaming others and take responsibility for your own life. The word for you today is: “Forgetting those things which are behind…[reach] forward to those things which are ahead.”
Soul food: Gal 5:22; Luke 19:11-26; Ps 36:5-9; Heb 10:19-23
Galatians 2:21 MSG
While grace doesn’t give anyone a license to live as they please, the judgmentalism that comes from insisting that others live by our standards has caused untold damage. Chuck Swindoll writes: “Legalism spreads a paralyzing venom…blinds our eyes, dulls our edge and arouses pride in our heart…love is overshadowed by a mental clipboard with a long checklist requiring others to measure up…soon friendship is fractured by a judgmental attitude and a critical look. And before you conclude that you’re not guilty, observe your reaction when you meet another believer who doesn’t think, act, or dress the way you do. Even when you think you’re sophisticated enough to disguise your real feelings, they come out in the ‘stony stare’ and the ‘holier than thou’ attitude.” Jesus said, “Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you” (Luke 6:37 CEV). A judgmental Christian acts as though blowing someone else’s light out will cause their light to shine brighter. But it’s not so. Paul writes, “If a…relationship with God could come by rule-keeping…Christ died unnecessarily.” You say, “But what if someone is getting off track, or sinning intentionally?” The Bible says, “If another believer is overcome by sin…humbly help that person back onto the right path…be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1 NLT). When you take it upon yourself to condemn others – you are denying them the same grace you may need before the day is over.
Soul food: 2 Kings 16:1-18:16; Matt 24:29-51; Ps 26; Prov 7:26-27
Galatians 2:21 MSG
Grace is when we show favour to those who don’t deserve it. And that’s what God shows us. His love and favour are available to us, even though we make mistakes and don’t deserve it. While grace doesn’t give us a licence to live however we want, we can often be guilty of judging others for not living up to our standards. And that’s not how we should be living. Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you’ (Luke 6:37 CEV). God doesn’t have a set of rules and regulations that we have to stick to in order to be loved, to have eternal life or to have a relationship with Him. Paul writes, ‘If a…relationship with God could come by rule-keeping…Christ died unnecessarily.’ But what do we do when it’s obvious that someone is getting off track, or sinning intentionally? How do we show them grace but also show them that they’re taking the wrong path? The Bible says: ‘If another believer is overcome by sin…humbly help that person back onto the right path…be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself’ (Galatians 6:1 NLT). We can help others without condemning or judging them. The Bible also tells us: ‘If anyone has caused grief…you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 2:5-7 NIV). So we need to be forgiving, encouraging and showing others the same grace that we need ourselves.
2 Kings 16:1-18:16; Matt 24:29-51; Ps 26; Prov 7:26-27
Matthew 18:15 NIV
For a relationship to be successful, we need to have good communication with each other. Without sharing our thoughts and feelings with the other person, we won’t get very far. In fact, we may just end up resentful and bitter because the other person didn’t do what we expected them to. But without telling them what we need, we can’t expect them to know. And if we don’t tell someone when something they’ve done has hurt us, we can’t expect them to apologise or change their behaviour. In today’s society, communication has reached new levels. We can now talk to hundreds of people through social media. And we need to be careful what we’re saying about our relationships when we’re online. Let’s not post about what’s going wrong in our relationships or what’s annoying us about our partner. That’s not helpful for the situation or honouring towards them. We need to make sure we’re raising issues in our relationships, and raising them in the right way. The Bible says: ‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you’ (Matthew 18:15 NIV). Sometimes we need to ask the advice of others outside of the relationship, but let’s be wise about when we do this and who we talk to. Once we’ve raised an issue within our relationship, we need to be willing to forgive. The Bible says: ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. People will make mistakes. If we’re going to make a relationship work, and this applies to friendships too, then we need to be prepared to communicate and forgive others.
Num 16-18; Matt 12:15-21; Ps 107:33-43; Prov 3:27-28