Does your past bother you?
Did you make some mistakes in the past and, although you have asked forgiveness for them, periodically they pop up in your mind? I understand; the same thing happens to me and it happens to man people.
Before we gave our lives to Christ, maybe we did some things that we are not proud of.. for that matter, maybe since we have become Christians we’ve done somethings that we aren’t proud of.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth…”
Think about that verse… “Do not call to mind the FORMER things…”
Many of us have some “former” things we aren’t too proud of. But thank the Lord, if you have asked forgiveness of the former things, you are forgiven. It’s done. God has forgiven you.
I encourage you, not to dwell on the past. I can assure you, if I could, I would go back and do some things differently. But I can’t. So, I try to learn from mistakes.
I also encourage you not to dwell on someone’s past. Maybe someone made a mistake and you will not let go of it. Just as God has forgiven you, God forgives others. Let it go.
There is a poem called the “Lifebuilder’s Creed” that I found in one of John Maxwell’s books. The opening lines read;
“Today is the most important day of my life
Yesterday with its successes and victories, struggles and failures is gone forever.
The past is past.
I cannot relive it. I cannot go back and change it.
But I will learn from it and improve my Today.”
The Lord said, “Do not call to mind the former things…” It’s a new day. Accept God’s grace and move forward.
When our grandson Peyton comes to visit us, we will often get out in the backyard and walk. At times, he walks by himself. But at times – and it’s often if he is about to get on the steps and he’s a little unsure of himself – he will reach up with his hand for me to hold his hand. When I hold his hand, he feels more secure on the steps.
All of us, at times need someone to hold our hand. Now, we may not admit it…. but all of us, at times, are a little unsteady. Maybe money is tight. Maybe we are about to do something that frightens us. Maybe we are facing some health problems.
During all those unsettling… trying times… God offers to hold our hands. In Isaiah 42:6, the Lord says to Israel, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness… I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you.”
Think about that image… Jehovah God… the Sovereign God of the Universe, offers to hold our hands.
When God holds our hands, He gives us stability.
When God holds our hands, He steadies us.
Whatever you are facing today, God offers to hold your hands. In fact, if you look up, God’s hands are reaching down to hold your hands.
Go ahead, take God’s hand.
God promises to walk with us through our trials and adversity and challenges.
What is your hope in this morning?
What are you clinging to or holding onto for hope?
Is it in your bank account? It’s certainly nice to have some money saved but a nice bank account want buy you happiness.
Is it your friends? Are you counting on your friends to give you hope? Friends are great and they can help us and encourage us when times are tough but, friends will let you down. Judas, one of Jesus twelve disciples, betrayed him. So even our Lord experienced this.
Is your hope in your job? That’s great and I’m sure you have a good job but, what happens when you are fired? Where is your hope then?
There is only one reliable, lasting source of hope and it’s the Lord. The prophet Isaiah said years ago, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” (Isa. 40:31).
Think about the verse… “those who WAIT on the Lord, will gain new strength… they will run and not get tired…” Obviously, Isaiah is using a metaphor there… He is saying if our hope is in the Lord, He will give us strength. Even when we are tried, He will give us strength.
So, where is your hope today?
Is it in your team? Ok, what if they lose?
Is it in your new car or new phone? Ok, what happens when your car gets it’s first scratch or you drop your phone and break it?
I know those examples are trivial but you get the point. Our hope… Our strength… must be in one place and one place alone and that is the Lord.
Last night, I attended a wedding rehearsal at Ballground, Ga. The rehearsal supper was held at Downtown Kitchen, in Canton. Just before the meal, the grandfather of the groom was asked to pray. He is 92 years old.
As he prayed he said, “The two most important words in the Bible are ‘Jesus’ and ‘love.'” I like that… of all the words in the Bible, the two most important are “Jesus” and love.”
As I thought about what he said, I thought, “that’s what we should be known for… Jesus and love.”
Think about it… far too often Christians are known for something we are against or church-squabbles or judging people… Instead, we should be marked by and known for love.
I John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Love begins with God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God loved us so much He sent His Son to save us.
Jesus loved us so much He gave His life on the cross of Calvary. “Love” is found throughout the Bible.
Jesus said we should be known for love. He said, “The whole world will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Jesus loved everyone. A person’s background didn’t matter… their past didn’t matter… their mistakes didn’t matter. Jesus loved everyone.
His people… Christians…us… you and me…. we should be marked by love.
Today, don’t be a hater… share God’s love with someone.
Is there any hope?
That’s what many people are asking.
“Is there any hope?”
Is there any hope that I can beat my alcohol or drug addiction?
Is there any hope that my marriage can better?
Is there any hope that I can get a better job?
If there is just a glimmer of hope, that’s all we need. When we are down… discouraged… depressed…. just a little light gives us hope.
In fact, I asked myself that recently… “is there any hope?” The answer I received was, “Yes, there is hope… aa long as God is on the throne, there is hope.”
I think about the people of Israel…. when Pharoah gave them harsh working conditions. They asked God, “Is there any hope?” There was… his name was Moses.
I think about African-American slaves… they worked the cotton fields… they saw other slaves beaten.. they had to ask themselves “is there any hope?” There was.. and they often sang the words that gave them hope.
In Isaiah 35, the prophet speaks of a time when things would be better.. a time when they would have hope.
Isaiah writes, “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees” (Isaiah 35:1-3).
Notice Isaiah says, “… strengthen those with tired hands… encourage those who have weak knees.”
Maybe your hands are tired… maybe your knees are weak. The Lord says to you and me… there is hope. Things may not get better tomorrow but, there is hope. As long as God is on the throne, there is hope.
Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night… you lie there… your minds begins to think about things you need to do… and you can’t go back to sleep. You try and try… you toss and turn until eventually, you just get up. You can’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, what should you do? Why not count your blessings? Why not think about how God has helped you?
That’s what David did in Psalm 63. David said, “For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy” (63:7).
David says, “God, you have been my help…” God has helped us all. Just recently I was reminded of how God has blessed me in the past. As my mind went through the past couple of years, I was reminded of how God has blessed… God has given money in the times we needed it. God has given me jobs at the times I needed them.
But notice also David says, “And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.” What did David mean by “the shadow of Thy wings?” David very likely had the mercy seat in mind. The cover of the ark was the mercy seat. On each end of it, there were cherubim with large outstretched wings. The last David had seen of the ark was when the priests bore it back over the hill toward Jerusalem. As David watched the ark being taken, perhaps it reminded David that the throne he looked at as a believer, was a throne of grace. It was a mercy seat. The shadow of outstretched wings fell upon the mercy seat… which led David to pray, “In the shadow of Thy wings I will rejoice.”
So, the next time you are down… the next time you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, remember how God has helped you and remember the grace of God and “in the shadow of His wings rejoice.”
Back in the early ’90’s, Holli and I attended a conference on the Home that was held in Jackson, MS. One of the speakers was Dennis Rainey. Dennis and his wife had five children, one of which, was adopted.
One time during the conference, I was on the elevator at the same time he was. I asked him which one of his children was adopted? He thought for a moment and said, “You know, I don’t know which one is.”
He knew… but his point was none of them were singled out because of adoption. All of them were his children.
In Galations 4:7, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Ok, get the picture; before Jesus came into the world, we were human beings who could not save ourselves. We were sinners. But, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He paid our sin debt and, anyone… regardless of color, creed, socioeconomic status etc… can ask Jesus to come into their hearts. When we do, although we are not biologically children of God, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God and an adopted child is equal to a biological child.
Whenever you are down, discouraged… depressed… you think you are worthless… be reminded that if you are a Christian, you have been adopted into the family of God. You didn’t deserve it but God loves us and adopted us.