February is the 'love' month. All because of February the 14th. Focus on expressing love towards our significant other, whether just dating or married, is in high gear. Not that love isn't expressed any other time of the year, it's just a month designated to showing it. Thousands of dollars are spent on candy, flowers and gifts than in any other month. Don't you know the retailers love this month!
When I think about love, not only the love for and from my family comes to mind, I think about God. After all, He's the One that made it all possible to have family. His love far extends any other. His love is so great for us, He planned for our redemption before our very existence. Any other person would have said, "Oh, just let them go to hell, they deserve it." Yet, throughout all history, God's grace and mercy was extended, all because of His love. If you're like me, it's easy to recall to mind all the wrong actions that we committed before Christ. Regardless of the degree of sin, God in His infinite mercy forgave us when we came to Him and blessed us with innumerable benefits.
Since He gave us much grace, when we completely messed up, it only makes sense that we grant it to others that have hurt, offended, or treated us poorly. Don't they deserve the same kind of regard that God gave us? If God, can look past our immoral behavior and grant us forgiveness and love, how much more should we do for others? Despite the error of their treatment toward us and even though they spoke maliciously, forgiveness is necessary. Col. 3:12-14 says, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. and above all put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Even 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins."
I would suppose that everyone has had some pretty hurtful things happen to them from others over the years. And whether people embarrassed you, tried to defame your character, sent you ugly letters, called you names,or whatever the action, forgiveness is in order. During a season of very hurtful times, God explained it like this to me: "Just like the people that condemned and crucified Christ didn't know what they were doing, neither do the people that hurt you. And just like with Christ, all things work together for good...." It was at that time, that forgiveness towards my enemies no longer was just a faith statement, but became a heart statement. I could truly forgive them and release the pain to God. He then healed my broken heart and freed me from anguish of injury.
Love is more than just giving gifts to the person with whom you have deep affection. Love is what's stated in 1 Cor. 13:1-8a "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...."
Don't just read this blog with the idea that 'someone else' needs to hear this! Read this with the notion that "I" need this. Make a decision that even though you may speak with the tongues of men or of angels, in light of all your spiritual or natural knowledge, whether you have great faith or little faith, in spite of all the 'good works' you do, or all the sacrifices endured, you will care for others more than you do yourself. Resolve that you'll be satisfied with what you have, yet have faith for God's promises. Determine you will put others first, keeping control of your own actions and thoughts. Choose to never notice unfounded misconduct done to you, enduring and persevering in grace and mercy, trusting God in everything. Purpose to look for the best, insist on progressing towards the mark for the prize of God, never giving up but remaining in faith & love - because faith works by love! This is unfailing love!
Are there times you feel defeated, hurt, or perhaps angry over situations that have happened to you? There may have been people that said hurtful things or family members that treated you unfairly. Perhaps some of you had an abusive childhood. All these types of 'life incidents' can develop certain attitudes within us. This type of perspective can influence the way we think about ourself, about others, our values, our priorities, and even how we treat people. It's time we stop allowing these feelings to continue within us and govern our life. I know we can't change what happened to us, but we CAN decide what we will allow to affect us through life's journey. John 10:10 (spoken by Jesus) "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly."
In this world there are two forces at work, destruction and restoration. Of course we recognize that the devil wants to steal any joy or peace that we have, thus bringing up the past and it's hurtful experiences. But notice Jesus said in John 10:10, "....I have come that they may have life and they may have it more abundantly." That's restoration! He wants to restore what the enemy has stolen from you. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live free of anger, resentment, or grief? I know you're asking, "How can I do that? The circumstances are dreadful. I really feel hurt from what happened."
First we must realize we can choose to quite blaming the people or the circumstance on why our life is the way it is today. God said in his Word, "...I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life..." (Read Deu. 30) We hold the key to our future. Know this, what others have done TO you is not a reflection of who YOU are! It is an expression of who THEY are! Although we can't change what happened, we can decide right now not to take ownership of the heartache! Let's not allow any bad feeling cling to us. We need to enable the Word of God to bond to us and the bad feelings to roll off. Eph. 2:10 (AMP) says, "For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]." Agreeing with the Word instead of the pain begins the restoration process. That's when we will be able to see there's a good life in store for us.
Secondly, we must decide to forget. Phil 3:13 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,". Forgetting can be difficult, but we must understand what forgetting really means. Forgetting is NOT, denial, amnesia, concealing the facts, or even ignoring. A certain minister once said, "Forgetting is a process whereby the former events loose their power to control your present or dominate your future. Forgetting doesn't erase the history, but eliminates the past from being the predominate factor in your life." You know there's always going to be tribulations. There will always be people against us. And there will be situations that cause hurt. But we must remember God is always for us! Rom. 8:31(b) "...If God be for us, who can be against us?" His intervention of love and grace will allow healing to transpire and thus lead us into an extraordinary life.
Letting the Word of God become more influential than the pain and hurt will free us from the hold of the wounding experience. It's time we take the necessary steps towards living a life of victory, not influenced by anything other than God's Word. Why don't you make a decision today to focus on the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It will set you free from the law of sin and death! Be the master of your attitude not the victim!
Our focus will determine the direction of the heading. We can't continue to look at what was or what could have been, and expect to get anywhere. If the attention is on something that's from the past - it's easy to come to a stalemate. Living in the yesteryears only keeps us IN the past. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJ)"Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." One can't run a race and reach the intended goal looking behind to where he's been.
Past hurts, failures, or even past successes can keep us bogged down and unable to move forward. No matter how much we think, about what was or what could have been, it won't change anything in the now or the future. The gift of 'today' should be enjoyed today, and the mystery of tomorrow to be prayerfully anticipated.
I realize we can learn from our past. But that doesn't mean we have to keep focused on it. Log it, learn from it and move forward. Don't camp out there. I also know there are good memories from our past that touch our heart and bring smiles, maybe even tears. However, I am aware that it's easy to remain mentally locked on a memory of a situation or person that can cause us to exist in the realm of the coulda, shoulda, and woulda's. This can be a detriment to advancing. It can cause us to take the regard that the past situation or people, were more important than the ones in our life now. Because all we think or talk about is that previous event or person, therefore, other's in our life, feel less significant.
As many of you, we have encountered some very hurtful situations over the years. But the one thing we've learned is forgiveness is crucial to moving on. And with that forgiveness, comes leaving the pain and the embarrassment behind, never to reminisce. Yet understanding we must guard our hearts and continue to walk in God's love.
We've also made some wrong decisions. It's easy to look back and say, 'sure wish we would have done that, instead of this'. That's where we come to realize that the path we went down, has brought us to the place we are now. And although other choices may have been better, we must rejoice in the Lord for His 'working everything out conforming it to His will. (Eph. 1:11) & (Rom. 8:28)
There have also been some very wonderful people in our life that are now walking with the Lord. And although we remember them with great fondness, we've discovered that the memory of their life continues to bring us joy. But we decide to focus on those living around us, whose lives are impacting us and affected by us while we still can.
This is where we must decide to allow the past to be the past and put our attention on the here and now. Why? Because God has a plan, a purpose for us. There are people we must minister to and lives we must touch. Keeping the perspective of the past will allow us "to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."