December 24, 2007
Hope for the Holidays
“Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:36 (NIV)
The holiday season should be a time of cheer. For some, however, it can be lonely and depressing. While the days leading up to Christmas should be filled with peace, joy, and hope, sadness can hover over like clouds on a rainy day. Instead of being surrounded by family, some are surrounded by the darkness of their past mistakes and failures. I wonder if it is because we all have a tendency to define ourselves by what we’ve done or didn’t do.
It’s easy to label ourselves by our past mistakes and wear these labels as if they were truth: No Good, Failure; Unfaithful; Unfit Parent; Liar; Gossip; Addict; Bitter.
The Bible tells us “as a man [or woman] thinks so he/she becomes.” Therefore, if you want to live an unhealthy life, you can. If you want to punish yourself, you will. However, being self-destructive is not God’s plan for your life. In fact, to think this way is to see yourself outside of God’s saving grace.
That’s why the Christmas season offers such hope. God gave each of us what we needed most—a Savior to save us from ourselves. The first step to putting your past behind you and moving forward with a bright and hopeful future is to allow Christ to forgive you and make heaven your future home.
You’ll find it comforting to know that you are not alone in your mistakes. The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That means that there is not one perfect person in the entire world. We have all made wrong turns. I know I’ve made my share. No matter how hard we try to do right, we can’t. So God gave His only Son as payment for our sins. In other words, Christ paid our debt. This payment is a gift from God, which He freely offers to you and me.
The awesome thing is that you or I don’t have to earn this gift – we just receive it through faith. Through Christ’s death on the cross God says, “The debt for your sins are paid in full.”
All you and I have to do to receive His forgiveness is to agree with God about our sins. You might say something like this: Yes, God, I have made many wrong choices. I’ve done things I knew I should not do. And I’ve done things that I now realize were wrong. Today, I receive Your free gift of forgiveness for all the wrongs I have done, and I accept heaven as my eternal home. Cleanse me and change my life. Fill me with Your love, hope, joy, and peace. Thank you Jesus, for making my forgiveness possible.
If you sincerely mean what you’ve confessed, then you have been forgiven. Your slate is clean. God remembers your sins no more. It’s as if they never were there. That’s the hope of Christmas and the open doorway to peace!
The next thing you must do is forgive yourself, and forgive others who have hurt you. If you continue to define yourself as a loser or a victim, and the one who hurt you as a villain, then you will not be free.
Unforgiveness keeps us bound and unable to grow. It also warps our perspective. Like looking in the rear view mirror of a car - unforgiveness makes things appear larger than they really are. When you and I make that hurt or mistake bigger than what it is, we give it power to control us.
Just think …this could be the first Christmas where you experience real peace, joy, and forgiveness. It could be the first Christmas you are free to live with hope! It’s why Christ was born…to die and set you free.
Dear Lord, I am a sinner. I believe You died for me and rose from the grave to purchase my place in heaven. Come into my life and take control. Forgive all my sin and help me to forgive others. I’m now turning from my sin and trusting You alone for my salvation. Fill me with Your love, hope and peace in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst
Whenever you start to define yourself by your past, read Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Do you define yourself by your past mistakes?
Do you define others by their past mistakes?
What steps can you take to forgive yourself or others?
Psalms 51:2, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (NIV)
Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (NIV)
Mathew 18:21, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105