December 5, 2008
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 6:37 (NIV)
God gave each of us what we needed most—a Savior to save us from ourselves. Therefore, 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 over past mistakes can hover like clouds on a rainy day. We all have a tendency to define ourselves by what we have or haven’t done.
We tend to label ourselves by our past mistakes, and then we wear these labels as if there were no alternative. Failure; Unfaithful; Unfit Parent; Liar; Gossip; Addicted; Bitter.
The Bible tells us that as a person thinks, so they become. 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 … because God gave us what we needed most—a Savior to save us from ourselves. The key to putting your past behind you, and moving forward with a bright and hopeful future, is to accept Christ’s forgiveness for you.
You’ll find it comforting to know that you are not alone in your troubles. The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). That means there is not one perfect person in the entire world. We have all made mistakes. I know I’ve made my share. Still, no matter how hard we try to do everything right on our own, 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 of God which He freely offers to you and me.
The awesome thing is, we don’t have to earn this gift. Through Christ’s death on the cross, God simply says, “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 in prayer. Yes, God, I did that thing … I receive your free gift of forgiveness for the wrong 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.
If you sincerely mean what you’ve confessed, then you have been forgiven. Your slate is clean. God remembers your sins no more. It is as if they never were. That’s the good news of Christmas and the open doorway to peace!
The next thing you must do is forgive yourself. You will stay in bondage if you continue to label yourself as a bad or unworthy person for what you have done instead of focusing on the changes God can bring about in you. You must stop defining yourself by your past and read the Bible to learn how God defines His people.
Just think; this could be a Christmas where you experience real peace, joy, and forgiveness. It’s why Christ was born … to set you free.
Dear Lord, I am a sinner. I believe You died for me and rose from the grave to forgive my sins and secure me a 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 I trust You alone for my salvation. Fill me with your love and peace, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Broken into Beautiful: How God Restores a Wounded Heart by Gwen Smith
His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Shepherd
Whenever you start to define yourself by your past, recite 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”(NIV).
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 18:21-22, “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?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’" (NIV)
© 2008 Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 05 December 2008.