“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana Life of Reason
Have you ever felt doomed to repeat? Your story may carry the feeling of a personal history. The good or bad of your family may give you a sense of family history. Maybe you carry certain ethnic pride in a sense of history.
Are you going to be the first person, from your family, to finish high school or get a degree? Are you the first to stay married or live without medication? There can be great personal pride in breaking family history.
If we’re honest, each of us has something from the past that needs to be broken. That’s why we often hear talk of, “letting go of the past”. This is a Jesus idea.
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10
You are the result of God’s ideas! You are God’s creation, His masterpiece. God has a purpose for you and it’s amazing!
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God —truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:21-24
Paul writes to his friends, who he knew for 2 years as followers of Jesus, to “throw off the old and put on the new”. Did you notice that there’s no implication that this is something that God does for us?
We are spiritually free, forgiven, and given a new life through salvation found in Jesus. And yet there is something “good…that He planned for us.” We are able to let the “Spirit renew” our thinking and attitudes. This means real lasting change…in who we are even when no one else is around.
This does not refer to “faking it”. Anyone can fake something for a few weeks.
How does real life change happen? What happens when you’ve come to faith in Jesus and yet still see need for change in your life? That’s exactly the situation of the people that Paul was writing this letter to. Real people…like you.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2
We let go of sin and focus on Jesus. It’s been said that sin will:
…take you farther than you want to go…
…cost you more than you want to pay and…
…keep you longer than you want to stay.
Sin is like a forbidden toy that’s chained to the floor of a burning house. Jesus rescues us from this certain destruction. “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23 Sin separates us from God and brings both spiritual and physical death. We go back to it. Jesus offers us freedom! We go back to it like a freed slave choosing to go back and pick up the chains again. Jesus paid the price for our freedom so that we can live it!
“Now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4
“We are no longer slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6
“When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.” Romans 6:10
“So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
If we focus on Jesus, like keeping your eyes on the ball until you catch it, will make real life change possible!
This is possible by simply interacting with Jesus daily.
Turn off everything with a screen. Get out a Bible, pen, and paper. Ask: Who is God? Who am I? Who is Jesus? What did He do? What did He say? How did He live? Why did He die? How does He now live? What does this mean to me?
This will jump-start your personal interaction. Talk to Him. Listen to Him.
As you grow spiritually you may be uncertain about what you believe. But please don’t be uncertain about who you believe. There is no uncertainty in Jesus. He is all you need.
With every decision you make and every action you take there is a belief under each behavior. Ask yourself, “What do I believe?” Take the time to write down what you believe and put it to the test.
“Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:30-32
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
“So do something about it! Change the way you’re living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God.” Jeremiah 26:13
“Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, This most patient God, extravagant in love.” Joel 2:13
When you come to this place ask God some simple questions:
“What is the one thing that you’re wanting me to change?”
We often attempt to change several things at the same time, but God is asking us to focus on one at a time. Our best chance for success is in the areas that God is already at work, where He is helping us.
Ask for help, wisdom, miracles, and opportunities to do something about it.
“What is one thing that I can do to make a change in that area?”
Write it down. God has wired you for relationship and NOT to attempt this change by yourself. Find someone you respect, like your pastor or small group leader, and tell them about the “one thing” God wants you to change and the “one thing” He suggested you to do about it. Getting help will make a huge difference. You will now know what it’s like to have “life giving” relationships!
Most often this will include “applying the gospel”. This means taking the truth (found in the Bible) and applying it to your situation. Your perspective about the challenge will change. You will see the freedom you have to be new and you will have the help you need for lasting change.
Jesus provides the opportunity for a whole new life. His design is for you to have a spiritual family, like a running group. This is how we can “run with endurance”.
Welcome to a life of breaking history and making history!