Discouragement will drain your energy, especially when you face trials. That’s why it’s very helpful to spend time with people who know how to encourage. Some people know just what to do or say to remind you that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of pain and failure. They know how to inspire when there seems to be nothing to hope for. Barnabas, an early follower of Jesus whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ was just that kind of guy. Continue reading →
God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future. As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.
Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past. The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses. It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).
Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God. In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.
When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it. Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.
Here’s a great principle of prayer: You can do a great deal for people after you pray for them but little of lasting value until you pray for them.
I don’t think I need to argue about the value of praying for your spouse, kids, and friends. But sometimes in our busy culture it’s tough to clear your mind and get started. So let’s look to a man who knew the value of prayer. The apostle Paul begins many of his letters with a helpful pattern.
If you look at his letter to the Philippians, for instance, you’ll see it begins with a blessing of grace and peace. Grace is the reason for our salvation and peace is the result. Paul then gives thanks for the Philippian believers. Cherish the work that God’s doing in and through others. Next Paul makes requests to aid the spiritual growth of his friends. He wants them to grow in their love, knowledge, and understanding of Christ. Last, Paul prays that they’d behave in a manner that honors God in light of coming judgment. This isn’t a fear tactic but a reminder to live for the ultimate goal of heaven, not the short-term rewards of comfort and pleasure.
God loves it when we come to him in prayer. Will you select one person that God has placed on your heart, and write a prayer for them? For help, look to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.