A Faith that works when life doesn't Part 5 (Day 15)

 Focus on the Good Times

Paul wrote the book of Philippians to the church he started in Philippi, where a woman named Lydia opened her home and, along with others, welcomed Paul to the city. The Philippian church even helped fund Paul’s missionary journeys. In Philippians 1:5, Paul says, “I thank God for the help you gave me” (NCV).

The thing is, Paul didn’t have a good time in Philippi. In fact, it was one of his roughest churches to get started. He was beaten, whipped, humiliated, falsely arrested, and thrown into prison there. He even survived a major earthquake! Then he was politely asked by the city leaders to leave town.

Yet Paul told the believers, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

What is Paul doing there? He is choosing selective memory. Philippi wasn’t a happy place for Paul, but he chose to not dwell on painful memories. Instead, he expressed his gratitude for the good things that God had done for him and through him.

The longer you know someone, the more likely you are to take that person for granted, look for faults, and remember the bad things instead of the good things.

Are you still clinging to painful memories caused by relationships in the past? Maybe you’ve never let them off the hook, making it hard to enjoy those relationships because you’re still holding on to the hurt.

You need to understand memories are a choice. I’ve mentioned before a story about Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross. A friend reminded her of a particularly cruel thing somebody had done to her years before. The friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her famous reply was, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

Your memories are a choice. If you want to hold on to your painful memories, go right ahead. But you’re not going to be happy! Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people in his life and the work God was doing in and through them. When you do the same, God will bless your relationships far beyond your expectations.

Talk It Over

  • Why is it sometimes easier to hold on to painful memories than to replace them with good ones?
  • How does focusing on good memories change your expectations for the future?
  • How can you express gratitude for the people God has placed in your life? Be as specific as possible.

This devotional © 2021 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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