Are You Living in the Past? the Present? or the Future?

Self-evaluation is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Asking yourself the hard questions about life and death, evaluating your actions toward others and checking your moral compass is sometimes brutal. Determining the paradigm for your thought-life is a relevant and necessary action for living in victory. Are you living in the past, the present or the future? Where your thoughts reside has a lot to do with your peace and victory in life.

The Bible speaks often about the power of the mind and thoughts. Our thoughts can carry us into the past, help us magnify the present or cause us to fantasize about the future. The choice is ours.

Dr. Caroline Leaf says in her book, Switch On Your Brain, “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.”

The Apostle Paul shared the relationship between thoughts and reality in Romans 12:2 “Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Proverbs 23:7 says, “As someone thinks within himself, so is he.” Another probing and powerful verse is found in Deuteronomy 30:19, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

The Bible and science both point to the power of our thought life! It is time to evaluate our thought life and make some changes.

Living in the past is one of the most prevalent thought patterns binding mankind. We rehearse past failures, hurts, rejections and regrets in almost every conversation. We nurse the pain of the past and cloud the hope for the future by living in yesteryear. Several years ago, I was visiting with a new acquaintance on one of my ministry trips. She began to share about her divorce and how it was impacting her life. I listened compassionately as she shared her pain and regret through tears and anguish. She continued to go deeper and deeper into depression as she shared the rejection she felt from her ex. I looked at this beautiful, wealthy, perfectly coiffured young woman and wondered how I might comfort and encourage her. I asked as a beginning point, “How long as it been since the divorce was final?” I expected from the overwhelming distress in her sharing, a noticeably short period of time. She responded, “Seventeen years.” I almost gasped as I understood the depth of her thought patterns and the torment of seventeen years of living in the past. I was able to help her see that she was trapped in the bondage of the past and that God had given her a choice to walk free of the pain and shame. She understood and made a choice that was evident a year later when we visited again. Death had been replaced with life and the past had been put in its place!

Living in the future is the second most prevalent thought pattern binding mankind. Victory is push forward to another day when life is better, we have more money, the children are on their own, when a degree is completed, or a new job appears. The thought pattern of living in the future is like looking into a big building with many windows but no door. You can circle the building and see all the goodies inside, but they are out of reach. You are looking and longing for what might be yours, but the entrance is somewhere out of present sight. You cannot touch it or make it your own. Living in the future breeds frustration, envy of what others have, comparison and hopelessness. The future is a goal but not a place to dwell.

Living in the present is God’s choice for a healthy life.  Consider these verses from the New Testament NLT.  Matthew 6:11, “Give us today the food we need”  Matthew 6:30, “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?   2 Corinthians 6:2, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

All 216 verses in the Bible that refer to “today” carry the thought that God’s love, grace, mercy and favor are for the present. Why would we live anywhere else?

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