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So many things distract us each day, we may sometimes feel we have no control over the train of our thoughts. Yet as long as our will is free, it is still possible for us to choose the direction of our thoughts. In regard to life in this world, we can decide what our outlook or perspective will be, and the quality of our life is greatly influenced by the choice we make. Those who see life as little more than a problem will experience life in one way, while those who see it as an opportunity, will experience life in another, and much better, way.
One of the basic decisions all of us have to make is whether to spend our time looking backward or forward. Do we think more about the past or about the future? There's nothing wrong with wholesome nostalgia, and it's certainly helpful for us to remember the mistakes we've made in the past. But life doesn't move backward, it only moves forward, and if we're Christians, it's important that we give most of our attention to what is ahead of us. We need to spend more time thinking about the "end" or "goal" of life.
Listen carefully to Paul's words to the Philippians: "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14 NKJV). We dare not be content with anything less than the "prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
If we truly believe in God, we believe that life has a meaning and that history is moving toward a purposeful conclusion. What happens in this world is more than a random, meaningless sequence of events -- God is directing history toward a goal that will involve the culmination of His glorious purpose in Christ. If having obeyed the gospel, we live faithfully unto Christ, we can look forward to that grand finale. "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18). We can be among the triumphant ones who march in the victory procession of the King!
Monday: Ecclesiastes 7:8
Key Idea: It is more useful to think about life's end than its beginning.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Solomon mean when he said the end of a thing is better than its beginning? In what sense is this true of life as a whole? In general, should we look at life as a problem or an opportunity? What kind of life results from each of these outlooks?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 30:32,33.
Tuesday: Romans 6:20-23
Key Idea: For the Christian, life in this world is moving toward something worth reaching for.
Questions for Family Growth: According to v.22, what is the "end" awaiting those who have been set free from sin? Consider also 1 Pt. 1:3-9. What encouragement is given to us in Hb. 3:6,14? What did John say in 1 Jn. 3:2?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 31:1-3.
Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Key Idea: We can choose to direct our thinking and focus our attention on the goal of life.
Questions for Family Growth: To what extent can we control the focus of our thinking? Concerning his past sins, how did Paul choose to think in 1 Cor. 15:9,10? What does it mean to "discipline" our thoughts? What direct command is given to us in Col. 3:2?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 31:4-7.
Thursday: Philippians 3:12-14
Key Idea: We need to reach forward and press toward the goal.
Questions for Family Growth: In what sense are we to "forget" the things behind us? What does it mean to "reach forward" (v.13 NKJV)? What are some other translations of this phrase? What did Paul teach us to do in Gal. 6:9? What was Paul's attitude in 2 Tim. 4:7,8?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 31:8,9.
Friday: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Key Idea: The frustrations we meet along the way will strengthen us if we're reaching forward.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Paul say our "light momentary affliction" is doing for us? What did he say about our sufferings in this present life in Rom. 8:18? What exhortation is given to us in Hb. 12:1,2?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 31:10-31.