Breaking Unwanted Patterns of History

Does history repeat itself?

There’s a movie that demonstrates this concept in the most fascinating way – a normal guy going about his regular life has to repeat the same day over and over again… and he doesn’t even know why! As he wakes up to the same day each day, the movie depicts how the character would feel if we were in his shoes! From frustration to hopeless, this man continues to go on until he has a realization that he can respond to his circumstances in a constructive way – to use this day as an opportunity to help others. This transformation allows him to be empathic, kind, and generous to others, which now grants him the opportunity to break free from the repetitious day with his newfound love.

You know the title of the movie yet? It’s the classic ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray (If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you see it since it’s filmed in such an interesting way!) While this movie provides us with a comedic non-fictional story, it does allude to a realistic point we all face: Am I stuck doing the same thing over and over again?

A point to consider: Routine can be wonderful as it helps to set a rhythm for us to live. To do something over and over again can have beneficial results, from living a healthy lifestyle to saving money for an exotic vacation. The difference I am making here is when we allow unwanted routine in our lives – those things that bug us or haunt us; the issues that we cannot seem to shake, cannot get free and continues over and over again.

We all have tendencies, flaws, and circumstances that seem to repeat itself in our lives. Sadly, we see this in Scripture as well. In Acts chapter 6, a man named Stephen is introduced as one who was chosen to help with the food distribution to the widows. Don’t let his ministry occupation fool you though! Stephen was “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) and he was “full of God’s grace and power, who performed great wonders and signs for the people” (Acts 6:8). (On top of that, he had the face of an angel! (Acts 6:15) Unfortunately, there were those who were full of jealousy and made slanderous accusations about Stephen.

In Acts chapter 7, Stephen defends himself by giving a sermon based on their Jewish history. He intentionally mentions how their ancestors refused to listen to the prophets sent to their forefathers. The climax heightens and the mic drops in verse 51-53: “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.” And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

Uh oh. Stephen went straight to the heart with this crowd. Understandably so, the people don’t take it too well, especially after he mentions seeing Jesus “standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). No bueno. They take Stephen and stone him. Stephen, breathes his last, becoming the first martyr of Jesus Christ (Acts 7:60).

We see history repeating itself here and it is in the most ironic way. Their forefathers had a habit of going against and persecuting those God sent to them. Stephen delivers a message about this problematic pattern of their history, which they now repeat it by killing him! It sounds a lot like what happened to Jesus, doesn’t it?

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NLT). It seems like this is the natural state of humanity. What in your life keeps repeating over and over? Is there a problematic pattern that has persisted in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read through this list, or, He might bring a different point to your mind:

  • It seems that each time you’re in a tight spot, your mind thinks of the worst possible scenarios, making you overly anxious.
  • You’ve seen a pattern where people take advantage of your kindness, so you are usually left feeling depleted and discouraged.
  • When a problem arises, you run to something (substances, food, pornography, etc.) or to someone to escape the matters at hand.
  • It’s likely that each day you wake up, you have little motivation to do God’s will and by the end of the day, you feel guilty about it.

Perhaps it is easier for you to live in ignorance and ‘peace’ then it is to try to fix it. Maybe you have become so accustomed to the unwanted history repeating itself that it has become a ‘new normal.’ Well, I believe there’s something you can do about it since “His [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).  This doesn’t say “some” things. It doesn’t say only “big” things. No, it says we have access to EVERYTHING we need for a godly life now, including breaking patterns of history that keep repeating itself. It can be broken in the Name of Jesus.

I have overcome certain circumstantial issues that used to come up over and over again, but are forever gone. Praise Jesus! However, I currently struggle with the notion that I always ‘need to be doing something.’ This is usually in regards to ministry – working for the Lord. I think to myself, “Have I done enough?” “Is there more to do?” “Was today productive?”

I come back to the fact that Jesus is pleased with me for who I am more than what I do. It’s also ironic: I get revelation from the Holy Spirit when I am at rest, not when I am regimented in my day. He is constantly calling me to restfully respond to Him at certain points in my daily life. Therefore, I cannot give into the habit that makes me strive beyond what the Lord is calling me to do.

So how do you go about breaking free from the unwanted, repetitive history? How do you go about ending that cycle of history that the Holy Spirit has put on your mind? I have a few tips that I believe will help you start on your journey of breakthrough and freedom:

  1. RecognizeWhat is the Holy Spirit showing me about my history? What negative, harmful, or sinful patterns keep showing up again and again? (This has been what I have been primarily focusing on with the sample list above).
  2. Submit & Resist – It says that if we submit to God and resist the devil, he HAS to flee (James 4:7). Rest in who God is, who He says you are, and there will be much more He will give you through prayer. Don’t give up! You need to let the enemy know that you mean serious business when it comes to your freedom.
  3. Renew “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). We do this by spending quality time in the Word; otherwise, we’ll follow the pattern of the world. The problem is that much of our ‘history’ is marked by the world, not by the Word. In order to break our history set by humanity, we have to saturate our minds by the standard of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12).
  4. Be Real in CommunityAs another option, it helps to find a person or a group of people who can help you through this. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). People can be used by God to speak the truth, to lift us up, and to encourage you in the faith to break those unwanted patterns of history.

It’s important to remember that as a Christ follower, the Holy Spirit resides within you to help you overcome and have victory in these areas of struggle! You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and breaking the habits of history is growing in maturity in the Lord; He wants you to be free!

May the Lord be with you this week as you take the time to go through the steps above to break the repetition of unwanted history in your life. In this way, you’re not only stopping a pattern of history, but you’re rewriting history for your future.


  1. Now THAT was your best blog yet Pastor! Can I get an amen. The Tony Robbins of Christ!!
    I believe one of the missions of a Pastor is to get the flock moving in the right direction and sometimes they have to turn the burner up. Good one Pastor Nathan!!

  2. I appreciate it Phil! 🙂 Sometimes we have to look back & break those habits before we can move forward. I’m honored that the Lord used this message to speak to you.

  3. Well done!!!!
    Excellent and timely word.

    I am so proud of you. Keep up the GREAT job. I love the pictures of you and Valerie.

    lots of love and continued prayers, Patti

  4. That was great! Thank you so much for this! It comes to me at a time that I am feeling incredibly weak. My husband and I are quitting smoking. I was very tempted to go buy a pack today, resisting with all I have in me. Somehow I’d left out the submission to God. As soon as I read it, I said it and felt comfort and renewed strength. Thank you for reminding me💞
    All my love to you and your gorgeous Mrs.

    • What a great testimony of submitting to God’s power to help you overcome! You touched on a great point that is for all of us – we cannot conquer these unwanted patterns of history in our own strength – only with the strength God gives when we go to Him. May He continue to give you & your husband exactly what you need each day to completely stop smoking. Blessings!

  5. Thank you for these words :
    You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and breaking the habits of history is growing in maturity in the Lord; He wants you to be free!
    Praying for you , Pastor Nathan.

  6. I really appreciate all the time and effort you take to create your messages. I get so much out of them. My least favorite movie of all time is “Groundhog Day.” LOL

  7. Pastor your work is amazing and encouraging.i like the way it’s easy to understand your article… God bless you

  8. I do not take anything as for granted, but only because of God’s great mercy and love. Father has kept me sheltered and protected ( Psalm 91 ) for the past few years and I am being renewed to be whatever it is God has prepared for me to be. Only when his spirit rests on me can I endure. I am waiting on the Lord. The renewing of my mind.

    • Daniel,

      Praise God you are waiting well by focusing on the Lord! Romans 12:1-2 speaks of how our minds are renewed if we do not conform to this world but instead, allow the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation. Waiting in worship, in the Word & in prayer has given you what you need to be ready for what He has for you. May you continue to persevere for what God has for you Daniel!

  9. The tips you gave us Pastor are really helpful, and a great reminder, that we can break the unwanted patterns on our lives, with God’s help. Because He is who He says He is..Our loving Father who is for us, and not against us.

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