Philippians 3:13-14 AMPC
We all have a “past.” It’s filled with hurts others have done to us, mistakes that got us into trouble, and things we’re so ashamed of we wouldn’t dare talk openly about them. What to do? There are only two things you can do with your past: focus on it, or forget it and move on.
If you need forgiveness, ask God for it, receive it by faith, learn from your mistakes, and try to do better next time. Paul wrote: “One thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward” (vv. 13-14 AMPC). Note the words “my one aspiration.” Before Paul met Christ, he routinely imprisoned and executed Christians and shut down churches. And what’s more, he got paid for it! Maybe that’ll make you feel a little better about your past. Now, however, Paul had only one aspiration: “straining forward to what lies ahead.”
When you fail by sinning, you compound your failure by obsessing over it and wallowing in guilt. Why? Because God has provided forgiveness for you! So whether you sinned twenty years or twenty minutes ago, there’s nothing you can do about it except to ask God for forgiveness, receive it, put it behind you, and move on. You must let go of yesterday’s mistakes in order to grasp today’s blessings. When you learn to do that, you will enjoy life the way God intended.
Soul food: 1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9
Philippians 3:13-14 AMP
We all have things in our past that play on our minds. The past is often filled with hurts others have done to us, mistakes that got us into trouble, and things we’re so ashamed of we wouldn’t dare talk openly about them. But what can we do about it? We can’t change what’s happened, so the alternatives are: focus on it, or let it go and move forwards.
Focusing on the past means we take our eyes off God and His plan, and we stop moving into the future and the blessings He’s got for us. So we need to choose to move forwards. If we need forgiveness for anything in our past, we should ask God for it, receive it by faith, learn from our mistakes, and try to do better next time. Paul wrote: ‘One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (vv.13-14 AMP).
Before Paul met Christ, he imprisoned and executed Christians and shut down churches. But after, Paul had only one goal: ‘reaching forward to what lies ahead’. He refused to let his past mistakes prevent him from receiving God’s future.
When we fail, we can make things worse by obsessing over it and wallowing in guilt instead of taking hold of the forgiveness God offers to us. There’s nothing we can do about past sins and mistakes except to ask God for forgiveness, receive it, let the past go, and move forwards. We have to let go of yesterday’s mistakes in order to grasp today’s blessings and enjoy the life God intended for us.
1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9
Hosea 14:4 NKJV
Halftime in the game is for rest and assessment. It’s a time to regroup – to evaluate how things have been going and decide what adjustments need to be made for the rest of the game. Often a team may look like they’re losing at halftime, but by the time the game ends they’ve turned things around and won. Until the final whistle sounds, the game is still up for grabs. And the same is true in life. If you’re still here, the game of life isn’t over for you. Your clock is still ticking. You have a life yet to live. Not only that, but the first half doesn’t have to determine the outcome of the game. Maybe you’ve made mistakes, experienced disappointments and failures. Maybe life has dealt you a harsh blow here or there. But you are still here – and as long as you are, the whistle hasn’t blown and it’s not too late for God to take you straight to the plan He has for you. You see, God looks at your future while the Enemy tries to keep you focused on your past. God says, “You can, in spite of what’s been done!” But the Enemy says, “You can’t, because of what you’ve done.” God will never define you by your past, whereas the Enemy will try to control and confine you by using it against you. Whether the good, the bad, or the ugly dominated your first half, Satan’s goal is to keep you chained there. God, on the other hand, wants you to learn from your past – not live in it.
Soul food: Jer 25-27; Luke 5:1-11; Ps 102:18-28; Prov 15:4-7
Isaiah 57:18 NLT
Ever felt broken? Or felt like you’d made too many mistakes and now could never be the person who God made you to be? In the Bible we read about God raising up broken people in amazing ways. For example, He used Moses, a murderer, to deliver the Hebrew slaves. And He used Jacob, a liar, to fulfil His promise to Abraham. If God redeemed them, He can redeem us too. Sometimes we can think that brokenness is a bad place to be. We don’t like how it feels, and we think we’ve failed. But when we’re broken, we’re in a great place. Brokenness creates humility in us because it’s at the point we reach rock bottom that we truly realise how much we need God. Jesus said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NLT). Brokenness can help us fully grasp what Jesus was saying in this verse. And when we learn to rely on God for everything we need, we’re in a powerful position. This surrender allows God’s will to be brought about in our lives. It allows God access to our hearts so He can heal and restore them. But if we constantly focus on the mistakes and hurts of our past, then we’re not allowing God to do new things in us. We need to look ahead to our future rather than be stuck looking at our past. When we turn to God He’ll forgive us, restore us, and use us for His purposes. He said, ‘I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips’ (Isaiah 57:18-19 NLT). God doesn’t give up on us, so let’s not give up on ourselves.
Jer 7-9; Luke 3:11-20; Ps 64; Prov 14:25-28
Luke 19:8 NIV
To have integrity means we do the right thing, even if nobody sees us or knows about it. It’s about who we are when no one is watching. And, as Christians, it’s about living wholly for God. The Bible says, ‘The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity’ (Proverbs 11:3 NIV). Sometimes we make mistakes, and we don’t demonstrate integrity. Zacchaeus is a great example of someone who lost and then regained his integrity. He became rich by taking more taxes from people than his Roman masters demanded, and keeping the extra for himself. But after he met Jesus, he said, ‘If I have cheated people…I will give them back four times as much!’ (NLT). Jesus said, ‘Salvation has come to this home today’ (Luke 19:9 NLT). Rebuilding our integrity means acknowledging that we’ve done something wrong, such as having ungodly thoughts or hurting someone. Then we need to repent of the mistakes we made. This goes further than just owning up to what we’ve done. It means we also make changes to our lifestyles to help us avoid making that mistake again. Zacchaeus made amends by repaying the people he had stolen from, and choosing to live differently from then on. Sometimes we can think that if the things we’re doing aren’t affecting anyone else, then it doesn’t really matter. But God always sees what we’re doing. Job said: ‘Does he not see my ways and count my every step?’ (Job 31:4 NIV). When He sees us, does He see someone with integrity? If not, let’s acknowledge what we’re doing wrong and make some changes to our lifestyles.
Hosea 6-10; Luke 2:21-33; Ps 17; Prov 14:13-16