13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (ESV)
Wingman, are there some things you need to put behind you? God wants us to recognize our past, but not be bound by our past. Glance at the rear-view mirror of the past, but gaze through the front windshield of the future. A new year gives us the opportunity for new beginnings.
In Philippians 3:13, Paul made a statement that has the power to transform past painful memories. He had done some terrible things before he met Jesus. No doubt Satan would try to bring up his past and attempt to debilitate him, discourage him, defeat him, and dictate his future. Paul determined that he was going to move forward in the power of a resurrected Savior. Paul set his mind on one prize, and that was hearing Jesus say, “Well done.” He pursued Christ-likeness. Paul speaks of pressing on with a passion. Jesus had gotten ahold of Paul at salvation, and now he would spend the rest of his life fulfilling God’s purpose for his life.
In this devotion we will focus on the phrase, “Forgetting what lies behind.” No one can erase a memory; however, this means consciously choosing to not recall information; to choose to give little attention to it by design. Paul refused to allow the past to influence his future and impede his progress. Using Paul’s example, we discover how to put a painful past behind you.
I. Identify What It Is You Need to Leave Behind
What is it that you need to leave behind? Have you made a poor choice, a bad decision, or experienced a painful event? It may be something you did or something that was done to you. The first step is to bring it into the light. Don’t deny it or pretend it didn’t happen.
II. Put Your Past Under the Blood of Jesus
If you have sinned confess it to God, repent and seek His forgiveness. Then put it under the blood of Jesus which represents what Jesus did on the cross. The blood of Jesus cleanses and forgives us from sin (I John 1:7). The blood of Jesus overcomes Satan (Revelation 12:11). The blood of Jesus delivers from bondage (Colossians 1:13).
III. Do What You Can to Get Closure Concerning Your Past Pain
If you were wrong, do everything possible to make it right. Seek the person’s forgiveness. Apologize and don’t make excuses or blame someone else. If something was done to you that brought pain, choose to surrender your right to hurt the person back for hurting you.
IV. Understand the Difference Between Guilt and Conviction
Guilt can put you in bondage; however, conviction from the Holy Spirit that is acted upon, can set you free. Satan uses guilt and suggests there is no hope or forgiveness. The Holy Spirit uses conviction to give you the opportunity for forgiveness and freedom.
V. Choose to Release It to God. Have a “From-This-Day-Forward” Moment
You will choose to either dwell on your past or focus on God’s great future. God took Paul’s painful past and transformed it into the greatest impact for Jesus in the history of the world. What can destroy you, given to God can be used to deliver others. What can hold you back if you hold onto it, can be used of God to propel you into greatness if you release it to Him.
VI. Accept God’s Grace
Grace is God’s covering for confessed sin, broken spirits and humble hearts. Grace means you no longer hold yourself hostage to that which you have repented and sought God’s forgiveness. Embrace God’s grace as Paul did. Jesus told him:
II Corinthians 12:9
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (ESV)
VII. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself. Take Responsibility for Your Life Now
Your mess up or traumatic experience or painful event can become an excuse or a reason why you aren’t moving forward with your life. Take responsibility for what you have done wrong. Own it and glorify God that He got you through it and you are all in living for Him now.
VIII. Make the Possibilities of Your Future Bigger Than the Pain of Your Past
Paul had too much to live for to allow his painful past to hinder him. Let the most exciting part of your life be what is ahead of you. Don’t miss it by gazing at your past. Glance at the past and learn from it, but gaze at God’s next step. Don’t forget your purpose. It is to glorify God with your life.