Thursday, April 6, 2017

Forgetting the Past

It's natural to think back on  the past and either take pleasure in it or regret it. I want to encourage you to forget the past, regardless of whether it is something good or bad. The Lord says,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Is 43:18b-19a, NIV)

As Smith Wigglesworth once said, “God’s plan for you is to forget the past in every way, because the future is so amazingly wonderful."

The apostle Paul was an excellent example of someone who put this into practice. He had achieved a faultless level of legalistic righteousness, and had superior religious credentials. Yet he said, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (Phil 3:7-8, NIV)

He could have carried those things over into his walk with Christ and boasted about them, but instead he considered them as garbage compared to knowing Christ. He considered them loss for the sake of Christ. He wasn't neutral at all about them, but radically threw out anything that could cause any pride. As Wigglesworth once said, “Whatever has happened in my life up to this moment is of no importance. What matters is what God is to me now.”

Paul put it this way: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13b-14, NIV). He practiced forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

You cannot rely upon your past achievements for God or your past relationship with the Lord or how He has used you in the past. The important thing is how your relationship is with Him today.

God is doing a new thing. If you stay focused on the past, you will miss the new thing He is doing. It keeps getting better and better. He always saves the best for last, just as when He turned the water into wine. The master of the banquet said, "You have saved the best till now." (Joh 2:10b, NIV). The same is true in our lives that the Lord saves the best for last. No matter who you are, you can always say, "The best is yet to come," because if you are still on earth, heaven is yet future. The Lord has set before us the joy of being in His glorious presence for eternity. We know there is great joy set before us that lies just ahead. Indeed, the future is amazingly wonderful.

The apostle exhorted us to practice, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2, NIV). Notice that even Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:!8, NIV). There is no comparison between our sufferings and the glory to be revealed in us. In fact, in his epistle to the Corinthians, he took it a step further to say, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor 4:17, NIV). That means that our troubles are actually helping to bring about the glory we look forward to. It also means that if you had a balance used for weighing things and on the one side you put all your troubles, while on the other side you put the glory of God to be revealed in us one day, then no matter how many troubles you pile onto the scale and no matter how big they are, they will never come close to tipping the scales. Nothing could ever outweigh the glory to be revealed. It far outweighs anything we could ever experience here on earth, whether good or bad. If we keep that in mind, it will help us put our trials into proper perspective, as well as our greatest joys and achievements. Nothing compares with the promised eternal inheritance we have in Christ.

One thing we must not forget are the sins we have committed, which we have not yet repented of or asked God to forgive us for. We must repent of these and seek forgiveness from God, as well as anyone we have offended, and make restitution as necessary. Once we have taken care of these things, then we should forget about them. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9). Once you have taken your trash to the dump, leave it there. Don't go digging it up again and again.

Another thing in the past we must never forget are the Lord's mighty deeds and the wonders He has performed. These we must remember and ponder -- deeds such as His work of atonement on the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection, and the mighty acts of power He has displayed throughout history. We should remember what He did for Israel as a nation, such as His parting of the Red Sea, bringing them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. We should remember what He has done for people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Elijah, Daniel, Shadrach, Mischach, and Abednego. We should remember what He did on the day of Pentecost, and what He did for the apostles like Peter and John in the first century. We should remember what He has done for the saints down through the ages like Martin Luther, John Huss, William Carey,  John Wesley, Adoniram Judson, Ida Scudder, Mary Slessor, Smith Wigglesworth, and Hudson Taylor. We should remember what he has done during the Welsh revival, the Asuza Street revival, the Great Awakening, and the Second Great Awakening. We should remember His might deeds that He has done for us and those we love. We should not forget that we have been cleansed of our past sins (2 Pet 1:9). Let us forget the past, but always remember the Lord's great and marvelous deeds.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like For the Glory of God AloneThe Light and the GloryWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisPleasing the LordSuccess in God's EyesHaving a Servant's HeartHoly Living in a Perverted WorldThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverSeeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and GloryWalking in the Perfect Will of GodOne ThingOur Senior PastorAsk for the Ancient PathsStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodLiving a Life Worthy of the LordAim for Perfection, and The Wardrobe of the Saints. I highly recommend reading Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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