Peace On Earth – Getting Past Your Past 

Introduction:

Life is tough enough and filled with enough problems without dragging past ones into it. So, we have to let go of past problems if we are to find peace. No matter how much you dwell on, or stress or grieve about the past, you cannot change it. So you have to accept what can’t be changed and focus on what’s ahead, not on what’s behind and lost.

Something To Talk About:

One of the reasons why peace is difficult to obtain is because too many Christians are bound up in their past – and as a result, they cannot fully live in their present. Before you can really start to move forward in relationship with God, you will first have to learn how to let your past fully go. The bottom line is every saint has a past—every sinner has a future.

  1. Accept that the biggest sins are not too big for God’s grace: Romans 7:24-25 says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” God’s grace is a game changer because it radically alters how you see everything, but especially yourself. Paul, the author of Romans, has a horrendous past, and I’m sure so do some of the people reading this. While you may not have committed the sins that Paul had, you still have things in your past that are embarrassing, disappointing, and maybe even terrible. Rather than denying the past, minimizing the past, or justifying the past, Paul views it through the lens of God’s amazing grace. The shame of the past is eclipsed with the mercy of God. The past is still there, but the past does not hold sway on our lives. God, through Jesus Christ, rescued us from our past and given us a future.
  2. Accept that you are not what you have done. You are what God says you are: Have you ever taken time to consider who you really are?  Too often we allow others or our past to define us. We may have grown up with people around us who told us we are worthless. That we will never amount to anything. The problem with allowing others to define us is that we tend to live our lives in a way that reflects how others define us. That is what Satan wants. God defines us. God said, “the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3).  And if that wasn’t enough, God said that you are so valuable to Him “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”  The question is whose opinion matters most to you? I choose to believe  “thus saith the Lord” concerning me, rather than the opinion of others. I choose to believe that He will forgive my past and walk with me in the future. So, I want to encourage you, from this time forward – no looking back – begin looking at yourself through the eyes of God and find peace.
  3. Accept that you can’t change your past. But Christ can change your future: You can’t change the past. As sorry as we are for the things that we have done, we cannot go back in time and undo them. So given that inescapable truth what good is it anyway to sit and beat yourself up over the things that you’ve done? You may have served time behind bars, but there’s still life left to live. You may have gotten pregnant as a teenager, but there’s still life left to live. Stop worrying about things that you cannot change. Jesus gave us the opportunity to make a fresh start. Which means that the things that you can find in your past don’t have to be a part of your future. He gives me permission to be different tomorrow than I was yesterday.

Questions:

  1. Is living in the past a self-destructive behavior? Why or why not?
  2. What are some ways you can see that what you do is based on your past behavior?
  3. What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?
  4. Read Galatians 1:10: What does this verse tell us about other people in our lives and ourselves?
  5. Do you struggle with any “what if” questions? How can you push past them to experience God’s peace in your life? Rather than worrying and struggling through something uncertain, what can you do to trust God more today?
  6. What steps can we take to break the hold the past has on our lives and experience God’s peace and growth.

Take One Thing Home with You

There have been so many people who have confided in me by saying: “Marty, I am glad you did not know me years ago.” Years ago usually means before becoming a follower of Jesus. But here is the reality: that is the story of anyone who comes to faith in Jesus.  They look back on the trajectory of their life – whether young or old – and they cannot believe what Jesus has delivered them from.  They don’t deny the past. They don’t glory in it.  In many cases it is not pretty. But, it is not the end of the story either. 

It is simply a platform to show the depth and effectiveness of God’s grace – a grace that produces a new person and a grace that produces hope for the future. 

Because when you’ve seen what you’ve been and what God has made you to be, there is ample evidence that nothing is impossible for God.  And as Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Notice the present tense and the lack of any mention of the past. 

If you know Jesus, his grace is greater than your past.  And that grace fuels your future.