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February 11, 2016

Overcoming Your Past with Praise

Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. … In those days you were living apart from Christ. … You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13 (NLT)

How often have you been told to forget your past, only to have it haunt your memories overwhelming you with guilt and paralyzing you in shame?  For those who struggle with past failures, it can feel like a wave that hits you and tries to take you down.  It’s everything you can do to remain standing or not get caught in an undertow of self-condemnation.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s just thinking of yourself less.  God has called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but how do you do that when you’ve made mistakes that have hurt others.  Paul, who wrote this epistle, got that.  He had a past too.  He never forgot how cruelly he had mistreated Christ followers.  When he wrote to Timothy, he said,

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NLT) 

Shouldn’t we just try harder to forget our past failures?  Paul offers a better solution than hypnosis, shock treatments, and prescription drugs.  He encourages us to remember them. Why?  In order to realize how great a gift salvation really is!  If you’ve ever felt separated from God, beyond hope, excluded, then these verses in Ephesians 2 are for you!  No one is alienated from Christ’s love!  His grace is greater than all our sin!  Notice those two words in this passage “But now…”  You are not the same person anymore!  A new life began the moment you trusted Christ.  You are united with Him!  Once you were far away from God, BUT NOW you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ!  Overcome your past with praise every time the wave of guilt hits you.  Praise God for His rich grace that He lavished on you to forgive and accept you in His forever family!  You are a trophy of His grace put on display for the glory of God!  Rather than allowing Satan to beat you up over your past, lift your heart in praise for all that God did through Christ to transform you into the person you are today!