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February 18, 2014

Redemption

“… forgetting the past.”

Phil. 3:13 (NLT)

It seems to be human nature, reinforced by Satan’s strategy no doubt, that we often find it difficult to let go of the past, especially our failures. One of the schemes of the devil is to knock us down and when we’re down, he wants to keep us there. Even the great Apostle Paul struggled with haunting memories of his past. Failure can lead us to believe a lie. It can lead to despair, thinking that it’s no use now. Just give up. Then God offers redemption! The miracle of redemption doesn’t change the past but it offers hope that God is not done. Opportunities may have been missed. Decisions made may be irreversible: nevertheless, God says, “Get up and move on into a new day with sins forgiven!” That’s redemption! I think of Peter’s personal failure when he did the unimaginable, at least to him. He denied even knowing Christ not once, but three times! It was unthinkable! Just moments before, he said that he would die for Jesus. Imagine the sense of defeat and despair Peter must have felt. Have you ever felt that way? Ever felt like giving up? Don’t! One of my favorite devotional writers, Oswald Chambers, said, “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.” That’s exactly what Peter did. Jesus told him, “I’m not through with you, Peter.  Feed my sheep.” You might think Jesus would have said, “I told you so and scolded him.” He didn’t. When you feel the weight of despair over your past failure and you’re living with irreversible consequences, the sheer regret can lead you into hopelessness. In that moment, you have a choice. Will you listen to the voices of defeat and quit or will you hear the voice of Jesus saying get up and follow Me? Paul dealt with his past like this. “… I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil. 3:13b-14 NLT) I love the last word “us” in that passage. That includes you and me. When Peter rose from his defeating denial, he went on to declare the risen Christ at a public festival in Jerusalem and three thousand people responded with faith in Christ! I wonder what God has in store for you? Let redemption do its work in your life and experience what God can do through you now.