Putting the Past Behind YouDecember 28, 2019
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:9
I have spent the whole month of December recalling personal experiences surrounding Christmas from my childhood and exhorting you in the Word of God from those personal memories. But now it’s time to take inventory of this past year: what you accomplished that you promised yourself you would do — and what you didn’t accomplish. As you take inventory, you may find that you’ve made some progress but are still “in process” on some of the things you had promised you’d do this year. And, honestly, you may find that you need to ask God for forgiveness for not responding to things the Holy Spirit had prompted you earlier to change during this year.
Each year at a meeting that kicks off our New Year’s holiday, our Moscow team gathers for a wonderful afternoon celebration together, where we rejoice over the victories of the past year and share our vision for the upcoming year. Over the years, we also developed a tradition of handing out paper and envelopes — and we ask people to write down what they want God to do in their lives in the upcoming year. We’ve done this for so many years that everyone now comes prepared for what he or she is going to write on that piece of paper.
After the team members write down their goals, they insert that piece of paper into the envelope. I stand before all of our employees with my hands laid on those envelopes, and as a group, we pray over them. Afterward, all the envelopes are placed in a “safe” where they are not touched for a year — until the next New Year’s team celebration.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
When we all gather the following year to celebrate, we take the envelopes out of the safe and redistribute them to those whose names are written on them. People quickly tear them open to see if they fulfilled what they believed God had told them to do a year earlier — or if they had fallen short of those goals. Often we hear praise reports of fulfilled victories; at other times people recognize that they are still in the process of fulfilling what they had written down. Some have to conclude that they wrote down hopes and dreams that were yet to be fulfilled.
I’ll be honest and tell you that for years, I wrote on my concealed piece of paper the goal of building a permanent home for our Moscow church. Year after year, I wrote it again, again, and again — never giving up on my confident expectation and my faith that God would enable us to actually own a permanent property for our church.
Like everyone else on our team, each year when envelopes are redistributed, Denise and I receive ours and open them to read what we wrote the year before. After the year-end celebration is finished, Denise and I have often gone to dinner by ourselves, where we share what we wrote down the previous year. Then we share with each other what was accomplished; what is in the process of being fulfilled; or even at times what we totally failed to do. It is a time when we hold ourselves accountable to the Lord and to each other. Sometimes it’s been a time of rejoicing. Other years we’ve repented for failing in major areas that God had dealt with us about. If we had a major victory — if something we wrote down the year before came to pass — we are certain to rejoice and give thanks to God!
This time of personal inventory has become very important to us, not only as a married couple, but also as a ministry. It is a time of accountability before the Lord for us all.
This leads me to ask you about your past 12 months. Have you fulfilled the promises you made to yourself and to the Lord when this year started?
If you’re looking back on a year that holds some victories, rejoice and share it with someone else! But if you have utterly failed at reaching specific targets that God put on your heart, I suggest that you immediately put First John 1:9 into operation, which says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a powerful verse to release us from condemnation of failure or non-performance!
The word “confess” is the Greek word homologia, and it means to say the same thing as God says. In other words, rather than debate with God about where you have failed, it’s time for you to get into agreement with God about your shortcomings. And when your confession is heartfelt, the Bible says that God is faithful and just to forgive you. The word “forgive” is the Greek word aphiemi, and it means to release, to let go, or to totally dismiss. In other words, if you’ve made a real heartfelt confession about where you have blown it, God promises that He won’t hold it against you. In fact, He’ll release you from it and send that failure as far away as the east is from the west (see Psalm 103:12). Not only will He forgive you and dismiss your failure, He’ll start with you all over again to win that victory you missed this past year!
Never forget that God is on your side, and He wants to see you victorious and burden-free! He just needs your heart agreement — a true acknowledgement of any failure or sin. The moment He has that, He will dismiss that failure or sin from you and release the resurrection power of Christ to help you achieve what He has put in your heart to accomplish!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I admit that I’ve failed to fulfill some of the things You definitely told me to do in the past year. I confess it, I admit it, and I walk free of it. You do not hold it against me, because I am making a heartfelt confession about it. In fact, You take my failure and remove it from me as far as the west is from the east! And Your resurrection power helps me pick up right where I am to start anew and to gain those victories that belong to You and that You long to impart to me! I thank You, too, for helping me reset the start button to gain new victories in these areas of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God’s mercies over me are new each day. Therefore, each day is a brand-new opportunity to forget those things which are behind me as I press toward the prize of God’s calling that is drawing my attention to focus more and more upon Him. As I prepare my heart and mind to evaluate this past year, while giving attention to what God desires of me for the next year, I consider my ways and evaluate myself in the light of God’s Word. I trust in the Lord to reveal to me throughout the coming year how to stay on track with His plan for me. I receive fresh grace to do whatever it takes to discipline my body and mind, and to order my days so I don’t waste precious time. I am diligent and I am faithful; therefore, I abound with blessing and I live free of regrets!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you made a spiritual inventory to see how well you did at keeping the commitments you made to the Lord at the beginning of this year? Perhaps it would be helpful for you to take the time to do this so you can be honest with God about where you did well and where you could have done better.
- Denise and I help each other at this time of the year to see how well we fared on our spiritual commitments. Whom do you have who can help you honestly look at your commitments and help hold you accountable?
- What other steps do you need to take to put the past behind you and to get ready for the new year?