By Lawrence Knighton
I am sure that many of you can attest to the fact that, just like me, you are glad that 2010 is here. There were many things that happened in 2009 that we want to hurry up and forget.
The one thing that all of us have in common is that we have all done some things and made some mistakes that we are not proud of. All of us have made some decisions that we wish we could take back. But, the beautiful thing about life is that we all have another opportunity to make it right. We can say, “2009 we are leaving it behind and in 2010 we won’t make the same mistakes again.” It is my prayer that all of us would make 2010 our best year ever.
I preached a message on the first Sunday of this year titled Your Future Is Brighter Than Your Past. This message came from Philippians 3:7-14. Paul, the writer of this book, was in prison for spreading the gospel and he pens this letter to encourage the church at Philippi to remain focused on doing the will of God. Paul before his Damascus Road experience was a persecutor of the church and he had Christians killed for their belief in God. But, even with his messed-up past, Paul went on to start many churches as well as help save many souls. What a mighty testimony!
Paul had people killed and he persecuted Christians, but God still ended up using him in mighty ways. What is the message behind all of this? The message is this — just because your past was one that you are ashamed of, your future is brighter than your past. As a matter of fact, your worst days are behind you and your better days are ahead of you. You have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can use you even with your messed up past.
The problem with many people is that they have a hard time forgiving. Not only do some people have a hard time forgiving themselves, but forgiving others as well. It will be extremely difficult to have a bright future when you have not forgiven yourself or others for past mistakes. The only thing this does is keep you from having a bright future. What past mistakes or failures are you holding on to that keep your future dismal? Whatever it is, you need to let it go.
If you have asked Christ for forgiveness, He has already forgiven you. If you are holding on to unforgiveness, God cannot forgive you of your sins. Whatever you do, make sure you let go of the things that will keep you from experiencing the fullness of God.
If your future is going to be bright, there are some things that you need to know. The first thing you need to know is that your focus has to be shifted. In verses 7-10 of Philippians 3, Paul makes it known that the things of his past whether good or bad, he counts it as garbage. In other words, they are meaningless. We have to get to the point in our lives where things that used to matter, don’t matter anymore.
The second thing that you must know is that you must be honest with yourself. Paul says in verse 12 that he has not arrived. In other words, “I am not all that!” We have to learn how to be honest with ourselves with where we are. It is hard for people to admit where they are in their lives. But, if you can get to the place where you are honest with yourself, things will work out for you.
The third thing that you must know is that you cannot take your past into your future. Paul says in verse 13 that he was forgetting those things which are behind him. In other words, leave the past in the past. You can never have a fruitful future when you take your past into your future. I want to make it clear that the only way that we can have a brighter future is when we understand these three points.
If you can shift your focus, be honest with yourself and leave your past in the past, your future can be bright. We are in the year 2010 and it is obvious that time waits for no one. So the question remains, What are you going to do differently in 2010 that will cause your future to be bright? Will you get back in school, become a better father or mother, make things right with your family or become more intentional about growing as a person? Whatever your decision, do like Paul and make sure that out of all that you strive for, make your main goal to know God.