Joyce Meyer - Getting Past Your Past
Well, thank you, thank you for joining us today for, "Enjoying Everyday Life". You know, who doesn't want to enjoy their life more, I think we all do. And, there are certain principles, biblical principles that if you follow them it will really increase your joy. And, what we're gonna talk about today, I think is one of those things. I'm calling it, "Getting past your past", because you see, whatever's in the past you can't really do anything about that.
Now, maybe, you can apologize to somebody or something like that, but no matter what kind of a past you've had, no matter how bad it has been, or how bad somebody's hurt you, or no matter how many bad things, perhaps you have done yourself, you can get past your past because you all still have a great future out ahead of you. But, if you try to drag the past along with you, then you really end up living halfway between two places and you're never, you know, successful. And, to be honest, it doesn't matter if it's the past of a mistake you made this morning, or if it's something from 20 years ago, or 50 years ago, if you're old enough to say that.
And so, we have to let go of it. And, one of the ways that we let go, one of the main ways is just not to focus your mind on it all the time. You know, the Bible says that God forgets our sins. Well, I don't think that means he couldn't remember them if he wanted to, but I think it just means that, that's not what he's focused on. And, that's what, you know, when the Bible tells us to forget the past, obviously, you could still remember it if you wanted to. But, sittin' around thinking about it all the time is not gonna do any good. I love the fact that Jesus said, "I am". He didn't call himself, "The great I was," or "The great I will be," but he said, "I am". So, if we don't live in the present then we miss his presence for sure, so...
You know, the Bible's full of people who had a not-so-great past that were used mightily by God and did great things. Peter, for example, certainly, a man with a past. Will God be able to use us if we have an unpleasant past? Well, to be honest, I think it's easier for him to use people who have actually experienced some problems in their life than those maybe, who had it absolutely perfect simply for the reason that you can have compassion more if you've gone through something yourself. Now, that doesn't mean that God can't use people that haven't been through all that because he certainly can. But, I know all the bad stuff that happened to me, God has used it now.
And so, what does the Bible say? That he, "Works all things together for our good". It doesn't have to be good for God to turn it into something good. And, that's really one of the greatest promises in the word and one that we really need to think about more. No matter what it is, if it's my mistake, if it's something somebody did to me God can take it, what does it say, if we love him, and we want his will. That's it. Just love him and want his will, and give it to him and he'll be able to take it and make something good out of it.
Now, Peter was a good guy, especially from the standpoint of he was really bold, and he was not afraid of change. But, he didn't always use a lot of wisdom, especially with his mouth. Can anybody in the room say amen? Alright, I read the cutest thing the other day. It said, I seriously, "I need a serious speed bump between my brain and my mouth". And I thought, "Yep, that's for me". So, just a couple of things that Peter did. He actually, when Jesus said it was time for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer where he was preparing for his death and then of course his resurrection, Peter actually, rebuked him. It says in Matthew 16:22 and 23, "And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him".
Now, I mean, who with very many smarts would do that? You know, "Oh, Jesus, we need to talk. You need a little correction here". For you are not, this is what Jesus said to him, "But he turned to Peter and said, 'get behind me satan,'" interesting. So, satan was provoking Peter to do what he did. Just like God works through people, the enemy can work through people. And, many times, we even let him work through us and we don't even realize what's going on. See, God can use everyone of you to make somebody feel better, but the devil can use any of us to make somebody feel bad. So, he said, "'get behind me, satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'"
So, what was Peter's mindset during that time? Well, I don't know. Maybe it was his great love for God, for Jesus, he didn't want to see him suffer. But, the other possibility is Peter was with him, so maybe, he figured, "Well, if you're gonna suffer I may suffer and I'm not too big on that so let's just don't make that trip". You know, for whatever reason Peter said, "Oh, no Lord, you must not do that". Well, Jesus knew that was why he came, and he had to do it and he wasn't gonna let anybody stop him or talk him out of it. So, we have to be careful in our life when we know that we're supposed to do somethin'. See, when God speaks to you about somethin' he wants you to do that doesn't always mean that he speaks to everybody else and they're gonna understand.
So, sometimes, something that is so, seems so, "Well, of course, I mean, why would you doubt that"? To you, to the person God hasn't spoken to, many times, it makes no sense. Especially, if you're thinking and saying that God's gonna do something really great with you, and the people who know you, know you in your not-so-great state, and then, they really think, "Oh, well.".. I know that's the reaction I got. "Well, Joyce, to be honest, with your personality, we don't think you could really have a big ministry". And, those were people who ended up working for me, so that was funny.
So, Peter basically, thought more highly of himself, than he should have. I was thinking, just briefly this morning, about pride. And, I think I'm gonna do some extended teaching on that again, because I'll tell ya, pride, for all of us, is our biggest, number one problem. And what is pride? It's the ego, the me, I, and it, so, Peter thought more highly of himself than he should have. And, another situation was when Peter denied Christ three times. At the time when Jesus needed him the very most, that was when he denied him. But, the thing that I think is absolutely amazing is Peter, when he realized what he'd done, he went out and wept bitterly.
So, we see sin, we see repentance, and now we're gonna see the Lord's attitude toward Peter. "When the sabbath was past," this is Mark 16, actually, 1 through 7. "When the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices, so they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. But they were all saying to one another, 'who's gonna roll away this stone from the entrance of the tomb?' and looking up, they saw the stone had been rolled away, and it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, they were alarmed". Of course, that was an angel. "And he said to them, 'do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen: he is not here. But you can come and see the place where they laid him'".
And, here's the part I want you to get. "'but go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. And there you will see him, just as he told you'". Now, Peter was the only one of the disciples that he made special mention of. So, can you imagine how that thrilled Peter? When they said, "Oh, and Peter, he specifically mentioned that we were to tell you". That was basically, the Lord saying, "All is forgiven, Peter. You're still part of the group. You're still, you know, my friend, my disciple".
And so, Paul was a man with a past. He'd been gathering up and persecuting Christians, putting 'em in prison. He was at the stoning of Stephen and just thought it was a great thing. He was very deceived. He didn't have a wicked heart, but he was very deceived. And, he actually, thought that he was doing God a favor. And, if you think about how the Jews had been raised in their Old Testament religion, I mean, it's understandable why some of them had a little bit of a problem with the new regime. But, Paul was willing to see truth and willing to change.
And, I think that's one of the keys. No matter what you've done, if you're willing to see truth, take ownership of your mistakes, stop blaming everybody else... I'mma say it again. Take ownership of your mistakes. Take ownership of your mistakes. Then, you can have a brand-new beginning. So, Paul was willing to change. And when Jesus confronted Saul, who became Paul, on the Damascus road, he was changed forever. And, he went from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming one of the leaders of the Christian faith. King David committed adultery and murder. After the close relationship he had with God, he committed murder and adultery.
And, you know part of that was because he wasn't where he was supposed to be at the time he got in trouble. It's very important to always be where you're supposed to be because if you're not supposed to be somewhere and you're there, see, it was the time when men went off to war. And, it says plainly, "It was the time when men went off to war, but David stayed home". And, it was during that staying home that he got his eyes on Bathsheba and got himself in trouble. Now, sadly, it took David a full year to repent, fully. The prophet Nathan had to really confront him. But, he did repent and he remained king, however, his house was never without war after that incident.
So, God may need to allow us sometimes to reap the fruit of the seed that we've sown, but he also gives us mercy, forgives us, and will continue to use us. That doesn't always happen. Sometimes, God just gives you mercy and he wipes away whatever would have been the outcome of your sin. But, sometimes, to be honest, and I think you know that this is true, we need to maybe, be made a little bit uncomfortable because of what we've done for a little bit longer than we'd like to because it really helps us to remind us, "I don't want to do that again".
Anybody who gets by with something too easy, is kinda likely, to do it again. But, God continued to use him. Ruth was a moabitess, she worship idols, yet, she decided to serve the one true God, and was very faithful to her godly mother-in-law and she ended up in the direct bloodline of David and then Jesus. Rahab was a harlot. She helped God's people and ended up in the bloodline of Jesus. Matthew was a despised tax collector who became one of the great 12 apostles. So, I think we can say, without doubt, that there's evidence in scripture and evidence from looking at other people's lives that no matter what kind of a past you have, you still have a great future out in front of you, but you must let go of the past.
And, for some people that means forgiving someone else. For some people it may mean forgiving yourself, or actually, receiving the forgiveness of God. So many people are mad at themselves and they won't forgive themselves for mistakes that they've made and things that they've done. And, honestly and truly, until you let go of the past, you really cannot take hold of the future that God has for you.
So, Ephesians 2:10, amplified classic version is one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. It says, "For we are God's own handiwork (his workmanship).".. So, guess what? You weren't just an accident that crawled up on a beach. You are created with the hand of God. Imagine what a difference it makes to your whole life if you believe you were created for a purpose by a loving God rather than you're just some kind of cosmic accident, and after this, there's nothing. That would be really sad, I can't even imagine. So, we're his handiwork, "Recreated in Christ Jesus". And, I love that.
So, we were created but now, we come along and see this word recreated in Christ Jesus. So, that means the original creation somehow got messed up and needed to be reworked. "Born anew that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us taking paths which he prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them living the good life that he prearranged and made ready for us to live". Boy, there is so much in that. You could make a whole message just out of that. God prearranged for us to have a great life. And, so maybe you spent the first 30 years of your life Messin' that plan up, not cooperating with it. But, based on what the Bible says, you can repent and be totally forgiven, and still pick up where you left off, and learn how to have that good life and enjoy the life that he's given you. And, that's done by doing the good works that he tells you to do.
Do you know that doing good works with a pure motive leads to more joy than anything else? It really does. I mean, I can honestly tell you, if I'm in an off-mood or something I can sit and start thinkin' about who I can bless and before long, I just, I feel a real excitement in me. No wonder the Bible says it's more blessed to give than to receive. Jeremiah 18:1-4, "The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 'arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.' So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working on his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hands, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do".
Wow, so first creation messed up. We'll just take this mess and work it into something brand-new. You see, when we're born again, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "That if any man is in Christ, he's a new creature. Old things pass away and all things become brand-new". Well, obviously, if you're born again, you go look at yourself in the mirror and if you didn't have any hair you're still not gonna have any. Or, you know, whatever, if you had pimples, you're still gonna have them. But, I believe what happens when we're born-again is we become new spiritual clay. In other words, he takes the hard heart out of us and gives us a heart of flesh. He puts his spirit in us. Amen?
And so, things change inside, you don't see it on the outside. But, the thing of learning how to walk as a Christian is to learn literally, to live inside out. To learn what Christ has done for you and what is yours through his sacrifice and resurrection, and then, begin to believe that more than you believe what you see, or what you feel, or what other people tell you. So, I believe that even when God says that he wants to do something, you know, we know with God all things are possible, right? But, not all things are positively going to happen. Even just because God prearranged for something to happen, you still have a choice to receive it. Amen? And that's what, you know, that's what I want you to get out of this is, if you're stuck in the past somewhere, I want to tell ya, God is ready to go forward and has been for a long time.
Now, you have to believe what he says, "Letting go of what lies behind and pressing toward the things that are ahead". I mean, the apostle Paul said, and this is amazing. Out of all the things that he could have said, in Philippians 3, he said, "My determined purpose is to know him and the power of his resurrection and to press toward that Mark of perfection, although, I've not yet arrived. One thing I do: it is my one aspiration, letting go of what lies behind and pressing toward the things that are ahead".
There's a pressing, that means there's an effort that we make. You start trying to go forward and your past is gonna reach out and try to grab you and pull you back. And, you might make progress for a while and then on a day when you're tired or dealing with a lot of other stuff, there comes that hand from the past tryin' to drag you back and tell you that these promises are good, but they're not for you. You know, we have to understand that Jesus has paid for our mistakes. And, you don't have to pay for your past by giving up your future. The thing that I did in my life, and I know we're all a little bit different but people have resonated with this, was I gave up my right to enjoy life because I'd been abused in my childhood and took that as being something wrong with me rather than my father had a problem.
And so, I always felt like, I remember as a child gettin' in trouble for laughing. "What are you laughin' about? Nothin's funny. Be quiet". And so, I always felt like as long as I was working then I wouldn't get in trouble. And so, I just worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, and worked and worked. And, I even felt guilty about having fun. And, I finally got deep enough with God that he showed me, "You don't think you deserve to rest. You don't think you deserve to have any fun because you're still tryin' to pay". See?
So, if you really want to enjoy your future, you've gotta realize your past has been fully and completely paid for, and there's nothing that any of us can do to add to the perfect job that Jesus already did. And, I think really, it's a little bit insulting when we think that we have to add to what he's done to make it really work. Hebrews 10:14-17, "For by a single offering he has perfected for all times those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit bears witness for us: for after saying, 'this is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their heart, and I will write them in their mind.' and he adds, 'i will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more'".
Now, this is not Joyce talkin', this is God talkin'. "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more". So, why don't you stop thinking about and talking about things that God has forgotten and get in-line with where he's at. Amen? We don't have to keep sacrificing our peace and our joy trying to pay for something that God already took care of. Hebrews 10:18, says, "For where there's forgiveness, there's no longer any offering for sin". Wonder what you might be giving up, still trying to pay for your sins from the past. Sometimes that good life is staring at us, but we still don't think that we deserve it. And, the thing is grace cannot be deserved. A free gift cannot be earned or deserved.
Isaiah 43:18 and 19, we all get excited with some of these scriptures. "Remember not the former things nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert". And, you know how we cooperate with God to see this happen in our life? By simple childlike faith that says, "God said it and I believe it. Doesn't matter how I feel". You know, a long time after I decided that I was free from guilt, I still felt guilty. But, if you really wanna have victory, you have to learn to live on the other side of your feelings, and know when feelings are lying to you. And, when on occasion, they might be telling you the truth.
Feelings are fickle. They'll tell you on Monday night to sign up and on Tuesday morning tell you not to show up. So, we can't do things by our emotions. Couple of more, "'for I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord," Jeremiah 29:11, "'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'" and, one of my favorites, Zachariah 9:12, "Return to your stronghold, o prisoners of hope: today I declare that I will restore to you double, what you lost". But, what is hope? It's not a, "Well, I hope somethin' happens". No, real Bible hope is a positive expectation that something good is going to happen to you at any moment. So, it keeps you watching for the good things in life rather than expecting more of the bad things.