Originally published by ChurchWithoutWallsInternational.org.
Much of the body of Christ (within cwowi as well) has been focused on finding the Lord in day-to-day challenges – life threatening health diagnoses, financial, family issues, Covid sickness and/or lock downs.
Life altering events often cause us to wonder where are the ‘benefits’ Psalm 103: 1-5 promises: Healing, deliverance from destruction, crowning us with tender mercy and lovingkindness, renewing our youth
For many, life is more like “In this world you will have tribulation; fear not, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
There are so many ‘voices’ out there it is sometimes difficult to hear the Lord’s voice. When life brings surprises and we think ‘This isn’t how I pictured life would be’, the Lord centers us once again. Why exactly are we walking with Him? He is always calling us to return to our first Love.
Hebrews 10:32 encourages us; ‘Call to remembrance the former days, when you first came to the Lord…’ Calling to remembrance His faithfulness, His miracles, His presence in our lives. Remembering His faithfulness in the past gives us faith He will do the same in our future.
Embrace your past?
When the Lord visits me, He is always more excited about what is happening in Him more than what is going on in the world. I want to have that same perspective. The series this month ‘Reclaimed’ is about that very thing. In our way of thinking, we want to forget our time before Christ, and maybe some of it after we came to know Him.
But if we look in the New Testament we find Paul acknowledging his own past and that pasts of others. In his first letter to the Corinthians, 6: 9-11, Paul lists many sins of all types, and then says, “And such were some of you! But now are you washed, now are you sanctified, now are you justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.”
In I Timothy 1: 12-15 Paul lists the sins of his past, including blaspheme, a persecutor of the body of Christ, injuring others, and concludes by saying “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief!”
Paul didn’t sweep his past under a rug. He didn’t go to a deliverance ministry, seek inner healing, seek someone to prophesy over him and lay hands on him so he could remove the memory of his past before Christ. He acknowledged, it even embraced it for what he was. He didn’t discard it for it contributed to who he was as the apostle Paul.
When Paul wrote the Philippians in 3:13, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things behind me and I press toward the mark of the high call of God in Christ Jesus”, he first listed details about his sinful life before coming to the Lord. He let his past contribute to who he became.
Here is why
It was in the midst of the sin that Paul found the Lord. The same is true of you and me. For that reason I embrace my sinful past in the sense that it was there I found Jesus. Knowing sin has made me appreciate what Jesus did for me all the more. If I had never experienced sin, hardship, had never known the dark depths of my own soul, I would not fully know and appreciate grace.
It is like Paul’s discussion of the Mosaic Law in Romans 4-7. It brought the knowledge of sin, but it also brought him to Christ. Therefore he had an appreciation for that life that led him to Jesus. The same for you and I.
When the Lord touches us about our past, He leaves the memory but removes the pain. That is how you know you’ve received ‘inner healing’ – the memory remains, but not the pain. And once the pain is gone, you can see the instrument of your salvation.
My series goes into more depth, but I’ll close with this. In God’s culture, He values our battle scars. He values the hardship we have been through. Why? Because it all contributes to who we are in Him. In the same way one values a family heirloom not for it’s beauty, but for its history, so too does the Lord value us for our history.
In Paul’s time the Roman army sought a particular type of person to become a soldier. They looked for men who had worked outside, like farmers and ranchers, construction workers and such. They wanted men who could take hardship, who knew hardship in their lives. Paul told Timothy 2: 2 to endure hardship like a soldier – that is to what he was referring.
Why is life difficult? Why does the Lord value the hardships we face in life? In I Peter 4:10 he writes: “As each person has received the grace, so give that grace to others, mindful you are a steward of the multi-faceted grace of God.”
That means know where you were when you found the Lord, and value where you found grace. That then makes you a manager, a steward of that grace and He expects you to minister that grace to others. Life is difficult. But it proves His grace over and over again. Look to His record of faithfulness in your life in the past, and you’ll not be afraid of the future, for He has proven Himself over and over again.
Prophetically speaking: We are in a ‘lull’ right now, another birth pang is about to come upon the world – Do not be dismayed, remain in Him. Listening for His voice is sometimes best done by cutting out the voices of those who don’t speak like Him. The future is bright for those in Christ, focus on your first love.
Thank you again for your giving and prayers, you have no idea how appreciated you are, how much you are loved, and prayed for – thank you!
John & Barb, Brian & Amy