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...Leave your past behind
God has something wonderful planned for you in 2003! To experience it, there’s one thing you’ll need to leave behind…your past!

As we prepare for the upcoming New Year, you and I have a great opportunity – we can forget the hurts and mistakes of the past and start fresh in 2003! As a Christian you’re not just turning the page on your calendar, you’re starting a new year full of promise and new opportunities, because our God is the God of new beginnings! God said, “My plans for you are good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

God is trying to do something new in your life right now.  He wants to restore to you what the enemy has stolen. He knew you would have setbacks in you life.  God knew that people wouldn’t always be fair. He knew that there would be times of abuse and pain in your life.

But I want to encourage you today and let you know that God has something better in store for you. So don’t let the enemy keep you focused on past disappointments, failures and mistakes.

God doesn’t care where you’ve been, as much as He cares about where you’re going! The Bible says, that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful to FORGIVE us.”

You don’t have to pay God back for your past sins, mistakes and failures.  That’s what grace is all about. It’s a free gift.  You are free to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. We are free to quit remembering what God has already forgotten. Do you believe it? King David did!  He speaks for all of us in Psalm 103 when he says, “God will remember our sins no more, forever.”

The Apostle Paul agreed with him when he says, “There is no condemnation when you’re in Christ Jesus.” So don’t spend one more day focusing on the past, that’s the work of the enemy.

Make a decision today to stay focused on God and the abundant life He has promised you.

Friend, God is on your side. He wants good for you, not evil! God knows your hurts and pains better than anyone. He wants you to rise out of those ashes as a champion! The great prophet Isaiah put it this way, “God wants to give us beauty for our ashes.”  (Isaiah 61:3)

Ashes represent what’s left over after everything’s been burned up.  They represent our broken dreams, our disappointments, our hurts, our pains, and even our personal failures.

Still God promises to give us beauty for our ashes.  But an exchange has to take place.  You can’t hold on to the ashes and have something beautiful at the same time!

You’ve got to lay aside the ashes and accept the beauty. Accept God’s promise that “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” Accept that God makes us the head and not the tail, to lend and not borrow.  He desires for us to be the VICTORS and not the victims!

Listen to what God says, “Arise from the depression in which the circumstances have kept you.  Rise to a new life.”  (Isaiah 60:1)

Today, make the conscious decision that by God’s grace you’re going to let go of the past. Receive the new thing that God wants to do in your life today.

And when you face disappointment in life, just hold your head up high knowing that God is still a good God and desires good things for your life.  I know that God still has a great plan for your life, a plan that only you can experience. A plan to prosper you in every area of life.

God’s lesson from My Life

This really hit home for me several years back…
My Dad suffered from high blood pressure most of his life. Toward the end of his life it had destroyed his kidneys and he had to go on dialysis.

Our Family prayed and prayed that God would heal his kidneys, restore his health and give him more years.  Many people in our church family and people all over the world were praying for my dad.

Daddy was a great man of faith.  He knew God’s Word. He was doing his best to stand strong. But in spite of all of our prayers, in spite of all of our believing, Daddy went to be with the Lord in January of 1999.

That was great disappointment in my life.  My dad and I were very close. We were, I would say, best friends.  I’d worked with him at the church for 17 years, day in and day out. And I lived close to my parents. Daddy would come by.  We’d go out to eat, go see a ball game, and go ride our bikes.

So naturally I was devastated. I thought, “God how am I ever going to get over this?  God how am I going to go on with my life?”  I was so tempted to get down and discouraged and just get negative and say, “God how could you let this happen to me? We were praying. We were believing.”

I was at a point of decision.  I was at a crossroad in my life.  Was I going to go on, knowing that God had a bright future in store for me? Or, was I going to shrink back and stay focused on that disappointment?

I remember during that time I was praying one morning asking God about all of this.  And the Lord spoke to me so clearly, not out loud but right down in my heart.  God said, “Joel, just because your dad has died doesn’t mean that My plan for your life has died.”

Right then and there I made the decision that I was going to rise up out of those ashes. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to stay focused on the past.  I made a decision that I was going to fulfill God’s destiny for my life.

You may not know it, but I’d never preached before Daddy died except one time. But I believe because I didn’t stay focused on the past, and because I was willing to let go of that disappointment, God began to do a supernatural thing in my life.  He enabled me to preach and teach His Word with Spirit-led power and conviction.

I can truly say today God’s done more than I can ask or think. God is faithful to His Word. He’s given me beauty for those ashes.  And in the process, God has shown me a series of principles in the Bible that will help you discover and experience, firsthand, His destiny for your life.

You may be at a crossroad, just like I was.  You may be at a point of decision.  You have the chance to go forward with your life and experience the bright future God has in store for you.

Instead of looking at how big your problems are, you’ve go to start looking at how big your God is. Choose the good life God has for you.  You can experience the abundance of God in your life.  It is a new day.  God has a new beginning just for you.

Joel Osteen, is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church, TX, USA

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