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  • Karen Blanchard

Held captive by the Past

SHELBY TOWNSHIP – As we begin a new year, we often like to look back and reflect on all that God has done in our lives. I think we should do that! Looking back helps us trace God's hand of faithfulness and remember His goodness and love for us.

However, while this may be true in many instances, dwelling on the past can hold us captive. When we walk through a difficult season in our lives, sometimes the enemy wants to dredge up everything that happened, and will try to keep our hearts and minds focused on the hurt and pain. If our spiritual enemy can keep us trapped in the past, we will never be able to receive what God wants to do in our future.


Paul writes in Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV),

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."


Before encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul persecuted Christians. From that defining moment in his life, he was forever changed. Paul could have let the guilt and shame from his past life keep him from walking in the calling God placed on his life, but he didn't. He understood the gift he received through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.


Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 (NIV),

"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."


I don't know where you find yourself as you begin 2024, but here are some helpful insights as you move forward:


1. Don't Dwell on the Past.


"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind..."


This is much easier said than done. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians to "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ." If we allow our minds to dwell on things that have happened in the past, those thoughts are sinful. When we allow this mindset, we are not being obedient to Christ.

Paul tells us in Philippians that we are to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. When intrusive thoughts come that want to keep us trapped in the past, shut them down immediately. Focus on the truth of God's Word and invite the Holy Spirit to heal your heart and mind. Ask Him to help you stop dwelling on the past so you can move forward with your future.


2. Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.


"...straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."


When we release the stronghold of the past, we are then free to move forward with the good plans God has for our lives. In Romans, we are told that God "works all things together." He wants to use what we have learned from our past to move us forward and make a difference for eternity in the lives of others. When we understand that the trials we go through in life are meant to mold us into the person He created us to be, then we won't be held captive by the past. We also won't be ashamed of what God has done in our lives. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and His good plans for your life!


Paul is such a great example for us to follow. Saul, before his conversion to Paul, was one of the leading religious leaders who persecuted Christians. He was well-known for his religious stature and Jewish heritage; however, once he encountered God, the gospel became more important to him than those things.


Paul writes in Philippians 3:7-8a (NLT),


"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."


I encourage you today to leave the past behind. Don't allow your mind to dwell on it; instead, look to Jesus. He will use it all to refine you into the person He created you to be. Someone is depending on you to fulfill your calling so they can encounter Jesus. Don't let the enemy hold you captive!



Karen Blanchard is married to Scott Blanchard, pastor of Lakepointe Church, and moved from Florida to Michigan in the summer of 2009 to plant Lakepointe Church in Shelby Township. She enjoys mentoring and discipling women and also leads women’s life groups through her church. She is passionate about helping women find their purpose in who God created them to be. She is on staff at Lakepointe Church and loves being part of what God is doing in the Metro Detroit area!



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