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I was convicted to write this message when I was in church a few Sundays ago. As I was praising in the Lord’s presence, the overwhelming presence of his love-filled me. Next thing I know the words “I remember” began to mutter out my mouth. From there nothing could stop the tears that swelled up in my eyes as I began to look back.  

Truth be told I didn’t just remember one thing, I remember it all. I look back and remember when I was in such a depressed state I wanted to climb out of this vessel my soul was in and getaway. When I was sleeping on a beaten-down couch in a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the 7-11 across the street. Seeing the pain that consumed my mom because she wanted better for us. I remember my dad working long shifts to provide for us and finding alcohol to relieve his stress. My sister lived emotionally broken because her favorite person in the world passed away and our grandpa was gone too soon. I look back to see a slave to the lustful things of this world, pornography had a hold on me and the chains were so comfortable I justified what I was doing. I remember it all. Yet I know where I am now. I know who brought me from all the hurt and the pain to where I am now. I know the name Jesus, I know of his grace and his mercy so sufficient. He set me free from my past and released me into the new. 

Why is it important to remember? There are three reasons why remembering is vital:

  • To rejoice, we must remember. 

We rejoice at the sight of triumph because we will never forget the journey. Whether it be sports we participate in, the classes we take, or our jobs we work. New victories call for new celebrations, celebrations cause us to remember. For some of us, the only time we look back at our struggle is when the battle has been won, and the victory is secured. What if we looked back to have victory. Little do you know the battle you are facing can be won with the thought of where you are, and how far you have come. Too often we take advantage of the process that leads to change. We attempt to go from problem to perfection in a single leap when Jesus says remember what I did. He didn’t sprint with you out of your situation, he walked you out of it and delivered you. 

Psalms 138:7- “though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretched out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”

We must remember he took you step by step and delivered you into new beginnings. When we do we’ll rejoice in how far we have come, and how great God has always been. You will later be overwhelmed with gratitude for the process of change you went through because it got you here. Let’s rejoice in our victories and look back to have victory, rejoice in the miracles of God because you know where you were before God intervened. Looking back reminds you of how Great God is. 

  • We must remember so that we can have faith in God and be a vessel for His grace

“To remember the past is to see that we are here today by grace, that we have survived as a gift”- Fredrick Buechner 

By the grace of God, you are still standing today. Back then, when life didn’t look so good he was working. When you believed that you were down and out for good he was working. His grace was on your life then, and his grace brought you through. Looking back to see where God delivered you from gives us faith in the goodness of God and it allows us to extend God’s grace to others as God showed his grace on us. Let’s look at the story of Joseph, how Joseph was able to sustain his faith in God throughout his hardships. When it was time to look back at his tribulations, Joseph was able to extend God’s grace. Found in Genesis chapters 37-50.

Joseph was the favorite, his father Jacob adored him more than his other sons. Because this was so, his half brothers despised him. Joseph would relay his dreams to his brothers and his father. Describing to them that one day he would be a ruler and rule over them. His brothers did not accept this and created a plan to kill him. They left him in a well and planned to never come back until they saw merchants pass them by and decided to sell him into slavery. They told Jacob that Joseph was killed by a wild beast, bringing him a bloody robe as “proof”. Joseph simply did nothing to deserve this, yet this was so. Joseph was then sold by merchants to an Egyptian named Potiphar. Potiphar was impressed by how Joseph worked and made him supervisor of his household. Things were looking upward for Joseph, Potiphar even took notice of how God favored Joseph. All was well until Potiphar’s wife attempted to get it on with Joseph. He denied her countless times, staying faithful to God. Yet when Potiphar’s wife got ahold of Joseph’s clothing, she accused him of rape. Potiphar wasted no time and threw him in prison. During his time in prison, God brought two prisoners to Joseph to interpret their dreams. One of the two men was released and took back his role in the kingdom but forgot about Joseph. Two years go by and the king is not able to interrupt his dreams, Pharaoh calls upon anyone who can, yet there was no one. Until the prisoner who once met Joseph tells the King about him. Joseph was able to predict seven years of harvest and seven years of famine out of the king’s dream, he also informed Pharaoh that in the seven years of harvest he should store food for the famine.  Because of this Joseph received a seat in the kingdom and was now second in command. Once the famine commenced Joseph was responsible for supplying everyone in the kingdom with food. This means Joseph’s brothers would have to come to Joseph. Once they did Joseph recognized his brothers immediately yet they didn’t recognize him. Joseph didn’t say a word. He tested them to see if they had changed. When finding out they did, he revealed himself to them. His brothers trembled with fear yet Joseph said to them:

Genesis 45:4-5 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.”

Joseph went through hell in his hardship. Yet through those years, he was faithful to God, God never left him, he was walking with Joseph the whole time, and for some of us it might take years to come out of a season of unimaginable difficulties, but God will be at work, and your faith will be put to work.

 James 2:26 tells us that “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” 

 You might have come into your season with little to no faith, but God will leave you with bold faith! Joseph’s season of tribulations was over, yet he remembered. He remembered what he had gone through and how faithful God was through it all. We often like to forget the position we were in during our darkest times, but if you choose to forget your hardest moments then you’ll forget God’s greatest moments! Joseph looked back at what his brothers had done to him and extended God’s grace to them. He remembered the grace God had over his life and realized it was all a part of God’s plan. Let’s take action in this, remember what God has done for you. When it looked like there was no way, he made one. Although we look into the past we must not live in it. 

  • Remember the past but do not live in it. 

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17

What’s done is done. The old is gone. Even though it would be ideal and amazing to travel back in time to be a better person and fix what you broke, it’s not possible. Even if it was possible, why would you want to change God’s plan? God’s plan got you that opportunity you wanted, it pulled you out of that toxic relationship you were stuck in, you came to know God because of that season of your life, and it brought you here to the new and renewed life you’re living. Yet if we continue to live in the past God cannot bless us in the present. Imagine walking down the street with your head turned looking behind you. Soon you’re going to run into something, or you’ll be stuck there because you wouldn’t bother to look ahead. This is many of us. We would rather focus on changing the past when God is saying I’m ready to impact your future beyond what you could imagine.  

Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. 

It doesn’t get more blunt than this. He knows all, his plan is already written for your future, and his choice is for you to be prosperous. If only you would take the time to turn your head so God could turn the heads of others in your life. Stop living in the past. Begin to stand in the present while looking into the future, the old is gone and God is ready to bless you here and now.

Let’s go over our points as to why we must remember:

  • To rejoice we must remember.
  • We must remember so that we can have faith in God, and so we’re able to relay God’s grace.
  • Remember the past but do not live in it. 

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