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5 Strategies to Effectively Address Your Yesterday

5 Strategies to Effectively Address Your Yesterday

There is a truth about life that we all must face: we all have a yesterday. The challenge of yesterday is that the recording of our lives is available to us in our minds, like movies on demand. We can watch them when we want, and we can go to a specific point in time and replay it over and over. This on-demand movie of our lives is filled with both high points and low ones.

With this movie available in our hearts and minds at any moment, how do you effectively deal with your yesterdays? I want to share with you five strategies to help you know how to address your yesterday.

Yesterday Is a Two-Sided Coin 

There are two sides to your yesterday, and each of them can keep you stuck. You have successes of yesterday and you have the sins, failures, and bad decisions of yesterday. Dwelling on either one of these for too long can keep you trapped.

Thinking about your wins too long can cause you to long for the good old days. This vision of yesterday is deceptive because you can paint a reality of how great everything was, which can grow to the level of mythology. If all you do is think about your best days which were behind you, then you can spend your life trying to recapture them.

On the flipside, if you only remember your sins, failures, or bad decisions, that can cripple you from moving forward because you can’t get beyond the mistakes of your past. In this instance, you never overcome the mistakes of yesterday and you spend your life replaying them while punishing yourself for your bad decisions. Both of these places will harm you.

I call this the problem of the rearview mirror. As you know, when you drive a car you cannot drive forward if all you do is look through the rearview mirror. Eventually you will crash. The rearview mirror is designed for you to peek into briefly to help you make a decision as you keep moving forward. The rearview mirror is not supposed to hinder you from getting to your destination, but help you get there.

This is why it is so important that you deal with what happened in your yesterday correctly, so you can handle it from the right perspective and use it to propel you forward instead of holding you back. Let’s now look at five ways to do this.

1. Learn to Embrace God’s Forgiveness

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

When you focus on how to address your yesterday, especially when it comes to your past sins, repentance is clearly a part of that. However, what happens after you repent? After you have repented, it is now time to embrace God’s forgiveness. For many people the problem isn’t repenting, it is receiving. They simply struggle with receiving and knowing God has forgiven them.

Have you ever struggled with this? I know I have. I cannot tell you how many times I have run back to God seeking forgiveness for something I know I repented of. Usually this happens after I have just replayed that on demand movie in my mind. If you are going to address your yesterday remember, don’t just repent and ask for forgiveness, you must embrace God’s forgiveness. You need to trust and know that God will and has forgiven you. Once you can do that, then the next step is equally important.

2. Learn to Embrace God’s Cleansing

If you look at this verse in 1 John 1:9, there are two parts of it: there is forgiveness and cleansing. I think we focus a lot on the forgiving, but sometimes we miss the cleansing. It is important to embrace both.

Here is something so many people miss – God does not just forgive sin. When God forgives sin, he also wipes the slate clean. There are so many verses that highlight this truth but here is one.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

If you are going to effectively address your yesterday, then you must not just receive God’s forgiveness, you must also embrace his cleansing. The truth that we find in Scripture is this, when God forgives your sin, he does not remember it anymore. It is as if you have never sinned. Not only will God cleanse your sin and not remember them, but he will not remind you of them either.

Here is a truth you must never forget. The only sin God will ever remind you of is the sin you have not repented of. Any remembrance of past sin, that brings guilt and condemnation, is either your replay from your on-demand movie, or Satan trying to remind you of them. If you have repented, you are forgiven and cleansed. That’s why you must know that God forgives and cleanses you from all sin. Without this understanding, you will never be able to address your yesterday because you will always believe it is hanging over you. 

3. Learn from Your Past, but Don’t Idolize It

In the book of Joshua, God led the Israelites across the Jordan River. In a fashion similar to the Red Sea, God held back the waters and they crossed on dry ground. After everyone had crossed God asked them to pick up twelve stones from the river and here is why he said that.

“…In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).

God was telling the Israelites to use the stones to remember God’s faithfulness in bringing them across the Jordan. At this point in Israel’s history, you would definitely call this a win. However, the stones were only there to remember, not to be idolized. In other words, after crossing the Jordan, they still had to move forward to conquer Jericho and possess the promised land.

It is okay to remember past victories, but only to the degree they help you move forward in conquering future ones. If all you do is remember the old victory but stop pursuing new ones, then your past success has become an idol. God wants you to keep moving forward and to use the stones as encouragement to know that there is more to do, and God will be with you as you do it.

4. Learn the Difference Between Conviction and Condemnation

If there is one key thing you must do in addressing your yesterday, it is to understand the subtle differences between conviction and condemnation. Many times, the enemy attempts to mimic the Holy Spirit in your life and when he does, he often comes bringing condemnation. Let me attempt to sum up the difference between these two.

Conviction makes you aware of your sin with the goal of leading you to repentance and drawing you toward God. 

Condemnation makes you aware of your sin with the goal of hopelessness and guilt that causes you to move away from God.

If the acknowledgment of your sin is leading you to run to God for forgiveness and cleansing, that is conviction. If the acknowledgment of your sin makes you focus on how wicked or wretched you are, causing you to think God wants nothing to do with you anymore, that is condemnation.

The reason God makes you aware of your sin is not to push you away, but to move you to repentance so he can draw you near. This is the heartbeat of conviction. You must be aware of the difference in these two things because as we saw earlier in 1 John, if you confess your sins God will forgive you and cleanse you. God’s great love for you is always reaching and he will use conviction as the method to draw you near to him.

5. Learn to Focus on What Is Ahead

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Paul had the right approach to address your yesterday – forget what is behind. What he is saying here is don’t hold on to anything from your past – good or bad – but focus and put your energy to what God has ahead of you.

God has not only called you heavenward he has also called you to good works that he has prepared for you to do now (Eph. 2:10). This is where the focus and energy of your life should be. If you have unrepentant sins in your life then repent, embrace God’s forgiveness and cleansing, then move forward. If you have victories in your past, learn from them and allow them to remind you of God’s faithfulness, but put your focus forward because there is more to do. In either scenario, always be pressing forward knowing that God’s best plan for your life is always ahead of you and not behind you.

Final Thought

As you attempt to address your yesterday, the truth is there is nothing you can do to change what has already happened. The best thing you can do is to learn from your past choices, whether they were good or bad. Please know today if you have truly repented from sins of your past, you are forgiven and clean. Also, if you have had great victories in your past, the journey is not over. Either way God has more for you, and he wants you to use the lessons of yesterday and apply them in your life today. When you do this, it will free you from your yesterday, allowing you to live and do what God has called you to do. You can do this knowing God’s best for your life is always in front of you and never behind you.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com