“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Untethered to Soar, by Randall D. Kittle

One of the nicest things about the new year is that it is a fresh start … a new beginning. Entering into a new year is an exciting time of vast potential and limitless possibilities. In this next year, there will be new marriages, new babies, new graduates, new jobs, new ministries, and so much more! This next year could be a banner year for you, your family, and your church.

As believers, we need to understand that this is God’s heart for us as revealed in the Bible:

• God has plans for us.
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 future and a hope.” While you may know this verse by heart, do you truly believe that God has plans to protect and prosper you this next year?

• God has things already prepared for us.
1 Corinthians 2:9 —
“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” If you love God, He promises you cannot even imagine all that He has in store for you. Are you expecting good surprises from God this year?

• God wants to do more for us than we can imagine.
Ephesians 3:20–21 — “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” God has unlimited power, and He wants to do immeasurable things for you! Do you believe God is really ready, willing, and able to do more than you can ask?

• God wants us to soar.
Isaiah 40:31 —
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Do you believe God wants to renew your strength so that you will not fail at what He has called you to and not faint when the going gets tough? Are you ready to soar like an eagle in the days ahead?

God’s plans to bless us in the days ahead shouldn’t surprise us because Jesus told us in John 10:10 that He came so we could have not just have life, but
“have it more abundantly.” This Bible verse also shows us that Satan has plans for us. He comes into our lives to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Satan wants to take our lives and make the hurts, disappointments, falls and failures become like tethering lines that tie down a hot air balloon. The enemy wants us grounded like chickens instead of soaring like eagles.

This day the Lord wants us to pause and cut all the ropes that are tying us down, so we are prepared to soar with Him into the hope-filled future He has for us.

Tethered by the Past
As I was praying recently, I saw a vision of a man who was trying to make it through a doorway carrying all of this luggage. It looked like some old comedy skit as he continually dropped his huge pile of suitcases, carry-on bags, and briefcases. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get through the doorway carrying all that luggage.

Then I noticed that there were two signs around the doorway — one above the doorway and one next to it. The sign above this doorway said, “
The New Year,” while the one next to it said, “Check Your Baggage Before Entering.” The only way he could make it through the doorway of the new year was to let go of all the baggage he was trying to bring in with him.

Next, I saw a hot air balloon that was preparing to take off. Written on the balloon in giant numbers was the date of the upcoming year. The balloon was unable to fly because there were three tethering lines that kept it grounded. Each of these lines was tied to a heavy suitcase. On the side of the suitcases were large labels. One label said, “
Old, Hurt-ful Wounds.” The second suitcase had the phrase “Falls & Failures” written across it. And the last of these heavy suitcases’ label said, “Discouraging Disappointment.”

Finally, I heard the voice of the Lord declare,
“I have given My children all they need to be set free from the things that weigh them down and prevent them from soaring up to new levels. I have so much more for them. Show them how to cut the ropes that bind them, and help bring them into the freedom and fullness I have for them.”

Time to Look Forward
God’s desire is to make certain nothing from the past hinders you from coming into the fullness He has planned for you in the days ahead. The enemy of your soul wants to keep you grounded … looking at the losses and the letdowns from the past. But God doesn’t want us to fix our focus on the past, on the former things. In Luke 9:62, Jesus instructs us … “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus clearly warns us of the perils of looking backwards.

In Philippians 3:13–14, Paul talks about the importance of pressing forward:
“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.” If we are going to stretch forward to lay hold of everything that lies ahead of us, we have to be willing to let go of the past or we will be limited in our reach.

Isaiah 43 makes our need to let go of the past in order to move forward very clear,
“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming” (Isaiah 43:18–19). If the last year or two has been challenging, harsh, or even hard, I have good news for you: God is about to do something new … even now it is coming! But in order to receive it, we have been commanded not to remember the past. We can’t really move forward if we try to drag all of our old “baggage” with us. We won’t receive what is ahead if we keep looking at what lies behind.

Years ago I lent our van to Bobby Conner when he came into town for one of our prophetic conferences. One afternoon he walked into the conference, told me he had something for me, and then proceeded to take something out of his briefcase and hand it to me. It was the rearview mirror off of our van! He explained that it had fallen off while he was driving! A big grin came across his face as he said to my wife and me, “I think God is trying to tell you something. You can’t look at the past. It’s time to look forward!”

This is a vitally important word for all of us if we want to move ahead. No NASCAR driver could ever win a race if he spent most of his time staring in his rearview mirror. It is not what is behind you that is really important. It is what lies ahead. The good news is that the Lord has given us the weapons we need to cut the ropes of the past and begin to soar with Him.

Suitcase #1 — Old, Hurtful Wounds
In the vision, the first rope from the past that holds us down was labeled “Old, Hurtful Wounds.” These wounds include betrayal by friends and family. The wounding of betrayal is always deeper than an ordinary wound because it was caused by someone we know. More than what has been said or done, our confidence and trust have been violated. Other hurtful wounds are caused by the entanglement of offences, when we have been put down, ridiculed, or wronged. Wounds also come from the sting of being slighted. This wound sounds so “slight,” so little and insignificant. But being slighted means you have been ignored, disregarded, and dishonored for your service, your gifts, or your ideas. While it may sound like no big deal, it is very devaluing and causes a deep wound.

The three-fold hurt of these old wounds can easily lead to unforgiveness, which, if unresolved, will produce bitterness. Bitterness casts us as a victim whose rights have been violated. It is the enemy’s solution to our hurtful wounds. Bitterness is the easy route the enemy puts before us, but it is not really a solution for old, hurtful wounds. It is merely the poison produced by them!

God has placed within our grasp the weapon to win our freedom from old, hurtful wounds. It is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us to forgive, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Jesus also warned us of the importance of forgiving, and the consequence of not forgiving.
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14).

When others have wounded us, we naturally want to hold on to the hurt because the other person doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But God’s way is for us to forgive them and to put them in God’s hands. God expects us to forgive them because He forgave us even when we didn’t deserve it. Once we forgive others, they are no longer our problem, they’re God’s problem, and we are set free from the weight of these wounds and the heavy burden of bitter unforgiveness.

My friend Curt Johnson used to say,
“Keep the best, and forget the rest!” But I think the Lord would have us go even further by saying, “Keep the best, and forgive the rest!” Having done this, we can look ahead in anticipation and with great expectations.

Suitcase #2 — Falls & Failures
The second piece of baggage that weighed down the balloon was “Falls & Failures.” This involves both the sins we fall into and the mistakes we make. Sins are when we miss the mark, violate the kingdom of God, and wound God’s heart; while failure can simply be our not giving it our all, not doing our best, or simply not being adequate for what we thought we could accomplish.

The two-edged sword that God has given us to break free from these shortcomings is
repentance and trust. When we sin, the only solution is repentance. Feeling bad won’t change anything. Resolving to try harder next time won’t remove the sting of sin. The only remedy for falling in sin is repentance. Because of the finished work of the Cross, the Bible has promised us that repentance will always produce cleansing and remove condemnation. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous-ness” (1 John 1:9). When we truly repent of our sins, Jesus will wipe away the guilt by His blood. No spot of shame will remain. There will be no condemnation or looking back, just moving forward.

When you fail, you need to forgive yourself. While this can be difficult, it is even more difficult to trust that God can and will be able to use us once again to build His kingdom. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we find a promise from the Lord that can give us great hope; God said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Even in our weakness, littleness, and inadequacy God can use us if we will trust that His grace can make us useable and useful. We need to forgive ourselves and trust that Jesus’ grace is sufficient … even for us!

Suitcase #3 — Discouraging Disappointment
The third thing holding us back from soaring into all that God has for us is “Discouraging Disappointment.” This involves all the “could-have-beens,” “would-have-beens,” “should-have-beens,” and “might-have-beens.” The burden of the unmet expectations from the past can easily weigh us down. The unrealized hope that has been deferred can fill us with regrets. If we begin to focus on our disappointments, we will become downcast and discouraged.

Satan is a “dream-snatcher” who wants to use discouragement to steal all the hopes and plans the Lord has placed within our hearts. Many believers are fatigued and fainthearted because their expectations have been delayed or unrealized. After all,
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick …” (Proverbs 13:12). Many live today with unmet expectation … dashed hopes … unfulfilled dreams. This is the enemy’s plan for our lives. It results in the darkness of discouragement, disillusionment and despair.

We must not let our disappointments capture our attention, for only God is worthy to fix our hopes and hearts upon. Not only that,
“… we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Because of His amazing love for us, even when we fail He causes it to work for our best. Truly He is an awesome Redeemer!

The way to be set free from discouraging disappointments is to allow God to be God — allow God to be the Lifter of your head. Psalm 3:3
says, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.” The Lord, and nothing less, is worthy to be the focus of our lives. Choose to allow the Lord to lift your gaze up from the disappointments of the past, and permit Him to take His rightful place as the Magnificent One who captures your attention and captivates your heart.

Check Our Baggage

The coming new year has great possibilities and potential, why waste it being tied down to the old baggage from years past? Let’s put the past in the past so we can truly walk forward into the future God has for us.

In Matthew 8:22 Jesus said,
“Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” That is a prophetic word for us in this day. We need to get rid of the old, lifeless things in our past so we can pursue the Lord with real zeal.

Let me encourage you to “bury” the baggage of old hurtful wounds, falls and failures, and discouraging disappointments that you may have accumulated from the past before moving forward. Like the man in the vision, we won’t be able to move into the new things God has for us if we try to take all our old baggage with us.

Take some time to forgive those who have hurt and disappointed you … including yourself. Repent of any sin that wants to hold you back, and choose to trust in God’s grace to use you once again — even in your insufficiency and weakness. Let go of unmet expectations and take your eyes off of them and lift your gaze up to the only One worth fixing our hearts and hopes upon — Jesus Christ.

As we soar forward in the days ahead, let us be careful not to become bogged down again by spending too much time looking backward. Last year’s problems can’t be changed. Last year’s successes are like last year’s Super Bowl winners … they are merely history.

The true Church of Jesus Christ is a passionate, forward-looking, mountain-moving mission. Christianity is not about wasting time on what is in the past; it’s about building on the past as we press toward a glorious future. Let us stop wasting our time on what is dead and over and live each day to the fullest. After all,
you and I are called to do more than review history … we are called to make it — to change this world for Jesus Christ!

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