Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead
As we finish 2013 and look forward towards 2014, it is a great time to reflect and to dream. As we look back over 2013, what were your greatest victories in your spiritual character? How did you see God work in your life and in your family’s life? (John 5:17, Romans 8:28, Acts 17:24-27) The Bible tells us that God is always working and that He is working for our good. The Bible also tells us that God orchestrates the coming and going of people and situations in our lives to help us seek Him and find Him. Since all of this is true, it is important for us to reflect and to be able to see God’s hand working in our lives. As we do this, our faith will grow and our appreciation for God will grow. Even as we reflect on the difficult times we will be able to see how God was molding us and rescuing us. What lessons has God taught you this past year? How have you seen God work in each of your family member’s lives? What opportunities has God opened up for you? How has God blessed you?
“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalms 40:5
This is a wonderful Psalm of David. On one hand, David is looking back and recounting all of the wonderful things that God has done in his life in the past. As David does this, it produces in him a faithful attitude about what God will do for him in the future. As you think of all the ways that God has been with you and blessed you in 2013, it will give you great faith and anticipation as you look towards 2014. David is so full of faith about the future that he says if God would have the opportunity to sit down and tell you all that He has planned for you, you couldn’t handle it, it would be just too much. Wow, what a wonderful way to think and to feel about your past and your future.
Some of us may feel that we had a hard year in 2013 and it may be difficult to find God’s handiwork in our lives. One of the greatest examples of a faithful attitude in the Bible is the apostle Paul. As Paul writes the letter to the Philippians he is in a dark prison not knowing how long it will be before he is executed. However, as you read his letter, he is so faithful and grateful about all that God has done and all that God is doing and will do. Twice he is encouraging the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord ( Phil 3:1, Phil 4:4). How was Paul able to have such a faithful spirit when his situation was so dark and hopeless? Paul knew that God was good, that God was working and that God would take him to heaven. Because of these things he trained himself to focus on God and all He was doing and not on the situational problems he was facing. (Phil 1:6, Phil1:21, Phil 4:8)
We see Paul’s faithful attitude about the future when He says,
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, 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 3:12-14
Encouraging next steps
- Make a List of all the ways you have seen God bless you in 2013
- Make a list of all that you are spiritually looking forward to in 2014