This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff Mazzariello.
ENCOUNTER: Read Philippians 3:10-14
"...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..." Phil. 3:13
If we seek the Bible’s advice on looking back on our past year, we get the surprising advice to make sure that whatever we see must be framed by the reality that what is AHEAD is more important than what was behind. The “next things” with Jesus are what really matters. For what is behind us is ... just that... BEHIND us. The good news is that we have a present relationship with Jesus. Present and future, because he is leading us onward. So as we look back we must be reminded to live now and next year like we are forgiven, celebrating how God did show up, and planning to be faithful to what we learned (both easy and hard lessons.)
We often look back without much discernment regarding where God was involved in our lives to love us, and grow us, and teach us. Or we look back and get caught up with how we failed, or with what hard stuff happened, and so our past can start to define our future with negative defining messages such as what failures we are, or how unfaithful God feels to us.
It is a really good idea to take some time to chronicle your past year in a carefully biblical manner. In my sermon from Dec. 27, I suggested that as we look back we make sure to:
a) Live like we are forgiven, because he has forgiven AND forgotten our sin in Jesus!
b) Celebrate how God showed up for you, because this kind of remembering gives us strength, hope, witness for the future. Plus this gives him glory and reminds us that 2015 wasn’t about us anyway. Our lives are given and sustained by him for his glory!
c) Have a plan to be faithful to what you learned. In other words, if God has led you, ministered to you, spoken to you, etc., then we need to figure out what an obedient and faithful response to him is as we go forward.
BE A BLESSING:
As you consider your past year, you will be prompted by God regarding some people he put in your life to love and bless with all the love and blessing you were receiving from him. Who are those people? What is one concrete way of loving one of these people this week? How are you to be involved in blessing people as a faithful and obedient response to God this New Year?
The love, support, and discernment of others are immeasurable resources in helping us look back on our past with wisdom. They can help you see where God showed up by giving their perspective and asking good questions. And they can help you believe the truth about God’s grace and forgiveness. They can also be and incredible encouragement as you look to be faithful to what God has been teaching you. Why not get some time with a spiritual friend and talk about how you are processing this past year. With whom are you journeying this week?