Back to the Future, 29 December 2013

Big Idea: As we approach the new year, it’s a perfect time to give thanks for this year and prepare for the next.

Today we are in the

2013 is essentially over. Even though we have a few days left, I’ve seen the best sports plays of the year, read about the best movies of the year…it’s as if 2013 is in the rear view mirror.

2014 does not arrive until Wednesday. I’m excited about the Winter Olympics in February, my daughter’s graduation from college in April…but it’s not here yet.

The in-between even reminds me of Advent when we look back to the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His return, muddling in the space between.

Today we are going back to the future. We are going to look back at 2013 and ahead to 2014.

Psalm 8

Last Sunday we looked at King David. One of my favorite psalms written by David is Psalm 8.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3-8)

It continues to boggle my mind how God not only creates us and loves us, but He also invites us to do life with Him. He woos us into a relationship…and then asks us to rule with Him.

He is so good. He created us. He loves us. He cares for us.

Psalm 136 says

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:1-3)

I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always looking ahead…sometimes too far ahead. I need the discipline of reflection, of giving thanks. There are trials and challenges ahead, to be sure, but we are commanded throughout the scriptures to give thanks.

This past week I reviewed some of the highlights of 2013 and gave thanks to God for His goodness.

How has God been good to you in 2013?

2014: The Year Ahead

What is God saying to you about 2014?

I didn’t ask for new year’s resolutions, though they may be similar. I want you to take some time and prayerfully consider your next-steps.

It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. For example, if I asked you to read the entire Bible today, you might feel a bit overwhelmed! How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! If you divided the Bible into 365 bites, you could read through the entire Bible in mere minutes each day. For some of you, that’s exactly what God is saying to you—read My Word!

Two years ago many of us read through the Bible together. In 2013, we’ve been reading the New Testament. In 2014, our Scio Journal is going to focus on the Psalms and Proverbs. You can read and interact on our Facebook page. Please join us!

Maybe 2014 is the year you finally take a risk and invite a friend to our Easter gathering, get to know your neighbors, serve a homeless person, get out of debt, break an addiction, embark on a missions trip, write your first book, forgive an old offense, go back to school…

What is God saying to you about 2014?

In about 365 days we may be together in this same room reflecting upon 2014. How will you live it? How does God want you to live it?

One word that keeps filling my mouth is “intentional.” We can go with the flow, letting the current of life move us downstream toward our eventual death or we can be proactive and seize the mission God has for our lives. He has created you and me to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Listen to the words of Moses in Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (1-2)

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. (3-6)

We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:7-12)

What is God saying to you about 2014?

We’ve reflected upon the past and looked ahead to the future, which leaves us with today. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I challenge you to be fully present in the moment, not dwelling on the good old days or becoming anxious about the future, but thanking God for His faithfulness, right here, right now. One of the great things about God is He is timeless. He never changes. He is as real today as He was yesterday and will be just as faithful tomorrow.

In the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi, God Himself says

I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, declared that

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.