MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This is an important season to be spent with family and friends, a precious time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to live generously and give selflessly.

But as the year draws to a close, it’s an invitation for reflection and anticipation. In the blink of an eye, it’s going to be 2018, complete with New Year's resolutions, gym memberships, healthy eating plans, and determinations to ‘do better’ (whatever that means). Before we move ahead to the next year, I believe it’s good to look back on this year.

Reflecting

In the Old Testament, God would often tell the Israelites to erect an altar at significant places in their faith journey. In the book of Joshua, when the entire tribe of Israel crossed the river of Jordan, taking their first steps into the promised land, they were able to pass through on dry ground. Talk about an incredible miracle! Then the Lord instructed 12 men to grab stones from the river to carry with them so when others, when children, when future generations would ask “hey, what’s with the rocks?” they would be able to recount the goodness of God.

Have you taken the time to reflect and recall all that the Lord has done in your life this year? If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to do so. Recall the good things that have happened, the bad things, the challenging things. Remember how God was with you and the lessons he taught you. Bring to mind and celebrate the goodness of God whether it was a difficult year or a good year.

What brought me joy?
What brought me heartache?
Did I accomplish all I wanted to during the course of the year?
How did I see God move?
What prayers did He answer?
How did I grow?
Is there anything I need to release, surrender, or let go of before walking into the new year?

Then, with that heart of remembrance, let’s move into the new year full of hope and faith.

Looking Ahead

The new year is full of new possibilities. It’s a blank slate for us to create whatever we want on it -- what an exciting time! So often, when we’re talking about the new year, we talk about goals and things we want to do. We focus on how we want to look or feel but how often do we think about how we want to live?

I believe that a new year is the perfect time for reinvention. But what if that reinvention wasn’t just for ourselves, but was for someone else? What if we chose to be more generous instead of stingy? Joy-filled instead of frustrated? Peaceful instead of worrisome?

I encourage you to ask God who He's calling you to be in 2018 and listen to what He says. I wholeheartedly believe that 2018 is going to be an absolutely amazing year. I believe that breakthroughs will happen, blessings will abound, and God will show up in big ways in our lives.

What am I looking forward to?
How do I want to grow?
How will I draw closer to God?
How will I draw closer to community?
What traits of God do I want to spread wherever I go?
Who do I want to help?
Who do I commit to praying for?
How will I make the world a better place?

Lord, I thank you for 2017. I thank you for the setbacks and the successes, the tragedies and the triumphs because you were with me in the midst of them. Thank you for enabling me to experience your presence in a clear and profound way.

As I look ahead to 2018, please give me a vision for the coming year. Highlight in your Word your characteristics that you want me to display to the world. Show me what person, people groups, or causes you want me to pray specifically for. I lay down my agenda and my plans and submit to yours. I’m dedicating 2018 to you -- may your will be done in my life.
I love you, Lord.
Amen!

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