Good morning. (And afternoon, because it’s 3:30pm as I sit down to finish this entry.) Today is Monday, December 31, 2012. It is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2012.
On this date:
In 1600, the British East India Company was chartered.
In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease at L45 per year and started brewing Guinness.
In 1897, Thomas Edison first demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public.
In 1904, the first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (although it was called “Longacre Square” at the time).
In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge opened.
In 1955, General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion in a year. Hmmm…
In 1983, AT&T and the Bell System were broken up by the U.S. Government. I’ll never understand why the government was afraid of them.
In 1991, the USSR was officially dissolved.
In 1992, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved.
In 1999, the U.S. Government officially handed control of the Panama Canal back to Panama.
Today’s birthdays include Charles Cornwallis (British general), 1738, Henri Matisse (French painter), 1869, Rex Allen (actor, singer, and songwriter), 1920, Odetta (American singer), 1930, Sir Anthony Hopkins (actor), 1937, Rosalind Cash (actress), 1938, Sarah Miles (actress), 1941, Andy Summers (The Police), 1942, Sir Ben Kingsley, 1943, John Denver, 1943, Connie Willis (Science Fiction author), 1945, Diane von Furstenberg (fashion designer), 1945, Tim Matheson (actor), 1947, Burton Cummings (The Guess Who), 1947, Donna Summer, 1948, Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith), 1951, Bebe Newirth (Cheers), 1958, Val Kilmer (“I’m your huckleberry”), 1959, Nicholas Sparks (author), 1965.
This has been a pretty momentous year for me (and for our family, as well). The most important thing about this year has been what I consider to be my spiritual growth. God brought us to The Exchange Church about 18 months ago. We jumped right in and started serving almost immediately, only in the setup/tear down areas, at first. Then Christi and I both got involved in the tech ministry, with her doing the Pro Presenter on the Mac on alternating Sundays, and me doing lights and podcast. My involvement decreased in that, however, for two reasons. One, we moved to a new school, where we would not have as much room for all the lights, so there were no lights to control. Two, we stopped doing video podcasts, and went to audio only, which could easily be done by either the person running the Mac or the sound engineer. The big thing came about a little over a month ago when I received a call from our worship leader, inviting me to play keyboard in the next Sunday’s worship celebration. So now, I’m a regular member of the worship band.
But I was supposed to be talking about spiritual growth. Somewhere in the midst of all of this serving, God really got hold of me, and started drawing me closer to him. I strongly believe, with all my heart, that this was because of the “lifehouse” ministry of our church. In order to be a full-fledged member of The Exchange, you must commit to being part of that ministry, which is the small community group that meets outside of the regular church, once a week. In our group are two other people who are heavily involved in setup/tear down/tech, as well as the discipleship/prayer pastor (our leader). But we have grown very close as a group, and have seen some amazing ministry going on. There has also been a measure of accountability that has not been present in my life before. During this time, God also pushed me into a sort of prayer ministry. And as I have gotten more involved in this, I have grown closer to other people, as well. I can’t remember the day or the circumstances; I just know that one day, God strongly suggested that I get into intercessory prayer. I’m still learning about this, and have far to go, but the important thing is that I am praying daily, and the majority of that prayer time involves praying for the needs of other people, both spiritual and physical. I’m even using Facebook as a tool for the prayer ministry. We knew it had to be good for something other than Bejeweled Blitz and Words With Friends, right?
It was also during this past year that I began to have a deeper understanding of the life of Christ in me. I began to see the Beatitudes as not simply an ideal that we should try to live by (that has been the way I understood it for most of my life, some even saying that it was an impossible ideal), but as the characteristics of Christ that should be visible in the life of the true Christian. Christ lives in me; his life should be visibly manifest in me. The Beatitudes reflect that, and, while definitely impossible for the natural life, should be normal for the spiritual life. I also include the definitions of love in 1 Corinthians 13, and the spiritual gifts list in Galatians 5:21-22 in this category. All of these are things that should be normally visible in the life of the Christian, because a) we have the life of Christ in us, and b) we have the Holy Spirit empowering us.
As 2013 approaches rapidly (I almost typed “rabidly;” better put my reading glasses on) I hope for even more growth, because if I’m not growing, I’m stagnating, and going backwards. I hope for a deeper understanding of prayer; I hope for a deeper walk with the Lord, as I try to live out the prayer in Psalm 86:11, which is my “life verse.” It says, Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I believe I will add verse 12 to that, which says, I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. And I hope for a deeper understanding of the life of Christ in me.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! Psalm 65:4
Father, as I look into your word this morning, and examine the year that has gone behind me, may I see a fresh revelation of you; one that will carry me forward into the new year, shining with your glory like the noonday sun.
Today, I’m reading Isaiah 14:24-27.
24 The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and on my mountains trample him underfoot; and his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden from their shoulder.”
26 This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?
In this passage I see the sovereign hand of God over all the earth. A portion of it applies to Assyria only. But verses 26 are stated to be the purpose “concerning the whole earth. The hand of God cannot be thwarted. If God has said it, it will happen. Our God will do what he says he will do, and no one can turn back his hand.
Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “Yesterday.” The scripture reference is Isaiah 52:12. …the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
“At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.” Our Lord provides us with security from yesterday. Sometimes, my enjoyment of God’s grace in my life can be sullied by “the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.” But there seems to be a reason for this, and it is most certainly not to wallow in self-pity. God is the God of yesterday, and allows memories in order to keep us from getting into a “shallow security in the present.”
That same verse (Isaiah 52:12) also says, For the LORD will go before you. He will watch where we have failed to watch. He provides me with security for tomorrow, watching for things that might trip me up into failures. “God’s hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.”
Finally, this same verse says, For you shall not go out in haste. “As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us.” There are things in our yesterdays that cannot be fixed; they are irreparable; they cannot be gotten back. There are, it is true, lost opportunities. But God has no desire for us to fall into destructive anxiety over these things. Rather, he transforms it into “constructive thoughtfulness for the future.” Our God provides us with security for today. “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”
“Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”
Father, I thank you deeply for the victories and growth that you have given me in 2012. Now, I look forward to 2013, and it is my desire to both let the past sleep on the bosom of Christ, and to “step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” I long to see Jesus more and more during this next year. I pray that the coming year would be more incredible than the last one. I’m greedy, it’s true; greedy for more of you! May I not “go out in haste,” in this new year, but stop to meditate and reflect as I move into it. Let there be no “impulsive thoughtlessness” in my ways in this next year. I pray that you will watch for me when I fail to watch, but I pray, as well, that you give me eyes to see the way in which I am walking. My life verse will not change. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. I pray that, as 2013 approaches, you will have me an additional verse on which to focus in the coming year. As I recall, this year’s verse was Joshua 1:8, which says, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. There have been times, during this past year, when you reminded me of that verse.
I pray that I might only think of failures past in order to prepare myself for the future. It is all in your hands, my Lord, my God, my Rock and my Redeemer.
I pray for the remainder of this day. Oh, what a beautiful day It has been. What a wonderful vacation this has been. May we finish this day, this year, off in grand style. We plan to attend the hotel’s show tonight and will try to “ring in the new year.” But may we, at the same time, be thankful to you for everything that has happened in 2012, and look forward to everything you will do for us in 2013.
Looking back at the past is not always bad. It’s only bad if you allow it to stifle your future.
Stay safe tonight.
Grace and peace, friends.