Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fruitful Nostalgia

January. It's that time of year again to reflect on the year that's gone by and think about our prospects and expectations for 2014. Naturally, we'll have many thoughts that will make us smile, but also many others that will make us sigh. How can we avoid the pitfall of fear and come out of our reminiscing refreshed and hopeful?

1. Thank God for people who have been a channel of blessing to you. You might even want to let them know how much they mean to you, like Paul often did in his Epistles (ex. Rom 1:8).

2. Pray for those you're concerned for financially, healthwise, or spiritually. You may not be able to solve their problems for them, but God certainly can! And he already has, so many times before, hasn't he? (Rom 10:1)

3. Forgive those who've hurt you. If you really think about it, God used them to mold your character, didn't He? Maybe He's still using them! Besides, what would you rather have in your life, a stranger or a friend?

4. Recognize your debts. There may have been people you haven't appreciated enough. This remedy will probably require you to deal with insecurity issues you may still have, but that's a blessing, too. (1Thes 5:12-13; 2Ti 2:11; Col 4:12-13)

5. Remember the most important lessons God has taught you the past year. Doing this will also give you the added benefit of seeing how God turns painful circumstances into blessings (Rom 8:28).

6. Pinpoint sins or bad habits that you've successfully dealt with the past year, and thank God for working on you so patiently! Let this encourage you, because greater things are yet to come (Php 1:6).

7. Think of one or two sins or bad habits you're still really struggling with and think honestly about how those things have affected you, and what you're willing to do to put them down (Heb 12:1).

6. Find your joy in the LORD, not in your circumstances. When estimating your prospects, your best analytical tool is not your calculator, spreadsheet, or 5-year plan, but God's promises. This is true not just for your finances, but for your relationships, too (Luk 18:29-30). Examples from the Bible or from history can really help put things in proper perspective, like Habbakuk 3:17-19.

Even if you've done all of the above, there may still be some things you're troubled about. In that case, “pray without ceasing” (1Thes. 5:17). Our Heavenly Father is never too busy to lend a loving ear, even on New Year's Day!

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