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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year-End Review: Take-Aways from 2010

This week, most people will be recovering from the holiday rush and travel, long but happy hours of visiting, gift-giving and (possibly) returns, and holiday food withdrawals (especially from all the sweets).  New Years celebrations are just around the corner, and then life will generally resume normal proportions again.  While 2010 spins to a close in a swirl of color, it's time to look back and see what we can take from it.

The opening lines from an old poem by Joseph Parry come to mind at the end of the year: "Make new friends, but keep the old;/ Those are silver, these are gold." The poem centers on how we should most value the friends who have stuck with us year after year.

That is a nice sentiment, but in the end, even relationships, things, and habits that have been with us a long time may perish.  They may not have even been good for us.  What we need to value most are the imperishable things we have acquired through the year--moral lessons we have learned, and guidance and grace that God has showered upon us every day.  What is your take-away for 2010?

Faith with Hope:
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 6-7 NIV 2010).
"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5: 3-5 NIV 2010). 
Have you been through serious trials this past year?  At the end of the year, it is good to look back on what we've been through, and put it into an eternal perspective.  Our trials last only a little while, but in the end, they can strengthen our faith in God.  How? By proving to us again and again, in a very personal way, that God is with us always, and that He sustains us through persecution. We have a hope, as Christians, that eventually all trials will come to an end and everything will be set right again by a loving and just Savior.

If 2010 was a rough year for you, take a moment to remember all the good things that God has done for you, and all that He will do.  He keeps His promises!

Blessings for Obedience:
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1: 5-8 NIV 2010).
"The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness" (Proverbs 11: 5 NIV 2010).
Perhaps 2010 has been easier than most years for you.  There may have been some rough times, but they didn't last and are hardly remembered when you look back over the year.  Still, you can see growth in your relationship with God, because you have spent time learning about what is right and doing it.  Practice builds new habits you can take with you into the new year.

Humility Before Honor:
"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8: 3 NIV 2010).
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7: 14 NIV 2010).
 There is a third take-away, for those who did not live in constant obedience to God and did not suffer for the cause of Christ in 2010, but who want to do better in 2011.  It is a humbling experience, admitting failure, sin, or shortcomings, but if you know the Lord, you know that He will honor those who humble themselves before Him (see Proverbs 18: 12).  You may live to see the results of 2010 burned away like straw (see 1 Corinthians 3: 11-15), but if Christ is your foundation, you can start again with better materials in 2011.

Take a moment to think about these things this week.  I'll be back later this week with a "best of 2010" post.  Until next time, this is me reminding you to stay savvy and wait for Christ's coming!