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As
you say goodbye to the previous year, what memories fill your mind?
Perhaps it’s headlines we all read and watched: Obamacare, Papal
transitions, Boston Marathon bombing. Perhaps your thoughts go to a
personal joy: marriage, promotion, graduation, a baby! Maybe your year
was filled with pain and uncertainty: financial stress, divorce, loss of
a parent, sickness.

Whatever you faced in 2013, good or bad,
there is one thing that is true for all of us. It’s over. Done. In the
record books and can’t be relived. Sure, you can peruse a photo album,
your facebook history, or even just go over it in your mind, but you
cannot change one thing.

Scripture often speaks of putting past things behind us:

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way. Philippians 3:13-15
62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

I think we often try to measure God’s love or
faithfulness to us by the events of our personal life. If that job
works out, that spouse stays faithful, or if my body stays healthy, God
has been faithful. BUT…unemployment, relational pain, and disease may
cause us to question God’s love and goodness.

If you have had a difficult 2013, hear this:
No matter how your personal history reads, God’s love for you cannot be
measured by your volume of pain. God does not love the person more whose
life has been a bed of roses, while He distains the sufferer. There is
ultimately only one measure of God’s love for you and it’s not your
amount of suffering, but His. The cross is the only true measure of His
love for us.

If you have had a terrific 2013, hear this:
Praise Him for His gifts, but don’t put your hope in them. The only true
source of joy is the Gift Giver, not His gifts. His ultimate gift is
Himself. Isaiah 43 says:

18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

My prayer for our church family in 2014 is that we would drink deeply of the spring of Jesus:

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but
whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the
water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to
eternal life.” [John 4]

Whether you are coming out of a stormy year
with no silver lining in sight– or life has been blue skies– the
cross, and not our circumstances, are what we all can be thankful for on
this January 1. Happy New Year!

Todd+