Are you ready for 2012?  I sure am.  This year New Year’s Day actually falls on a Sunday and we will indeed be meeting at The Crossings.  The plan is to just have one service at 11:00.  The main text that we will be looking at is Psalm 90:12 where Moses prayed; “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  That is a challenging text in many ways.  When we take stock of our potential life span and realize we only have so many days allotted to us, we begin to rethink things more seriously. I suppose it’s kind of like when my kids were younger and a couple of older men told me to enjoy these years because they would be gone before I knew it.  I didn’t believe it then, but I can really relate to that now because my oldest will be graduating from High School in 2 and a half years.  Where did the time go?  In truth, all of us have a short amount of time on this earth.  The question is how are we going to spend that time.  To help us get further along with that road, I’ve listed three challenges below. What else would you add?

1. CLOSE 2011.  For some of us, 2011 was not our best year.  Maybe we made some big mistakes or even committed blatant sins against God and others.  Maybe we have experienced some huge heart aches.  But the thrilling thing of a new year is the promise a fresh start.  If that is your case, then a good idea may be to actually list the mistakes and pains on paper and then burn it after it’s been taken to God. Was there sin?  Then repent and ask for forgiveness. Pain?  Then give that to God, ask for healing, and then bury it and go forward.  For others, 2011 was a great year.  2011 may have been a huge blessing with many victories.  If that was your case, then celebrate them and give God the praise for it, but don’t stop there.  The condition of many folks and churches is that they are still living in the victories of yesterday while the world goes on without them.  We should celebrate our 2011 victories.  We should build on our 2011 victories.  But if we stay there and camp out on them, we will then become stagnant and cease to grow.  In short, the best way to begin 2012 is to finalize 2011.  In Philippians, Paul noted that he was “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is head, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for what God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  In business, the books will soon be closed on 2011.  Let’s do the same in our lives.

2. GROW in 2012.  We understand this with young children.  We feed them, cloth them, educate them, and then expect that they will grow.  However, this principle of growth with our spirits and our minds somehow gets lost as we grow older.  The challenge here is to grow in such a way that when 2013 rolls around we can honestly say that we are different than what we were a year ago.  For growth in 2012, I would encourage everyone to read through the Bible this year.  There are many bible reading schedules you can choose from.  My favorite one is from Good News Publishers.  With this program, you read from the Old Testament in the morning and then the New Testament in the evening.  Now you might be tempted to say that you don’t have time to do this.  But when you think about it; we all have time to do what we really want to do.  Though we may have to give up some time in front of the TV or other activities, I can 100% guarantee you that reading through the Bible in 2012 will definitely change you.  In addition to the Bible, I want to challenge everyone to pick up a book or two written by someone who has gone ahead of you in the journey.  Two books I would recommend would be Radical by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  Are there other books you would recommend?  If we all planted a seed in the ground this year we would expect some kind of growth by next December.  In the same way, we can plant spiritually and likewise expect growth.

3.  SERVE in 2012.  In the West and particularly in America we live in very self-absorbed societies.  Living a life of service is actually somewhat countercultural, but the very kind of life Christ followers are called to live.  One of the great things about being a Kingdom citizen is that we are all part of the game.  God does not call any of us to be bench warmers.  We are all equal in the site of God, but have different gifts and abilities.  The challenge here is to serve those around you in whatever means are possible for you.  One of the mottos we will be picking up this year at the Crossings is: “Every Person to their Post.”  Sometimes in the West we expect the preachers, pastors, ministers, or other “Professional Clergy” to do all the ‘religious’ stuff.  But that concept is very foreign to Biblical teaching.  The Bible refers to all of us as a “Priesthood” of believers.  We are all called to engage the world around us with the love of Christ.  So let me encourage you to take a step of faith this year.  Let me encourage you to tell someone the true story of Christ.  Let me encourage everyone to look around and find some way to plug in to help others around them.  Jesus Christ himself said that he “did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

“Teach us to number our days aright!”  Wow, imagine for a moment that you only had this next year to live. How would you live differently?  Just imagine how life could be different for you, those around you, and for the world as a whole if we really lived with an eternal perspective.  Are you ready to step out in faith this year?  Are you ready for 2012?  I hope so because it’s here.  So let’s take 2012 by the horns and see what we and God will do with it.

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