Happy New Years!
This weekend, I (Janna) was asked to speak at our church during the last service of the year. I prepared a devotional message, and thought I’d also love to share it with you – all of our friends and family – by video. It’s a spiritual reflection on 2016, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing 🙂 (I know the spiritual message isn’t for everyone, so feel free to skip if you want!) In it, I just talk about five questions to ask ourselves as we look back at the past year, to look at what foundation has been laid as we walk into 2017…I’ve made a downloadable reflection guide you can print out and make notes on if you want: Reflecting on 2016 – The Rous House Handout
The first question I asked was: What major life CHANGE or event happened in your life this year? (In the video illustration, I used a jar of loose change to represent “change” 🙂 Maybe you had a new baby? Maybe you started a new job or got a promotion. Maybe you started, or ended, a relationship. Maybe you lost someone close to you this year. What happened? Maybe it was something painful, maybe something wonderful. This change may be something that God is using or will use to help set a new direction for your life in 2017… It may be a stepping stone towards the path he wants to lead you on.
The second question I asked was: What did you LEARN this year? (Represented by 6 little lights.) What did you learn this year, things that have changed the way you think or approach life? Did you go on a training course? Were you attending school? Learning a new language? Did you read a fascinating book? God brings learning experiences into our lives to prepare us, to help us grow. By the things you’ve learned, is he preparing you for future opportunities to minister or serve? Take a moment a reflect – what did you learn this year, and how might that be used in 2017?
The third question I asked was: What TRIALS and difficulties did you face in 2016? (I’ve used a broken glass to represent trials.) Sometimes, pieces of our lives get smashed. We face really big difficulties. What did you go through this year? Were you accused of something you didn’t do, yet were punished for it? Did you lose a home, a family member? Have you struggled in your marriage, or with your children? In the Bible, it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” …What???? Most trials are not joyful. And yet, the Bible also says that God brings beauty from ashes. In Isaiah 61, it says: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…” Maybe God is using the trials in your life to prepare you to comfort, encourage, and have mercy on others who are experiencing something similar. The trials of 2016 are also part of the foundation of your life in 2017…
The fourth question I asked was: What have you learned about GOD’s CHARACTER this year? At our church, we spent weeks and weeks studying 1 Samuel this year. 1 Samuel 3:10 says: “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Did you hear God speak this year? Did you listen to him this year? What has God taught you about Himself this year – Who He is and how He works?
The fifth question I asked was: Who are the PEOPLE that God has brought into your life this year? I’ve used a jar of coffee beans (because I like to drink coffee with friends) to represent relationship, friendship, visiting homes, listening, and talking. God brought certain people across your path in 2016. Who did he want you to develop a relationship with? Why? Maybe you met at work, or at church? Maybe you met at university, school, college? Maybe someone contacted you on Facebook that you haven’t seen in a long time. How does God want to use you in those people’s lives?
We often want our new year to start off like an empty bowl, waiting to be filled with new experiences, but instead it actually starts off half-full of all the “stuff” we bring into it from the year before.
Watch the video to see how an “empty bowl” versus a “half-full” bowl compare when it comes to God overflowing your life with Himself in 2017!
Wishing you blessings in 2016,
Janna and Steve