One of my favorite professors in seminary repeatedly said, “What God has done in the past is a model and a promise of what he will do in the future, although he’s far too creative to do it the same way twice.” I just love that statement, because it emphasizes the trustworthiness of our God! In the December sermon series, we learned that Jesus is Prophet, Great High Priest and King, all in one. God had sent other prophets, priests, and kings before Jesus walked this earth, and some of their stories are pretty amazing. But none of those could compare with Jesus. They were, at best, models and promises of the perfection that was to come when God’s only Son put on skin and became Immanuel, “God with us.”
As 2016 draws to a close, I challenge you to spend some time thinking through what God has done during the past year in your own life. Before you set New Year’s resolutions (if you even do that) carve out some mental space to devote to looking back. These questions might help:
When you experienced victories this past year, what role did God play in your success?
When you felt sad, hurt, or angry, how could you tell he was with you? How did you know that he cared about your suffering?
When you were blessed by others, what aspects of them reminded you of their Creator?
When others let you down, who carried you through?
If you could change one thing about 2016 — have a do-over so you didn’t have to regret something you did or said — what would it be? What does God have to say about your sin, if you are in Christ?
If it is true that what God has done in the past is a model and a promise of what he will do in the future, then 2017 should be somewhat predictable. Regardless of your victories, it will be God who brings your success. This is because “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
Regardless of the origin of your pain, he will never leave you and will care deeply about you because “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit “ (Psalm 34:18).
Whoever blesses you in 2017, you can know in advance that they are able to do so because they “are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” for them to do (Ephesians 2:10).
When others let you down in 2017 (and they will at times, because they are imperfect), you can trust that you have a God whose ways are perfect and whose word proves true, who acts as “a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).
Finally, no matter how you miss the mark in 2017, you who are in Christ will not have to pay the eternal penalty for it because Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
What God has done in the past 12 months is a model and a promise of what he will do in the next 12 months. But he’s far too creative to do it in exactly the same way twice! So let’s look toward 2017 with a hopeful determination to recognize our God as he works for us. Let’s decide today to search for him in all our situations (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Let’s resolve to make 2017 the year we notice him everywhere, creatively following through on his promises!