This week we close the book on 2011 and open the first pages of 2012.
Closing the book on the past is important. First, we need to close the book on the insults and injuries that we may have suffered. Failure to close the book on these can cripple us in our efforts to embrace the future. We can only overcome past insults and injuries by practicing forgiveness. Jesus had a lot to say about forgiveness. He taught us to pray, “Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And, after teaching us to pray, drew the application: “For, if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” When Peter, feeling rather generous, asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus responded, “Seventy time seven.” As we close the book on 2011, it is important that we forgive those who have mistreated, insulted or injured us in any way.
Second, we need to close the book on our own sins and transgressions. We all regret things we did and things we left undone, words spoken and words we failed to speak. The guilt and regret of the past can become a huge burden that weighs us down and prevents us from achieving our best. God wants to take this weight from our shoulders. The Psalmist wrote, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Ps 103:11-13). “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isa. 1:18). The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
As we open first pages of 2012, the possibilities are endless. A recent poll indicated that most Americans are optimistic about the future. On January 1, ABC News ran the headline: “Public Optimism Prevails Nationally and Globally.” The article went on to say, “Despite the still-deep downturn, Americans overwhelmingly express positive views about what 2012 holds for them personally.” God wants us to be optimistic and hopeful. We can look forward to the future based on God’s promises. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Both Paul and Peter agreed that Jesus is the source of this confidence. “Just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” (Ro. 9:33; 1 Pe. 2:6; Ps 118:22; Isa. 28:16).
May this year be a year of forgiveness and faith! May it be your best year ever!