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What Have We Learned This Year?

December 27, 2015 | PB

This is the last message preached at CCC in 2015! The year has gone by so quickly, so it’s even more important than ever to pause, look back on this year, and learn some of the year’s most important principles. That’s the bridge that carries us into the new year and helps us to be even more fruitful in 2016!

Listen to the Sermon

Sermon Notes

Exodus 17:8-15

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner

Stuff happens! Here we are, poised on the precipice of another year. As much as the past is the past, it’s good to take a look back on the year we’ve just lived with the Lord and see what needs to be remembered, what we’ve learned this year or had confirmed to us.

In the portion we just read, Moses was leading the nation of Israel through the wilderness. They came to a place called Rephidim. The nearby people of Amalek, the Amalekites, decided that Israel was a threat. Unprovoked, they attacked Israel. Don’t forget, thes Israelites were former slaves, people not trained for war, so they weren’t exactly prepared that way.

Not to worry, though, God was definitely with them in this fight. As long as Moses held his hands up in the air, presumably with the rod of God in his hand, the Lord supernaturally enabled the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites. There was a little problem with him getting tired and needing help holding his hands up, but in the end they won.

After this was all finished, the Lord said something interesting and helpful. He said, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven”.  In other words, remember what happened here and what I’ve said about the Amalekites. Then rehearse it, recount it, especially to Joshua, the not yet future leader of Israel.

In other words, remember what happened here and learn from it, and put the Lord’s Banner over it.

So what happened this year?

Here are the top AP news stories from the year, to start with. And they’re pretty grim, if you ask the world.

  1. ISLAMIC STATE: For its part, IS sought to demonstrate an expansive reach by its operatives and supporters, claiming to have carried out or inspired the bombing of a Russian airliner, attacks in Beirut and Paris, and the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California.
  3. PARIS ATTACKS: The first attack came just a week into the new year. Two brothers who called themselves members of al-Qaida barged into the offices of the satiric newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and later attacked a Jewish market, gunning down 17 people in all. Nov. 13 brought a far deadlier onslaught: Eight Islamic State militants killed 130 people in coordinated assaults around Paris. Targets included restaurants, bars and an indoor rock concert.
  4. MASS SHOOTINGS: Throughout the year, mass shootings brought grief to communities across the S. and deepened frustration over the failure to curtail them.
  5. BLACK DEATHS IN ENCOUNTERS WITH POLICE: In Baltimore, riots broke out after the death of Freddie Gray.
  6. TERRORISM WORRIES: Fears about terrorism in the S. surged after a married couple in California — described by investigators as radicalized Muslims — carried out the attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people.
  7. US ELECTION CAMPAIGN: A large and varied field of Republicans launched bids for the presidency
  8. CLIMATE CHANGE: Negotiators from nearly 200 countries reached a first-of-its kind agreement in Paris on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
  9. CHARLESTON CHURCH SHOOTING: A Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, suddenly turned into carnage when a white gunman opened fire, killing nine blacks, including the pastor.
  10. EUROPE’S MIGRANT CRISIS: Fleeing war and hardship, more than 1 million migrants and refugees flooded into Europe during the year.

I don’t think that’s what we should focus on, remember, other than to be aware of what’s going on in our world and so we can pray.

But here are some things we can learn from what we experienced as a church this year:

  1. Life is temporary, so live it out well.  Last year it was Ralph and this year it was Maggie. From their passing we’ve learned that you can finish out your life well by pointing to the Lord Jesus, even in the midst of a fatal disease. That’s sobering, but if you can keep your faith in a Job-like trial, that’s real. There is nothing that can rob your life, really, if you cling to the Lord Jesus in faith.
  1. Life has been rich, especially by God’s standards. We’ve learned a lot, grown a lot. Through Sunday services, small groups and specialized ministry we’ve all grown and changed. There was a wedding; Mike and Emily. Families in the church were gifted with new children and grandchildren. Those are the things that make you rich, truly rich. We remember them, rehearse them, and give thanks to God.
  1. The Body of Christ is powerfully equipped to do good in His Name. Take out the insert in your bulletin this week. These are all the things we could think of that we did as one little local church this past year. There were literally hundreds of lives touched this last year. Rehearse those great things and rejoice that you had a part in accomplishing that and more.
  1. There is always a new adventure ahead. We saw afresh at Prophetic Presbytery this fall that God has fresh vision for us. As individuals and as a church, the Holy Spirit spoke to us. Rehearse what He said! One thing that the Lord clearly spoke in a number of ways, was that He is sending younger people here in numbers. That is so very exciting. Go back over what He spoke in those meetings and re-read, pray over those words.
  1. God answers prayer. Speaking of prayer, how many of you have had answered prayer this year? We prayed together and fasted for 21 days, almost a year ago. We’ve held prayer meetings galore, many by our intercessors and many prayer needs brought before the Lord through prayer lists as well as your own individual prayers. We have a healing team and a personal ministry team that prays with people and we’ve seen lots of healing and help. We’ve prayed for missions, missionaries, kids in China, our own outreaches and families and individuals. You know your prayers are able to outlive you. Things you pray for while you’re here, after you’re gone, still ring in Heaven. So let’s remember how God answered prayer last year and redouble our efforts this year. We’ll start our 21 days on January 4th, with prayer meetings three Tuesdays in a row.
  1. There were so many people who heard the Gospel through us this past year. From individual efforts to services, even weddings and Maggie’s funeral, there were many communications of the Good News. On the campus, on the streets. We found that when we had baptisms that we had the privilege of hearing how the Lord saved some who heard the Gospel through the ministry here. There are some folks in this room that found the Lord or really caught on fire this year. May that be remembered and multiplied this coming year.

There are many other things we need to remember. For exaple, there’s a price for making a stand for Jesus. Remember Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk that wouldn’t issue same-sex marriage licenses and went to jail for it?  Mike Warren and others have locally paid a price for making a stand against abortion. That needs to be appreciated and remembered.

There will always be evil present with us until Jesus returns. Yes, we have seen wars and shootings and difficulties of every sort in the world this year. In the end Jesus has His way. He always has a plan, even in the midst of great darkness. That gives us hope for revival and for His soon return. Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted by Christians, for good reason.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Can You stand on what God did last year and see even more fruit this coming year?

Get yourself before the Lord and get your heart ready for our upcoming 21 days of prayer. Start now to write some of the things that you’re seeking Him for, some of what He’s put in your heart. Start to write down things that you’re believing Him for in and through this local church family.

Remembering, rehearsing, and rejoicing in what He has done, gives you courage, wisdom and excitement about what He can do in this coming year. The Lord our Banner was with us, is with us now, and will be with us in the days ahead.