It was an extraordinary year in the modern history of Great Britain, with Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, the spectacular London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France and the English Rugby win over the seemingly unbeatable New Zealand All Blacks at Twickenham some of the obvious highlights.
On the world stage 2012 saw many significant milestones: from the continued effects of the Arab Spring in Yemen and Syria; to Hurricane Sandy; to the deaths of the great Neil Armstrong, the first American woman in space Sally Ride, Whitney Houston, Etta James and the great author, salesman and speaker, Zig Ziglar.
For me though, whilst 2012 was a year filled with great experiences and significant moments, most of all it was a year of incredible lessons and revelations.
The greatest lessons of 2012.....
1. God IS sovereign
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all
2. God IS faithful and ALWAYS true to His word
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning
3. Be still and know that I am God
Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honoured by every nation. I will be honoured throughout the world
4. Nothing can separate us from the love of God
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord
5. My God is a big God
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place
O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
6. The things that man intended for evil, God purposed for good!
Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now - life for many people
7. Everything will be alright in the end.....
Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the endFootnote: Obviously this isn't scripture - but I think you will agree that the principle is echoed throughout the Bible
8. The luckiest man alive is the one who has faith in God + the love and support of his faith-filled wife
Hymn to a Good WifeA good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!
Footnote: By God's grace this has been one of the consistently best lessons of each of the past 17 years of my life!
9. The Lord's purposes always prevail
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails
10. God is sovereign & absolutely in control
When you accept the fact that sometimes seasons are dry and times are hard and that God is in control of both, you will discover a sense of divine refuge, because the hope then is in God and not in yourself. Charles Swindoll
When we give God complete control over our lives, our joy increases and we can enter His rest. Joyce Meyer
Only what you give away do you get to keep. Jimmy Dowds
What a privilege to live in the assurance that God is in control of you and of everyone He allows behind the shield of His purposes for your life. Bishop T.D. Jakes
If you allow it, [suffering] can be the means by which God brings you His greatest blessings. Charles Swindoll
So where does this lead me?
Well, 2012 was an awesome year of learning. So my prayer and plan for 2013 is to put these lessons into action.....starting today.
Let me encourage you to praise God for the year that was and to ask Him boldly and expectantly for provision and blessing for 2013; for the opportunity to serve God and bless our fellow man; and for the continued fulfilment of His purposes in your lives throughout 2013. That is definitely one of my prayers for this coming year.
I pray that 2013 might be a year in which Proverbs 3:5-6 is at the centre of everything that you plan, think and do.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.