Hey Vivid Church family, Joe Angelo here, and I’m thrilled to share some reflections with you as we approach the end of the year and prepare for new beginnings. Today, let’s dive into the importance of evaluating the past to construct a brighter future.

Ever find yourself jumping into something without much thought, driven solely by excitement? It’s a familiar scenario—like the excitement of love that blinds us to practical considerations. I once felt a bit like Buddy the Elf, shouting, “I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!” But as life teaches us, there’s wisdom in considering the cost before jumping in.

As Luke 14:28-30 reminds us, “Don’t begin until you count the cost.” Just as we enter into relationships, jobs, or ventures without evaluating the cost, we often approach each new year with similar enthusiasm. We set resolutions for a new gym routine, diet, relationships, budgets, and goals without reflecting on why previous attempts may not have worked.

But here’s a nugget of wisdom: Improving yourself is the first step to improving everything else in your life. Goals are essential, but growth is transformative. The goals we achieve are not as important as the growth we receive.

So, before constructing the future, take a moment to assess your past. Psalms 139:23-24 and 2 Corinthians 13:5 urge us to examine ourselves, inviting God to search our hearts and test our thoughts. Psalm 1:1-3 paints a beautiful picture of a person rooted in God’s law, flourishing like a tree planted by streams of water.

How do we go about this evaluation process?

  1. Collect Data: Compile data for the areas that matter most to determine how healthy you are in those aspects.
  2. Evaluate Results: Review the data for trends—what’s on track, and what needs attention?
  3. Celebrate the Wins: Take time to celebrate what God has done. Whether it’s weight loss, improved finances, more dates, or dropping a bad habit—acknowledge the victories.
  4. Confront the Facts: Identify areas needing improvement and focus on them in the coming year.
  5. Get Better: Determine one thing that, if improved, would make the biggest difference.

Consider the seven pillars of health: Spiritual, Emotional, Mind/Body, Sexual, Relational, Leadership, and Financial. These areas can guide your assessment and growth plan.

Remember, growth doesn’t have a timeline. Change the question from “how long will this take” to “how far can I go?” Every day is an opportunity to grow, to commit to positive habits, and to become the person you want to be.

As you embark on this reflective journey, don’t forget the power of accountability. Acts 20:28 encourages us to pay careful attention to ourselves and others. Joining a small group or the Dream Team can provide the support needed for growth.

Finally, decide to believe in yourself. The law of the mirror states that you must see value in yourself to add value to yourself. God sees value in you—He gave His most valuable gift, Jesus, for you. Embrace your worth and invest in yourself accordingly.

So, let’s wrap up this year by dedicating time to evaluate and plan for growth. Choose a fixed growth mindset, and let’s dedicate our lives fully to King Jesus.

And don’t forget, next week, we kick off a four-week series: “I Have Decided.” We’ll explore the power of decisions in winning the battle in our minds, achieving financial success, choosing joy, and walking in our purpose. But to decide to move forward, let’s take time to evaluate the past.

As we start the new year, let’s not just celebrate the season but also prepare for a lifetime of growth and purpose. Cheers to a reflective and purposeful end to 2023, and I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for us in the years ahead!

-Pastor Joe

Listen to the full message