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INTO THE NEW YEAR (Joshua 1 verses 1-11)
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
- Do you make resolutions?
- How long do they last?
DID YOU KNOW THAT MAKING RESOLUTIONS IS BIBLICAL?
The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 2 v 2:
‘For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified‘
Paul’s resolution was clear:
- Jesus Christ at the heart of all that I do and say and think and the way I behave
- Jesus Christ at the heart of my decisions, my responses, my state of mind
- Jesus Christ at the heart of my peace, my joy, my compassion, my dreams, my hopes, my ambitions, my deepest longings
SERVING CHRIST must be my priority, my guiding light, my one desire…
- Where He leads I will go
- When He calls I will listen
- When He commands I will obey
EASY TO SAY… far from easy to do!
WORKING THESE THINGS OUT IN PRACTICE presents a challenge… but this is where the resolve comes in, together with a total reliance on God
In Joshua chapter 1, the Israelites stood on the brink of a new land and a fresh chapter in their history
- They had spent 40 years wandering about the desert (not a lot of fun!)
- They had experienced success, failure, defeat, victory
- Their relationship with God had reached the heights and plummeted to the depths (remember the golden calf?)
DOES THIS ALL SOUND FAMILIAR and true for us also?
Last year was no doubt a mixture of joy and heartache…but mainly ‘plodding through the wilderness’…taking each day as it came
- Huge encouragements… and moments of despair
- Times when God’s presence was almost touchable… and times when He seemed a million miles away
- Times when everything made sense… and times when nothing did
- And some serious regrets, perhaps.
AND IS THERE ONE PERSON WHO CAN CLAIM THAT HE OR SHE led a life that was completely surrendered to the will and purpose of God last year?
BUT NOW A NEW YEAR BECKONS
And we have been spared…given another chance…
WHAT WILL WE MAKE OF IT?
ISRAEL WAS TRAVEL WEARY
- Their leader, Moses, was dead
- Their resources were few
- Their fear was great…the land is full of giants!
- CHANGE WAS UPON THEM… never the easiest time
AND NOW GOD TELLS THEM TO GET READY to subdue and conquer a string of hostile nations and take control of a land about the size of Belgium!
…And that it will all start to happen in three days time!
LITTLE WONDER THAT GOD SENDS THEM REASSURANCE:
- To be strong and very courageous
- Not to be terrified
- Not to be discouraged
AND HE SENDS THE SAME MESSAGE TO EACH ONE OF US…
- 1. To be strong and very courageous
- No doubt some of the timid people argued that they were better off in the wilderness…where life was unsatisfactory but predictable
- It’s a response that we see in some churches
Let’s not be hasty…let’s be safe… let’s hang on to what we have always known
BUT GOD SAYS Behold, I do a new thing among you
- But have we the courage to step out and seize it?
- Or do we batten down the hatches…smile politely and continue in exactly the same way as before?
THIS NEW YEAR SHOULD BE ONE WHEN WE TAKE STRONG STEPS OF FAITH
Not to be terrified
- Terror comes when we take our eyes off Jesus and concentrate on the problem
- The people had to learn to fix their eyes upon the Alpha and Omega…and not upon their enemies
- And we have to learn the same lesson…to say “Get behind me Satan…you can do nothing to me that God does not allow…I will place my trust in the God of salvation”
- Jesus told us not be concerned about those who can destroy our bodies…but the one who can destroy body and soul
Not to be discouraged
- How easily our heads drop…the first sign of opposition…an unkind word… a disappointing response…and we lose heart
- But Paul states quite clearly: So we do not lose heart
- This is a DECISION we make…we say to ourselves and to one another…”Even though He slay me, I will trust Him”
JOSHUA RESPONDED POSITIVELY to God’s command
- He got the people ready
- They put the failures of the past behind them
- There was a present to seize hold of… and a future to contemplate
JOSHUA COULD HAVE ARGUED WITH GOD…I’ve only just taken over, give me time to adjust, to find my feet…but he just got on with the job
I’m sure that he had doubts…
- Maybe he thought to himself: Perhaps I’d better be absolutely sure
BUT JOSHUA WAS PUTTING INTO PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLE THAT PAUL later expressed in his letter to the Philippians:
‘Forgetting what is past and straining towards what is ahead, I press on‘
- Like horses in harness… you, your brothers and sisters and the Holy Spirit…ALL ARE NEEDED FOR SUCCESS… pulling in the same direction
CELEBRATING WHAT GOD HAS DONE in the past…
- But not clinging to it nostalgically
- Or refusing to consider any way other than familiar ways
IN JEREMIAH 6 v 16 we read:
‘Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it. And you will find rest for your souls‘
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR?
- What do you want God to accomplish through you this year?
- It is right to be ambitious for the Kingdom of Go
MAY I CHALLENGE YOU AND MYSELF FOR THE COMING YEAR…
Put love at the centre of our individual and church life
Make sure that we speak the truth in love… and with humility
Strive to make our home and church the most WELCOMING PLACE it can possibly be, where people find answers to life’s questions
- Is this church such a place?
Trust God in every situation and be thankful
- Horatio Spafford heard in the news that his 4 daughters had drowned at sea, though his wife was safe
- He went home and wrote these words:
When peace like a river attends my way or when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, you have taught me to say ‘It is well, it is well with my soul
Look forward to His coming but live as though it were a thousand years away… making every day count
JESUS SAID that the world would know that we were His disciples, not by the quality of our services or the fine words we use or how modern we make our music or even by outreach, campaigns, tract distribution or any other strategy.
The world will truly be impressed by our love for one another:
- Including the awkward ones and the moaners
- The people who are never satisfied
- And the people who are closest to us… and we often take for granted
Bill Hybels, in his well-known book Becoming a Contagious Christian writes these challenging words:
If one contagious Christian can be so effectively used by God, what happens when a whole church becomes contagious? When that occurs, we’re talking explosive spiritual impact throughout the entire community. As important as our individual efforts are, ultimately God will reach the world through the combined strengths and activities of all of us in the church working together.
Rob Frost in his book ‘Which way for the church?’ writes:
Which way for the church of the new millennium? A church built with people who live in the real world, with every member a powerful witness to the living God. Wherever Christians are, they are the temple. Wherever believers pray, they are the house of prayer. Wherever they worship, they demonstrate the glory of God. They (you, me) are the church in the world.
- So here we are on the threshold of yet another new year
- How many more will we have?
- How many more new years do we need before we make up our minds to give God 100%?
‘For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’