How sobering is the thought that as we enter a New Year, whether we want to or not. ready or not, we can’t stop time.
What will we face as we enter 2010, now a decade into the twenty-first century?
Change that undermines our Constitution and American Republic we must stand against.
Change in our churches that undermines our Biblical foundation, we must courageously resist.
Change that brings progress we should welcome. Change, just for the sake of change, we should question.
Like it or not, new events will unfold on a personal, national and world-wide level.
New choices and decisions will have to be made that we have never made before.
We will be faced with new temptations to compromise on moral issues and disobey God.
It is possible that new victories over sin will be experienced.
New opportunities and responsibilities may be thrust upon us.
New phases of our character will be developed.
New trials and disappointments will be thrust upon us which we have never faced before, for no Christian is exempt from them.
New sorrows may come upon us, but we sorrow not as the lost with uncontrollable and unrelenting grief. I Thess. 4:13
New friendships will be formed as we get to know and love strangers as friends,
New fresh mercies of God will be bestowed upon us every morning for the next 365 days. Lamentations 3:21-23 promises that, Expect them and watch for them and thank God for them daily throughout the year.
Changes will take place in our lives and perhaps in our church; changes that will impact us for the rest of our lives.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE AS LONG AS GOD IS LEADING US.
For Israel. it was a change of leadership from Moses to Joshua, but God was still overseeing and in full control.
This year will be a year of growth, victory and blessing, or it will be a year of backsliding, defeat and misery. It’s our choice!
Most exciting of all, this may be the year Paul writes about in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 when all of us who are trusting Christ for salvation will be caught up to Heaven to meet the Lord and be with Him forever in sinless, glorified bodies.
God wants to do wonders in our midst. Joshua. 3:5 I’m not talking about cheap, empty, emotional experiences that give temporary highs. I’m talking about a church auditorium filled each Sunday morning and evening with men and women, boys and girls who love the Lord and are growing in Christ and making a godly impact for Christ on the people all around us.
We have a growing nucleus of such people here right now, including: children, teens, and early twenties who are excited about living for the Lord.
I envision a church and school, not hindered by lack of staff or finances who are ready and willing to do whatever God calls us to do.
How do you feel about God doing wonders in your church? What is your response? Does that excite you?
Let me let you in on a secret. It will probably involve change. Perhaps it may involve you sharing some of your responsibilities with others who are gifted and have the time and energy to accept new responsibilities. Perhaps it will involve you who are sitting on the sidelines getting involved.
HOW DID ISRAEL FACE CHANGE?
Many fear change and uncertainty? Let’s see how Israel faced change, as recorded in Joshus1:1-9
First, note the events leading up to it. In Numbers 13 twelve spies were sent out from Israel to check out the land and people of Canaan. Ten of the twelve brought back an evil report, insisting that the invasion of Canaan was too dangerous.
Two spies, Caleb and Joshua, brought back a good report that God was strong enough to conquer their enemies. The ten other spies brought back an evil report of pessimism and discouragement. They insisted that the enemies were too strong for them. Taking Palestine was impossible even though God had promised it to them.
FORTY WASTED YEARS
In Numbers 14:1-35, God pronounced Judgment on Israel for their unbelief. They were sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty more years until the old generation was dead.
When we come to Deuteronomy 1:3-8; the forty wasted years of wandering in the wilderness have been served.. The older generation is dead, except for aged Caleb. It’s time to go up. Joshua is challenged in Joshua 3:4-5 to lead the people to victory in Canaan.
In the light of the fact that they had not passed this way before, how comforting is was to know and rest in the following promises.
CHRIST KNOWS THE WAY AND GOES BEFORE US.
The Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of God’s presence, would lead Israel on their wilderness journey to Canaan. So God’s presence leads us through life.
Joshua 3:4 & 5 explains the reason Israel needed to be led by the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized God’s presence. They needed and we today need His presence, His leading and His direction because “we have not passed this way before”. Israel was to “sanctify themselves or separate themselves to God, for the next day God would do wonders among them.”
So Psalm 23 and John 10:4 teach us that the Good Shepherd goes before us, His sheep. As we go, God promises to do wonders among us.
FACING THE FUTURE
God goes before us guiding us into our futures. Thankfully, He does not show us our futures in advance. It we knew, we would fear to take another step; but because we do not know our futures, but only know that He is our Shepherd, we need not fear. We can fully trust Him with our lives and with our futures.
James 4:13-15 teaches us how to face the future and live each day. He starts by warning us be cautious about being dogmatic about our plans for the future. Our future is not totally under our control. It is under God’s control. “:Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow.”
Then he likens our life to a puff of steam coming from a tea kettle of boiling water. It’s here one moment and gone the next. Instead of speaking with dogmatism about our futures, we must understand that even as we make our plans, they are subject to change under the sovereign will of God who controls all circumstances in our lives.
We rest in the truth of Psalm 31:15 “My times are in Thy hands.” Though we don’t know our futures, we know He holds our future in His hands.
WE HAVE GOD’S PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE
As the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence, was carried by priests, who led Israel in their journey to Canaan, so God leads His own by directing our circumstances, if we are surrendered to Him.
Listen to the wonderful promises of God’s presence He gives His own.
“My presence shall go with thee and I will give Thee rest.” Exodus 33:14
“Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8
Read the 139th Psalm, filled with promises of God’s presence throughout our lives.
WE HAVE HIS PROMISE OF HIS PROVISION FOR EVERY NEED.
Finances Phil. 4:19
Strength for each day Dt. 33:25, Isa. 40:28-31
Fullness of joy Ps. 16:11
Protection Ps. 91
Grace for every trial II Cor. 12:9
Wisdom for decisions James 1:5
We have the assurance that God is using every change, every disappointment, every challenge and every difficulty to conform us to His image and make us more useful to Him.
God is more concerned about developing our character than in our service
we offer to Him. Our service is no substitute for character.
His will for us is our sanctification. I Thessalonians 4:3 Before God could use Israel, they needed to be sanctified or set apart for His purpose. Before He can use you or me, we must surrender our own wills to Him and let Him mold us as He sees fit.
I remind you of what God wants to do through us. As He reminded Israel in Joshua 3:4b-5 “You have not passed this way before.” so He reminds us. As He challenged Israel, “Sanctify yourself” That is, set yourself apart for God’s use, confessing your sins and being right with Him, “For tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
What a great promise for us as we face this new year before us!
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