In Faith Moments, Odalis Turincio shares her thoughts on living out her faith and how we can grow closer to God.
Hi everybody. Good morning. Welcome to Faith Moments. My name is Odalis, I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone, and I’m so glad to have you here for this final ‘Faith Moments’ of 2020. I don’t know about you, but it has been a year. I’m just grateful to have this time for us to talk, to look at God’s Word, to listen for Him. Maybe some things He might be speaking to you currently. I would love for us to take a few minutes together to consider how we’re ending this year. How we’re stepping into 2021 and what God might want to do in our lives, in the middle of it. I believe firmly that we need to walk with intention into this next year. So we’ll just turn to our Bibles. If you have one, please grab it. We’ll be in Joshua in the first chapter. It’s in the older Testament.
I would just love to pray before we start. Father, we welcome you into this time. God, we want to hear from you. God, we want to be intentional in our time with you. We want to pursue you because you are the giver of life. You are a source of hope. You are strength, Lord. Even in the darkest times, you shine brightly, Lord. So would you help turn our eyes to see you and our ears to listen, Lord, to be changed by you. We pray for you to be present at this time. Jesus, we pray these things in your name. Amen.
It is December 17th. That means Christmas is in one week, Christmas Eve. We have our little Christmas Eve set up. When we turn on the fireplace a little bit, we’ll have some cozy vibes here as we’re approaching Christmas. I’ve been thinking a lot about this year. I’m sure you have too, or maybe you haven’t, maybe you’ve had enough, or it’s been too much and you just sort of want to pause, set the year aside, and just move into something fresh.
Maybe you have actually had a year where you found yourself strengthened at the end of it. I was having a conversation with a friend two days ago who was just sharing how much he had grown this year. How he had gotten physically healthy, closer to the Lord, and how he had found such blessing in the opportunity of this year. At the same time, there are others for whom this has been the most difficult year of their lives. My husband and I have had a hodgepodge of the two and all the while we’ve been committed to looking for God and His goodness in it.
We’re so grateful to have found Him along the way. He’s been with us every step. As we’re moving towards the end of the year, we’re not really going to be going out to celebrate New Year’s or do the things we used to, but we will be going from 2020 to 2021. As I was thinking about it, as you’re just sort of casually talking about, “Oh, what’s next year going to look like?” I realized, well, really at the end of the day, it’s just one year to the next. Essentially baseline in the same way that every other year is just one year to the next. It’s one month to the next, one week, one day to the next. In reality, we live each moment, one at a time. The invitation of our faith is to take advantage of exactly where we’re at right now.
I want to turn to Joshua. We’ve looked at Joshua before. I find myself super strengthened by Joshua, by the encouragement all over to be strong and courageous. We’ll just turn to the first chapter, verse six. Long story short, Joshua was put in leadership over the nation of Israel, after Moses had died. Moses had been the only leader that Joshua had known. The only leader this nation had known after they had left Egypt. Moses led them through the desert. He heard directly from God. He was a strong leader. Now on the precipice of the promised land, Moses dies and Joshua takes over. They had to really embrace the calling that God had placed over them, even though they had no idea what it would look like.
From verse 6, God is speaking to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it, day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
How many times does Joshua need to be told to be strong and courageous? We know he did not feel strong or courageous, right? He felt weak. He felt afraid. He felt intimidated. I might be projecting my own perspectives, but maybe he felt some imposter syndrome. You know, having these huge shoes to fill and feeling unqualified, inexperienced, and intimidated by the role that was ahead of him. Looking back at whatever it is that he had experienced along the way, with trepidation for what the future looked like.
God’s calling to him here. It’s not anything new. These are all things that Joshua already knows. Culturally, as a nation, they were raised to obey the Word of the Lord. This law that they had been given to guide, instruct, and keep them along the right path. He knows that he should not depart from the law. He needed to meditate on it, to take it in with intention and diligence. It’s nothing new. Clearly, he needed to hear this reminder again on the precipice of a new season, as he was walking out of the old and into something new, he felt all of those things. We know that right. We know, but what stands out to me also is the timing. This is where I want us to sit.
Joshua is entering a new season. He’s going from whatever their 2020 was like wandering through the desert for 40 years. They’re entering into what they had anticipated as a culture, as a collective group. They had walked through years and years of the desert. They were entering what they had always known was coming, but never had an understanding of what it would be like. In a similar way, we’re walking out of the year that we have, maybe it’s been a desert, with oasis along the way, with provision along the way. But it’s been a difficult year. We’re walking into something that we knew would happen eventually.
We knew December would come along with Christmas and New Year’s. We knew we would enter a new year and there are jokes, memes, and all that stuff. While we look forward to 2021, there is the hope, change, and light at the end of the tunnel that we anticipate. There’s also an aspect of it, maybe, if you’re like me, that pauses to ask, “Well, what is it going to be like?” I’m looking forward to it. I’m anticipating it. But I also have no idea what’s in store. I don’t know when the season of transition ends and when the new begins, but we’re in it. Joshua had a choice. He could carry through all of his fear, sense of weakness, trepidation, nervousness, and the sense of how big those shoes were to fill. He could carry those feelings, the weight of it, and be crushed under it. Or, he could pause and recenter around this invitation God was giving him with the provision of God’s strength and courage to guide him. What we see as we keep reading is that he didn’t seem to get weighed down by it.
Joshua wasn’t defined by the feelings of that Wilderness time. Let’s pick up from verse 10. It’s immediately after, “Joshua commanded the officers of the people, passed through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions for within three days, you were to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.” Joshua gets to work. Joshua doesn’t sit and get lost in his thoughts or overthink it. He registers, we need to move. We need to be intentional. We need to grab hold of what God is telling us is right on the other side of this river. Joshua gets to work. All of the things he felt are still there, but his approach is not one of fear or insecurity. It’s one of measured boldness. Measured because he knows the one who is truly leading, not just himself, but his whole community.
If we keep reading a little further, we see how the people responded to Joshua. Really, how they responded to how he responded to God. In his moment of transition, the step forward that he took. Let’s read this last section. We’re picking up from verse 16, “And they, that is the people, answer Joshua, ‘All that you have commanded us, we will do. And wherever you send us, we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things. So we will obey you. Only may the Lord, your God be with you as he was with Moses.” This one’s a little intense. They say, “Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.” So there’s a lot here. It’s an affirmation. It’s huge. Look at that faith that they put into Joshua, who just a couple of verses ago needed to be told multiple times, be strong and courageous.
Even here Joshua is being told, be strong and courageous. It is intense. The bits about people being put to death are complex. I’m not quite educated enough to sit and break that down. I can tell you, this is a people who were walking into seasons of war, an intensity that we don’t face. But if we look at that last bit, “Only be strong and courageous.” It’s such an affirmation of the people who knew him. They acknowledged him as a whole, that they were with him in it. So as we’re approaching this year, what are those words we need to hear? For Joshua, it’s to be ‘strong and courageous.’ What are they for you? Is it, ‘be still and at peace?’ Is it trust? Is it ‘get up and get moving?’ Is it ‘pause?’ Is it ‘praise?’ Is it ‘listen?’ Is it ‘watch?’
What are the words, the affirmations that you need to hear? Maybe they’re ones you’ve heard in the past, or maybe they’re newer. We can see what Joshua’s were, right? Be strong and courageous, over and over. Moses told him those words. God told him and his people told him. What are the promises that God has made to you that you need to trust in Him and faithfully step forward into? What are the areas you need Him to show up? Maybe it’s financial security or relational healing. Maybe it’s freedom from things that we’ve struggled with. Maybe it’s peace of mind and heart, or a new role, or a renewed approach to an old one. What are the things, what’s on your horizon? What’s coming up for you? Because at the core of it, 2020 to 2021, the 31st to the first, it’s not in and of itself different from any one day to the next. It’s the same as going from today to tomorrow. It’s just one day followed by another.
What’s different is how we market. What’s different is how we approach it. What’s different is our intention in it. If we want growth in our lives, if we want to experience more of God in our lives, then it’s not just about celebrating, staying up until midnight, and shouting happy New Year from the comfort of our homes this year. It’s about taking a wholehearted approach, grappling with our fears, pains, burdens, and saying, “These are not what’s going to define me, but my faith in God and His invitation to me, going from this day to the next, from this year to the next, that’s what matters.” That’s where our invitation lies. In my heart is to invite you as I’m inviting myself to do beyond New Year’s resolutions, those are good.
More than that, to spend these two weeks we have left of the year and to listen, to listen to God. To be intentional. To be slow. To read His Word. To pursue Him. To find what are the words we need to hear? Like Joshua, be strong and courageous. Find those words, find that promise. Find that challenge from God. Find the ways that you specifically, as one loved and seen by the God of the universe, are calling you to grow in your faith. Find those ways, grab hold of them, and step boldly forward into them. Step boldly forward. Let’s contend for growth and trust in the Lord. Let’s contend and fight for healing in Jesus’ name. Let’s rally together as a community to step boldly forward into the calling He’s given us together. Which is to practice and live out our faith with purpose, authenticity, and wholeheartedness. To be His, no matter what 2021 throws at us, God is good all the time.
God has shown it to us all this year. May you see it every step of the way this next year. Let’s pray. God, you keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you. We put our trust in you and ask for you to define how we process the end of this year. How we step forward into the next one. God, I ask for you to speak. Even at this moment to all of us, we could hear you, your invitation for us in this next year. How do you want us to step forward? What are you speaking over us? Help us to hear you, to understand you, to walk with confidence, to walk with obedience, into where you’re calling us. God, we put our trust in you, and Jesus we love you. We pray these things in your beautiful, powerful, redeeming, and healing name. Amen. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2021 for the next Faith Moments. God bless you.