How can we prepare to live out a life with Jesus this next year?
I want to welcome all of you who are connecting at the Riordan Campus. It’s great to see you. I will see you in two weeks. Blessings, I want this to be for you, as well as all of us here. I know a lot of you are traveling and you’re checking in from different places. In some cases with your family members.
We want to include all of you that have just started to join us. We want to recognize you and thank you for being a part of this God’s blessing and grace over all of us as we share this together. I have a passion as we start this new little series. This is basically our new year series. It’s kicking off on this last Sunday of the year. It is a bridge. A bridge between where we’re leaving and where we want to go. I want you to take this journey with me.
My task, my assignment, and my passion is to prepare you as best as I can. To prepare you for where I think the Lord would want to take you, and what he wants to do in your life, in all of our lives. So we’re going to go back in time. We’re going to go to a passage in the Old Testament, the Older Testament from the book of Joshua, the sixth book of the Old Testament. Remember Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. This has to do with God bringing the children of Israel, who had been freed from Egyptian bondage, into the promised land.
This is about crossing over, being open to the new things that God wants to do, and letting go of the things that we can’t take with us. Go with me in that first verse. I want you to follow along with me. It says, “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, who was Moses’ assistant.” I will stop here for a moment and just note that Moses, the great leader, and servant of God, who had led the children of Israel out of slavery through the wilderness and finally to the banks of the Jordan river, was now dead. The Lord was making it clear to Joshua, Moses’ faithful right-hand leader, that it was his task to lead the young nation. Most of whom had grown up in slavery or as descendants of slaves. For many people, that is all they had known for the early part of their lives. That carries with it a kind of generational consequences.
God was preparing to move them into a place of promise, a place where they would cease from their wanderings and begin to lay down roots. They would build and become a nation, a nation that in some form still exists today. It was actually a fulfillment of a covenant promise that God had made centuries before, with a man named Abraham. Some of us may recognize that name. At the time he had no family, no lineage. But God said, “Out of you I will make a great nation. Out of that nation will come a savior, a Messiah.” And he did.
That promise was affirmed to Abraham’s son, Isaac. Isaac, whose name means laughter, had a son as well named Jacob. Jacob’s name was ultimately changed to Israel. Over time, his descendants grew into a people. After Joseph’s time, his son ended up being enslaved in Egypt for generations. Until God raised up a man named Moses who was to lead them out. But this really is what we’re looking at here, a fulfillment of a covenant promise that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God had told them that he would create from them a people. Out of those people there would come into this world a savior. That savior would be the Messiah, the ultimate deliverer and redeemer. God’s own Son, who would save us from our sins. That’s what we did last week when we were celebrating Christmas. We were celebrating the birth, the fulfillment of a promise that was made.
This is what we’re about to read here as part of that continuing promise. As God creates this nation out of which is going to come the savior, the fulfillment of all that was promised. But now we’re told that at this moment, right on the edge, right on the precipice of entering into the promised land, they’re right there and Moses dies. All of a sudden, God is saying to Joshua, he’s going to have to assume a new role.
Ironically, this life shift is occurring at the later stages of his life. Sometimes, that’s how it works. Things we weren’t expecting all of a sudden appear. Again, what he was told was, he must lead his people into a land of promise, the promised land. That was going to be a difficult and intimidating assignment. One that he clearly did not feel he was suited for. So I’ll just start by asking a question: Has God ever asked something of us that we either found intimidating or we didn’t feel we were really suited for? Yet we had this overarching impression that the Lord was asking us to step into it. Perhaps again, we’re afraid. In verse two, “Moses,” look at that emphatically, “Moses, my servant, is dead.” But, oh, that wasn’t new information. Why did God say that? I mean, he knew he was dead. They had been mourning his loss for 30 days. Then why did God say, “Moses, my servant, is dead.” What was it then? Why state the obvious? Because it was meant to be a restatement of a new reality, that’s why. A reality that needed to be faced, and not run away from.
I see honesty and clarity about the statement, ‘Moses is dead.’ It’s God is saying, “Moses is dead. We can not deny it. We cannot change what has happened. It must be accepted, Joshua. Again, Moses has gone. He’s not returning. The past is over. You cannot stay there. You must move forward. You cannot stay here. You must move forward.” Look at that, go on. “Now, therefore, arise. Go over this Jordan, you and all these people into the land that I’m giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place.”
Look at the third verse, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I’ve given it to you just as I promised to Moses.” Spiritually speaking, you and I, we’re going to need to possess our possessions. God gives them to us, but he calls us to possess them. “From the wilderness and this Lebanon.” Verse four, “As far as the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Hittites, to the great sea toward the going down to the Sun, shall be your territory.”
Basically, God is describing in detail to them, the physical boundaries of the land that he wants them to embrace and settle into. Then God says to Joshua, “No man shall be able to stand before you.” Look at that, verse five, “All the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you. I will not forsake you.” That’s the promise of His presence, which we have been given as well, for Jesus has said that same promise to you and me that, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. If you walk with me, I will never leave you, I will walk with you through anything.” Then God said to Joshua, “Not only will I be with you, but you need to be strong.” Some of us need to hear this. You need to be strong and courageous. “For you shall cause these people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers give them, only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law that my servant, Moses. As Moses, my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it, don’t turn to the right or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” That’s a clue to real success, it’s right there.
The reminder that we need to be strong, courageous, and fiercely committed to obeying the commandments of the Lord, is going to be a key to our success. We’re sincere about following Christ, embracing His word. God wants us to be counter-cultural in our way of being. He wants us to embrace His word in such a way that it shows up in our lives.
It really does, it’s meant to affect the way we speak. I’ve been thinking about this. I follow the Lord. Sometimes, we can be known not just by what we say, but what we don’t say. I hear a lot of people talking about God. A lot of times it’s just the way we talk about God that creates a difference. Like a lot of people are using God’s name, but they’re using it in a way that it wasn’t meant to. How we speak matters. The absence of what we say matters.
Maybe some of us, part of our goal for this year is to have our speech align with what we say we believe. A lot of things are being said. How are we speaking? Are we living counter-culturally? Are we living like, “This book of law shall not depart from your mouth. That you’ll meditate on it day and night.” How is it affecting the way we speak? Are God’s words affecting the way we relate to people? Is it affecting our character base? All of these things are huge. I know for some reason, I just keep thinking about, “Lord, let my mouth, let the words of my mouth honor you.” We are living in an era where everybody’s angry, everybody’s swearing. It’s kind of being used as just kind of like a normal part of life. Part of that’s just connected to all our entertainment, just nonstop. The Lord’s name is cheapened and used as a throwaway, swear line, filler, or whatever. This is the name we love.
It should be the name we praise. There should be no disconnect in the way we think and speak. God wants us to be a people of good words. By the way, I’m not outside of culture, I’m in it with the rest. I saw Star Wars. I did, I saw it. What I am saying is, we need to double-check what we’re letting be the dominant things flowing into our mind, because what we put in is what comes out. The portal of my eye and my ears affect my soul.
What is being fed internally is what’s going to show up in my life. God wants our words to be good, whereas, for the most part, we’re not perfect. I think sometimes just by what we don’t say, even when we’re in our workplace we’re not talking down about people, we’re not swearing. Is that what makes a person? No, but it does honor God. What is on our mind? What is the diet of our mind, right now? Are people going to get into working out for 15 days? I’m going to watch my diet. Right?
I’m going to work out this holiday stuff. But our spirit, our soul, what does God want that to be? What does it look like to be strong in the Lord with our mind? What are we filling in our minds? Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So God says, “Joshua, you need to be strong and you need to be courageous, and be careful.” When I was just a young follower of Jesus, the eighth verse of Joshua 1, stood out to me. I remember it since I was a teenager, “This book of law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on a day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written. For then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.” Wow. Think about that, “This book of law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate upon it day and night and observe to do all that is written. Then you will make your way prosperous and have good success.”
The words of God, are they central in our life? I’m going to say and make the case to really have a steady diet of God’s word in our life and reading the scriptures. One of our pastors, he’s super tech-savvy. He says, “But I like…” He likes to read out of a digital Bible, like this. I’ve been reading more and more out of my phone and out of my laptop or just different devices I have. That’s fine, it’s the word of God, it translates anywhere. But maybe some of us, we’re supposed to go old school this year, pull out one of these. He has notes all over his, and he circles them. He takes pictures, there he does it. He sends the words. Maybe we have to spend some time with some people and just learn together, study together. Let this book of law, this life, observe to do according to all that is written. Meditate on it day and night. Let it become the central part of our being. What’s our diet like?
I don’t think we can flourish as a follower of Jesus by having an hour once a week when there’s a Dave in this to do it. Jesus said in the day, “Give us.” Listen, what’d he say? “Give me this day, my daily bread.” This is not a half-truth, this is the truth. It won’t work if we don’t. When the heat is on, what have we been putting in? Sometimes, we get to a place where we don’t even see it coming. We’ve got a life-changing decision to make. Is this word centered in my heart? Your word, your word. Have I put it into my heart?
Have I hidden it in my heart, that I may not sin against you? How shall a young man or a young woman cleanse their way? By taking heed according to your words. Your word was found, and I didn’t heed. It was life to me. Jesus said, “My words, they are to you Spirit, and they are life.” God calls us to a place of His word, His word at work in our life. This book of law, but I meant it. With all my heart, I meant it.
Train, dig in, cultivate the growing edge. Don’t go halfway with Jesus, put it all in. Like my grandfather used to tell me, “If you’re going to do it, do it.” This book of law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate…” Look at verse eight, “Meditate on it day and night. You’ll be careful to do according to the law that is written in it.” The way it works is, it’s got to be on our mind. “Well, then you will make your way prosperous. Then you will have good success.” God’s talking to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you?
Be strong, be courageous, don’t be frightened, and don’t be dismayed. The Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” I’m looking at that and I’m saying, “Okay, God.” I was wrestling with this passage, “So what do you want me to tell… What do you want me to share with this congregation and all those who are joining us?” The last Sunday of the year. How does this passage connect? I’m going to put a couple of questions. This is certainly for those of us who are the note-takers among us, and those who ponder the words, and those who engage it.
Here’s a question: What is the land of promise that we are being called to possess? That is it, the question. If we look deep within, and if we’re open to his voice, what do we hear him saying? “Go deep.” What do we hear him saying? Are there no dimensions of breakthrough that God is calling us towards? Are there areas that he’s going to stretch us out of our comfort zone?
Perhaps, it will be a point of growth and connection to an aspect of our character, or a way of being an area where the Lord is saying, “This is the year for you to gain strength around this. That I want you to know how to add some things to your spiritual tool chest so that you’re better able to manage.” It might be an unhealthy habit that we have acquired, that is just plaguing us or a response pattern that just seems embedded into us deeply. As if, “We just react. We don’t even like why the way we react.” Or a generational point of bondage, something that got passed down to me, and was passed down to the one who passed it down to me. I’m tired of it, I want to break it once and for all. Be a blesser. You know what? A generational curse gets sent down. Dysfunction gets sent down like a baton, but so can a generational blessing. God is the God of new beginning.
This could be the year where something really is dislodged and a new thing emerges, that is from God. A promise, a life, and a new thing. “Have I not done a new thing among you? Is the Lord not willing to do? Watch, shall you not see it?” God was trying to defeat fear in Joshua, wasn’t he? I was looking at us saying, “Man, Joshua was a mighty warrior, but he’s afraid. He’s afraid.” And the thing is, he was afraid of himself. He wasn’t confident. He felt he was really comfortable in the role that he knew, but he was great number two. “I am the right hand of Moses, and that’s what I can do.” “But Moses is dead, and I need you to step forward. There’s a gap to be filled. Will you do it?” “Well, I did…” See how God wanted to work. That’s why he keeps telling him, “Be strong and of good courage. I need you to step into this gap.” There are gaps that God’s calling some of us to step into.
It may be for our friends and maybe our family. It may be, honestly, calling us to a place that we haven’t done something before. It’s going to take a great amount of courage. Perhaps a task that God, like Joshua, wants us to engage in 2020. A season of new responsibility, of enlarged entrustment. It could be at work. It could be at home. It could be in church, but an enlargement of capacity. Expansion, an expansion of capacity, that he’s trying to work into our lives. This is the year to be courageous. For all of us, there’s something I believe. Maybe it’s like creating more room in a container, adding a room. This has been the way it is, but God’s saying now you need to add a room. You add a room. What I’m saying is, it could be something that God is saying, “This has to go and I want to work a new thing in you. It has to go. The two can’t work together. This is your year to grow, and this is your year. I don’t want this to beat you just like they were held in bondage for a generation.” They spent one generation, before Joshua, in Egypt. That had become normalized. Their bondage had been normalized until God brought them out with a mighty hand, with a deliverer, Moses, a type of Christ. But then, they started wandering. An entirely new generation was a wandering nomadic people, because of disobedience they didn’t enter into the promised land. So, we had to wander.
Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck, and God saying, “Okay, but the time is now to move into this place of promise. Now, no more wandering. No, no, no, no, no. You’re going to have to do it now.” Maybe like Joshua, we’re afraid because we’re thinking, “Well, God, you’re going to… I’m comfortable with what I had, but I was Moses’ assistant.” Moses was one of the greatest men who ever lived in this world.
Jesus called him the man of most fine character. He talked about his meekness. Meekness is humility in power. It was said of Jesus; he was meek and lowly. That it was power under control in humility. It’s a beautiful thing. I wrote this about Moses. Because I was thinking about his relationship with Joshua, I wrote this down: Moses was a huge figure, one of the greatest men who ever lived. A remarkably complex man, a man of Egyptian culture, a Prince in Egypt, trained in the courts of Pharaoh, given the highest of his era, trained in mathematics, architecture, oratory, physical combat, philosophy, religion, literature, language administration, organizational oversight, as well as international decorum. He also became in his older years, a man of beautiful character, a shepherd, a reluctant leader, meek, and unambitious, a shrewd and wise leader he had become and been for decades.
Moses was a prophet, a man to whom God spoke, to whom was given the very Word of God, the law called the commandments. The one God had raised up to deliver his people. What’s more, he had always been there, always. Generations had come to rely on him. Joshua had come to rely on him. He was used to the way it was. Moses is dead. It will not be what was. Even though Moses was gone though, his shadow loomed largely. Here’s something else I’ll put up there. What shadows are affecting our tomorrows? Some of us may be hindered from moving forward with what the Lord desires to do in us and through us because of fear or a sense of inadequacy. So much of why we do what we do is because we fear, we’re afraid, or we don’t feel adequate. Sometimes out of that lack of adequacy, we pull back When God is saying, “You need to step forward.” When we pull back, we shrink our world. God is saying, “Expand it,” and we shrink it down. “Well, find somebody else. I’m not able to. I don’t have it. I don’t have it.”
This appears to be Joshua’s struggle. Perhaps as he compared himself to Moses, he didn’t feel he could do it. Again, the shadow of Moses loomed large. I’m going to show you a verse from Galatians. Look what this says. It says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done. You won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else, for we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Comparison, God doesn’t want us comparing ourselves.
I’m going to put this up, that you saw in Galatians 6. I’ll make the statement, “Let’s look to others for inspiration, but not for our self-esteem.” The key is our assignment. What is the Lord asking us to do? We can look for other people to inspire us. That’s fine, but never base our identity or our value on others. That’s not what God’s called us to do. We are to define ourselves in Him. What is the assignment He has for us? It’s not about the other, it’s about what He’s asking of us. We can look to others for inspiration, but not for our self-esteem. In other words, it’s not how we stack up, “I’m better than them,” or “I’m not so good as them.” No, that’s not it. God says, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Find your identity in me. Find your worth in me. You are loved, as I’ve called you. I have something for you to be uniquely Joshua, you are not Moses. I don’t want you to be Moses, I want you to be Joshua.”
Come on, be strong and courageous. “And whatever the Lord asks us to do…” I love this too. Remember this, whatever God is asking you to do, he will always give you the strength to accomplish it. Do you understand what we just said? Whatever He asks us to do, He makes available the grace to accomplish it always. There’ve been a few times where I felt intimidated by something I sensed God was saying he was supposed to step into or do, or to try to correct in me.
I hear the Lord say, “My grace is sufficient for you. Whatever I ask of you to do, I will give you the available resource to do it.” Do you see that? Say that with me. Just say it with me out loud. What He asks us to do, He will give us strength to accomplish. He will always do this. So, is the Lord asking something? He will give the strength to do it. Now, we have to possess our possession. That is, He saying He’s available. There is a socket on the wall. It has access to power, but a cord to gain that power has to plugin.
We may have access to promises in the Lord, but we have to plugin. God has grace available, but we have to pursue it. But whatever He asks, He gives us the strength to accomplish. There are other kinds of shadows that can affect us. Some of us have shadows from our past that sit over us. Some of us have shadows from the recent past or things farther back or things long ago. Maybe some of the times, some of us have memories that taunt us, beat us down. Literally, they cripple us. They cripple us, they undermine our confidence, our creativity.
I’m talking about stuff that we carry, that we can’t seem to let go of or leave behind. Or maybe we carry an extraordinary exceptional sense of guilt or remorse about certain choices we have made and the sins of our youth or the mistakes of our past, or the things we have done or left undone. We feel ashamed or disqualified, whatever it is. It’s true that choices have consequences, no question about it, but there is a time to leave the past behind and leave it to the fullest.
One of the reasons I love communion is because it always reminds me, there are certain times where I just need to go and say, “Lord, I leave this shame at the foot of the cross. I leave it. You’re my savior. I leave this with you.” He was shamed so that we could be unashamed. So I’ll just put it out this way; We can never fully possess our tomorrows while living in the of our yesterdays. They are bad yesterdays. I can’t do it. This thing defines me. I can’t get here. Got to let it go and move on with God. Because, why? You’ve heard me say this one too. What we won’t be, won’t let us be. “Moses, my servant, is dead. Get up, Joshua, cross the river, get moving.” One last thing. We’ll put it up there as this: What are the tangible steps that God is saying we are to take, as we move forward into a new year? What act of courage and faith do we need to initiate? How do we begin to possess our possessions? How do we? What does stepping forward even look like?
For some of us, we need to sit down and think about it. We need to think about it before this year is out. Come on, invest in the best, invest in your life, invest in what God wants to do. Put some time and a little thought into it. Take a walk, pray, reflect, or have a conversation, “Hey, here’s what I think God is saying to me about how I’m supposed to prepare for this gift of an amazing year, just right around the bend. This could be a year of tremendous opportunity.
What is God saying are the things I need to reinitiate in my life that I’ve left behind?” That’s one of the reasons I’ve been trying to do that. Rise and shine, and just say, “Hey, this is a daily thing.” Come on, we’ll walk this journey together. Walk it with other people to everything. There is a time and a season. There is a time under heaven. There’s a time for reaching, for crossing over, for possessing new land. Action steps. What are we to step in, to implement?
Start again. I run the risk here. I was saying a bunch of stuff, and then we all walk out and say, “Oh, yeah. Go Niners.” But this is real life. It’s not a game. It’s not a movie. What we do is going to affect people and God is with us. He is saying, “End this year well, and get ready because there’s a new opportunity. I want to do something more in your life, or I want to correct something in your life so that you can be prepared for what it is. We need to go. This is a time of adjustment, beginning, and expansion.” What is it the Lord is calling? I’m telling you right now, I’m not telling you to do the thing that I am myself. I’m not going to try to do. I want to hear from the Lord. I want to make adjustments and corrections, to be open to His goodness and His grace at work in our lives. Let’s pray. Let’s do this.
Lord, we just take this time to just truly probe more deeply into our own hearts. We know you’re calling us to places of expansion. You’re calling us to places of opportunity. For some of us, this is a tremendous time for us, and you’re calling us to begin to make the adjustments that are going to ultimately produce a harvest in our life. It’s going to just be an amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing. I ask that you would just stir our heart, Lord. Stir our heart, God. Don’t let us be like the one who sees their face in the mirror, according to the book of James, and then turns around and forgets what it is that they saw, gets distracted by other things. Lord, there might be a few things you’re calling us to give attention to, to adjust, to be open to, to connect into, to implement into our lives, to turn from.
Let us have ears to hear where the Spirit is speaking. We ask that you would speak to our hearts as we finish our final song, reminding us Lord that we are to move forward in this journey. I ask that you would then also bless our time. Bless this year, that’s coming, as we seek to finish this one well. Pass us in Jesus’ name, Lord. Whisper your words. Amen, and amen.