Friday, January 13, 2012

The Challenges of a New Year

This is a new year and you will have many challenges during this year.

In the U.S. most people make a commitment at the beginning of the new year. A New Year’s resolution.


Give up smoking

Stop drinking

Read my Bible every day

Go to church every week

Spend more time with my family

Lose weight

Stop being late to work

Then as the new year starts they eagerly take up the challenge to do the things they committed to do. Most people like a challenge, but they don’t like it when they have to work hard for a long time. (Fasting for one day is easy, but fasting for a week is hard. What about a 40 day fast?)

Joshua 1:2-9

“Now Moses my servant is dead…”

This was a great turning point in the time of God’s people Israel. They were facing a time of great change but it was also a very challenging adventure. Some of them were probably excited, some were scared, some were nervous, some were eager, and some of them were afraid that they could not succeed with the challenges that were coming. Some of them would fail, like Achan and some of them like Caleb would meet the challenges and succeed.

This is also a great turning point for the churches in Peru and the United States. With this new year there are new challenges.

The same challenges that lay ahead of Israel also lies ahead of you.

1. The challenge of leadership

Change in leadership—the scripture we read showed a change in leadership from Moses to Joshua. No matter who is the leader there is always a challenge to accept them and to follow them. The people had a decision to make, they could complain about Joshua as the new leader or they could accept him. I’m sure some did complain.

When there is a change in leaders at a church, it is a dangerous time for the

church and for individuals in the church. Your challenge is to see if you can work with your leaders and get the job done. Or will you complain about the leaders and not help them, and even do things to make sure they don’t succeed. It’s no challenge if the leader is the one you wanted, but if it’s someone you don’t like then it is a big challenge.

Will you meet the challenge of leadership?

2. The challenge of crossing

It was now time for Israel to cross the Jordan River. That meant there was no turning back. It meant they were putting their whole heart into conquering the land. Once they crossed the Jordan, everyone knew they were committed to finishing the job and conquering the land. The problem was that almost no one had experience crossing water. They would have to depend on God to do something.

The Israelites had crossed the Red Sea when they came out of Egypt, but a whole generation had died except for Joshua and Caleb. God had done a mighty work in the past and none of them saw it but some of them remembered it. There was a point in their minds where they would have to cross over from doubt and fear to trusting God with their whole heart. They had to trust that He would do something mighty again.

In the past there was a time of revival in the U.S.. There was a time when God did a mighty work and some of you remember it. But what about the rest of you? Do you really want God to move in mighty ways again here or are you just saying that you do. Do you trust Him to bring it this year.

Will you meet the challenge of crossing from doubt to trust this year?

3. The challenge of conquest

When Israel entered the Promised Land they found powerful enemies.

They had strongholds, high walls and lots of weapons.

They were experienced at fighting. They were big and strong and scary looking.

They were fighting to keep their territory.

You have some enemies to conquer this year. The enemy has built some strongholds in your life and in the church this past year. He will not want to give up that ground he has taken. He will fight you to keep you from conquering ground this year.

I don’t know what ground the enemy has taken in your life, but you do.

Has hate entered your heart?

Does lust dwell in your mind?

Are you drawn away from prayer and study?

Gossip, lies, etc.

Does he keep you from paying your tithe?

Has the enemy gained ground in your family, relatives?

Has he gained ground in the church?

We need to conquer our enemy this year. You understand that we really only have one enemy—satan. If we do not conquer our enemy, we will never possess all that God has for us. We’ll just be living in the Land, with the enemy stealing from us all the time and forever causing us problems.

God will help us conquer our enemy.

Will you meet the challenge of taking back the ground that the enemy has taken this year?

4. The challenge of self-control

When the time came for Israel to go into the Promised Land, they had no discipline in their life. They were wanderers and they were complainers.

They also thought that everything they needed, God would just hand it to them and they wouldn’t have to do anything. Now, God was not going to just hand them their food like He gave them the “Manna” in the desert. The manna stopped when they crossed the Jordan River. Now they would have to do a little work. They would have to get some discipline in their life. They would really have to work together and fight together, if they were going to conquer their enemies.

Being a soldier takes discipline.

He can’t just sit around doing nothing all day.

He must get his life in order.

He must learn to use his weapons.

He must be disciplined.

He must obey his commander’s orders—always.

And he’d better not let his commander hear him complaining.

We are soldiers in the Lord’s army so we must get some control of our life. Taking control of your life means getting some discipline. We must get some discipline in our daily life. We must learn to use our weapons, not just carry them around. We must put aside what we want and do what our commander wants us to do.

Can you imagine an army where every soldier did only what he wanted to do?

“I don’t feel like fighting today.”

“This weapon is too heavy, I’ll just leave it home today.”

Will you meet the challenge of self-control and get some discipline in your life this year?

5. The challenge of Finishing the job

God told Israel to conquer the Land. He told them to totally annihilate the enemies in the Land, but they only did enough to get by. They never finished the job. When they

defeated enough of the enemy that they could live comfortably in their cities, they stopped fighting. They got tired of fighting or they got lazy. They gave up and said, “This is enough.” But it was so much less than what God wanted them to have.

Some of us are like the Israelites. We have no closure. We have stopped half way. We haven’t finished the job. We have gotten saved but we don’t possess all that God has for us because we are just too lazy to study His Word or we let other things become more important. How many people start school and don’t finish? How many will start Bible college and not finish the job?

Remember what I told you about New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the message? The sad truth is that most people who make New Year’s resolutions will not keep them very long. The sad truth is also that most Christians who say, “This year I will fight the good fight,” don’t finish that job either. They’ll fight the good fight for a week or two or maybe a month, then they get tired, distracted or lazy.

If we are going to make 2012 better than 2011, then we have to do better. We can’t just start out strong for God, we have to keep on and finish the job. We have to end this year with more zeal than we started the year.

Will you meet the challenge of finishing the job this year?

There are a few other things you need to know to make this new year successful. Look at verse 6 in Joshua chapter 1. You’ll see that God gave a command to Joshua and the Israelites .

God said, “Be strong and of good courage.”

Then in verse 7, God repeated, “Be strong and of good courage.”

Now look at verse 9 and you’ll see that it is repeated again and this time God explains what He is talking about:

Don’t be afraid.

Don’t dismay (Don’t get discouraged). In other words be persistent.

God also told them some things they could be sure of. They could:

1. Be sure of His presence. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”

“I will not forsake you.”

We can be sure God is with us!

2. Be sure of His power. “I will not fail you.”

God never fails. He has unlimited power. If He tells you to do

something, He provides the power to get it done, if we will just be obedient.

3. Be sure of His promise. “No one will be able to defeat you before you complete the job for which I send you.”

4. Be sure of His provision. “I have given you My word.”

God says He will provide for us and He is not a liar.

5. Be sure of His purpose. “I will have you possess the land.”

God told Joshua that He would have him possess the Land and God would have us defeat the enemy. It’s His purpose that we live in victory. We can be sure of that. If we just line our life up with God’s

purposes, then we are sure to win.

God gave Joshua and the Israelites a tough challenge, but He also gave them what they needed to meet the challenge. You are facing some tough challenges in 2010:

The challenge of following your leaders.

The challenge of crossing over from doubt and fear to trust and obedience.

The challenge of conquering the enemy and tearing down his strongholds.

The challenge of control and discipline.

The challenge of closure, or finishing the year strong.

These challenges may be tough but God will give you what you need to accomplish them. Just be sure you are faithful to His Word and obedient to His call.

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