Go Forth in My Spirit

Happy New Year! 

Go Forth in My Spirit

Sunday, January 3rd 2021

 

Welcome! Happy New Year! 

Who is glad to have 2020 in our rear-view mirror?! 

It wasn’t all bad though. There have been many precious new little ones I have seen born this past year, engagements and weddings happening, people starting new jobs, new friendships sparked and developing, new appreciation for all the simple joys and many daily blessings we all have. In a very difficult and trying year, there has been much to be thankful for and find enjoyment in. 

And yet, I’m guessing most of us are very glad to close the door on 2020 and move into a new year. How are you feeling coming into 2021? Full of hope? Exhausted? Enthusiastic? Disenchanted? Open to possibility or consumed by limitations you or others have put on you? 

I pray we are hopeful. I pray we are eager to see what God has in store for us. I pray we are open to what He is leading us to and through. I pray we are ready to move when He says go. 

Let’s pray and ask our Father to prepare our hearts for all He has to share with us today and in this coming year. Let us ask Him to give us vision for what He’s calling us to and a willingness, even an eagerness to follow where He leads.

 

You know Moses had a season of tremendous victory and triumph as he, with God’s power and wisdom, was able to free his people from slavery in Egypt. This amazing feat and moment in time where God did mighty miracles with the many plagues on Egypt to parting the Red Sea for all of Israel to safely cross on dry ground and then engulfing all of Pharaoh’s men chasing after them with the rushing waters once Israel was safely through. Every task given to Moses was something strange, new and not of human wisdom or capability. Each time God called Moses to go before Pharaoh and boldly demand he let the people go free, required great courage from Moses and an unshakable hope and trust in God. Moses was literally putting his life on the line and trusting God to show up in powerful ways. God who is ever faithful to those He calls, showed up and showed up big as we know. It’s an awesome time in biblical history to go and read closely to be reminded of the greatness of our God, for He is the same today as He was in the time of Moses. Our God does not change! 

 

But what we have to remember immediately following this historic, triumphant moment in Israel’s history, we find God leading them all to the wilderness through Moses. There they wandered under Moses’ leadership for 40 years. Not one tough year of uncertainty… 40 years. Moses left his royal life being raised like a son to Pharaoh, having all his heart desired, being waited on and living a very luxurious life to being called to lead the people of Israel in unknown territory towards lands that were promised to them through Abraham. He was completely dependent on God to guide him and the people, to show him how to lead the people as they navigated very strange ways of living, and to find joy in this very different world he found himself smack in the middle of.

That historic moment faded into the background as year after year passed by in the wilderness-it seemed so long ago. Yet, Moses held on to the promise that God spoke to Abraham and then to him-He was leading them to the promised land they would inherit. He never let go of hope and continued forward with confident expectation that God was with them.

The time had come for the next generation of Israel to enter the promised land. Another historic moment was about to happen and they would find themselves in uncertain times once again, surrounded by unknown territory to navigate. They had grown accustomed to their life in the wilderness-it had been 40 years after all, and now they were going to have everything turned upside down. This was what they had waited for, the promise spoken to their people so long ago, and yet, with it came great change, potential fear and preparing for battle.

Moses’s time of leadership had come to an end-he had served faithfully and now God asked Moses to pass the torch to Joshua. Joshua, would be the one raised up to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. This was no small task they were about to take on for there were people already living in these lands they would have to defeat. It would require great hope in God, in His promise to them, great courage to go forth and leave what they knew behind, and a confident expectation that God would be with them every step of the way. 

God knew what He was asking of Joshua and the people of Israel was no small thing. He knew the tendency to fear and resist change. He knew how humans like to get comfortable, even if the change means something better so God spoke words of hope, encouragement and strength to Joshua. Joshua then was called to speak these words to his people and lead them forward. God called them to Go Forth in His power. 

He is calling us to do the same as we enter 2021. He is calling us to Go Forth in His Spirit and power and continue to build His kingdom. We all need times of rest and stillness; but what we are never called to be is complacent or sliding backwards. Our future is uncertain as we begin 2021, there is much yet unknown. There is new territory we will need to navigate and we are still very dependent on God to guide us in what we are to do-which is exactly where He wants us. 

Joshua and the people of Israel had to cross the Jordan River to get to the land that was promised to them. They had to leave their camp and go forth by faith. They had to step into the water and trust God would bring them safely to the other side. Once again, God showed up in a big way. Let’s take a closer look. 

 

Joshua 1: 3-9 NIV

I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Quite the pep talk right? And from God Himself! The difference from other people giving us pep talks, is these are the very words of God Almighty! He cannot lie, He is unchanging and every word spoken proves true. Every promise He makes is fulfilled and trustworthy. When we truly understand this-our God is trustworthy and His Words are true- we find a great strength rising up in us. We know we can do courageous feats like Moses did and Joshua was about to do. Joshua had the benefit of witnessing God’s power and favor on Moses and all of Israel first hand. He saw the mighty hand of God move again and again. He saw how Moses responded with courage and great hope in God and every time he did-God proved faithful. You and I have the benefit of the entire Bible! We have story after story recorded in biblical history that shows up God’s faithfulness to His people.

We simply have to believe His Word is true. We have the benefit in hearing testimonies of other Believers and God’s faithfulness in their lives. We are to share God’s faithfulness with others to help build one another’s faith and hope, and to remind ourselves of His goodness.

God gave me these words for us to meditate and pray on this year: GO FORTH. 

He put Joshua on my heart as an example for us to follow in how we do that. This call of leadership, much like it was for Moses, was a lifetime call for Joshua. This was not just a one-year assignment. This was many years later to fully bring about the promise of inhabiting and inheriting the promised land. But to get to that time, Joshua and the people had to be willing to leave the camp they knew, step into the waters and cross the Jordan. They would never receive the promise God intended for them if they stayed where they were. So let us Go Forth and take steps of faith this year, so we too can be positioned for the promises of God to be fulfilled in and through us. 

Let us go forth

  1. In Hope 

As Joshua did when God spoke to him, and as the people of Israel did when they scoped out the land and the enemies they would encounter. 

 Joshua sent 2 spies to scout out the land, especially around Jericho to see what they would encounter and so they could prepare for those battles. This is where they ran into Rahab, who was a local but chose to help hide the spies if they in return will spare her and her family when they come in and defeat her people. She said “I know the Lord has given you this land. We have heard what your God has done and we are afraid of you. The Lord your God is the supreme God.”  (On a side note, Rahab has her own story of redemption and grace in this moment. It’s powerful to show God can and will use anyone for His glory and divine purposes and that we are never too far gone or unqualified.) Read it. 

How about that for pumping up your faith and trust in the Lord. These men were filled with great hope to hear these words and they couldn’t wait to share their finding with Joshua! 

Joshua 2: 23-24 23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. 24 “The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”     

Joshua 3:5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

These words spoken by the spies and then by Joshua were said before the people of Israel even set foot in the Jordan River. Before crossing and before any battles had taken place. They had great hope in God to show up in mighty ways, to protect them and to fulfill the promise He spoke years ago. 

You and I need to respond to our situations with the same hope. They saw the end result. They felt the victory before it ever happened and they believed God would show up and do wonders among them. We can live in the same way. We should live in the same way. They still had many battles ahead of them, and they were filled with hope that they would be victorious with every battle they faced. They believed the words of affirmation and encouragement God spoke to them directly and through people like Rahab.

Do you believe His words spoken to you? 

2. In Courage

As Joshua and his people did.   After they had the reports of certain victory and purified themselves, the time had come for them to cross the Jordan. God would have to show up and help them cross this mighty river. The priests were given the responsibility to carry the Ark of the Covenant out in front of the people and to walk into the water first. God said as soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of the water will be cut off and the river will stand up like a wall. 

Joshua 3: 13-14 1The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.” 14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them.

That might not seem like much when we read it, until you envision yourself being the one to wade into a rushing river holding on to the Ark of the Covenant and being asked to stand there right in the middle while all the people of Israel crossed. It would require great courage to take those first steps trusting God would do what He said. It required great courage for the people to leave their camp and what they knew to walk through this river-trusting the waters won’t rush over them and to enter new land they did not know on the other side. It required great courage of Joshua, like Moses, to ask his people to do these things, knowing there would be enemies they would face on the other side. 

All they had to do, was take that first step of faith and courage.

The waters did stop just as God promised they would and were cut off until every single person crossed safely to the other side. As soon as the priests stepped out of the water on God’s command, the waters flowed once more. 

Have you felt like God has asked you to cross a river in your life-to wade into deeper waters and trust He would guide you safely through? It can be scary and unsettling to take that first step-that is where faith comes in.

Faith in God and His Word, is what gives us courage to take those first steps into deeper waters.

It’s in those deeper waters that we find we are fully dependent on God and that is right where He wants us. So He can do what only He can do-cut off the flow of the water and display His glory for all to see! This is why the enemies were quaking in their boots, for they knew God was with Israel, just as God is with you and me yet today. 

He told Joshua, “no one will be able to stand against you as long as you live, for I will be with you.” This is a promise for us as well. Joshua and his warriors had to suit up for battle and take their stand, but truly the battle was won by God each and every time. Every enemy defeated was at the hand of God. 

Joshua 4:13 13 These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.

So it is with you and me. We must suit up for battle against the enemy as we take our steps of faith into deeper waters. We can be assured we will face the enemy as we cross over to the other side. We can also be assured God will be with us and we will have victory as we stay near to Him and follow His voice! 

Let us go forth in 2021 with great courage! 

3. In Confident Expectation 

As Joshua and his people did-believing God was going to do amazing things in their lives and that God would make good on His promises. One of the best ways to help us remain in confident expectation is to remember how and when God has been faithful before. 

When Joshua and the people of Israel safely crossed the Jordan they didn’t just go on their way and lift up a casual thanks God-that was pretty cool! They stopped to acknowledge the miracle they just experienced and the favor of God on their lives. They made a memorial-which was custom in their days when something significant happened by the hand of God- right there at the river and even within the riverbed before the waters rushed over again. They wanted to remember this day and they wanted future generations to remember for they knew how quickly people can forget God’s faithfulness when they would face troubled waters again.  

Joshua 4: 6-7 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

As they looked upon those stones in the future they could be filled with confident expectation that the same God who helped them then, would help them with their current needs. You and I have His Word to remind us and build us up. We can also journal and write down when and how God has shown up in our lives. This is so good to do-to be able to look back and remember how He has rescued, provided and given you victory time and time again. 

We also have the promise of God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness through the amazing grace He showed by sending His only Son to pay our ransom on the cross and condemn sin to death. This is why we partake in communion together-to remember the great sacrifice our God made for us and to encourage us to keep the faith so that we realize all His promises fulfilled.

Romans 8:32 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Let us heed His words to be strong and courageous as we enter 2021. Let us believe He will never fail or abandon us. Let us not be discouraged from the trials and sorrow we faced this past year, but let us look to where God is leading us now. 

Conclusion:  Let us Go Forth in His Spirit to guide us and walk in His power. Let us go forth in love for God and one another. Let us go forth in faith, stepping into the waters with God knowing He is surely with us. Let us have confident expectation that God will be with us wherever He leads us. 

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father we thank You so much for Your grace and love poured out upon us. We thank You for Your desire to be near to us and have relationship with us. We thank You for making a way through Your Son, that we can come before You with confident expectation and receive Your grace in full in our lives. We thank You for your Spirit that gives us power, wisdom, strength, courage and hope to walk into the deeper waters and go into unknown territories at Your command, and trust You are there with us, ensuring we are safe and bringing us to victory. Help us Father to go forth this year in Your Spirit as our guide. Help us to go forth in hope, wherever we are beginning this year, let us hope for the victory You say is ours. Help us to go forth in courage and take those steps of faith, one at a time, trusting Your promises are true and Your presence is always with us. Help us to follow willingly and even eagerly where You lead us this year.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

 

Communion: As I shared, we come together as the Body to remember that we have been joined to The Body of Christ. Communion is one of our memorials if you will-it’s a sacred covenant we partake in to remember the promises of God and to uphold our part of the agreement- to willingly follow Christ and let Him be Lord of our lives. We surrender our will to His and we trust where He is leading us. Let us not gloss over this part of worship today or anytime we partake in communion. Let us pause and lift up thankful hearts that we have a Savior who took the penalty of sin for us-which is death. He took our place on the cross and nailed our sin to it instead. In this life we will share in His suffering as we have this past year and so many other times in our lives, and because of what He did on the cross and the victory He had over death- we will surely share in His glory as well! His victory over death and the grave becomes our victory as we believe in Him! His ascension to heaven in glory is our promise that we too as fellow heirs will rise in glory with Him one day! 

 

He gives us a security deposit or guarantee of what is yet to come, through His Holy Spirit who dwells in us as we believe in Him. We become one with Him even now, and we are filled with hope, courage to step into deeper waters where God leads and confident expectation knowing our God loves us so much, He did not even spare His own Son, but sent Him as our sacrifice so we could spend eternity with Him! 

As we partake in communion today, let us remember the words of our Savior, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” 

We praise you Jesus for all You have done! We glorify Your name! There is no name higher than Yours. You are worthy of all praise and worthy of our faithfulness to You. We remember Your sacrifice today. We remember what You asked of us, that as we eat the bread to remember it as a symbol of Your body given for us. As we drink the juice, to remember it as a symbol of your precious blood shed for the sins of the world-that brings cleansing and righteousness to those who drink it by faith in You. Your death and resurrection have made us whole for Your righteousness has been imparted to us. We remember and we humbly thank You Lord. By faith we share in communion proclaiming Your death until You return once again to fulfill God’s divine purpose and bring us all to be where You are at. In Your name Jesus, we pray. Amen. 

 

Offering: Pray and see how God might be leading you to grow and stretch in your giving for 2021. Seek Him, listen to what He asks of you and follow. There is great joy in freely giving as God calls us to! 

 

Final Blessing: Hebrews 13: 20-21 20 Now may the God of peace—    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.  All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

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