December 26, 2021
Go Forth in My Spirit
Sunday, December 26, 2021
I pray you all had a blessed Christmas, whether with extended family and friends or just enjoying the peace and hope of all Christmas brings with it in the quiet of your home.
We are in our final week of 2021.
As I was looking back on the message that kicked off this year, I had opened asking who was glad to see 2020 in our rear-view mirror? I feel in some ways like I could ask the same question for 2021. We endured another trying year in many ways, and yet if you recall we were called to Go Forth by His Spirit this year.
We surely needed His guidance, wisdom, and power to help us navigate this year, didn’t we?
So let’s use this time to look back on the message He spoke into our hearts this past January and see how we did to heed His instructions.
We are still living in uncertain times; we are still navigating times that are ever-changing and the curve balls continue to be thrown at us.
As we just celebrated Christmas and the hope we have because of Jesus’ birth, Let’s take a moment to reflect on whether we have chosen to walk through this year, with the hope and joy of the Lord as our strength? Did we lean on His power all year through?
Do we look to the joy we just felt celebrating Christmas, and let that carry us through every day-the uncertain days, the days with curveballs lobbed at us, the days that turn our world upside down in an instant? Can we draw from the joy of the Lord-all He is, all He has done, and all that is yet to come- and let that be our strength?
We can, and we must as we live by faith.
There is no guarantee of life going back to “normal.” What is normal anyway? Is it a longing to be comfortable so we can get back to living on auto-pilot, just coasting through and not needing to depend on God?
Here is the thing- God never called us to be normal.
He has called us to live set apart from normal. He doesn’t call us to live complacently. He doesn’t call us to live separately from Him or just coast in life. He calls us into the wilderness, into the deep waters so we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory and must choose to lean on Him and trust in Him. This is where He shows up to do incredible things we could never even think of or hope for!
So as we look back on the message He spoke to us in the New Year- reflect on where you heard, received, and followed His command and rejoice today! Maybe you went forth by His Spirit leading into a new job, a new way to serve, dove into a new study to know Him more, spent more time in two-way prayer or journaling, read His Word more, trusted and praised Him in very difficult times, surrendered your life to Him…big or small-know it is all significant as you let the Spirit guide you!
Let’s pray and thank God for the gift of His Spirit to dwell in us, lead us, and guide us into all truth. His Spirit keeps us on a path that is safe and positions us to prosper. His Spirit calls us to act in ways that bring glory to God and peace to our souls.
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. Immediately following that historic, triumphant moment in Israel’s history, we find God leading them all to the wilderness. There they wandered under Moses’ leadership for 40 years. Not two tough years of uncertainty… 40 years.
Moses 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 indeed 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. This was what they had waited for, the promise spoken to their people so long ago, and yet, with it came great change, the potential for fear, and certain battles to go through. Moses’ time of leadership had come to an end and God asked Moses to pass the torch to Joshua. He 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 and absolute belief in His promise to them. They would need supernatural 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.
Sound familiar with what He asked us to do in these times?
We were charged and encouraged to Go Forth into another year of uncertainty.
Our future was uncertain as we began 2021, and even as we close out this year there is much uncertainty for what lies ahead. There will be 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.
Have you figured that out yet in these last two years?
God might cause us to remain in times like these for a while so we truly learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves, so we become comfortable in dependency on God. That is not a bad thing; this is a very good thing. God will use our circumstances and change the seasons so must seek and rely on Him. Will you surrender and trust or will you resist and struggle greatly?
As we look back on the message we began our year with, let us give thanks today for the times we are in-not for the circumstances themselves necessarily, but how God has revealed Himself in the midst of our trying circumstances. Because as we look back on 2021, there is MUCH to praise our God for, most of all, the gift of hope we all have and cling to no matter what comes our way. The promises of God fill us with courage and strength to press forward. The presence of the Holy Spirit show us the way to go when we are in new territory.
Hope, Courage, and Confidence were imparted to Joshua through Moses and God, and he then imparted this to the people of Israel he was leading.
Let’s listen again and hear the words God spoke over Joshua and let them settle deep into our hearts today. He is calling each of us to Go Forth in His spirit so we might grow to be more like Him, so our faith will stretch and increase, so His name might be glorified and so we might fulfill the purposes for which we have been called to live out.
Joshua 1: 3-9 NIV
3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 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.’ 5 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. 6 “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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.”
When we truly understand 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.
You and I have the benefit of the entire Bible! We have story after story recorded in biblical history that shows 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 today and God’s faithfulness in their lives.
As you hear testimonies-do you believe them and let them strengthen your own faith in God? That’s why we share testimonies-to build others up in the faith and to affirm our own faith as we speak of the wonders God is doing in our lives!
God gave me these words for us to meditate and pray on this year: GO FORTH by My Spirit.
Have you spent time in prayer asking God what that means for you? Did you follow His call? Did you go forth in these uncertain times and keep growing, moving and leaning into the Spirit? Give thanks and celebrate those moments!
Or did you feel stuck this year, or even sliding backwards?
Let us be reminded how we move closer to attaining these promises. It’s not by being complacent. It’s not by being independent of God; it’s not by putting your faith on a shelf and pulling it out again when everything gets back to normal. It’s about pressing in and seeing what God is showing you even now in the uncertainty, the trials and the difficulties. It’s taking daily steps of faith, trusting as we do, God will show up for us and hold back the rushing waters.
- 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.”
God gave Joshua and his soldiers exactly what they needed to see and hear to move forward obeying what God was asking them to do.
So He does for you and me as we take steps of faith. He will renew our hope, speak words of encouragement directly to our hearts and provide exactly what we need moment by moment to carry out the work He is calling us to do. We simply need to take the first step of faith and trust He will make a way for us to keep going.
Psalm 9:18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Do you believe this in your life? Do you believe God sees you, renews your strength and will position you to soar like eagles? You should, for you are a child of God no different than Moses or Joshua. Just living in different times. Same great purpose to fulfill.
Romans 5:5 NLT And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
We just celebrated Christmas and the birth of our Savior-not just because He was born, but WHY He was born.
He was born to become the sacrificial lamb for sinners and redeem us from our sin. As He rose from the grave in victory and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father as King of all kings- He sent us the promised Holy Spirit, so we would be joined with Him forever. This is why we can hold on to hope in God, His promises and His ways-because of the depths of His love displayed in the birth and death of His Son, for us. All of that was done for us-humanity. If He loves us that much to leave glory and the heavenly realms to live on this earth as a man, enduring all the hardships of mankind right along with us, dying a criminal’s death, taking on the sins of the world and feeling that separation from God as sin was put on him, surely we can hold on to hope in Him. He spared nothing to make way for us to have everlasting life with Him!
You and I need to respond to our situations with the same hope. Joshua and his people 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. Did you in some ways this past year? Isn’t it awesome to live in certain victory and know it’s coming and this is but a momentary difficulty to endure? Joshua had many battles ahead and he was filled with hope that they would be victorious with every battle they faced.
Let us go forth in confident hope that what God has promised is already accomplished-in every area of our lives.
- 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 touched the water, the flow of the water would be cut off and the river would stand up like a wall.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
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.
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.
Do you believe God is your light and salvation?
Do you see God as your fortress, protecting you from danger? We should for this is who He says He is; these are His promises to His people. We can take steps of courage when we believe God is truly with us and for us. So often, God is just looking for us to step into the rushing waters and TRUST, He will be there to stop the flow and bring calm for us to cross.
We miss it if we don’t ever step into the water and we stay on dry ground. We think we’re safer up on high ground but we’re only trusting in ourselves there. We’re actually safest wading into the deep and rushing waters because we are fully dependent on God and He will surely prove to be our fortress. So we do not need to be afraid to follow where He leads us. We do not need to fear leaving dry ground. We do not need to fear rushing waters we are asked to cross.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Let us live with courage that comes from God’s spirit dwelling in us.
- In Confident Expectation
May we go forth 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. Joshua and his people made a memorial in the place they experienced the miracle power of God to always remember and share it with their children.
We should talk often of how God has shown up in our lives. We should listen in awe at how God shows up in others’ lives. We should praise God as often as we’re reminded of these moments and give thanks for His faithfulness. This builds our confidence and increases our faith in Him to keep persevering. We must remember where He has fulfilled promises to us before and know He does not change, so He will fulfill them again as we keep moving forward. Our confidence is in Him, not our ability-solely in Him.
Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
Not only are we blessed when we trust in the Lord and put our hope and confidence in Him, so are our children. So our faith and practicing our faith in Jesus, directly blesses our children.
Proverbs 14:26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
I know some of you need to hear this today. When we fear God (honor and revere Him) and walk in confident obedience to Him, we have a secure fortress around us and it will also be a place of refuge for our children. The presence of God and His favor will be upon our families. Our faithful obedience matters beyond our own lives.
We can trust these promises because of what we experienced at Christmas and what we will celebrate at Easter.
Romans 8:32 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?
Rejoice in areas you willingly went forth in His Spirit this past year, stepping into the deep waters with courage and confident expectation. Reflect in areas you chose to remain on the dry ground and missed the blessing of His spirit at work in and through you.
Conclusion: God called us to go forth in hope, in courage and confident expectation knowing He is working all things for the good of those who love Him. Let us end the year committing in our hearts to live in this freedom. For this is the blessing of Christmas.
Revelation 7:12 Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Let’s pray: Father God we thank You for Your unfailing love, Your wise counsel, Your patience as we learn to seek and trust in You. Thank You Lord for Your protection, Your shelter and refuge, and for lighting our path and showing us the way we should go. Help us Lord to open our hearts and trust You, for You are trustworthy; Your promises are true. Help us to follow the example of Joshua and step out in our lives as You call us with hope, courage and confident expectation-believing You are for us and with us as you were with Joshua. Help us to step into the deep waters with You and know that is where we’ll see You do miraculous things in and through us, that we will never see if we stay on dry ground. Help us to simply take the first step of faith and trust You will meet us there and handle the rest. We want to grow in our faith and our understanding of Your power at work in our lives. Teach us Lord and grant us a teachable spirit to receive Your truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Offering: Let us give thanks for God’s gracious provision for 2021- in the many ways He cared for our families, our health, our community, our church and enabled us to send hope and love around the globe. We thank You Lord for Your mercies, blessings and invitation to include us in sharing the Good News!
Final Blessing: 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain..