January 1, 2023
Happy New Year!
Take Hold of the Promised Land
Sunday, January 1 st, 2023
Psalm 96: 1-4 1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
Who is excited for a new year to begin?
Maybe some of you are ready to say see you later 2022 if you endured a lot of trials and hardship. I have great news for you if so-today is a new day and God has great plans for you this year!
Maybe you spent 2022 just coasting along-it wasn’t anything terrible but it wasn’t anything exceptional either-just another year that passed. I have great news and encouragement for you- today marks the beginning of a new year with new possibilities and adventures as we seek God’s will for our lives! He has a purpose for you, and He will show you what that is for the season of life you are in if you will seek Him.
Maybe you had a fantastic year in 2022 and had MUCH to celebrate-good for you! We celebrate with you and share in your joy! There is great news for you also- God has even more for you in this new year to rejoice in as you follow Him! So let your joy from this past year carry you forward into this New Year and use that momentum to
carry out all that He has for you this coming year.
However 2022 played out for you, today is a new day and marks the beginning of an entirely new year. How you enter it, is entirely up to you. I pray we each enter with confident hope and expectation for what God has in store and how He desires to work through us to His glory and believing for the release of His many blessings and favor in
our lives. Let us enter 2023 with great faith, for that is both a gift from our Father and His will for how we shall live.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for making all things new! As another new year begins, help us live each day for You. May we continually have a new song in our hearts to sing to You, no matter what comes our way. We trust in You because we know that Your mercies are new every morning, and nothing ahead of us will take You by surprise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. – Joan Walker Hahn,
As I was praying for direction for this coming year, God put it on my heart for us to focus on learning to take hold of the promised land because there is learning and application involved in order to take hold of that which He has given us. Far too many Christians sadly don’t enter and receive this gift, this side of Heaven, and the truth is, the blessing and favor He has promised are available to all of us now. We just have to learn how to appropriate these truths and gifts into our lives.
I believe we have been positioning ourselves in the last many years for this moment through the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you have been here for a while, let’s remember the focus God has given us over the past six years: Going back to 2017, our focus was Deepen Our Roots and we learned more about what that meant in His Word and in our faith.
In 2018 we focused on the Eternal, so learning to get above our circumstances and temporal things of this world to gaze upon those things that last forever.
In 2019 we explored Living Beyond Limits and expanded on that more in 2020, during such a crucial time, to find Freedom in the Spirit. Boy did we need that in a year our world turned upside down.
In 2021 we were called to Go Forth in My Spirit-meaning in the power of the Holy Spirit within us. So we were learning how to walk more in tune with the Spirit’s presence as our guide.
And this last year if you recall we were invited to Taste and See the Lord is Good, which we did in many ways. We were invited to taste God’s goodness, which increased our faith as we chose to look for His goodness in unexpected places. But as we looked, we found His goodness ever-present.
Together, we have been building upon our knowledge, understanding, faith, and the application of our faith, year over year. Can you see that? Have you felt that for those who have been with us for several years? If you are newer, I pray this gets you excited about what God is doing in His church. He is growing and maturing us as the Body to
reach the maturity of Christ within each of us and within His church. It is something truly wonderful to be part of!
This year as I have said, He is calling us to Take Hold of the Promised Land. Take hold of all that He has promised us; all that He has already given to us; all that He freely gives to those who believe in His Son. He is saying take it, take hold of it, for it is yours. It is your inheritance and My gift to you. Throughout this year, we’ll look at different people and times in the Bible to show us what God means for us to take hold of the promised land. We’ll look at their situations, their responses, their practices, and their faith as models for us to learn from. By the time we reach the end of 2023, it is my great hope and expectation that more and more of us will have the confidence to walk in all that God desires for us as His chosen and beloved people.
That we can say like David, “I have set the Lord continually before me, because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” I pray by year’s end we will experience greater healing, hope, joy, and peace. I pray this is a year of the great discovery of how amazing our God is and all He desires for us to have, simply because He loves and cares for us.
God put this on my heart as I was reading Joshua for this is where this charge was given, through Joshua, the leader who stepped in after Moses passed and then to the people of Israel. Now I am sharing this charge with all of you.
May your hearts receive this morning in confident hope and may you hear God’s great encouragement and plans of victory for you and His church as we trust in Him!
Joshua 1: 1-11 NIV
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’”
- Ready Yourselves in His Word.
We can’t simply enter the promised land as we see here. God first told Joshua who then told the people of Israel to Get Ready. We too must ready ourselves before we attempt to take hold of the promised land. We do this by reading
and studying His Word. First of all, without His Word, we won’t even know what the promised land is or what relevance it is to us in 2023. We won’t understand what promises He has spoken over all who believe in Him and all who are faithful to follow His ways. We won’t know what He tells us not to do, so we don’t bring death and destruction upon ourselves and our families. His Word tells us all these things, so we must ready ourselves just as God told Joshua.
- Joshua 1:8 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. God told Joshua, the leader of Israel at that point, to keep His Word ever before him, to meditate and ponder it day
and night. Meaning let it be God’s Word that rolled around in his head, and if he was up at night, may he only think about His promises in His Word over any fears and doubts. Why was this the instruction given to him above anything else as the leader? He didn’t tell him to sharpen swords, make sure his soldiers were super fit, to develop fighting strategies….no God said keep My Word in front of you, in your head, in your heart, and on your lips.
Why? Because In His Word is truth to overcome the lies and deception we fall prey to. In His Word is light that shines into the darkness that creeps into our hearts and minds. In His Word are promises of God’s mighty power, His
faithfulness, and His plans of victory for all who trust in Him. In His Word is a road map to living a righteous life through Christ. This was before Jesus came in the flesh for Joshua, but that is what it means for you and me today.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
God knew there would be many battles ahead for Joshua and his army that could mess with his confidence, his clarity, and his judgment, and if Joshua let the wrong motives guide his heart and the wrong thoughts fill his head, it would mean disaster for everyone involved.
God’s Word will sort it all out as we let it penetrate our hearts. His Word divides spirit and soul- meaning our carnal and fleshly nature that rebels against God, that wants to do all things in our own power-that justify and makes excuses about why we don’t need to do the things God is calling us to do. His Word will jump out at us like a flashing light and “say hold up! We have a problem here!” His Word speaks to the Spirit within us and calls it forth to keep us in alignment with God’s ways and truth. This is for our good and keeps us in His protection. When Joshua would stay near God, in His Word, keeping a pure heart, he was more willing to seek God’s instructions and counsel and obediently carry out those instructions because his heart was pure and trusting. Therefore, he and the
people of Israel remained in God’s protection and favor as they entered battle with the enemy.
We are to keep growing and keep maturing in our salvation. We grow in our sanctification-which means to be made holy. This happens over our entire lifetime as we yield to God and surrender all of who we are to Him.
1 Peter 2: 2-3 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
I love this verse because it teaches us this understanding is gained over time, so it’s quite encouraging. The more we seek Him, the more we read His Word, and the greater our understanding grows.
And we’ll need this understanding because we will all face battles of great size in our lifetime. Not one of us will be exempt from going through many battles. But with God, knowing God and understanding His promises for us, positions us to enter these battles with a place of certain victory. This is what God was saying to Joshua. This is
what He wants us to know also.
– Battles Before Rest.
Joshua 1: 3-4 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
Let’s pay attention to the words. “I will give you….as I promised”. This means it is a done deal. God says this first to make that known-here is what I am giving you so see that and then He vividly describes the far-reaching areas so they could see through vision, what God had for them. It was a lot of lands! It was good land! They would finally have a place to settle into and call home!
In God’s description He uses specific names, these are people groups, which means there were people established in those lands. These were not vacant lands, but God had declared they were lands that would be given to the Israelites as promised to Abraham long ago and then again to Moses.
So that meant, there would be battles first before they could enter rest. You and I also have to go through the battles first before we find rest. There is much we can learn in the battles of life about who God is, and who we are as His chosen ones. God allows battles to come upon us so that we learn to rely fully on Him, His power, and trust in His victory. Also so we learn to rely on one another, in the Church, we are stronger as we come together, just as an army is always stronger together.
We’re going to look at these battles Joshua and his army face as we go forward but look as we keep reading in
Joshua 1 at what God says to the ones who were given land east of the Jordan-who didn’t technically have to cross the river to receive their inheritance. They had already fought battles and taken possession of the land there. The other tribes had to cross the river to take possession of the land on that side.
Joshua 1: 14-15 14 Your wives, your children, and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of
the land the LORD your God is giving them.
Rest comes after the battle. The battle is fought together, never alone.
He also said this earlier through Moses as he was teaching the people how to live in God’s kingdom:
Deuteronomy 20: 2-4 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for
you against your enemies to give you victory.”
This all leads us to be positioned to take hold of the promised land, that is rightfully ours as heirs with Christ and children of God. But…
– Enter by Faith.
Faith is required to enter. Those who did not have faith did not get to enter the promised land if you recall. A whole generation died in the wilderness-cared for by God-but did not receive entrance to the promised land because of their grumbling, complaining, and constant disbelief. We must have faith and we have every reason to live in faith to all that God is and all that we are and have through Christ who dwells in us.
Every reason. We will not be able to appropriate His blessings or walk in His promises without faith. That will be our great loss if we don’t. But we absolutely will as we believe for them in faith. For God is faithful and unchanging.
Joshua 1:9 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Matthew 9:29 NASB 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done for you according to your faith.”
According to your faith, it will be done. Oh that our faith would increase all the more this year as we ready ourselves in His Word and obediently trust Him to carry out His instructions exactly as He tells us to when we must go into battle.
Conclusion: Let us remember, God has already given us a land flowing with milk and honey; every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ Jesus. It is up to us to follow in faithful obedience where Jesus leads us, so we might take hold of the promised land and have certain victories in every battle we face.. Let us purpose to do this together, in
A prayer of victory and great hope for our New Year: Pray this from your heart with me today.
Lord Jesus, I come to you in this new year with a desire to move forward, not backward. Last year is gone and with it all mistakes I made. I’m eager to put the past behind and press on toward the mark of knowing you, loving you, serving you, and making Your name known in this coming year.
I need You, Lord. Without You, I can’t meet the heavy demands of life or the pressures that I’ll face this coming year. I am making a new commitment today—not a New Year’s resolution—but a new desire to place You where
You always belong, first in my life and first in my heart. Make the “I will’s” of Scripture become my affirmations:
“I will trust You; I will praise You; I will follow You.” With You on my side, it will be a victorious New Year. I lay down my self-defenses and every excuse I’ve used for not living victoriously. Purge my bad habits; free me from wrong expectations; and fill my heart, soul, and mind with praiseworthy thoughts and actions. I want to exchange my past disappointments for Your divine appointments this year. My life is Yours; my relationships belong to You; everything I have is Yours, Jesus. Set my feet on the right path this year, and grant wisdom so I can make the right choices that will honor You. Let me see others as You see them, as precious ones You created.
Renew the gifts and abilities You’ve so generously given me so I can bless others as You’ve blessed me. I realize my desire for perfection is misplaced. My relationship with You doesn’t depend on my performance but upon Your presence in my life. You’ve already made me acceptable in Your sight because of Your death and resurrection. You covered my past, present, and future. You have given me everything I could possibly need for the coming year. In You, I am complete. Because of Your love and the price, You paid for my sin, I can not only enjoy a victorious new year but a triumphant life. There is no battle in my life too great with You in my life. There is victory in You, Jesus! In Your mighty and holy name, we pray Jesus. Amen.
– Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Lord Jesus, we pause to remember Your great sacrifice for our tremendous gain. We believe You Lord died on the cross, taking our place, taking our sin when You had no sin, and giving Your body in our place. You took our punishment so we might be forgiven by our Holy Father and God. You took our sin so we might receive Your
righteousness. You let Your blood pour out by the wounds inflicted upon you, so our debt was paid in full. You gave Your very life so we might gain new life in You, for we believe You resurrected and because You have a new life, we who believe in You, share in Your eternal life. We are made new! We thank You, Lord, for making such an
incredible sacrifice and for the beautiful gift of new and eternal life in You. We thank You that our sin has been pardoned and remembered no more as we confess it to our God and ask for His forgiveness. How wonderful is Your love? We remember today as we share in communion that Jesus You became a curse as you hung on the cross,
a criminal’s death, and punishment, bearing the sins of the world upon you… so we might become a blessing through Your resurrected life. We remember in humble reverence today Lord Jesus. Thank You.
Let us be reconciled to God at this time. If there is anything you need to confess in your heart to God, do so now, ask forgiveness and believe you are genuinely forgiven.
Luke 22: 19-20 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood.
You gave so much, for our great gain and we bless Your holy name, Jesus. We lift You on high, our Savior and King. Amen.
Bday’s: Bob Breneman today! Abra Jan 4th
Final Blessing: 2 Peter 1: 2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.