Summary: This is a sermon presented to Cornerstone Christian Church on 12/29/2013 over Joshua 1:9
Let's talk New Years Resolutions... By a raise of hands, how many here will be making a New Years Resolution? A study from the The University of Scranton shows, and sorry to be a buzzkill, the study shows that only 8% of all New Years Resolutions are ever completed. Typically, we know that those lists consist of losing weight, joining a gym, saving more money, reading more books, and even attempting to open your Bible more. For the most part, this is a lot of self-improvement. Notice the keyword there? Self? That's pride, there. Pride is a treacherous opponent against the Kingdom. Pride will get in the way of your commitment to reading God's Word. It is pride getting in the way of your prayer life with Your Creator. It is pride getting in the way of supporting the church. We are a self-improvement society, raising a needy and selfish generation. There is no self-improvement if it has nothing to do with the God whom you were made in the image of. Very seldom do we hear these resolutions: This year I'm going to teach a Sunday School class at my church, this year I will volunteer my Saturdays at a non-profit down the street from my house, or I'm rededicating my life to My Savior and telling everybody I know about Him. Those last three are seldom heard.
Recently, I was in Nashville at a conference devoting myself to a kind of Soul Care weekend where I could get away, be in prayer, worship, and fellowship while regaining my mission in the presentation of the gospel.. During my stay in Nashville, I had the opportunity to sit in a little class or breakout session, if you will, that was focused on improving the way you do ministry.. For those 45 minutes, I become a human sponge, you could have called me SpongeBrandon SquarePants... And I was soaking in every little detail that the speaker had to offer. I had a notebook with me and let's just say that no pages were spared that weekend... I went back to my hotel room that evening and laid on the bed and opened up my notebook, I was still on a high from that last session.. I went through my list of notes and ideas, spiritually invigorated on my down the list when I suddenly realized that almost every single one of my notes began with the word, "I"... I quickly made a note:
"Good ideas come from conferences, not God ideas." From that point, I knew that it wasn't what I could do for the glory of God's Kingdom, but how He could use me for the glory of His Kingdom... I'm here and then I'm gone, but it is God who remains. God's Glory is my resolution. --- Before this epiphany, fear was a product of my pride, my horribly rentless behavior in never allowing myself to lean on someone or something else. I was terribly afraid of My Creator.
Sometimes for fear of not having control, we place the word "I" selfishly in front of ideas, thoughts, dreams, goals and visions which hinders us from seeing what His great work for us really is... How many of you would agree that losing something, anything, is terrifying? Whether that be a $20 bill, your car in the Wal-Mart parking lot, or even a loved one? Fear is loss, and it is the greatest when you have no role in being the deciding factor of whether or not something stays or goes, or something lives or dies. Fear is when we lose all choice. To sum it up, fear is when we are a dangerous mix of cowardly and prideful.
Where does fear come from? Fear derives from the unknown. The unknown is a lot like the wilderness. The wilderness can be frightening. In the wild, you're unaware of your surroundings, you're unaware of its' inhabitants... You are completely susceptible to its' environment. But the wilderness and the unknown will be where your strength is tested, your integrity examined, and your faith assessed.
This leads us to our text for the day... Please open your Bibles to Joshua 1. And this is my next resolution for you this year, that you actually open your Bibles. Everybody please open up to Joshua 1.
Follow along with me as I read Joshua 1:1-9:
"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”