Summary: Discusses the challenges of facing a New Year and new "territory".
Walking into Victory
Joshua 3:4,5 “for ye have not passed this way heretofore. …Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
REFLECTION: As we enter a New Year, I am reminded about the wonderful opportunities and challenges that await us. Opportunities for love and laughter, testing and tears, lessons and “blessings” and a thousand more beside. In Joshua 3 God gives the people directions through Joshua for crossing into the promised land. God records clearly the warning to pay attention and follow the Ark (Representing His Presence) because ...“Ye have not passed this way heretofore.”
DIRECTION: The previous generation in Israel took their eyes and hearts off of God and so couldn’t claim the inheritance that God had offered them. I fear that we may miss so very much of what God has planned for us if we don’t learn the lessons of the past. You see God wants only our best. He reminded Israel (and us) of this when He said: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer 29:11)
The truth is that God has always had an “expected” or “desired end” in view for his people. Let’s pause on the ‘brink’ of this year as we recognize things that may keep us from focusing on God and receiving his “expected end”.
1. WE MAY MISS GOD’S DESIRES BECAUSE OF OUR DESIRES.
It’s amazing but true, that some are really not interested in what God wants for them. They have their life “planned out” and have not left much time or thought for God. Ancient Israel was plagued by the “Mixed Multitude” that “DESIRED” to go back to Egypt.
(Mat 6:24) "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Our Desires will distract us from God’s when they are based on:
1) Some (Like the 2 1/2 tribes who wanted to stay on the wrong side of the river) have trouble letting go of their “best interests” and trusting God.
2) They can’t really trust God to take better care of them than they are able to do themselves.
B. FOLLY (Ultimately the root of faithlessness)
1) Unable to understand the value of God’s ways over our own.
(Prov 12:15) "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." Right: yaw-shawr'--convenient,
(Prov 15:5) "A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent."
(Prov 17:16) "Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?"
C. FEAR (This is related to Faith as well as Folly.)
1) Some are afraid they will “Miss out” if they truly follow Christ.
(2 Pet 1:3) "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:"
(Prov 29:25) "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."
It is a wonderful truth to realize that God is far more interested in our genuine fulfillment than we are! He is also the ONLY ONE who knows exactly what will bring us lasting joy. We sometimes THINK that we know just what will do the trick, but how many of us have been disappointed by that toy or relationship that we felt would fulfill us? Yes many will miss God’s best opportunities because they are too wrapped up in their own desires and agendas.
2. WE MAY MISS GOD’S DESIRES BECAUSE OF OUR DISTRACTIONS.
Mk. 4:18-19 “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
These may come in the form of:
A. THE NATURAL “cares of this world. “
1) Family, Future, Fulfillment, Fun
B. THE REASONABLE “deceitfulness of riches”
1) Riches are deceitful because they “promise” what they cannot fulfill.
2) The desire to accumulate can soon overpowers us.
C. THE BEAUTIFUL “lusts of other things entering in.”
1) These are not defined for us. They may be anything that draws us away. (Power, etc)
2) Many of the religious people of Jesus’ day were so wrapped up in their own lives and goals that the missed who Jesus was. Jesus chided the scribes who were “professional” Bible students: John 5:39,40
The problem with Distractions is that many well meaning people get sidetracked by them. The truth is that we cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. That’s why Jesus said: “seek ye first the kingdom of God…” Mt. 6:33