Summary: The New Year will be filled with opportunities as well as difficulties but we can walk with confidence that God will guide us in that new land.

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Joshua 3:1-11

As Joshua and the people of Israel stood on the brink of Jordan, they faced a new beginning. The generation of their forefathers who had fallen in the wilderness because of disobedience was now history. Moses, the great leader of the fledgling nation, had been given a private funeral and burial on the mountain by Jehovah. Their new leader, Joshua, was the man of the hour as he stood ready to lead them into the land promised to their forefathers. God’s presence was symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant that would go before them. Joshua challenges them to go in and possess the land. He tells of the wonders God will perform and reminds them of the victory promised to those who would walk faithfully, courageously and obediently into the new land. His statement, "You have not passed this way before," seems to sum up the challenge involved in stepping out by faith into a new and unknown land. There will be vast uncharted waters ahead. There will be many new and unexplored paths to walk. There will be risks be faced, challenges to be confronted and a high price to be paid, if success is to be achieved in the new land.

It is easy to draw parallels today. We stand on the verge of a new spiritual venture; a new calling to serve the Lord in the land of a new year. In a sense, the challenge of a new year is like stepping out on the beautiful, sparkling, trackless surface of new fallen snow. It is like standing on the edge of the fresh sand of a wave swept beach. Or a child contemplating a clean sheet of paper or a clean slate. All are free of the contaminating touch of man. There’s an old bit of verse that speaks of this challenge:

He came to my desk with quivering lip, the lesson was done.

"Have you a new leaf for me, dear Teacher?, I’ve spoiled this one."

I took his leaf all soiled and blotted and gave him a new one, all unspotted.

Then into his tired heart I smiled, Do better now my child."

I went the throne with trembling heart. The year was done.

"Have you a new year for me, dear Master? I’ve spoiled this one.

He took my heart, all soiled and blotted and gave me a new one, all unspotted.

Then into my tired heart he smiled; "Do better now my child."

Yes, we are like a those who walk in a new land. We have not passed this way before. Our footprints are yet to be made in the sands of time of the New Iear. Yet it is a great blessing to know that as we ring out the old and ring in the new, we can immerse the failures of yesteryear in the sea of God’s forgiveness. We can face with a great expectant faith the challenges of a new year. By the grace of God, if He wills it, we can cross over boldly into the land of the new year with an expectant faith based upon the precious promises of God. Based upon this confidence, let us conjecture what the morrow may bring.

THE NEW YEAR WILL UNDOUBTEDLY BRING TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITIES. In the new year we will surely have many tremendous opportunities to serve and glorify the Lord. Of course, these opportunities should focus upon our service in His church. The local assembly is the place to glorify God in the new year.

Paul said, " Unto him [be] glory in the church (called out assembly) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph. 3:21) Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20) Man needs intimate and continuing fellowship not only with God, His Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, but with his spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ.

God gave us the local church because of this need. All believers need constant and continuing good fellowship, but new believers especially need it. It is no more logical that a newly born spiritual babe try to exist outside the spiritual nurturing and fellowship to be found in the spiritual church family than for a family to throw a newly born infant out into a wilderness and expect it to grow into a mature and happy individual. All believers are given a ministry of fellowship entailing exhortation and encouragement. (Heb. 10:25) This ministry can only be fully experienced and exercised in the local church.

Out of 5840 waking hours next year, most churches will only have about 200 hours set aside for church worship, study and activities. Would it be possible to be 100% in attending the services of your church next year? Would setting this as your goal please God? Is an employer unreasonable in expecting 100% attendance at work of his employee? Is a principal or teacher unreasonable in expecting 100% attendance of a student? Which is more important a secular company, a school or a church of Jesus Christ?

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