Happy New Year to each of you! We are 9 days into the year 2017. It is a year full of hope and promise. What took place in 2016 is now behind us, it is finished. We cannot change anything about 2016 now. I hope for you, 2016 was a good year. There might be some who would say 2016 was not a good year and are happy to see it end.
No matter what kind of year 2016 was for you, I want you to start off 2017 knowing that God is faithful! We can trust Him. My hope is that you are looking forward to this new year. I know sometimes stuff in our lives may cause us to doubt God's faithfulness, cause us to doubt His presence in our lives, but that is the work of the devil.
The children of Israel are about to cross over into the promised land and God has told Moses that he would not lead the Israelites into the promised land but that Joshua would lead them and go ahead of them.
Moses tells the Israelites what God has said to him,
"The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you." Deut. 31:3
Moses goes on to tell them that the Lord will defeat their enemies and that the Israelites will take possession of the land that God has promised them.
Then Moses gives them a very big challenge. This is our challenge for today!
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6
Satan wants you and I to doubt and think that you and I walking alone in this life, not true! In Deut 31:7, "Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous.'" And in verse 8, Moses tells Joshua, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Praise the Lord!
You may be thinking to yourself, that's great, but Moses spoke that to Joshua thousands of years ago. Correct, but this is the word of God. 2 Peter 1:21 "Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." So if the Bible is the inspired Word of God and if the Bible in Hebrews 13 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever," then you and I can be confident that the very words that Moses spoke to Joshua were included in the Bible because they are important for you and I today!
Do not be afraid!
Do not be discouraged!
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Moses knew that the Lord would go with Joshua and the people of Israel because in Exodus 33:12-14, Moses has this talk with God,
"Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people. The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
God loves us and just as his presence and Spirit went with Moses, Joshua and the Israelites his presence will go with us because He "is the same yesterday and today and forever." Rest easy because God knows your name too just as he knew Moses name. We can believe the Word of God!
When we face battles and trials in our daily lives remember Deut. 20:1-4, "When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army.
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. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
We could say, when you face someone who is trying to hurt you, God will be with you, because He has been with you before.
When your money is short and you need food, God will be with you, because He has been with you before.
When you face a situation and you don't know what direction to take, God will be with you because He has been with you before.
When we face death, God will be with you because He has been with you before.
In fact, Isaiah 43:1-2, states: "But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
The Lord did not promised that we would never have pain, trials or hard times!
His promise was simply that He would be with us!
As we look to a new year remember pain and trials will be a part of our lives because we live in a sinful world, can't change that. What we can change is how we look at the times of pain and trials. We can remember that God is with us and he will not leave us or forsake us. We may doubt but God is faithful and true. He will empower us with His Holy Spirit to stand strong, to be courageous.
This is why as Christians it is important we are filled with the Holy Spirit, because by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will stand strong. Sometimes I have had doubts, and I would guess that there have been times when you have doubted also.
There is no sin in doubting unless that doubting makes us turn our back on God. The Bible has many examples of people who questioned God, the book of Psalms records many times where doubts arose but the Psalmist always comes back to God's faithfulness, God's goodness.
In Psalms 46, the Psalmist says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
And verse 7 the Psalmist says again, "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
As we look forward to 2017, let us move forward with courage and strength, trusting that our God is with us always. Let 2017 find us busy doing the Master's work as Jesus commanded us in Mat 28,
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In Romans 8 the Apostle Paul states clearly, " If God is for us, who can stand against us."
Go in the strength and courage of the Lord, knowing that no matter what you face in 2017, GOD WILL BE WITH YOU!