I wrote this last year as we entered 2020, with no clue what an unprecedented, wild year the world would have. Little did I know how much strength and courage we would need to gather from the Lord and His Word. Now, as we approach 2021, I believe this truth, this “anthem” is all the more relevant. With unknowns at an all time high, our trust in God and boldness in Him needs to be all the greater. Blessings to you this new year!
This time of year always brings mixed feelings.
I wonder with excitement and apprehension over what the next 365 days could hold. The same questions resurface and burden my heart each time January 1st rolls around. Can we handle it? Can I be all that God wants me to be?
In God’s grace, on New Year’s Day I finished the book of Deuteronomy and moved on to Joshua. The transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua seemed to echo these questions.
God finally put to rest Israel’s beloved deliverer from Egypt – Moses – who had led them the past 40 years in the wilderness. And now a new generation born in the desert was ready to cross into and conquer the land promised to them. Yet in this transition there’s tension – does Israel have what it takes? Could Joshua, their commander, really fill Moses’s shoes?
And God assures them, and even Joshua personally throughout the chapters: Yes. Because I am with you.
Boy did I need to read that.
Many of us love quoting Joshua 1:9, and maybe you’re like me and have it hanging in your home: “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.”
“Be strong and courageous” seems like an amazing anthem, especially this time of year. But how can we be “strong and courageous” when our life grows messy and our confidence wears thin?
The second part of that verse gives us one solid reason: God’s presence. He goes before you and is with you this very moment and will not ever leave you.
But there’s more. As I always say when it comes to Bible study – context is key. Don’t forget the verses that come just before.
The Lord tells Joshua: “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.
8 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.”
Our strength and courage do not stem from human power or will. They come from treasuring God’s presence and God’s Word.
Not matter what resolutions, goals, or commitments we attempt to make this year, we have to keep one gift of God central to it all: Scripture.
We cannot have genuine progress this year without abiding in His Bible. It’s only after we meditate on “the Law” – on God’s promises, commands, and testimonies – that we will be empowered to walk in grace.
Make Joshua’s anthem your own. Let’s be “careful to do” it all; to not turn aside from what Scripture says. May it not leave our thoughts and mouths each hour – may we speak its truth in our hearts and in our homes. May we let it sharpen our souls day after day.
It’s easy to become disillusioned and discouraged when we quickly fall short of our expectations for 2021, or if further trouble comes our way.
But we don’t rely on the calendar to give us hope and a fresh start, we rely on Christ.
Every morning has new mercies if we cling to Him and His Word. We are new creatures in Him, commissioned like Joshua to be warriors for God in this world. Warriors of righteousness, holiness, love, and the gospel.
Maybe you’re like me and are having a slower start to the new year than you’d like. But isn’t it game-changing to remember that we don’t serve earthly resolutions, diets, or ideals, but a Heavenly King? And this King has given us everything we need to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3)!
Again, let’s be “careful” to steer our hearts again and again to the cross, to steer our lives according to His Word.
He will be with us, and He will help us to succeed in what truly matters. He really is our anthem.