The new calendar year engages feelings of a fresh start. You get to hit the reset button on things that did not go well last year. You get to erase the chalk board and start fresh. For family, for ministry, and for work, it is a time to look ahead and to set goals for this fresh start.
When asked to write an article for our “New Beginnings” theme, God had already been working in my heart personally on this very subject. I do not feel that 2012 was my best year as an RU Director, which is where I serve in our local church. It is my desire to look back at my service to God, my Pastor, and my local church at the end of 2013 and have no regrets.
God directed me to the book of Joshua. When Moses died, Joshua took over as the leader for the nation of Israel. There are some great reminders for leaders in the book of Joshua. I will share a few that were helpful to me:
God’s Plan Hasn’t Changed
We might be in a new calendar year and feel like we are experiencing a new start, but God’s plan remains the same. God reminded Joshua that the plan had not changed – his job was to take the people to the Promised Land and possess the land. “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (Joshua 1:2-3.)
God’s plan for us in 2013 has not changed. I should have the same plan to “possess the land” as the first day I surrendered to be an RU Director. I need to spend some time reflecting on the day I knelt at the altar and told God I would direct an RU chapter and reach my community. I clearly remember the message from Pastor Kingsbury at First Baptist Church in Bridgeport in February of 2004 during an RU Regional Training conference. He preached from Luke 14 about reaching the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind; about going into the highways and hedges looking for those the world has turned away.
Do you remember your call? The plan hasn’t changed. We have to keep going into the highways and hedges. For 2013, my focus should be – get back to His plan!
God’s Presence is Sure
God reminded Joshua in Joshua 1:5 “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” There are always dry times or valleys in the ministry. Don’t stay in the valley and do not dwell on the draught. For if you dwell on those times your flame will dim and your light will become dull.
This was a great reminder for me that God is still God. God is still with me just like He was before – He said “I will be with thee”. If I haven’t felt His presence, I need to return to where He is and I need to get back to the things He is doing. God will not fail us, nor will He abandon us. (Thank you, God, for this reminder!)
God’s Purpose is Still People
“Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6.) The work God was asking Joshua to do was not for Joshua’s benefit, but was “unto this people”. God’s purpose is still for the benefit of the people: reaching the lost with Christ and recovering those in the snare of the devil.
2013 needs to be about God’s purpose – reaching people. God encourages Joshua several times to “be strong and of a good courage”. Joshua is the leader. The leader can’t quit or falter. It is not optional. A leader must endure not only his personal tribulations, but also the adversity of those to whom he is ministering. Don’t allow the dents in your shield to cause you to shy from the battle. Carry out God’s purpose. It won’t always be easy. It’s not about you – it’s about the people. They need your leadership.
God’s prosperity is still in the Word
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:7-8.)
When God’s Word becomes part of every thought and action, then we can expect to experience results like never seen before. I have the opportunity to teach or preach 3 or 4 times every week, which means I have the opportunity to study God’s Word many hours throughout the week. A recent challenge by Ben Burks to carry a daily med card has reminded me of the prosperity and the power that is in God’s Word.
Because the daily med card is in the back of your “It’s Personal Daily Journal”, it could easily be overlooked. But it should never be overlooked. To be prosperous (push forward or to break out), you need the power that comes with meditating on God’s Word. Meditate day and night: meditate at work and at home. Meditate for success in personal, professional, and ministry decisions. God’s Word is essential for a prosperous New Year.
Sometimes a fresh start simply means remembering and implementing what we already know. Push the reset button; the chalkboard is clean and ready to be used! It’s time for a fresh start!