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Be Strong!

2012 is here!  This new year presents us with the gift of 366 days (it’s a leap year), 8,784 hours and 527,040 minutes.  What we do with the time matters.  Wise people will make the most of the new opportunities this new year brings.

There’s a great story in the Bible that helps us understand how to make the most of a new season.  It’s the story of God preparing Joshua to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.

It was a new season for Joshua.  Moses had passed away and the task of leading God’s people into Canaan was now his responsibility.  This was his moment to shine.  It was his time to step up and into his destiny.

God gave Joshua a specific set of instructions and words of encouragement at the start of this new season.  Take a look at what God said to him:

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  —  Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV)

God told Joshua to “be strong.” If Joshua was going to make the most of this opportunity he needed to stay strong.

The same is true for us.  To succeed in God’s plans for your life this new year, you need to “be strong” too.

The opposite of strength is weakness.  Weakness is a dangerous thing.  When we’re spiritually and emotionally weak we’re vulnerable.  Weak people make bad decisions, give in to the wrong pressures, think the wrong thoughts and do foolish thing.  All it takes is one moment of weakness to spoil or ruin us in some way.

So how do we stay strong this new year?  Here are a few things that will help you:

1.  Connect with God personally.

No one else can connect with God for you!  The Bible is very clear about our personal responsibility to connect with God.

Make a decision to open your heart to God this new year.  Spend time in His Word consistently.  Make prayer a part of your daily life.  Bring God into your life by personally making time for Him in your schedule.

When you make room for Him, He promises to show up:

Come near to God and he will come near to you …  —  James 4:8 (NIV)

2.  Connect with God’s people relationally.

Strength comes through the right relationships.  You need a support system to succeed spiritually.  We all need each other.

The Bible describes the strength that comes from having the right people in your life:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  —  Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 (NLT)

Make a decision to stay connected to God’s people this year.  This happens through a connection with a Bible-teaching local church.

Make attendance at church in 2012 a priority for you.  But don’t just attend, get planted.  Join a small group, attend a Bible class, get involved in serving somewhere.

3.  Serve God’s purposes faithfully.

God has a purpose for your life.  He has purposes He wants to fulfill in you and through you in 2012.  Strength comes from doing the will of God — from doing God’s work, God’s way!

Make a decision to serve God’s purposes with your time, treasure and talents in 2012.  Don’t withhold anything from Him!  Put your best effort into building God’s Kingdom and God’s house, and He will take care of yours!

Listen to what Jesus said about this:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  —  Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

4.  Claim God’s promises regularly.

God has given us wonderful promises in His Word.  The Bible is a “Promise  Book.”

God’s promises don’t benefit us unless we know them, remember them and believe them.

The psalmist understood the power of God’s promises in his life:

I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.  —  Psalm 119:162 (NIV)

Make a decision that, in 2012 you’re going to get to know more of God’s promises, and claim them for your life.

2012 is filled with great possibilities.  To realize them, we’ve got to “be strong!” Decide to do what you need to do to stay strong this year!

Pastor Dale