I’m a pastor at a local church by vocation. I have been for the last 11 years. I love the opportunity to lead people! It’s a great privilege that I take seriously and always strive to do better with every passing year. I’ve struggled with my fair share of anxiety, worry, doubt, and fear, and often come back to the scripture below to encourage myself as I’m simultaneously asking God to give me what I need to walk in a position of strength.
With a new year generally comes new opportunities, new levels of growth, new open doors, and new chances to step out and try new things. I’ve learned that if I am personally ever going to be to tackle the new opportunity coming my way then I’m going to need some serious strength and courage for what’s ahead.
My personal conviction is that God is the only one who can give me that strength and courage. Read the scripture below and see what I mean.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “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. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:1-9 NIV
As God is installing a young leader in the Bible named Joshua to take the nation of Israel into the new land, He gives them a prophetic word of encouragement, and He says something very important. Three times God says, “Be strong and courageous” (v.6, 7, 9).
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It’s interesting and noteworthy that God says it 3 times!
Whenever God repeats Himself, it’s significant… it wasn’t because He forgot what He said. He wants you to really hear something. “3” is the number of divine perfection. So, in other words, God wants to make it PERFECTLY clear as to what He wants them to do while they move into this new territory and occupy this new place… BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!
You see I believe this is exactly what God wants to speak to you and I as we walk into a new season of life and a brand new year…. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.
I also find it interesting that the two things God tells them to be are two things that can only come from God. Even in choosing to be truly strong and courageous we are reliant on God to give us that very strength and courage! And the truth is, with each passing year, living for the Lord and resisting the enemy is going to require more strength and more courage. And in order to be victorious and steadfast this year in our walk with God, we will need both!
I want to share some areas that the Lord put on my heart to be strong and courageous in this year – and perhaps these are for some of you as well.
1. Be strong in your devotional life.
Let nothing separate you from you personal time with God this year. You will, no doubt, experience good church services and worship gatherings in 2018, but your private moments of worship with God are irreplaceable! Get a plan in place and make this a solid routine in your life! If you don’t create a plan, then you plan to fail.
2. Be courageous in your faith.
If you have the boldness to ask, God has the ability to perform! Stretch your faith this year – believe for more! The Bible does not say, “think and you shall receive”… it says ASK! Have big faith in 2018 and begin to ask God to do the miraculous! Maybe even stop right now – at this very moment – and pray for that BIG thing that you’ve been timid to pray for in the past. This is the year to put timid prayers aside and ASK God for the “big” desires of your heart.
3. Be strong in your serving.
Always keep the attitude that says “I GET TO” and not “I HAVE TO”. I believe true serving comes from a humble heart. And if there’s one thing we know about God, it’s that He gives grace to the humble (but He resists the proud). Humility is your access to grace! Find ways to serve in your church and community this year, and God will keep gracing your life with all that you need to stay healthy, whole, and blessed. When you take time to serve and refresh others, the Holy Spirit refreshes you!
4. Be courageous in your personal witness.
Ask God to give you moments to be brave in evangelism this year. And then when He provides the moments to you… GO FOR IT! I believe God will give you the wisdom and words that you need in conversations this year, as you are courageous to step out in faith and begin to talk to someone about Jesus! God sees your love for people and He is pleased with it!
5. Be strong in your convictions.
Someone once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. Know what you stand for this year. Make the choice to live a righteous life and put save guards in place to protect yourself from areas that you’ve struggled with in the past. Make the strong effort to not find yourself in environments or situations that aren’t leading to anything good. Be sturdy and unwavering in your Godly standards. Pursue Jesus, be accountable to another believer that you trust, and invite the Holy Spirit to be your guide this year as you walk closely with the Father.
6. Be courageous in your worship.
Worship is not what we do for 20 minutes before the preaching at church. Worship is a lifestyle! Create an atmosphere of worship wherever you go this year! I believe an atmosphere of worship is grateful, honoring, thankful, humble, and believes the best – not the worst! I encourage you to create your worship playlist today, and make this the most worshipful year you’ve ever had! Your private worship is strengthening you even more than you realize!
As we all begin a brand new year together, I pray that you hear from God, receive encouragement, and even catch a fresh vision for the year that’s ahead of you! Stay strong and be courageous this year… the Lord is on your side!
Dear Father, make me strong and courageous this year! Give me a boldness that I’ve never known before as I continue to grow in my relationship with you. I pray that I would take advantage of every open door you give me this year when it comes to sharing my faith, lifting up my worship, and following your voice. I commit this year to you and believe that you have great things in store for me! Thank you in advance for what you have done in my life up to this point and for all that you will do in the days ahead. In Jesus name, amen.