Starting Off the Year Right

When thinking about today’s devotional, I was led back to Joshua, to just as the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. What caught my attention is how Joshua started off their crossing over the Jordan River. When they crossed the river, that would be it. The Israelites would be committed. There was no turning back. But on the eastern side they could go back to the desert. They could go back to their old lives, their old ways. But not so once they crossed over. Then everything changed. Look at what Joshua did.

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” – Joshua 3:9-13, NIV

The first thing Joshua did was gather the people and tell them the words of the Lord. As they marched into the Promised Land, they would do under the direction of God Himself. God’s words contained a promise: God would do the heavy lifting. It was God who would drive out the foreign people. It was God who would go ahead of the Israelites. It was God to whom they could look. And as proof of that, God was going to split the river. The Jordan would have been extremely hard to cross at that time of year. It was at flood stage. Able-bodied men probably could have made it across, but not the elderly or the young or the sick or the infirm. They would need something. So God promised that He would allow them to cross the Jordan without the river flowing.

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea ) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. – Joshua 3:14-17, NIV

God delivered on His miracle. He wanted His people to understand that this was more about Him than about them. They needed to trust and have faith. They needed to obey. If they did those things, He would take care of the rest. And He did. So long as the people trusted and depended on God, He never let them down. The same is true for us. As we start this new year, we need to realize that God will do the heavy lifting. He always does. He takes on so many thing we are completely unaware of in our lives. That’s our God at work. That’s our God’s love shining down upon us. After all, we couldn’t save ourselves, so Jesus Christ went to the Cross for us. The catch is we’ve got to have faith and trust in our Lord. We’ve got to put His Word first. We’ve got to understand that obedience to God is not a negative, but a positive, no matter what the world might say.

Are you ready to start the new year off right? If so, focus more on God’s Word and on His direction. Remember that it’s not about us or our own power. It’s all about God’s strength and ability. He is Almighty God. It’s time we let Him be that in our lives. If we do these things, we’ll see the miracles in our own lives. We’ll see God taking on and making right situations we could never handle. And we will see the blessings of trusting God flourish in our heart and in our soul.

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