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New Year New Beginning


As we travelled around on vacation, we saw these signs “Welcome to Pennsylvania… New York… Connecticut…”


On the trip there came a point where we had left one state behind and had entered another.


January is the month when it is drawn to our attention that we are now entering a new place in our lives - 2019 is in the rear view and 2020 has begun and takes on more and more meaning as we move through January and into February.


I love the attitude reflected in Philippians 3:13-14


13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This verse might draw us to want to make fresh resolutions and vows about the year ahead as we enter another year.


There are of course some funny vows made in January that have very little meaning.


· no more chips

· I'm going to buy crocs and I won't be stopped!

· put more dried fruits in things. raisins, cranberries, dates.

· my new year's resolution is to stop all the pollution


The point is some of the vows and promises we make can be shallow and have very little meaning or may just not be attainable.


But the beginning of a new year can be a profound opportunity to consider the direction our lives will take over the Next Year and to look back at our lives and to decide what things to leave behind in the year ahead.


I love this section in Deuteronomy 1:


7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

At this point in history the people of Israel were in a safe place - God had rescued them from a life of slavery and humiliation - he had rescued them by parting the red sea and now they were parked as it were at the foot of the Holy Mountain. But now God says break camp - move on - there is more.


What he has in mind for the Israelite people is to move in and take the land known as Israel to be a land set apart for God.


The place God was calling them into was full of powerful and strong people, but they were idol worshippers - they had abandoned God and so God had given their land over to the Israelite people.


His plan was for them to go virtually straight in and take the land - but as you know they rebelled and as a result of their rebellion they wandered in the desert for forty years.

Fear crippled them and an entire generation failed to live out their God given destiny.

At Horeb The Israelites had gained a certain position - and they faced an exciting and yet uncertain future.


There are three positions where the Israelites were in that we can identify that help us to consider where we are in the purposes of God as we face this new exciting yet uncertain year.

The first position is that they had escaped from slavery into freedom -

GAL 5:1


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 4:1-7


What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Before we can move into the Godly purposes of our lives this year, we must reflect on whether we are standing in the freedom that Christ has won for us.


This New Year is a good time to stop being chained to your past failures. God is saying here in His Word that he doesn’t want you to go through your life branding yourself as a failure.

On the Cross, Jesus died so that He could forgive. When we become Christians that forgiveness becomes a reality in our lives. When we have received Christ’s forgiveness it allows us to forgive ourselves and forget our failures.


Do you need to do that? Right here this morning, do you need to accept Jesus’ forgiveness and then forgive yourself?


The reason the generation of Israelites who escaped from slavery from Egypt failed is they failed to recognize the completeness of their salvation. God was not only adequate to rescue them from their past- Egypt, he was also adequate for the present situations that lay ahead- the promised land.

When they were terrified, they wanted to go back to Egypt because they wouldn’t trust god for the circumstances that lay ahead.


In that position they muttered against their God and their leaders; "It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us."


DEUT 1:26


But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so, he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’”

What so often happens with Christians who do not discover their full destiny is that they go back to the thinking and attitudes of their previous lives - that is the danger of not going moving on in the Christian journey of living out god’s call on your life - the result - you want to go back to Egypt.

Point two - Horeb - this is the second position of Israel. - At Horeb - where Mount Sinai is, Israel pauses. Mainly to take a breath after the exciting events that had delivered them from 400 years of slavery - During that time of taking a breather - Moses goes up the Mountain and meets with God in what is a defining moment in the life of Israel - He meets with God and receives the ten commandments.


There is a position after salvation of learning how to live again - it is a time of readjustment - reassessment and repentance - here Israel makes the mistake of making an idol and is bought to a place of repentance - After we are born again there is a place where we take time to learn to live the new Christian life. A child does not get born and learn the life skills of living as a human being without the guidance of a parent so a Christian needs to learn how to live a completely new life.


Proverbs 23:12


Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

What we need to understand though is that this time of learning is to be deeply valued - of course this season lasts all through our lives but there is a season of learning intensely how to live as a Christian that is to be fully grasped.


Bible scholar D. A. Carson said this:


People do not drift toward holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.


Having decided to follow Jesus there are all types of lessons that the Christian needs to learn - it is interesting to read in the life of the early followers of Jesus


Acts 2:42

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

It will profit us to see in this New Year just what it is God wants to teach us - what is it that we need to learn about how to live the Christian life.


It's so easy to learn about God and the bible through Christian radio, television, YouTube, even Facebook. With modern technology you don’t have to go to church to learn.


Someone once said:


It’s possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple; to be a camp-follower without being a soldier of the king; to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one’s weight.

Once someone was talking to a great scholar about a younger man. He said, "So and so tells me that he was one of your students." The teacher answered devastatingly, "He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students." There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. It is one of the supreme handicaps of the Church that in the Church there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few real disciples.


To take some Horeb time - to grow you need to understand that your goal is to be a disciple of Jesus.


The third point is to break camp.


7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
Break camp - there comes a time in your Christian journey where you begin to fulfill your Christian destiny - God’s call on your life - you live your life up to a certain point and it is O.K. - but you come to a point where you need to go and do the kind of things that being a follower of Jesus involves.

The Israelites were told to break camp - behind them was their time of salvation and their time of receiving God’s teaching but now they were sent out to fulfill God’s call on their lives - history records how this generation of Israelites failed to do what God had called them to do = fear stopped them.


We are not going to do that


The bible says 366 times fear not!!!!!!!!


If we as Christians together fail to fulfill our God given destiny the church becomes a traffic jam of frustrated people.


One of the great things about the early church is that it was daily winning people for God - the reason that was happening was that people were fulfilling their destiny.

Is God calling you to break camp in some area in your life this year.


In Jesus’ ministry we see a definitive time when he moves from being within his parents household to beginning his adult ministry in Israel.



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