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Word of the Year

Every year on new years it’s common for some to select a word for the coming year. Oftentimes people choose words like peace or hope… things that will inspire and encourage them for the days ahead.

This year I chose the word “take.” Strange, I know. But let me explain. I chose this word specifically after reading Deuteronomy chapter 1.

At the start of Deuteronomy, the Israelites are camped in the wilderness east of the Jordan, waiting to cross into the promised land. It had been years of wandering and struggling. And finally God says to them…

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore He would give...” ‭‭ It is from this passage that I chose my “word” for 2023 — the word “take.”

Think about it. God could have just said to them, “See, I have given you this land. Go in.”

But no. God tells them “go in and take possession.” Read that again friends. It’s a two part command.

1.) Go in. 2.) Take possession.

Let’s break that down a bit.

That means the Israelites didn’t truly “occupy” the promised land just because they arrived at it. It wasn’t enough to cross the border. To “reach” the promise. To “see” the light.

In order to fully experience the promise God had in store, the Israelites had to do their part. They had to “take” possession of it.

Guys, I just love this.

Here I see God speaking to them like a coach or a trainer. He led the Israelites for years of trial and testing. They think they’re finally done but God doesn’t spoon-feed them a victory. In fact, this is the moment in the story that He has been training them for all these years. So He essentially says

“Rise up. Go get it.”

It makes you wonder how the Israelites felt hearing those words.

Did they grumble? “Wait. What? Take possession? You mean it’s not ours yet? There’s more to do? Ugghhh….”

Or did God’s little “locker room pep talk” light a fire under their cloaks? Did they huddle up with loud chants, raised swords? Did they queue the Hebrew team song and rush down the desert stadium tunnel?

(Hey it’s football season. Bear with me.)

My point is, the Israelites reached a decisive moment camped there. It had been a long, arduous, sometimes painful journey thus far.

They’re camped. Resting. Near the end. Probably somewhat relieved.

(How many of us felt like that on New Years Eve? Relieved nearing the end of 2022?)

Then listen to what He tells them before telling them to “go in”.

God says, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Resume your journey… I have set this land before you; go in and take possession.”

What they thought was the end turned out to be the beginning.

It was the beginning of the battle — the conquest — of the lands promised to them (at least those east of the Jordan. In the book of Joshua the Israelites set out to conquer the lands west of the Jordan.)

So what does that mean for us this New Years?

It means that, while we come to an end of many trials in 2022, our trials don’t actually end here. (Sorry to be Debbie Downer.)

But — BUT — hear me loud and clear here friends: the journey ahead can (and should) be different than the one we’ve already walked. And it all comes down to that little word “take.”

We have camped through the holidays (maybe even rested) but now the Lord says to each of us, “you have stayed long enough on this mountain. Resume your journey.”

God has set before each of us a promise. And we must now go in to 2023 and take possession of it.

We must do battle again, yes. (I’m sorry.) But no longer as weary, long-tested wanderers. Instead as valiant, God-ordained victors.

We Christians must remember to huddle up in the Lord. Regularly. We must raise our swords in prayer and raise our voices in the world. We must rise up in the Spirit and “go get it.”

This year, friend, live like the victor you are. Take possession of what has been promised. Believe what He has told us…

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Happy New Year. Now let’s go conquer 2023!

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