The Promised Land: 4 Steps for a Holy New Year

“As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God … then you shall set out from your place and follow it.” – Joshua 3:3 ESV

They must have stood on the shores of the Jordan River filled with anticipation and hope.


After 40 years of walking in desolation, the Israelite nation was ready to cross over to a time and place of prosperity and promise.


Sounds like New Year’s in the Old Testament.

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel


What about you? Are you standing on the shores of 2015 filled with hope, or with despair?


Are you determined to find a parcel of promised land, or do you see yourself wandering in the desert another year?


I don’t think any of us ever want to travel the desert road, but sometimes it seems it’s the only road available. Maybe that’s why resolutions are so popular. We’re all looking for green pastures and still waters. We want to live in the land of milk and honey, but the truth is, so much of what we want to achieve fizzles out by spring.


So what do we do? How do we cross over to a place of richness, peace, and hope?


Maybe Joshua can help us.


“Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before. Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:1-5)


Joshua knew something about getting to promise lands, and if we follow his lead, we just might get closer to ours. Let’s take a look …


First, we wait.


“He and all the people of Israel … lodged there before they passed over.” (Joshua 3:1)


Joshua and the Israelites waited at least three days before crossing the Jordan. It’s unclear what happened during those three days, but I’d guess a lot of time was spent in prayer. So I ask you…


Have you inquired of the Lord about your new year?


Have you asked Him to define your promised land?


Have you invited Him along for the journey?


I would like to encourage you to wait before you begin your New Year’s resolutions. To spend time in prayer waiting for the Lord. I know it’s hard when you’re in a rush to see brighter days, but God’s timing and plan is always perfect. And you can be sure He’s not tied to a calendar date of when any action should take place. Rest in Him before making your resolutions. “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:25)


Second, when God moves, we should follow.


“As soon as you see … set out and follow it.” (Joshua 3:3)


This takes watchfulness on our part. God moves in both thunderous and subtle ways. It’s easy to get swept away with other distractions, but if we steady our eyes on the Lord, we’ll be ready to move when He says it’s time. “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” (Hebrews 12:2)


Third, let God truly lead.


“There shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits.” (Joshua 3:4)


One half mile. That’s the length of 2,000 cubits. The Israelites were to keep this distance from the ark of the covenant as they progressed towards their promised land.


Like a beacon in the wasteland, the Israelites could easily follow the tracks of the priests who carried the ark. Everyone could keep a vision of God in their sights. When we try to come along side God while He’s leading us, we see our country unfold as He does. But what if His plan is to lead us towards a swamp, or past an armed, fortified city? Then I’m sure we’d beg for a dozen detours – pushing our will, and neglecting His perfect design for our life.


But if we follow from a distance, the power of the One before us remains right where it should. We stay back, honoring the reverent space between us, and keeping the right frame of mind to follow wherever our Master leads.


Last, dedicate yourself to the process.


“Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”’ (Joshua 3:5)


We’ve waited and prayed. We’ve moved in obedience and honored His will, and now it is time to rest upon us His wonders. But before we receive His favor, we must dedicate ourselves to the process of crossing over to holiness. Our thoughts and actions must be set apart, and all other cares separated. We must steadily walk towards the promised land that holy land where God might receive the glory of our journey.


Let’s leave ourselves on the shores of 2015 and allow God to lead us over to our promised promise land.


Happy, Holy New Year.


Here are some verses God has really impressed upon me for this year. What verses has the Lord given you? Please consider leaving a comment below, it just may be a verse someone else is looking for.


“For he who draws near to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6


“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4


“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

4 Replies

  1. Devery Wright

    Inspiring as always, Raye! Happy New Year to you. It has been a season of waiting, so while I take that posture my verse towards my thoughts is Psalms 139:23-24…”Search me. oh God, and know my heart; test my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” For my words. Psalm 19:14…”May the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”, and for my deeds, Psalm 15:1-2…”Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He who’s walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart.”Psalm 91:16, God’s promise…”I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with long life and give them my salvation.” John 15:7-8 is the remedy….”Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayers will be answered. When you become fruitful disciples of mine, My Father will be honored.”
    As far as a 2015 resolution, a friend and I have endeavored, everyday….large or small, in 2015, do something for God, do something for another, do something for ourselves, and lastly, an improvement for the home.

    1. Raye Wortel

      Beautiful Devery! I really love John 15:7-8, it’s a wonderful call for God’s desire for us. Happy New Year to you too!

  2. Elaine Tietz

    Beautiful. Thank you. My verses for 2015:
    2 Timothy 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever.”
    Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
    Isaiah 40:31 “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
    2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.”

    1. Raye Wortel

      2 Corinthians 7:10 has been a long-time favorite of mine. We have a hard time accepting God wants us to experience sorrow, but if we understand it’s for the benefit of our salvation, we can tolerate it much better. Thank you for sharing Elaine, Happy New Year!

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