A new year has begun! Behind us is 2009 - a year of challenges, certainly, yet of the blessings of God.
Many experienced the ups and downs of life, notably the economy. Even with the uncertainty of this world in 2009, God proved to me many of His characteristics - compassion, love, provision, peace and hope - to name a few.
As I begin 2010, I look to God's Word, the Bible, for my footing. In His Word I find great promises for life. One passage which always helps keep me focused is God's encouragement to Joshua. In the first few verses of the Book of Joshua we find: "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 them - to the Israelites."
His instruction was clear, and it literally begins a new chapter in the life of the nation of Israel. This year is a new chapter for us as well. Yesterday is but a memory, so we must live today to see what God has in store for us tomorrow.
The entire first chapter of Joshua is a must-read, but as we begin 2010, I believe verse 9 provides such encouragement for the believer that God is still with us: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
When I left Primera Iglesia Bautista del Sur in Pico Rivera in 1976, a young person gave me a plaque that reads, "The future is as bright as the promises of God." Throughout the years, in good and bad times, I have gone to the Bible for God's promises of encouragement and strength.
So, have courage this year. Do not be afraid. Now more than ever, the world needs a clear voice that God is the only one who can be our refuge and strength.
In 2010 my prayer is for California Southern Baptists to remain focused on telling the Good News of Jesus Christ, the only one who can transform lives.