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Posted: January 17, 2013 9:11 p.m.

Be strong and courageous

When Moses had finished giving these instructions to all the people of Israel, he said, "I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.' But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised... So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you."
Deuteronomy 31: 1-6 (New Living Translation)

Heading into new uncharted territory is scary, and as we head into the uncharted waters of 2013, we may be thinking, "I wonder what this year will hold for us?" A new year of challenges and opportunities, a new year of planning and soul searching, and a new chance to make life-changing moves into healthier habits...all of these hold promise that this year may be the best yet. But what happens when things change mid-year and life throws us a curve?

Hear the words of the Lord: "Be strong and courageous!" Israel had traveled with the same leader for some 40 years, but it was time to pass the rod of leadership on to another person, a younger person who would lead Israel into their next phase of life - the kingdom years. As we enter into the newness of what lies ahead for us in 2013, hear these comforting words: "Be strong and courageous!" Don't be afraid to go forward with new ideas, new opportunities. Although things will be different because life may be different from what you have known before, God will lead you through this year, and God will encourage you, teach you, and challenge you if you will stay connected to the source - to God. Also remember the words that Moses spoke: The Lord your God goes before you! You are never going into an area where God has not already gone. It may be new territory for you, but God is already there waiting for you to follow with enthusiasm and integrity.

Israel had a choice to make. Moses had challenged them in the closing verses of Chapter 30: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him for He is your life and the length of your days." They could choose life - choose to follow God into new territory (spiritually and physically), or they could choose death - quitting right there and just giving up.

Sometimes we may not get exactly what we want, but we have to make a choice as well. With the situations that we are given right now, will we choose life and choose to move on into new areas of Christian growth and ministry, or will we choose death - staying put, becoming stagnant, bitter and defeated? Moses encourages Israel to choose life - to trust God and move forward. "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you."

This week, some of us will be heading into new territory by stepping out in missions and going to Honduras. God has an exciting future ahead for all of us. Embrace it, and trust God to move us all forward in new and challenging ways as we continue this Christian journey.

How is God calling you to move forward? How are you going to respond?

Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at


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