As we begin a brand new year, I think it appropriate that we focus today on the first part of the opening sentence of Joshua 8. It says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged.'”
Do you remember what happened in the last chapter? Unbeknownst to Joshua, there was sin in their midst. Achan had taken and hidden some of the plunder from Jericho, and as a result, Israel was soundly defeated by Ai. Joshua was badly shaken by the defeat, and he sought God as to why He had allowed this to happen. God told Joshua that there was sin in their midst, and told him how to find where it was. Joshua followed God’s leading, and took action against Achan.
The last sentence of Joshua 7 was, “So the Lord was no longer angry”. And again, the first sentence of chapter 8 is, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged.'”
Now as a new year begins, it is good to be reminded that if we are diligent to rout sin from our life, if we deal with it from a truly contrite heart, if we are merciless against the sin and seek God for His help in eliminating it, He will take our side. He will bless us. He will lead us in the way which will bring Him glory and which will benefit us the most. Here in Joshua 8 God gave the Israelites a second chance to defeat Ai, which they did.
Maybe you have an Ai in your life. Maybe there’s something that you have been unable to defeat. Is there unconfessed sin that you’ve been harboring? Rout it out. Seek God. He truly does want to forgive and restore you, and begin the year with a clean slate. This *can* be your best year ever.