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Two Words for 2021

In a guest editorial, Pastor Erwin Lutzer offers two words to encourage followers of Jesus to look to our heavenly Father for hope. 2020 was a tumultuous year but what assurances do we have that 2021 will be a better year? 

Welcome to 2021! So many people say I am so glad to say goodbye to 2020 with a pandemic. But I do need to ask you very candidly, do we have any assurance that 2021 is going to be better? We don’t know that; do we? Frankly, we have no idea what’s going to happen. We could face brand-new troubles, personally and nationally, that none of us are able to predict. How will we cope?

I’m going to introduce you to two words. You don’t even have to write them down, though you can if you wish. And I want those words to guide you as we think about the unknown future. The first word comes to us from Joshua 3 (verses 3-4). Here’s what happens. God is saying to the nation of Israel, “now you have not traveled this way before.” How do you face that unknown future and in the very next verse, God says, “I want you to consecrate yourselves.” What does it mean to “consecrate” yourself? It means to set yourself apart for God. As a matter of fact, Jesus even did this when He said, “I sanctify myself.” In other words, He was affirming the fact that He was set apart for God and for God’s purposes. Just the other day I was reading in my devotions from the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, where the Bible says, “Lay aside every weight and the sin which easily entangles us.” And God really spoke to me about some weights in my own life, even things that may not be sinful, but they are hindrances. They stand in the way of my worship and my fellowship with God. Ask yourself that question. What does it mean for us to get rid of sin—to consecrate ourselves to God? That’s what the Lord told Joshua that the people should do because they were traveling a way they had never been before.

But there’s a second related word that I want to introduce you to. At least the word sounds the same, and that is to “concentrate”—to concentrate means to focus. Now, in that passage of Scripture, God says the Ark is going to go ahead of you 2,000 cubits—a cubit is more than a foot. That means 3000 feet, which is a half mile—just a bit more than a half mile. Why? Because God says. “As you go across the path that you’ve never gone before, I want you to look at the presence of God that the ark represents.” And that’s what you and I have to do. We need to look beyond the present to the future and there’s no passage of Scripture that helps us do that more than the sixth chapter of the book of Hebrews and I was going to read the passage, but I’m going to invite you to read it on your own. As you get to the end of the passage, it says this: “we have fled for refuge and we have a hope that is sure and steadfast that goes behind the veil where Jesus is as our fore-runner.” That’s a summary of what he says.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2021

About the Author: Erwin W. Lutzer is Pastor Emeritus of The Moody Church where he served as the Senior Pastor for 36 years. He earned a B.Th. from Winnipeg Bible College, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a M.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University, and an honorary LL.D. from the Simon Greenleaf School of Law. He is a sought-after speaker for Bible conferences and seminars around the world and has been featured on numerous radio programs. Dr. Lutzer is also an award-winning author of numerous books including Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation, We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity, He Will Be the Preacher: The Story of God's Providence in My Life, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent: An Informed Response to Islam’s War with Christianity, One Minute After You Die, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, and Christian Bookseller’s Gold Medallion Award winner, Hitler's Cross: How the Cross Was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda.

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