“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” <Josh.24:15 (NIV)>. Make your own choice, was Joshua’s command to the people of God, and their response was, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!” <Josh.24:16 (NIV)>, to which Joshua said, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.” <Josh.24:19 (NIV); cf Ex.24:3, 7>. Joshua knew what the people of God were like for he had witnessed their constant rebellion against God for over 40 years as they traveled across the desert places in their journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan.
So today we are called to make our choice, which God are we going to honour and serve; will it be:
- The God of heaven and earth.
- The true and only God.
- The Almighty.
- The Creator.
- The Eternal God.
- Or will it be the god that I have created?
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There is no doubt that we can create a god out of something very important in our life, and just like the people of Joshua’s time, and throughout the O.T., the One True Eternal God is replaced. Are you guilty of such?
WHAT DOES GOD REALLY MEAN TO YOU
Is He your Saviour; the one who extended mercy to a sinner, the one who exhibits and demands holiness. The sovereign One; who answers to no one <Isa.40:12-28>, He is Lord of all. “Acknowledge…that the Lord is God…There is no other.”<Deut.4:39 (NIV); see Psa.83:18; 1 Chron.29:12; Dan.4:35>. He is the unchanging One; “…the Father …who does not change like shifting shadows” <Jas.1:17 (NIV)>; the faithful One; “Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” <1 Kings 8:56 (NIV): see Deut.7:9>. The Holy One, who thus demands my holiness, and in the light of this I cannot help but see my sinfulness and be reminded of sin’s allurements (traps; temptations; enticements; slavery): <see Josh.7:21; cf Gen.36; Jn.8:34; Psa.38:4; 51:3>; that sin results in spiritual death, is hated by God, and separates me from God <see Rev.3:1; Zech.8:17; Isa.59:2; Prov.11:21>.
As a Christian I am aware of all these facts concerning God, but does all this knowledge of God control the way I live? Does this knowledge affect the way I make my daily decisions great or small? Am I seeking to please Him in all that I do; am I maturing spiritually; do I know more about Him today as compared to yesterday; Am I really desirous of pleasing Him in all things; is GOD a reality to me?
In the light of His grace and mercy I must honour Him in all my ways. What then should be my immediate reaction? “if the Lord is God, follow him” <1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)>; follow him, “no sitting on the fence” <cf Matt.4:18-22>; the response of the disciples was a decision to follow, not for a short time only; they must have weighed the consequences for it was a call to a life commitment!
To be Christ’s disciples demands certain conditions: first self denial <see Matt.16:24>, for “I must decrease” – become less important, so that He can be more important, and I must bear His rebuke: there must be a forsaking of all for Him <see Lk.14:26; cf Heb.12:1>. There must be nothing that is more important than my desire/will to obediently follow Him. Discipleship promises many blessings: there is spiritual light <see Jn.8:12> and divine guidance <see Jn.10:27>; heavenly honour and a heavenly home <Jn.12:26>. We must be cautious that we do not follow like Judas (for the glory and prestige) or Peter (at a distance) <Matt.26:46-50, 58; cf 1 Chron.28:9>. “KNOW Him”: intimately; personally; statistically; not a “‘second hand” knowledge; “not someone said”; not casually.
“In a land filled with churches and chapels, temples and tabernacles, there is only an insignificant handful of fairly well-informed students of the Book of Books…..Our nation’s technical knowledge and scientific expertise overshadow our grasp of Bible basics to an appalling degree. We are moving toward an era similar to the Dark Ages…when copies of the scriptures were chained to the pulpit in secret language of the clergy….when the public was kept stone ignorant of the life-changing teachings of the truth. But I see one great difference. In those days biblical ignorance was FORCED….in our day it is VOLUNTARY. Therein lies the saddest fact of all”. [Quote from “Come Before Winter” by Charles Swindol (p 112)]
Who is to blame for this condition? Self discipline is the basis of any Bible Study; <cf Hos.4:6; Job 22:21-27>. Sin turns us away from God and His holiness – therefore He will not hear our prayer, <Isa.59:1-2; Psa.66 v18>. It is our duty as His disciples to increase our knowledge of the God whom we serve <see Jer.9:24; Hos.6:3; Phil.3:10>.
If we truly acknowledge God in our lives then we need to serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind. Serving Him in such a manner is possible only if and when we know Him. How do we serve Him? There are two ways of service: “doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men” <Eph.6:6-7 (NIV); cf Jn.12:43>: either wholeheartedly or to give satisfaction others (men pleasers (KJV)). We should never serve God with the attitude that: no one else is able; no one else volunteered; someone asked me to; someone has to do the job; all will see that I am the one best suited for the job or to be congratulated for doing the job
Sometimes we are tempted to believe that we have reached such a high level of service that there is no more need for regular study of the scriptures. This is the time when we really need to SEEK Him otherwise we get to the point where we have nothing to offer to God or others. SEEK Him or we will forsake Him. Solomon stopped seeking and was drawn into idolatry. If we are not careful something else will take His place and fully occupy our time.
Our acknowledgment of God should lead to true worship of God <Jn.4:23-24>. If God really means everything to me, then I must truly worship Him, and it should be a constant daily expression, and should not begin and end at a certain time on Sundays. Our worship should reflect on who God is and what I was and am; what God has done; is doing; and will do for me. Our act of worship should also reflect what God set down for His people <see Deut.26:10; 1 Chron.16:29; cf 1 Cor.15:23>; our Lord Jesus Christ representing our “first fruit”. Our worship of God should also reflect the fact of the sacrifice (time, effort etc) that we put into such worship <see 2 Sam.24:24; Jn.12:3>; and should always be centred on Christ Himself; “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name.” <Heb.13:15 (NIV)>